Thursday, December 1, 2016

Strange Buyer Questions

Potential buyers who ask strange questions, especially ones that are unnecessary, are always concerning to sellers.  Fortunately, most of these buyers do not make a purchase.  For some reason, they like to contact sellers and ask questions that are already answered in the item description.  It's like they aren't really interested in the item, but they need for the seller to answer a question before they can let it go.

I recently had a prospective buyer ask me two questions.  The first question was whether the price written inside was in ink or in pencil.  The second question was for me to "be more specific as to the 'light wear' " that I described.

It's really hard for me to answer the second question without being snarky.  I am also always quite concerned when I receive these kinds of questions.  I immediately checked the buyer's feedback where I determined that this buyer has an above average number of problems with sellers.  This buyer leaves negative and neutral feedback on a somewhat regular basis.  While the buyer might have genuinely had more difficult sellers than the average buyer, it is always concerning to see a buyer with an above average number of problems.

When I answer these kinds of questions, I word my response in such a way as to hopefully dissuade the buyer from purchasing the book.  I told the buyer, "The price inside is written in pencil. However, I believe part of it is heavy enough that it will not erase. The penciled price is on top of another erased price that did not erase completely. So it won't be possible to completely remove all traces of the prices."  That was how I attempted to dissuade the buyer.

In regard to the buyer's first question, I tried not to be snarky.  I wanted to write, " 'Light wear' is wear that is light."  I also wanted to write, "Look at the pictures."  I refrained, but what I wrote wasn't much different.  I replied, "Light wear is wear that is minor rather than major. You can see the light wear in the picture. Hover your cursor on the photos to view them large. You can see a small amount of white showing through at the very ends of the spine and corners. That's the light wear."

The buyer did not purchase the book, which was fine with me.

Some buyers ask for me to take additional pictures of the book or jacket.  Most of the time, I understand why.  One buyer wanted a photo of a certain illustration inside a Three Investigators book.  I assume that the buyer was seeking a variant.  That makes sense.  Other buyers want photos of the front and back flaps of the dust jacket.  I understand this request as well.  The best way to make sure a price code is either black or red is to ask for a picture.  Sometimes it is also easier just to request a photo than to make certain that a seller gives the correct last title in the series list.

Then there are the other picture requests.  One buyer asked for me to take "random pictures" of several pages from different parts of the book with no explanation as to the purpose of the request.  I was given no information about which pages I should select for the "random pictures."  I assumed that the buyer probably wanted to know about the paper quality or wanted to check for water damage, but I would have appreciated the buyer giving me an idea as to the purpose of the request.  I photographed some random pages, and as expected, the buyer did not purchase the book.

I have had several prospective Hardy Boys buyers ask me to take pictures of the pre-text list, title page, and/or copyright page, telling me that they are seeking a certain printing.  I am not nearly as knowledgeable about the Hardy Boys series as I am about Nancy Drew, so in each case I looked in Hardy and Hardy Investigations to see what I didn't know that I should have mentioned.

Strangely, I could find nothing special about those pages in the books about which the buyers inquired.  I don't know what the pictures were going to reveal about the books. Perhaps some additional information has come to light about some books, and since I am not active in Hardy Boys groups, I don't have that information.  In any case, I am left perplexed and wondering whether some of the picture requests are just to see if I'll take the pictures.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

I think the reason for showing sample interior pages (not specific) is to ascertain the usage within the book. Is there highlighting? Are there notations? Are the corners bent every few pages as markers? Is there spotting? Stickers or price tags? Stamping? Are there stains throughout? Are there acid stains from ephemera? Is the text still dark? Has there been silverfish damage? Mold? Coloring? Scanning random pages gives an overall view of the copy. The buyer can judge for themselves the overall condition. I think some serious collectors are afraid sellers aren't being honest with them or have been burned too many times by lying sellers. I know I have.

When I hear the term light wear, it could be anything. It may be several turned down pages, it could be a broken spine, it could be cover cracks, coloring on 1 page, it could be writing on the cover or an owner's name, it could be anything. Classical book collectors need more information. They want to be able to decide if the light wear is what they are comfortable with or should like elsewhere or if the price seems reasonable for the damage.