Monday, April 29, 2013

Scarcity of Original Text Nancy Drew Picture Cover Books

One of the more scarce original text PCs
The values for most Nancy Drew picture cover editions are trending well above the Farah's Guide values.  I have previously mentioned the scarcity of certain original text Nancy Drew picture cover editions. Some of them sell faster than others, and those same books tend to be the ones that I have more trouble finding extras of in order to sell.

I get most of the picture cover books I sell by purchasing large lots of picture cover books.  I try to acquire lots that contain key volumes that I consider more difficult to find, and I try to purchase lots that contain more original text books than revised text books.  I don't always succeed, and condition is also a deciding factor.

The lots I purchase vary as to what is contained within them, and this depends upon what the original owner purchased and exactly when the original owner purchased the books.

This means that what I purchase is not necessarily an accurate cross-section of what exists, since multiple factors are at play.  Still, certain books do show up far less often than others.  I thought about Farah's Guide and decided to compare what I have found to be more scarce with what should be more scarce.

But first, we need to revisit the topic of Farah's Guide and actual printings since many collectors have incorrect assumptions about the data presented in Farah's Guide.

Farah's Guide documents a list of printings for each title.  When Farah assigns a code of 1970A-57 to a particular book, he is suggesting that the book was printed in 1970 and is the 57th printing. 

However, a good many collectors do not understand that Farah's list of printings is actually a list of every single documented variation in the book's boards, illustrations, text, interior lists, and exterior lists since the first printing.  Farah did not have the actual data from the bindery to assign dates and printing numbers.  He made educated guesses, and these guesses are pretty accurate.  For the majority, they are correct.  But not always.

Broken Locket "man with pipe" cover art with 1965 text
Some Farah's Guide printings from the middle part of the 1960s are unbelievably difficult to find.  One example is the third picture cover printing of The Clue of the Broken Locket.  This printing has the "man with pipe" cover art paired with the 1965 text.  The "man with pipe" does not appear in the revised text, so the cover art does not match the story.  This printing most likely consists of the boards from Farah's second picture cover printing paired with the text block of Farah's fourth picture cover printing.  This means that the third picture cover printing is not a printing at all, but rather a combination of what Farah calls the second and fourth picture cover printings.

Label from inside of Kingsport Press file copy
I mention this because we need to understand that some Farah's Guide printings may consist of a very small number of books.  According to limited data discovered from file copies of books, we know that printings from the 1960s had around 10,000 copies apiece.  Variants, such as the third picture cover printing of Broken Locket, are so scarce that most likely no more than around a thousand were bound.  They were not full printings even though they appear to be full printings as listed in Farah's Guide.

Even though I know that some Farah's Guide printings are not actually full print runs, for clarity, I will always refer to them as printings since that is the convention that was established 30 years ago.

I went through Farah's Guide and made note of how many original text picture cover printings exist for each title.  #1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 are not listed here because they were never printed in the original text in the picture cover format.

 #5 - 5 printings
 #7 - 1 printing
 #8 - 8 printings
 #9 - 5 printings
#10 - 3 printings
#11 - 2 printings
#12 - 11 printings
#13 - 15 printings
#14 - 7 printings
#15 - 11 printings
#16 - 8 printings
#17 - 13 printings
#18 - 11 printings
#19 - 6 printings
#20 - 9 printings
#21 - 6 printings
#22 - 10 printings
#23 - 16 printings (8 printings with the 1st art and 8 printings with the 2nd art)
#24 - 15 printings (3 printings with the 1st art and 12 printings with the 2nd art)
#25 - 3 printings
#26 - 6 printings
#27 - 6 printings
#28 - 8 printings
#29 - 7 printings
#30 - 8 printings
#31 - 13 printings
#32 - 13 printings
#33 - 14 printings
#34 - 15 printings

Here are the books reordered by least number of printings to greatest number of printings.  I have put the ones that I consider harder to find in red and easier to find in blue, based on my acquisitions and sales over the last four years.  My opinion is neutral on the titles that I kept in black.

 #7 - 1 printing
#11 - 2 printings 
#10 - 3 printings
#25 - 3 printings
 #5 - 5 printings
 #9 - 5 printings
#19 - 6 printings
#21 - 6 printings
#26 - 6 printings
#27 - 6 printings
#14 - 7 printings
#29 - 7 printings
 #8 - 8 printings
#16 - 8 printings
#28 - 8 printings
#30 - 8 printings
#20 - 9 printings
#22 - 10 printings
#15 - 10 printings
#12 - 11 printings
#18 - 11 printings
#17 - 13 printings
#31 - 13 printings
#32 - 13 printings
#33 - 14 printings
#13 - 15 printings
#34 - 15 printings
#24 - 15 printings (3 printings with the 1st art and 12 printings with the 2nd art)
#23 - 16 printings (8 printings with the 1st art and 8 printings with the 2nd art)

Of the ones I listed in red, I have the most trouble with #7 (by far the toughest), 11, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24 (1st art only), 25, 26, and 28.   Of the ones listed in blue, I tend to have the most extras for #15, 17, 31, 33, and 34.

I kept #18 in red because it was very difficult for me to acquire extras for around three of the last four years.  During the last year, #18 has been much easier for me to find, and I have several extras currently in reserve.  The number of printings indicates that it might be easier to find than I previously thought.

Some of the books, like #8, 9, and 29, have fewer printings in the original text than many other titles, yet I have never noticed them to be particularly scarce.  It could be that those titles had larger print runs than some of the other titles that went through more printings. 

Based on what I have noticed for series books in general and with respect to general human behavior, I believe that around the first 5 to 10 volumes in any series had either more printings or much larger printings, since those books tend to be more abundant.  People who purchase books for children and grandchildren are most likely to pick up the early titles.  That would cause those titles to sell in greater abundance over the years that a series was actively in print.

As with other series, the middle titles seem to be harder to find than the earlier or later titles.

Note:  As always, absolutely no criticism of Farah's Guide is present here.  Please do not read intent into my commentary that is not here.  Farah's Guide is essential to collecting Nancy Drew books, and this post would not have been possible without the data from the guide.

4 comments:

R.G. said...

I have a copy of #24 with that cover and the original story. I had no idea it was somewhat rare! It does have a small portion where the PC was ripped off by a sticker (I think.)

Paula said...

Very interesting analysis, Jennifer! I like it! It makes sense and I agree with your impressions about which ones are harder vs. easier to find. Whenever I am listing a book to sell that seems scarcer to me, for whatever reason, I tend to want to charge more, even though the Farah's Guide values are the same as other easier to find PC's. I don't think allot of attention has been paid to the picture covers in Farah's Guide, but as they are becoming older now, and more in demand, I think they deserve more comprehensive documentation and a closer look at values. Perhaps Farah will address this more in the next guide.

Ken Cukrowski said...

I would add #15 with 2nd art and #20 with 2nd art as hard to find. 1 printing each??

Ken Cukrowski said...

Do you have a similar list for revised texts?

Thank you.