Friday, December 30, 2011

My Book Collecting Year in Summary

I have made some important acquisitions during 2011, so I thought I would summarize the ones that come to mind.

This year I acquired the first printing jacket, 1931A-1, to the Nancy Drew book, The Secret at Shadow Ranch, bringing the total number of first printing Nancy Drew dust jackets that I need down to just one, The Secret of the Old Clock. I purposefully never mentioned this acquisition when it happened, since it involved a strange sequence of events. If you go back and read through my Nancy Drew posts that involve early Nancy Drew books from back in September and the comments to those posts, you can probably figure out what happened.

I quite unexpectedly found the first printing of the Nancy Drew book The Clue in the Crossword Cipher during what normally would have been an uneventful trip to a local book store, detailed here. This brings the total number of first printing Nancy Drew books that I need down to just one, The Mystery at Lilac Inn.

The result is that 2011 brought me down to needing just one first printing Nancy Drew dust jacket and one first printing Nancy Drew book for the original 56 books.

I also made a very narrow upgrade to the rather difficult to find first printing book for The Sign of the Twisted Candles, detailed here and here. Actually, I'm not sure if the book I am keeping could be considered better, but in any case, I unearthed another example of an extremely scarce first printing book.

I made a fabulous find of early and first picture cover Hardy Boys books at a book store, detailed here.

I still need some stray first printing revised text and art picture covers for the Nancy Drew series. I made some headway in that regard this year as well. In December I acquired the first printing of the 1965 art for The Secret of Shadow Ranch, when formerly I just had the second printing of the 1965 art. I also acquired the first printing of the 1974 cover art to The Scarlet Slipper Mystery.

After an email exchange with another collector, I realized that I did not have the third art of The Clue in the Old Album with the black and white multi endpapers. This was the only Nancy Drew cover art that I only had in the double oval endpapers. I decided to solve that problem. I purchased two copies on eBay, and one of them ended up being the first printing of the 1977 cover art, thus giving me another needed printing.

I quit reading the Grace Harlowe books earlier this year, in part due to my inability to find Grace Harlowe with the U.S. Troops in the Argonne. Three copies were available online, but I did not wish to pay those prices, especially considering the condition of the books.

In December, an eBay auction appeared that had Argonne along with several other books from the Overseas series. After some debate, I decided to purchase the lot, which was priced a bit high. After the seller shipped the books, he told me that he had found an extra copy of one of the books, which he had added to the box. I was wondering which one and thought, "What if it were Argonne? Wouldn't that be funny?"

The package arrived, and to my delight, I discovered two copies of Grace Harlowe with the U.S. Troops in the Argonne in the box. It's amusing to go from not having a book at all to having two copies instantly.


In 2011, I decided to resume going to garage sales and estate sales for the first time since the middle part of the 1990s. I had gone to a couple of garage sales in recent years, but this fall, I began to check the sales every single Saturday. I now am very interested in going to these sales, not so much for books but for the recreation. The books will be few and far between, but perhaps I can find something good in the coming months.

I also have the satisfaction of seeing that traffic to this blog continues to increase, although at a slow and steady rate. I have begun utilizing my Facebook page in a more appropriate fashion, and it is gaining interest. Best of all, I enjoy using my Facebook page.

I decided to begin selling again on eBay this year since I found eBay to once again be usable for selling. The primary motivation was the 50 free auction listings per month. eBay is useless unless the listings are free. I hope to attain top-rated seller status eventually, just so that I can see if it makes a difference.

In the meantime, I will continue to use Bonanza for the bulk of my sales and am pleased at the progress I have made there.

As the year ends, I want to continue reading the Nancy Drew books again for the first time in ten years, but I also now have a dilemma. Since I finally have all of the Grace Harlowe books, I feel like I should resume reading them.
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Edited to add: As pointed out in a comment, I forgot one of my most important acquisitions, Nancy Drew #78, The Phantom of Venice, in hardcover with dust jacket. I wrote about that find in this post.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Taiwanese Nancy Drew Books

At least 11 of the Nancy Drew books were printed in Asia, probably in Taiwan and during either the 1970s or 1980s. These books are pirated editions. I have eight of these books.




Most of the books have the black and white multi endpapers. One book has light brown instead of black on the endpapers.


The cover art has the appearance of color photocopies of the original cover art of the Grosset and Dunlap editions. The colors and image quality are off slightly. Below, I have photographed two of the pirated editions, seen on the left, and two of the Grosset and Dunlap editions, seen on the right.


You should be able to clearly see that Ski Jump looks to be a bad reproduction of the original cover.

The inside of each book is exactly the same as the Grosset and Dunlap edition, except for the copyright page. Asian characters have been added to each copyright page.


These books have always mystified me, since I have never understood why someone would pirate Nancy Drew books. It now occurs to me that perhaps the books could be offered less expensively to buyers in Asia by pirating the books than they could by importing the books from the United States. In any case, these books make for an interesting variant for people who collect Nancy Drew books.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nancy Drew #5 The Secret at Shadow Ranch

As I continue my journey through the Nancy Drew books, I read the revised text of Shadow Ranch. I recall that I loved gazing at the Rudy Nappi cover art as a child. The phantom horse is so spooky.

I love the mystery of Dirk Valentine's missing treasure. This mystery has always been one of my favorites. As with Lilac Inn, I have always preferred the revised text.

I have always disliked the original text, although upon this reading, I viewed it much more favorably than previously. I have already mentioned that my reading of the early Stratemeyer Syndicate series in recent years has changed my perspective. This reading was the first time I had ever read the original text Shadow Ranch since reading all of the early series books.

I was struck by how much the book reminds me of the Outdoor Girls series. The entire tone of the book and all of the events from start to finish are extremely similar to the way the Outdoor Girls series is. Change a few names and rewrite some passages, and the book could easily become The Outdoor Girls at Shadow Ranch. In fact, Nancy suddenly acquires two new friends, Bess and George, at the beginning of Shadow Ranch and becomes part of a trio, similar to the Outdoor Girls and other series. This got me to thinking.

Edward Stratemeyer died as the first three Nancy Drew books were published. Harriet Adams and Edna Stratemeyer Squier had to scramble to get their father's business under control in the months after he died. During the first few months, Edward Stratemeyer's secretary, Harriet Otis Smith, was responsible for keeping the business going. Lilac Inn was the first Nancy Drew book published after Stratemeyer's death, but that book had already been written by Mildred Wirt, and Otis Smith edited it.

Grosset and Dunlap wanted the next book in the series, the one that was to become Shadow Ranch. The trouble is that Shadow Ranch had no outline, and nobody knew what story Stratemeyer had wished to tell. On page 133 of Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, Melanie Rehak gives Stratemeyer's description of Shadow Ranch: "A thrilling tale of mysterious doings at various places in the valley and around the ranch. It remained for Nancy Drew to solve some perplexing situations."

Otis Smith wrote up an outline based on that vague description. Since Shadow Ranch reads so much like an Outdoor Girls book, I wonder whether Otis Smith could have gotten some ideas from an outline for an Outdoor Girls book and changed it up for Nancy Drew. She also could have used an outline for Billie Bradley or Betty Gordon, which were still in print during the early 1930s but soon ended. It would be reasonable to assume that some outlines for those series were never used for books in those series. They could have been used for Nancy Drew. This is pure speculation on my part, but I see such a strong similarity in tone between the original text Shadow Ranch and early Stratemeyer books that I feel this to be a possibility.

Back to my thoughts about the story. The original text Shadow Ranch has some crazy, improbable coincidences that go beyond any of the coincidences in the revised text. For instance, Alice Regor is looking for her father, who is found near Shadow Ranch, and it happens that Alice's father went missing because of the actions of Martha Frank and her brother, which occurred in a completely different part of the country. Yet somehow, Martha and her brother show up near Shadow Ranch, while Alice's father also shows up near Shadow Ranch unknown to them. Next, Nancy and her friends also show up at Shadow Ranch with Alice, and everything randomly falls into place. This kind of crazy coincidence is how all of the early Stratemeyer Syndicate books are, and as I already stated, I have a suspicion that the idea for this story came from one of those series.

I still do not particularly care for the story about Martha Frank, and I overall do not care for the original text story as a Nancy Drew book. Nancy and her friends do a lot of exploring in the mountains, get lost, and nearly get attacked by wild animals. It just doesn't feel like a Nancy Drew book to me. However, if I read the book and pretend that it is an Outdoor Girls book and that Nancy, Bess, and George are Outdoor Girls, then the book is totally awesome.

If you are someone who enjoys the original text Shadow Ranch, I suggest that you try some of the Outdoor Girls books, say the second half of the series which are the best books. The Outdoor Girls books are great vintage stories that have the same tone as the original text Shadow Ranch. I always have to get in a good word about the Outdoor Girls series, which is a great series that is not collected by very many people.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Nancy Drew #4 The Mystery at Lilac Inn

As I continue revisiting the early Nancy Drew books, I began reading the revised text of The Mystery at Lilac Inn. The first two chapters annoyed me, since the descriptive information is too brief and various random disruptive events occur seemingly constantly.

The book barely begins when Nancy and Helen learn about Nancy having a double. Then, on the very next page, their canoe capsizes. The girls arrive at Lilac Inn to see that Emily is troubled. Next, one of the gardeners falls into a hole. A few pages later, a mysterious cry is heard from outside. This is all in the first fifteen pages. The events seem disjointed and thrown together.

Once I reached Chapter 3, I began enjoying the story. The mystery about Nancy's double is sinister. The jewel theft is quite a mystery, with suspicion thrown on Maud Potter. The mystery is intriguing in all aspects. I have always greatly enjoyed the revised text of Lilac Inn, and this time was no exception.

In fact, I enjoyed this reading so much that I almost felt like I was reading one of the longer original text stories. The story seemed fuller to me than the revised texts of the first three books. Perhaps the difference is that this particular story was almost completely rewritten whereas the first three revised text stories were mainly condensed versions of the original texts, which made those stories come across as inferior.

I have never liked the original text of Lilac Inn, so as I began reading the original text this time, I wondered what my reaction would be. I liked the opening scene in which Nancy meets Emily outside Lilac Inn and has lunch with her. After that interesting scene, Nancy gets caught up in servant problems.

Why would an average child during the Great Depression want to read about a girl moaning about servant problems? Perhaps girls really enjoyed learning about the problems of the upper class, but I find it really obnoxious. Even worse, every single one of the servants sent to Nancy is from a minority group and described as unsuitable. This subplot is racist, stereotypical, and not necessary.

In fact, the entire first part of this book seems off to me as compared to the first three original text books. Nancy and her acquaintances are too fixated on the problems of the upper class.

Next, we have Mrs. Willoughby and her friend, Clara Potter, who pick up Emily's jewels from the safe deposit box. They decide to take lunch at Lilac Inn with the jewels on the table inside Mrs. Willoughby's purse. The two women act nervous and talk constantly about how they hope nobody knows about the jewels. Of course everyone knows, since the women are acting so strange. Not surprisingly, the jewels are stolen. I find this part of the story to be very annoying. I cannot stand stupidity to be the reason why a theft happens.

Once I read past the theft and the immediate aftermath, I began to enjoy the story more. I found it hard to be very sympathetic to Emily, perhaps because she seems to spend too much time crying about her misfortune. I also found it hard to be sympathetic to Mrs. Willoughby, since she caused the theft of the diamonds.

Around page 80, I began to thoroughly enjoy the story. It felt like the story finally hit its stride at this point and became a good adventure and mystery. Nancy gets heavily involved in sleuthing and quits worrying about her servant problems.

In summary, I really enjoyed the revised text, except for the first two chapters. I enjoyed the original text overall, but I did not enjoy the first 80 pages as much. The stories both involve the diamond theft, but the revised text has the intriguing, dangerous plot with Nancy's double. For that reason, I prefer the revised text.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nancy Drew #2 Hidden Staircase and #3 Bungalow Mystery

I have finished reading both the original and revised texts for the second and third Nancy Drew books, The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery.

The original texts of both books refer back to the events of The Secret of the Old Clock, which makes for strong continuity. That continuity was lost when both books were revised, since all of those references were removed. Offhand, I do not believe that the events of Old Clock were mentioned in any great detail in the original text books past Bungalow Mystery, and this makes me wonder how the series would have progressed if Edward Stratemeyer had lived past the publication of the first three books. We can be certain that the books would not have been the same, since daughters Harriet and Edna would not have been running the Syndicate if Edward had remained alive.

In the original text Hidden Staircase, Nancy spends a good bit of time in the early chapters of the books visiting with the Horner girls and Abigail Rowen about how they are doing after receiving Josiah Crowley's inheritance. It is during Nancy's visit to Abigail that she meets the Turnbulls and learns of the mystery at their mansion. In the revised text, the Turnbulls are related to Helen Corning, and Helen asks Nancy to solve the mystery.

In the original text Bungalow Mystery, Nancy and Helen are caught in the storm on Moon Lake, which is the same lake that figured so prominently in the events of Old Clock. The location was changed in the revised text.

My perspective on both of these stories has changed since I read them ten years ago. The last time I read these books, I had not yet begun collecting and reading the early Stratemeyer series such as the Outdoor Girls, the Blythe Girls, Girls of Central High, and others. I recall that I considered some aspects of the original texts to be better but that I still preferred other aspects of the revised texts, which were the ones that I read as a child. I believe that I considered the original texts to be better, but I can't remember my specific thoughts clearly.

Upon this reading, I quite distinctly find the original texts to be better, and I believe the fact that I have read so many of the early series is what has caused me to react so strongly in favor of these two original texts.

I recall that I strongly disliked the original texts of Lilac Inn and Shadow Ranch, so I am interested to see how I react to those two. Will I still strongly dislike them, or will I respond much more favorably?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday's Estate Sale Finds

I started going to estate sales a few months ago. I don't usually find any series books and have very little expectation of finding any. My main purpose is for recreation and to find useful items for low prices.

This weekend I finally found some series books. At the first sale, which was near where I live, I found a number of Hardy Boys books with dust jackets.





I also bought two Tom Quest, a Rick Brant, and a Landmark book at the same sale.

I next decided to drive to the other side of the city to attend several estate sales that were clustered close together. I normally don't drive to that part of the city, since the trip takes too long for very little reward. The only reason I decided to make the trip was because one sale showed a ceramic Christmas tree in one of the preview photographs, shown below.


The tree looked too much like the one on the cover of the Judy Bolton book, The Secret of the Musical Tree, for me not to check it out. I ended up purchasing the tree, which is very cute. The tree measures 12 inches tall and 7 1/2 inches in diameter at the widest point.



The pictures never show the ceramic Christmas trees to be as nice as they actually are.

At another sale, I found six assorted series books.



I would not have purchased the above books if I had not decided to go after the ceramic Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Seeking the First Printing of Nancy Drew Lilac Inn

Sellers don't always respond well to questions, and some sellers even get paranoid about the questions. In a recent case, a seller decided to be secretive with me, and as best I can deduce, she treated me differently because of this blog. I'm not sure if she was intimidated or if she thought I was trying to trick her. In any case, she snubbed me by avoiding my question completely, yet she responded in an open fashion when someone else contacted the seller for me and asked the same question.

Another collector told me about this listing for a blank endpapers edition of the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery at Lilac Inn.

Nancy Drew The Mystery At Lillac Inn



The book was listed with a start price of $250 and a Buy It Now of $275. $250 was way too high if the book was not the very first printing but was not a bad price if the book was the first printing. I could not risk buying the book at $275 and have it turn out not to be the very first printing. After all, I would not be able to sell an unwanted non-first for that high of a price. I also had no desire to buy the book and have to ask to return for a refund, which could always end badly.

I had no option but to ask the seller about the post-text ads since no information was provided. This was my question.
In order to tell if this book is the actual first printing, we need more information. In the back of the book there should be a page that says "This Isn't All!" After that page, there will be several pages with advertisements. We need to know the name of the series advertised on each page and the last title listed in that series in the ad. For instance, the first ad page could advertise the Hardy Boys ending with Great Airport Mystery. Also, the book should have a glossy frontispiece illustration and three additional glossy illustrations scattered throughout the book. Are all four illustrations present? Thanks!
I received the following response.
Good morning,
Attached are the only additional pictures that I have of this item. Please feel free to contact us again with any additional questions.
Attached were four photos. The photos were of the copyright page, the title page, the glossy frontispiece, and the back cover. The seller did not address my question about the post-text ads at all. Based on the lack of response, I made the assumption that the book was not in the seller's possession. I was a bit annoyed that the seller evaded my questions, and I even mentioned the seller's response on my Facebook page. Others immediately drew the same conclusion that the seller did not have the book. Another popular opinion was that the seller was running a scam.

I tried again, and I regret that I made a comment about price, because I know better and any mention of price usually causes problems. Keep in mind that I was quite annoyed about the seller's evasion and that I was holding back on what I really wanted to tell her.
So you don't have the book in your possession? This is very disappointing. We have to know the post-text ads in order to know if this is the first printing. You are going to have a lot of trouble selling the book at that asking price without the post-text ad information in the description. If the book is the first printing, it is worth that much, but we can't tell from the information provided. Your book might be just a $50 copy, so we can't risk buying it to find out. It would be in your best interest to get the book in your possession and add the information I requested to the description. I'm not going to be the only person to ask. Thanks in advance.
I received this response.
I have the book in my possession, but did not take pics of the last pages. I will not sell it for $50. I believe you are the individual that has the jacket(s) for the first printing but not the book?
Now I knew that she had been to my blog and must have read something about first printing points. By now, I was convinced that the seller knew that the book was not the first printing and was trying to pull a scam. According to her statement, she had the book. Why not tell me about the post-text ads? Is it any wonder why I try to avoid asking sellers questions?

In retrospect, I suspect that the seller misunderstood my price reference as an attempt to trick her about the value. The truth is that the book might be a $50 to $100 book, and I could not risk paying $275 for a book that is worth much less. That was all I meant, but I'm sure she didn't understand that. Sigh. I tried one last time, and I was quite frustrated by this point.
I don't have to see photographs. What are the ads after the "This isn't all" page? That was all I wanted to know. The first page has _____ series with ____ as the last title listed. The second page has _____ series with ______ as the last title listed, etc. I don't want the book for $50. I meant that your book might be only worth $50, but I can't tell due to lack of information. If your book has the right ads, then I am willing to pay your price. I'm sorry that I am not making myself clear.
The seller never replied to my last message, which totally convinced me that the seller was up to no good. The seller had seemed evasive for some unknown reason. Does any seller want his or her buyers to think that?

After 24 hours had passed with no response to my final question, I gave up. However, I wanted to try to figure out what was going on with this seller. I took this public to my Facebook page, asking others to query the seller. I find it interesting how open the seller decided to be with the other people who made contact. I guess the seller didn't trust the collector with the blog but sure could tell others that the book is in a warehouse, which is why she doesn't know what the ads are.

Hmm... The seller told me that she had the book in her possession, but offered no explanation as to why she was avoiding my question. She immediately told someone else that it was in a warehouse, which is why she couldn't answer the question about the ads. I was thinking along those lines. I knew by her lack of response that she did not have the book with her, yet she told me that she had the book. Why didn't she tell me the truth?

Right after I was told about the seller's prompt response to the other collector's query, the seller raised the price to $1,000 with a Buy It Now of $1,100. Then within an hour of the big price increase, she canceled the listing. She also got back in touch with the other collector, telling her that she would get her the required information. Meanwhile, my last question continued to go unanswered. I, apparently, did not matter.

I find it interesting that the seller chose to snub me while answering other people's questions. The person she chose to answer was only asking for me. That person wasn't even interested in the book. The irony is that the seller snubbed the person who would have purchased the book, if a first printing, and decided to help the person who had no interest in purchasing the book.

Also interesting is that the seller decided that the book was really valuable because of the questions. Let's think about this. If the book had been hugely undervalued with a Buy It Now of $275, wouldn't I have bought the book immediately without asking a question? The seller would have never suspected anything. I never ask questions about books that are priced too low. I buy them, pay, and receive my purchase in the mail without the selling having any idea. Since I decided to wait on an answer, that should have indicated that I was not sure that the book was worth purchasing.

It is also a bit amusing that the seller assumed that she had the scarce first printing, considering how impossible it is to find. Let's consider what the probability is of a seller's book turning out to be the first printing. Farah's Guide shows seven blank endpapers printings. The first two printings have the same points, and I firmly believe that the first two Farah's Guide printings were the same print run. Therefore, I consider there to be six blank endpapers printings of Lilac Inn.

Assuming that an equal number of books were printed for each run, then the first printing would constitute no more than one-sixth of the surviving copies, or 16.7%. Considering that some middle to late 1930 books had smaller print runs, then it is quite likely that the first printing was much smaller than the subsequent printings, which explains why it never comes up for sale. Let's say that the first printing only had half as many copies. That would mean that no more than one-twelfth of the surviving copies could be the first printing, or just 8.3%. How funny that sellers assume that they have the scarce book!

The seller handled my query badly since she ignored my repeated questions about the post-text ads. I decided before I went to Facebook that even if the book were the first printing that I did not trust her and did not want to purchase the book from her. Is that how sellers want their prospective buyers to feel?

Another irony is that the very last time that I asked a seller about the post-text ads in Lilac Inn, I also did not receive a satisfactory response. I asked that seller within 10 minutes of the start time of the auction, and the seller responded that he was leaving town and was unable to answer. Really? The book had been listed for only 10 minutes, and he could not answer a question. In that case, I bid on the auction and won it for a little over $100, within the value of a later printing. I didn't want to take a chance on missing out on a possible first printing. It turned out not to be the first, and I sold it for slightly above what I paid for it.

With this kind of luck, I will have trouble ever finding the first printing of Lilac Inn, and my difficulty will not be restricted to the scarcity of the book. Lack of cooperation by sellers is a far bigger obstacle.

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I delayed publishing this post for a couple of weeks, since I was hoping to learn whether this book is the first printing. As far as I know, the seller never came forth with the necessary information. She has not relisted the book, and she has allowed all of her eBay listings to expire. Furthermore, none of her books sold, since all of them were priced very high. I believe that this seller is one of those people who is paranoid about possibly selling a book for too low of a price, so she makes sure that her books are priced very high.

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Added on July 18, 2012:

The seller has finally listed the book again with photographs of the post-text ads.  We now know that the book is the fourth printing, not the first printing.

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 Added on January 3, 2013:

The seller finally sold the book on December 17, 2012 for $225.  It's interesting that the final price was $50 less than what she originally tried to get for the book.  In fact, $225 is a very good price to get for this particular book.

Monday, December 5, 2011

November 2011 Sales on Bonanza

November 2011 was my best month in the nearly three years that I have had my Jennifer's Series Books booth on Bonanza. Whether I quantify my November sales by the amount I paid in fees, by the dollar amount in transactions, by the number of transactions, or by the number items sold, November was the very best month I have ever had on Bonanza.

I sold a total of 158 items in 44 transactions. By series, this is what I sold.

Nancy Drew - 94
Dana Girls - 19
Trixie Belden - 18
Hardy Boys - 10
Cherry Ames - 4
Kay Tracey - 4
Peggy Lane - 4
Judy Bolton - 3
Connie Blair - 1
Zorro - 1

By dollar amount, this is what I sold.

up to $4.99 - 51
$5.00 to $9.99 - 63
$10.00 to $14.99 - 13
$15.00 to $19.99 - 9
$20.00 to $24.99 - 8
$25.00 to $29.99 - 2
$34.99 - 5
$39.99 - 1
$49.99 - 2
$54.99 - 1
$69.99 - 1
$249.99 - 1
$349.99 - 1

Most of my sales were Nancy Drew books, and unlike usual, the types of Nancy Drew books that sold were of almost all varieties that I have available for sale. I sold early books, books with dust jackets, original text picture covers, revised text picture covers, library editions, softcover editions, and tweed books without jackets.

The breakdown by payment method is as follows.

PayPal - 21 (47.7%)
Google Checkout - 6 (13.7%)
Checkout by Amazon - 17 (38.6%)

For the first time ever, fewer than half of the payments came through PayPal. PayPal's slogan is, "PayPal. The world's most-loved way to pay and get paid." Are we sure about that? Buyers are now choosing other methods rather often.

I commented in a previous post that I was not certain of the source of my November sales. For the first half of the month, my sales came primarily from direct traffic, from which I could not determine the exact preceding source. For the second half of the month, my sales came primarily from my website and blogs. I have to assume that a large percentage of my total sales for the first half of the month were from my website and blogs.

Bonanza's page rank is now a 5. Back when the site was Bonanzle, its page rank was either 4 or 5. The page rank was 0 in the first few months after the site's name changed from Bonanzle to Bonanza, which is why traffic was so bad at that time.

I have also checked my Bonanza booth's page rank, which is now a 3. This is very good for a booth on an alternative site that supposedly does not get much traffic. For comparison, this blog also has a page rank of 3, which it has had for years. My website, series-books.com, has a page rank of 4.

Page rank is Google's assessment of a website's importance, and the page rank goes from 0 up to 10. The difference between a page rank of 3 and a page rank of 4 is exponential and similar to how the Richter scale works with earthquakes. Most individuals who have a website will never be able to attain a page rank above around 5. Page ranks above 5 tend to be the large commercial sites.

I checked some current page ranks to show how some of the really popular sites rank.

eBid.net (a competitor to Bonanza) - 4
eCrater.com (a competitor to Bonanza) - 6
Alibris.com - 7
eBay.com - 7
Target.com - 7
Walmart.com - 7
Abebooks.com - 8
Amazon.com - 9
CNN.com - 9
Facebook.com - 9
Google.com - 9
Twitter.com - 9
Yahoo.com - 9

The transaction rate is increasing on Bonanza. Individual sellers may not necessarily see a difference, but from what I am able to determine, Bonanza's sales volume is up greatly from what it once was. Anyone who has regular sales on Bonanza can get an idea of what Bonanza's overall sales volume is, since our transactions have transaction numbers. Bonanza assigns the transaction numbers in sequential order.

My transactions for November 2010 have numbers ranging from 1045729 on November 3 up to 1127817 on November 30. Those transactions occurred over a 28 day range. Subtracting the numbers and dividing by 28 yields an average of 2931.7 transactions per day for the entire site during November 2010.

My transactions for November 2011 have numbers ranging from 2122973 on November 1 up to 2257103 on November 30. Those transactions occurred over a 30 day range. Subtracting the numbers and dividing by 30 yields an average of 4471 transactions per day during November 2011. This is a 52.5% increase over one year ago.

Of course, this is just a rough estimate by someone who does not have the actual data. There can be no way for me to determine what the actual sales rate is for Bonanza, but I can tell by the transaction numbers that the rate is definitely increasing. I find it encouraging to know that the site is gaining ground.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Revisiting The Secret of the Old Clock

It has been around 10 years since I have read any of the original 56 Nancy Drew books. I have been meaning to revisit them, but I have not been motivated to do so. This last week I decided to read The Secret of the Old Clock. I chose to read the revised text version, since that was the one I read as a child. Following are my various observations.

Upon this reading, I found that the revised text book is way too short, and so I decided to read the original text version immediately after reading the revised text. The original text version does take a good bit longer to read, and the story is fleshed out better.

The primary reason given for the revision of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books is that the revisions were done to remove racial stereotypes. While this may indeed have been one of the reasons, more likely the revisions were motivated by the need to renew the copyrights and to replace worn printing plates.

The revised text Old Clock does remove the unfortunate stereotype of the drunk, colored caretaker who allows the thieves to trick him. But at the same time, the revised text book adds other stereotypes which are not present in the original text.

In the original text Old Clock, the Horner girls need money badly in order to run their farm. Allie Horner wants to buy more chickens. I guess that wasn't a worthy enough reason to need an inheritance.

In the revised text Old Clock, Allison Hoover has a fantastic voice, and a voice teacher tells her "that some day we shall know Allison Hoover as an operatic star!" She needs the money for voice lessons since she is destined for greatness. Now that is a much more worthwhile reason, right? We can't have poor girls wanting to have more chickens. We need them to have poise and be brilliant in some fashion.

Little Judy does not exist in the original text version. In the revised text version, the Turners are going to be able to give Judy "the kind of schooling we think she should have!" This is an example of the stereotypical fashion in which the wealthy elite think. A young girl who is better than her economic situation can only thrive with expensive, private schooling.

In the original text, Nancy drives the officer back to the station. In the revised text, the officer drives Nancy's car back to the station with Nancy as a passenger. This is that stereotype of male superiority that was prevalent during the middle part of the 20th century. Interestingly, Nancy is more subservient in the revised text books than she is in the original text books.

Another example of how Nancy is more subservient in the revised text books is how Nancy interacts with the caretaker, Jeff Tucker. She is amused by the drunk, colored Jeff Tucker, and does not treat him very well. In the revised text, Nancy is quite polite to the white, elderly Jeff Tucker. She is not polite to the drunk, colored Jeff Tucker. It appears that Nancy is impolite only because Jeff is drunk; unfortunately, Jeff's race is mentioned all the way through the text, and he speaks in the stereotypical southern dialect. An entire essay could be written about the two Jeff Tuckers, how Nancy treats them, and how even the white Jeff Tucker continues the same racial stereotyping.

I noted that the revised text book needs some revision. The revised text book mentions the photostat machine, which is not mentioned in the original. I read about the photostat machine on Wikipedia, and the company that owned it had already been sold by the time Old Clock was revised and was in the process of being replaced by Xerox. The revised text used a term that was on the way out at the time it was written. Now, the term has been obsolete for more than 50 years.

People who dislike Nancy Drew criticize her for her perfection. They clearly have read the revised text books. I don't have a problem with it, but at moments, even I am given pause.

The revised text Old Clock adds the scene in which the dress is torn by one of the Topham girls in the department store. Nancy just so happens to love the dress and insists upon trying it on. Of course the dress fits perfectly, and Nancy suggests to the clerk that they have it altered to hide the tear. Oh how perfectly perfect it worked out! The clerk was not blamed for the torn dress, and Nancy saves the day! The original text scene of the Topham girl breaking the vase would have sufficed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Big November Run on Series Books

Based on my Bonanza sales for November, upon which I will report in greater detail in a future post, I am wondering whether eBay has finally reached a tipping point in which buyers are now going elsewhere. We already know that eBay has been losing sellers at a large rate, but are the buyers now tired of eBay's changes?

My November sales on Bonanza have been brisk throughout the month, and I have sold a substantially larger number of books than usual. I have not been able to determine the exact reason. My sales have been attributed to a variety of sources including direct traffic, which tells me nothing.

I have noticed that Bonanza's page rank is now at 5, which I believe is the page rank that Bonanzle had right before the name change of September 2010. It took around one year for Bonanza to regain Bonanzle's old page rank. This could be part of the reason why my sales have been very good.

I recall that Country Living Magazine had a small spread on Nancy Drew in the October issue. My November sales have been largely driven by sales of Nancy Drew books, so I have to consider that magazine article as a possible factor.

I also have to look at what is happening with eBay. In just the last month, eBay has changed its search algorithm yet again. They simply will not leave it alone, and that is eBay's primary problem. I am noticing that my search results for Nancy Drew on eBay include items such as car repair manuals. The clutter in eBay's search makes it much harder to find quality items.

Another possibility is that we have a very enthusiastic buyer on eBay who has been buying Nancy Drew books like crazy for several months. This person is buying many duplicates and is having a slight effect on the average prices paid for Nancy Drew books on eBay. This person is, to a degree, "hogging all the books." I am confident that most people who bid regularly on Nancy Drew books on eBay have been outbid by this person on at least some books. I have been outbid by this person a number of times.

So that you will be aware of how enthusiastic this buyer is, he has purchased $3,511.37 in Nancy Drew books in just the last 30 days, and for the previous couple of months, his purchase history showed similar amounts. Therefore, this person may have purchased around $10,000 in Nancy Drew books in the last few months. Actually, he might possibly have purchased as much as $13,000 in Nancy Drew books, since one of his first purchases was a $3,000 book.

What I am wondering is whether some people are getting frustrated about being outbid on so many books and whether this person's actions are causing more people to look outside eBay. What has been strangest about my November sales is that I am suddenly selling my Nancy Drew books with dust jackets.

You know... those books that no one has wanted from my Bonanza booth, that have been collecting virtual dust for a year or so, that I have been trying to gradually sell on eBay at high enough prices to keep certain people from buying them and leaving me low DSRs. Those books. People are actually buying them now—a number of different people, in fact.

Some of my more expensive Nancy Drew books with dust jackets have even sold. I have managed to sell two different copies of the "glowing bracelets" Lilac Inn dust jacket in November, and the first one that sold had been listed for over a year. It sold. I listed another, and it also sold within just a few days to somebody else. It's weird.

In November, I sold the most expensive book in my Bonanza booth. I have also sold a few books and a DVD that I believe I listed on Bonanza back in 2009. I like it, although I don't know why it is happening.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Dana Girls Book with a Different Color of Ink

I bought a large lot of Dana Girls picture cover books, which I received on Wednesday. The books were in very high grade condition, and I upgraded around 18 of the books in my set. In some cases, I chose to keep the book I already had if it was an earlier printing, with the drawback being that I was keeping a book in lesser condition.

In a couple of cases, I ended up keeping both books due to printing anomalies. The Secret at the Gatehouse is unusual because the ink on the top edge appears to be lavender rather than the usual green or uncommon blue that was mentioned in this post.


I wondered if the color would match any of the Judy Bolton or Connie Blair picture cover books.


The ink does not match at all. I then considered whether the ink could have been blue that has faded. Below, I have photographed the book next to a book with the blue ink on the top edge.


The ink does look like it could have been blue originally. The reason why I tend to be skeptical is because of the high grade of the lot in which this book was found. The rest of the books all have the green on the top edge, and the green is not faded like often seen with these books. Since the other books do not have faded ink, I feel like the ink on this book is probably not faded.

I also found a Stone Tiger in this lot which is of interest. In my post about the Stone Tiger I found with the blue on the top edge, I stated that I believed that it was the first printing. Pictured here is the book I just found along with the book with the blue on the top edge that was the subject of that post.


The book with the blue on the top edge lists to Stone Tiger on the back cover. On the inside, it lists Nancy Drew to Moonstone Castle and Dana Girls to Stone Tiger. The book that I just purchased also lists to Stone Tiger on the back cover. However, on the inside, it lists Nancy Drew to Moonstone Castle and Dana Girls to Lost Lake. I now believe that the book that lists to Lost Lake on the inside is the actual first printing.

With a series like the Dana Girls, we do not have a detailed price guide. In fact, we do not have a guide at all. With Nancy Drew, we know about all of the printing variations, but with other series, we have very little idea. I have seen many Stone Tigers that list to Stone Tiger on the back cover and inside. I have always assumed that they were the first printing. It appears that the true first printing lists to Lost Lake on the inside and is quite scarce by comparison.

Also of interest is the great difference in colors of the artwork from my two Stone Tiger books.


I like to find books which have variations in the cover colors and will often keep examples of these different variations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Examining the Cover Art of Library Editions Part 2

One of the major library bindings for the Nancy Drew series was done by the American Publishers Corporation during the 1960s and 1970s. These books have a green binding, and like with all other library editions, were created by rebinding the text block from regular editions that were published by Grosset and Dunlap.

For most of the APC books, the cover art was taken from the first cover art of the regular picture cover edition from the early 1960s.


Just like with the Nancy Drew library editions mentioned in my previous post, these editions feature cover art that appears to have been traced from the cover art of the regular editions. The finished result has less detail than the original illustration. #1-43 and #49 were done in this fashion.

APC became more creative with #44-48 and #50. For these books, one of the internal illustrations from the regular edition was copied for the cover art. In each case, the APC cover art is an exact duplicate of that internal illustration. For The Double Jinx Mystery, the illustration was altered slightly below the placement of the title and at the very bottom where two branches were extended.


My favorite is The Double Jinx Mystery. I like this cover art better than the cover art for the regular edition, in part due to the exciting action depicted. What if Nancy slips and falls? What if the bird gets away? Imagine how attractive this illustration would have been in full color.  Compare to the regular edition of The Double Jinx Mystery.


I also enjoy the other APC editions which feature cover art copied from internal illustrations.




These Nancy Drew APC editions are neat since the cover art differs from the regular editions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Examining the Cover Art of Library Editions

My favorite library editions feature the cover art from the regular editions. A common misconception about these books is that the cover art is exactly the same as the regular editions. Actually, the cover art consists of line drawings that have been redrawn by someone using the original cover art for reference. The result is a new take on the old cover art. For that reason, I consider the library editions to be very interesting collectible editions.

One type of library edition is the Multi Library Binding. These books feature cover art that mimics the blue multi endpapers, except that the illustrations are not from the blue multi endpapers.

Multi Library Binding

When I first began collecting these books, I thought that the cover art was a copy of the blue multi endpapers. Upon closer inspection, I realized that different book covers were used, and some of them were from the Russell Tandy dust jackets.

Blue Multi Endpapers

Even though the images from the Multi library binding are based on the Tandy and Gillies dust jackets, they were not copied directly from those dust jackets. They were copied exactly from the earlier Cameo Library Binding. The drawings appear to be exact duplicates of the line drawings from the covers of the Cameo library editions.

The center image on the Multi library binding is based on Broken Locket. Compare that image to the image on the Broken Locket Cameo binding and to the original Bill Gillies dust jacket.





Notice that the lines from the Multi edition illustration and the Cameo edition illustration appear to be identical. The library edition cover art appears to be identical to that of the Gillies jacket upon casual inspection, but look very closely. The artist probably traced the Gillies jacket to make both versions have the same proportion, and then filled in the rest as a line drawing. The result is a strikingly similar illustration.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My 11/11/11 Book Find

On Friday, I decided to check one of the book stores to see if anything interesting had shown up. I almost reconsidered, since the last three times I have been to that store, I have found nothing. I decided to go anyway.

Upon my arrival, I spotted around seven Nancy Drew picture cover books on the shelf, and I knew that most of them had not been there before. At least I had some books to check. Mystery of Crocodile Island was the one I spotted first, since the cover faced me from my direction of approach. I knew I would likely buy it, simply because I can always use another extra to sell. I pulled Crocodile Island off of the shelf and determined that I would purchase it.

I noticed that the next book to the left of where Crocodile Island had been was a copy of The Clue in the Crossword Cipher which looked like it could have been from the 1960s and was in pretty good shape. As always, I was ever hopeful, but I knew that my wish would almost certainly not come true. I snatched Crossword Cipher off of the shelf and immediately turned it over to the back cover, where I saw that the last title listed was The Phantom of Pine Hill.

I stared at the back cover in disbelief for around five seconds or so. I was thinking something like, "This can't be... seriously? I must be mistaken." I checked the price, which was low like all of the Nancy Drew books always are. I then stared at the back cover again making sure I was thinking straight and that I was holding Crossword Cipher and that it did list to Pine Hill. Yes, I was right.

In the back of my mind, I thought of my knowledge that two variants exist, one with an interior list and the other without. I didn't care at that moment which version I had in my hands. I already own the one with the list, but that book is in horrible shape and is hardly worth having. I have been seeking a Crossword Cipher listing to Pine Hill that is in good shape for the longest time. The presence or absence of an interior list is trivial.

I held onto my Crocodile Island and Crossword Cipher and checked the remaining books. I determined that I would purchase Twisted Candles and Larkspur Lane since they were early picture covers in nice shape. Both books list to Pine Hill.

Clutching my books, I checked the other part of the store where the newer Nancy Drew books are kept. I saw three Applewood editions, #1, 2, and 3, but I was not interested in buying them. I paid for my purchase and left.




Once I was inside the car, I thought to check for the interior list in Crossword Cipher. The book I had just purchased does not have the interior list, which means that it matches the points for the 1967A-1 first printing according to Farah's 12th edition. This is good, since I can now state that I have the first printing of Crossword Cipher.

There is the problem of the books that list to Pine Hill and have an interior list, and Farah has not yet determined whether the book with or the book without the interior list is the true first printing. Since I do have my horrible condition book that has the interior list, I now own the first printing of Crossword Cipher regardless of what Farah decides. I hope to eventually acquire a nice copy with the interior list present, so that I have a nice book either way.

My horrible Crossword Cipher with the interior list

This purchase means that the only first printing Nancy Drew book from the original 56 that I do not own is The Mystery at Lilac Inn. I do have the first and second printing dust jackets for Lilac Inn, but I can't seem to get my hands on that book.

By the way, I am now down to needing only one first printing Nancy Drew dust jacket, which is the 1930A-1 jacket for The Secret of the Old Clock. I am very close.

Also of note, I almost never find books that I greatly desire for my collection while checking local stores. The last time that I found a book locally that was high on my want list was in 2007, when I found the Ruth Grosby book, Mystery Across the Border, in dust jacket in an antique shop.

My book find of November 11 was quite remarkable indeed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nancy Drew Game: Alibi in Ashes

Her Interactive released its 25th Nancy Drew game, Alibi in Ashes, in October. In this game, Nancy has been arrested for setting fire to the River Heights Town Hall. While Nancy is detained inside the police station, her friends must find clues to help clear her name. The player switches between Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned during the hunt for clues.

I found the early stages of the game to be a bit disjointed with having to switch between characters all of the time. In several cases, I had no idea what to do next and had to use spoilers. Later in the game, Nancy is finally allowed to leave the police station, and I found that portion of the game to be the most satisfying, since the game play reverted to the old familiar methods.

This game has far fewer tasks and puzzles than the older Nancy Drew games. While some puzzles in previous games have been way too difficult, I would have appreciated having just a few more puzzles.

This game also seems shorter than many of the older Nancy Drew games. Her Interactive has shifted a bit with its focus, and the games' composition has changed.

Even though this game is different from earlier games, I still enjoyed playing it and recommend it to people who like the Nancy Drew games.

Monday, November 7, 2011

October 2011 Sales on Bonanza

I sold 90 books in 28 transactions in my Jennifer's Series Books booth on Bonanza. This is what I sold by series.

Nancy Drew - 70
Dana Girls - 11
Judy Bolton - 4
Trixie Belden - 3
Vicki Barr - 1
Hardy Boys - 1

As always, Nancy Drew is my biggest seller.

This is what I sold by price.

up to $4.99 - 30
$5.00 to $9.99 - 42
$10.00 to $14.99 - 10
$15.00 to $19.99 - 4
$20.00 to $24.99 - 2
$34.99 - 1
$39.99 - 1

As usual, the less expensive books are the ones that sell the best. What is so great about having an established presence on Bonanza is that I am able to sell the inexpensive books that I sold on eBay in the late 1990s. I can no longer sell those books on eBay due to the high fees.

Here are my sales stats for October.


The list of items sold does not match up with the number of items that I actually sold during October. The sales stats go back just 30 days, and I captured the data on October 31. I sold 19 items on October 1, so those items are not included in the screen capture.

Someone recently asked in the Bonanza forums about whether anyone's sales had increased due to offering payment methods other than PayPal. My overall sales have remained steady for months, so I cannot tell. However, I decided to compare the payment methods for my sales for now and one year ago.

I compared August, September, and October 2010 to August, September, and October 2011. Here is the breakdown by payment method.

August 2010


PayPal - 24
Google Checkout - 8
Checkout by Amazon - not offered
money order - 2

September 2010


PayPal - 13
Google Checkout - 5
Checkout by Amazon - not offered

October 2010

PayPal - 6
Google Checkout - 5
Checkout by Amazon - not offered

August 2011

PayPal - 7
Google Checkout - 4
Checkout by Amazon - 3

September 2011


PayPal - 17
Google Checkout - 3
Checkout by Amazon - 5

October 2011

PayPal - 14
Google Checkout - 3
Checkout by Amazon - 10
money order - 1

This sample includes 63 transactions for 2010 and 67 transactions for 2011. The breakdown by percent for the payment providers is as follows.

2010

PayPal - 68%
Google Checkout - 29%
Checkout by Amazon - not offered
money order - 3%

2011

PayPal - 57%
Google Checkout - 15%
Checkout by Amazon - 27%
money order - 1%

Offering Checkout by Amazon has reduced the number of transactions processed through both PayPal and Google Checkout. The effect on Google Checkout is more profound, with a reduction of nearly 50%. I do not know whether offering Checkout by Amazon has increased my sales, but offering other payment methods has reduced the number of transactions paid through PayPal.

I have also continued my increased presence on eBay. In last month's blog post on my sales, I explained about my success in moving up to Above Standard Seller. I have now increased my transactions to 119 for the last year, keeping me in the Above Standard Seller category.

My dollar amount in sales is two-thirds of the amount needed for top-rated seller status, so I need to continue for around four more months at my current rate. Will I make it? It depends upon how much I sell and whether I can avoid low DSRs, which I cannot control. Some sellers of series books leave low DSRs for other sellers out of spite. I have managed to avoid that situation in the last couple of months, but just barely.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Which Twisted Candles Book to Keep

I detailed here how I had found a first printing Nancy Drew Twisted Candles book and had to decide whether to keep the book I already had or the book I had just acquired. I stated that the decision would be like making a coin toss.

This is my first printing Twisted Candles dust jacket.


I purchased it as the 1932D-2 printing in 2006. The 1932C-1 and 1932D-2 printings have the same dust jacket, and the only difference is the book. The 1932C-1 book is extremely elusive. Approximately one year after I acquired the dust jacket, I was finally able to buy the 1932C-1 book. I swapped out the books, which unfortunately meant a downgrade in the condition of the book but an upgrade in the book/jacket combination to the 1932C-1 printing.

My first printing book is in rough shape, and I have wanted an upgrade. As of right now, I still want an upgrade, even though I now have another book. I have a difficult decision to make on which book to keep, because both are in rough shape.

In the below photos, the book on the left is the book that I have paired with my first printing dust jacket, and the book on the right is the one that I just acquired.




The book on the left is more worn on the edges of the boards and has a discolored spine. Those are the only two condition details which are worse for that book. Both books have a cracked front hinge. Both books have stains on several pages. Both bindings are weak, and both books have significant spine slant. All four illustrations are present in both books.

My initial reaction was that I would keep the book I already had. After removing the jacket from that book and seeing the discolored spine, I began to consider keeping the book that I just acquired. As of right now, I am leaning in that direction. The condition of the two books is virtually identical, except for the wear to the edges of the boards and the appearance of the spines.

Neither book is worthy of having a jacket placed on it, but one book will hold that honor. Which one would you keep?