I wrote a post three years ago about the scarcity of Nancy Drew original text picture cover books. The data compiled in that post is relevant to this discussion. Also relevant are some statements about Nancy Drew prices that David Farah made in Farah's Guide in 2005. At that time, I disagreed with what he wrote. I have now changed my mind and agree completely.
Farah wrote that eBay listings are but a small portion of the Nancy Drew listings sold online and that eBay listings are not representative of the average prices paid for Nancy Drew books. At that time, I felt that the eBay sold listings were truly representative of the value of Nancy Drew books, since I felt that most of the action was on eBay, even though it was in decline. Now in 2016, eBay has declined considerably, and I completely agree with Farah. eBay sold listings are no longer representative of the average value of Nancy Drew books, because now, most used books are not sold on eBay. It's interesting what a difference 11 years can make on one's perspective.
In my recent post on Bret King prices, I mentioned that buyers often pay higher prices for books on fixed-price sites such as AbeBooks and Amazon than they do in eBay auctions. Since fixed-price sites do not make sold listings available, collectors have no idea what other collectors are paying for books on those sites.
The original text Nancy Drew picture cover books are in demand and are getting harder to find. I have noticed that I tend to price some of my books higher than other sellers do and that my books do tend to sell, sometimes very quickly. Am I pricing them too high? I don't think so, at least not for most of them, since they are selling. I cannot keep some titles in stock, since I cannot find additional copies quickly enough to satisfy demand. This causes me to wonder if I am pricing them too low. For some books, I cannot justify pricing them any higher because the condition is not good enough.
Another reason I wonder about prices is because I have a buyer who is purchasing some of my picture cover books to resell. This does not bother me at all. However, this causes me to wonder about the value, because when someone who is reselling pays $20 for a Nancy Drew picture cover book, that tells me that buyers are paying much higher prices on the fixed-price sites. The seller cannot be selling the book for just a few dollars more if the seller is willing to pay $20 for the book. The seller must be pricing the book at $30 or more.
I have observed that I sell some picture cover books at $15 to $20, while in eBay auctions, some of the same books sell for just $5. That's why I believe that eBay auction prices are actually low-end prices. The auction prices are a good benchmark for value and give us very useful information. But we have to remember that we don't know anything about the fixed-price sites and what type of prices are being paid on those venues. Since my experience is that fixed-price listings bring higher prices, I contend that the eBay auction results are at the low end.
This does not mean that the books are worth hugely more than the eBay auction results. In some cases, they are worth only slightly more. In other cases, they are worth much more. When I have a book to sell from a scarce series, I check the eBay auction results and unsold fixed-price listings from other sites. I will usually price the book higher than the auction results but lower than the unsold fixed-price listings. This may mean pricing a $5 auction book at $10 or a $20 auction book at $30. In some cases, I may decide to price a book significantly higher, if I feel that the scarcity justifies the higher price.
With all this in mind, I took screen captures of some of the sold listings for individual sales of Nancy Drew picture cover books on eBay. For books sold by "best offer," I noted on the photo the approximate price paid, which was determined by the book's placement in search results sorted by price.
Click on each image to see a larger version.
The "man with pipe" cover art of The Clue of the Broken Locket is scarce. Knowledgeable sellers price the book at $15 and up. I saw four examples on eBay that sold for between $13 and $23. I saw a few others that sold for $5 to $10. The book that sold at the lowest price was a copy for $2.50 in an auction.
The original text PC of The Clue of the Tapping Heels is one of the harder to find picture cover books. Seen below are two books that list to Pine Hill. One seller priced the book at $8, and I priced mine at $20. I always price this title at $10 and up if the condition is good enough, and I have no trouble selling it.
The revised text of Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk is one of the hardest to find revised text books. I sold one at $15 while two other sellers priced their books quite low.
The original text PC of The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion is one that I sometimes have more trouble finding. I found it to be quite scarce a few years ago, but more recently, I have had more extras come into my possession. Nevertheless, I tend to price it a little higher, and I don't have much trouble selling it.
The two higher-priced books are first picture cover books, but I typically price my non-first picture cover copies at $10 to $15 depending upon condition. Two sellers sold their books, one a first PC, for only around $5.
The original text PC of The Clue in the Old Album with the original cover art is one of the very hardest to find PCs with only three printings.
Here are several different completed listings that I captured. I don't have any specific comments to make.
Here are several examples of sold listings for Mystery of Crocodile Island. All four of these books are first printing books. The book that sold at auction went at the very low opening bid.
The Thirteenth Pearl is a strong seller. It's not as hard to find as some other books, and I often find extras locally. In fact, I just purchased one in the last two weeks. However, it's a book that probably isn't found easily in a local store by the average person who actually needs a copy of the book. For that reason, it always sells well online. Notice the range of $10 up to $30 for the following listings. The lowest prices are auctions.
Even copies of The Thirteenth Pearl with double oval endpapers are strong sellers. I have sold nice condition copies of The Thirteenth Pearl with double oval endpapers for $20 to $25. In nice condition, all matte copies of this book are worth $20 to $40, with the true first printings commanding the prices at the high end of the range.
The prices shown here are not definitive and do not show the entire situation. Mainly, I hope I have shown that prices do vary considerably and that auctions do often bring prices that are much lower than prices of the fixed-price listings.