The format of the Nancy Drew series switched to softcover with the publication of #57. A small number of the Wanderer editions, #57-78, were printed in hardcover with dust jacket. The hardcover books were sold through mail order, mostly to libraries. Probably 80-90% of the books were sold to libraries, so most examples that surface are library discards. As collectors know, most library discards tend to be in rough shape.
I have been working on a set of these books since the late 1990s. The goal is to have all of #57-78 in hardcover with dust jacket and for the books not to be library discards. This is nearly an impossible goal.
I have upgraded my books many times. The first goal was to get any copy with a dust jacket. I recall one book that had a severe spine slant, so severe that it was more like the severe spine roll of a softcover book. That book had very heavy wear. The dust jacket was present, but tattered. I upgraded it to a more respectable copy with at least moderate wear, and then probably upgraded it again one or two times. I have upgraded these books so many times that I have lost track of how many copies have passed through my hands.
The Wanderer hardcover editions are not equally scarce. The lower-numbered titles are not that difficult to acquire. #57 to around #63 are fairly easy to acquire. #64 through #75 are moderately difficult to acquire. #76 and #77 are quite scarce, and #78 can be considered rare.
The Hardy Boys Wanderer books were also published in hardcover with dust jacket, although I do not collect those. I have collected the two Nancy Drew Ghost Stories titles as well as the two Super Sleuths! titles. The Ghost Stories and Super Sleuths books have about the same scarcity as #76 and #77.
I believe that the Camp Fire Stories book also exists in hardcover with dust jacket, as I seem to recall seeing it on eBay once, and it has the approximate scarcity of #78.
I have had #57-77 for years, but #78 continued to elude me. I decided long ago how much I would bid if #78 were to appear on eBay. To me the book as a library discard in decent condition is worth $100 to $200. In excellent condition, I would bid $300 or more.
Recently, another collector directed my attention to a pricey listing for what appeared to be a hardcover edition of #78 with a dust jacket. The book was priced at $275, which is within what the book is worth to me. My main concern was the lack of a picture and the possibility of the book not being what the seller stated.
The seller did not have the book identified as a Nancy Drew book. Only the title, Phantom of Venice, was given.
I could have inquired, but I decided that the book had to be what it appeared to be. I checked the ISBN, and sure enough, that is the ISBN for Nancy Drew #78 in the hardcover edition.
I found the same listing on the Advanced Book Exchange. I purchased the book there, since I have an account on ABE. I was encouraged by the seller's low rate of returns and canceled orders. I selected priority mail, because I wanted to see the book fast. I received the book, and it was what I expected.
The book is not a library discard. The pages are white, and the book is in excellent condition. The dust jacket has some wear at the spine ends, but it is in excellent condition as well.
I noticed that the jacket has a sticker over the ISBN.
The ISBN that is covered by the sticker is the ISBN for #77. I checked my jacket for #77, and it also has a sticker covering the ISBN. The ISBN underneath the sticker on #77 is the ISBN for #78.
A collector who ordered all of the hardcover editions as they were released stated that he had trouble acquiring the last two titles due to a change in the ISBNs. I wonder whether the change in the ISBNs is part of the reason for the scarcity of these final titles. Of course we all know that the final titles in any format tend to be the scarcest, but #78 is far beyond the scarcity of the other titles. #76 and #77 are also far more scarce than the other titles, although not as scarce as #78.
This is my set of Wanderer hardcover editions with dust jackets.
#57, 58, 61, 62, 63, 65, 68, 69, 71, 72, 73, 74, 77, 78, Ghost Stories, Super Sleuths!, and Super Sleuths! 2 are not library discards. #59, 60, 64, 66, 67, 70, 75, 76, and Ghost Stories 2 are library discards. Despite the number of upgrades, I still have quite a few books that are library discards.
The books that are library discards have light wear and are in above average condition for library discards. Just one jacket, #66, has an obvious sign of having had a library sticker on it. It is unfaded where the library sticker was positioned. Otherwise, the jackets are in nice shape.
In quite a few cases, I have switched books and jackets when I have found a library discard with a jacket for which I was able to remove the library sticker. Often, the newly acquired book was in worse condition, but since I could get the sticker off the jacket, I would keep the new jacket with my old book.
It is of greatest importance that I have jackets that do not have library stickers on them. I am less concerned with whether the books are library discards, just as long as the jackets do not look like they are from library discards.