Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Loss of Enthusiasm for Facebook and Online Interaction

I have lost much of my enthusiasm for the Facebook series book groups, for my own Facebook page, and even for this blog.  This is because of people who tease, ask overly inquisitive questions, fail to read carefully, make assumptions, make thinly concealed catty comments, bait others with controversial topics, fail to follow group rules, and so on.  The examples given in this post concern specific situations that have involved me and do not cover all situations that I have witnessed.

Normally, I don't allow this behavior to bother me, but I have been especially busy and tired for most of the last year, which has weakened my emotional strength.   I will regain my enthusiasm at some point, but for now, I have a low tolerance for much of the behavior that I see online.  This has caused me not to post as much specific information on my Facebook page, Jennifer's Series Books, so that I can avoid seeing comments that might bother me.  I also do not find the series book groups on Facebook to be as much fun as they once were, and for the reasons I have already mentioned.

Last year, I was making regular updates about my reading progress on my Facebook page.  I had set a goal to read 300 books.  After several comments that expressed utter disbelief or that asked how on earth it was possible to read that much, I began to feel like I was viewed as abnormal.  I know that nothing is wrong with me, but I can't help how I feel sometimes after reading some of the comments.  So I quit updating my 2016 progress for the most part.  I have only given one update for 2017, which was my total for January.  Since then, I have not revealed how many books I have read, because I no longer enjoy sharing that information.

I have been getting an increasing number of comments about how much room my books must take up, and I'll confess that the tone of some of them has bothered me. Some people apparently think my house is full of books and nothing else, and they crack jokes about how many shelves I must have.  I don't like being teased.

Let's clear something up.  Yes, I have around 6,000 books in my collection.  I probably own an additional 2,000 books.  They are in three rooms, not everywhere.  Series books are small books.  They are not textbooks, and they are not huge.  They don't take up much space.  Many of my books are softcover, which take up even less space. Most of the books are double-shelved.  It's amazing how many books can be placed on one shelf.

Some of you must be under the impression that I keep everything I read forever. Actually, I sell books after I read them if I don't like them enough to want to read them again.  I built a set of Phyllis Whitney books in 2015, since other collectors find her books to be excellent.  I overall enjoyed them, but not enough to want to read any of them ever again.  I put the books up for sale, and most of them are now gone.

I sold my set of Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers books.  They are gone, freeing that shelf space for more recent arrivals.  My Nancy Drew On Campus set is currently up for sale, and I'm sure it will be gone before too long.

I got rid of all of my duplicate Ruth Fielding, Betty Gordon, and Billie Bradley books, keeping just one of each title.  I have sold my Whitman movie star books.  (By the way, some of you may have just read the first sentence in this paragraph and thought that I sold all of my books from those series.  I find most people skim everything online and miss the real meaning.  It's so frustrating, and I wonder why I bother to write anything!)

The pace at which my collection is growing is less than what others assume.  I get rid of lots of books, and I do it all the time.  I shouldn't have to explain this.  That I sell books should make it apparent that I don't keep everything.

Let's cover some assumptions.  I was organizing my books and published a photo. The following photo is not the exact photo, but it was of this portion of my shelves.


Someone assumed that I only collect hardcover books because only hardcover books are in the photo.  Never did I say that the photo was of all of my books, yet someone made that assumption.

Another time, I photographed some of my Nancy Drew Wanderer hardcover editions.


Someone immediately asked if they could purchase some of the books and wanted to know how much they would cost.  They just knew (or so they thought) that I had to be selling some of them since the library stickers are still present on some of them and that there is no way that I would have left the library stickers on books that I am keeping.

Actually, some of the library stickers are underneath the laminate and cannot be removed.  Second, on the day that a book arrives, I may not feel like spending five to ten minutes picking away at a library sticker that is affixed to the book with monster adhesive.  Some library stickers are almost impossible to remove, so I leave them instead of struggling with them.

I have never been in the habit of showcasing books that I plan to sell.  This is because those books are shelved in a disorganized fashion.  I also think it is far more interesting to showcase my collection than showcase a bunch of random books.  But for whatever reason, people will make their assumptions.

Over a year ago I happened to read four different series books in the same month that had the same very specific theme.  It was purely coincidental and rather unlikely that it would ever happen randomly.  I photographed the four books and put the photo on my Facebook page.  Someone immediately commented that I forgot one and mentioned another series book with that theme.  Never did I say that my photo was of every series book with that theme.  I stated that the photo was of books I had read in the last month. I certainly did not forget one of the books I had read in the last month.

I put some books up for sale on Facebook.  I wrote a short statement summarizing what would be seen in photos. Someone apparently barely looked at what I wrote and thought I was selling completely different books.  Let's say that my short statement was "Nancy Drew Picture Covers and Trixie Belden Library Editions."  I was asked to provide photos of the Nancy Drew Library Editions that I had for sale.  I also had a second person shoot off a question at the same time asking about the prices, when I had placed the prices on sticky notes on every book in every photo.

It's a bit disheartening to see how much of what I write is completely misunderstood. Again, I do wonder why I bother.  Facebook has seriously caused me to question my own communication skills.  Each time I get questions or comments like the examples I have given, I have gone back and read what I wrote to try to see if I had caused any of the confusion.

Finally, I grow so weary of rules violations in the Facebook groups. I have stated multiple times that members should never post anything having to do with religion and politics.  I have also stated that altered book covers with religious or political content are never okay.  The reason is simple:  We do not all share the same religious or political beliefs, and those two topics always cause trouble.

So, a political post shows up in one of our Facebook groups at least once every six months.  Most members do not see the posts, since we manage to get each one pulled down within 30 minutes.  The political post is typically a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book cover that has been altered by a media organization to include political commentary.  Each time I see one of these posts in a group in which I am a moderator, I feel like I have just been attacked.  I am not kidding.  It causes me great stress when I see one of these posts, because I have to make a decision.

Facebook has become a very nasty place.  The comments on news stories and on personal Facebook walls are horrible, especially concerning politics.  Allowing even the slightest mention of politics to occur in the group opens the door to that nastiness spilling over into the group.  It cannot be permitted.

I become very stressed when I see the post because it always causes trouble regardless of how I react.  Strangely, I am considered at fault when I didn't make the post, but that is how Facebook groups work.  Blame the moderators for everything.

If I were to leave the post, then some people would be angry that I left it.  Leaving the post condones it, and the half of the group that is on the opposite side will be offended. Almost certainly, an unpleasant political discussion will ensue.  Since I can't have that, I have to delete the post, which is what I always do.  The result is that the person who made the post becomes upset because they feel that I should not have deleted their political post, even though the rules have always stated that political posts are forbidden.  Some people have actually left the group after their political post was deleted.

All posts that mention current politicians or that link to videos containing those politicians must be deleted from the groups.  The reason is the same as given above. No matter which side is represented in the post, we can be certain that half of the group's members are on the other side.

I will admit that I have had a few moments in the last year in which I have actually regretted that I ever created any Facebook groups.  If I had known in 2013 what I know now, I might not have ever created a Facebook group.  Running a group is stressful and a great responsibility, which I don't take lightly.  I will protect the group at all cost, even if someone feels wounded that their post disappeared.  It's unfortunate that some series book enthusiasts now dislike me because of my protection of the group.

You can see why I have lost my enthusiasm.

Monday, May 22, 2017

13 More Nancy Drew Digest Hardcover Books Left to Find

In November in my post, "Building a Set of Hardcover Nancy Drew Digest Books," I wrote of my quest to acquire the complete set of Nancy Drew Digest books, #57-175, in hardcover editions.  In November I had acquired 12 more titles to bring the number needed down to just 14 more books.

Today I acquired the lowest-numbered title that I needed, #109 The Mystery of the Masked Rider.  I really appreciate everyone who doesn't check eBay well and lets me get these books when they show up.  There is a reason why I continue to tell people that they should always search eBay everyday.  You never know what might show up.


Now I need just 13 more hardcover Nancy Drew Digest books.

114. The Search for the Silver Persian, 1993
115. The Suspect in the Smoke, 1993
122. The Message in the Haunted Mansion, 1994
123. The Clue on the Silver Screen, 1995
130. The Sign of the Falcon, 1996
145. The Missing Horse Mystery, 1998
148. On the Trail of Trouble, 1999
158. The Curse of the Black Cat, 2001
160. The Clue on the Crystal Dove, 2001
168. The Bike Tour Mystery, 2002
169. The Mistletoe Mystery, 2002
170. No Strings Attached, 2003
175. Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland, 2003

I have been very skeptical of whether I can acquire #175 in a hardcover binding.  The final titles of any series are always harder to find in library bindings.  However, I have recently acquired Hardy Boys #190 in a hardcover library binding, along with some other very high-numbered titles.  #190 was the final Hardy Boys Digest book.



If the final Hardy Boys Digest book exists in hardcover, then I have hope that the final Nancy Drew Digest book also exists in hardcover.

I concluded my November post with the following statement.  "Keeping in mind that this recent transaction is an anomaly, my present acquisition rate of just one or two per year means that I cannot expect my set to be complete for at least another seven years.  I am not sure that I will complete the set, but I am ever hopeful and enjoy the process."

I noted my acquisition rate at "one or two per year."  After that November acquisition, it took six months for me to find the next title that I needed.  More than likely, I will have to wait for around another six months before I find the next one.  

Spooksville #7 The Dark Corner and #8 The Little People

In Spooksville #7, The Dark Corner, Sally tells the others about a boy named Bryce who uses the Secret Path to fight against all of the evil creatures of the world.  Sally finally convinces the others to come to the entrance to the Secret Path where they find Bryce's backpack.  Sally admits that she is worried about Bryce.  Cindy decides to stay behind while the other three enter the Secret Path. Adam, Sally, and Watch find themselves trapped in a horrible place.  Will they ever get home?

The back cover synopsis is completely wrong. It states that Bum told them about a fun place in the Secret Path, so the children enter the path.  Bum has nothing to do with their decision!


This is a very good book.

In Spooksville #8, The Little People, the children go on a picnic in the woods.  Their belongings are stolen by leprechauns. The children find Pan as they search for the leprechauns.  Pan was tricked into gambling away his world to an evil magician and is now stuck on Earth.  The children go with Pan to his world to help him reclaim it.

I enjoyed this book.  However, I enjoy the ones set on Earth with magical creatures more than I do any of the books that are set in other worlds.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Christopher Pike See You Later, Witch, and Whisper of Death

In See You Later, Mark is a successful computer game writer.  He meets Becky, who works at the record store.  He strikes up a friendship with Becky, but Becky has a boyfriend, Ray.  Later, Mark meets Vincent and Kara, who live in a nearby mansion.  While Vincent encourages Mark with his computer games, Kara insists that Mark pursue a relationship with Becky.  Kara deliberately interferes with Becky's relationship to make certain that Mark has a chance with Becky. Why does Kara care so much about whether they get together?

On page 25, we learn that Vincent has an extremely good computer with one megabyte of RAM.  Oh, it's that wonderful technology of the 1990s.  One megabyte.



This is one of those books that did not hold up well for me.  I did not like it as much as I did years ago.  It's still pretty good, however.

In Witch, Julia has the ability to heal others. Julia's mother was a witch.  Her mother warned her never to look into water that has moonlight shining on it.  Unfortunately, Julia accidentally does just that and sees an unpleasant vision of the future, which puts her life in jeopardy.

While I enjoyed this book, I did not like it as much as I once did.

In Whisper of Death, Pepper takes his girlfriend, Roxanne, to a nearby town to have an abortion. During the procedure, the doctor leaves the room and does not return.  Roxanne finally leaves, and she and Pepper are the only people around.

Roxanne and Pepper return to their own town, and the town is empty.  Finally, they find three other teens in town.  The teens realize that they are all connected to a girl who killed herself, and that the girl wrote stories about them.  The teens find the stories and soon realize that the stories are destined to come true.

This book is a lot like current young adult dystopian fiction.  The story is very creepy with the teens being picked off one by one.  I had read this book before, but I couldn't remember anything about it.  My experience ended up being like I was reading the book for the first time.

The book is excellent up until the end, when it quits making sense.  The ending is left open. After I read some reviews and thought about the story some more, I then understood better.  The story does make sense and is actually quite clever.

This is an excellent book.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Spooksville #5 The Cold People and #6 The Witch's Revenge

In Spooksville #5, The Cold People, the four children come across blocks of ice out in the woods in the middle of summer.  Watch decides to thaw one out.  What could possibly  go wrong?  A frozen zombie man comes to life and changes Watch into one of them.  Soon, all of the blocks have been thawed, and Spooksville is overrun by the cold people, who are determined to make everyone just like them.

Spooky!  This story is very similar to a zombie story, even though the cold people are technically not zombies.

On page 97, "Ten minutes after saying goodbye to Adam and Sally, Cindy and Bum began to feel guilty about not doing more to help their friends.  At least Cindy felt guilty. She didn't know if guilt was an emotion Bum allowed himself to experience."

This book is excellent.

In Spooksville #6, The Witch's Revenge, Adam, Watch, Sally, and Cindy decide to visit Ann Templeton in her castle.  Once inside, the four children find necklaces labeled IMMORTALITY, STRENGTH, MATURITY, and BEAUTY.  Each child chooses one necklace and puts it on.  The children find that the necklaces do give them exactly what was promised, but at the same time, they learn that they are now trapped inside the castle. Ann Templeton tells them that this is a test and that they must find their way out on their own.

I greatly enjoyed this story.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Christopher Pike The Remember Me Trilogy

The Remember Me books were published in 1989, 1994, and 1995.  I read Remember Me when it was first published and definitely read it more than once.  I did not recall anything about Remember Me 2 and had no memory of having ever read it.  However, I owned it, so I knew I had read it at least once.  I did not own Remember Me 3, so I never read it.

In Remember Me, Shari Cooper is dead.  Shari tells the reader the story of her death and how she figured out the identity of her killer.

The first half of the book did not hold up well for me.  As I read the book this time, I decided that I would have preferred for the beginning of the book to have been written in a different fashion.  I think that the story would have had greater impact if the reader had not known that Shari was already dead and would have realized that Shari was dead at the same time she realizes it as the story is told.  I mainly felt this way because I had read the book before.

I instinctively knew the killer as I began the story, although I couldn't remember details.  As I read the book, I gradually recalled the motive and other details.

The second half of the book is excellent.

In Remember Me 2: The Return, Jean Rodrigues has a rough life on the wrong side of town.  The future looks grim for Jean, and she doesn't want to continue living.  Meanwhile, a deal is worked out so that Shari Cooper can get a second chance by taking Jean's place in Jean's body.

This book dives deeply into the mystical world, and that part is a bit much.

This is a good book but parts of it are boring.

In Remember Me 3: The Last Story, Shari Cooper continues to live as Jean Rodrigues, but her time is running short.

This book is pretty good, but it does divert from the main plot a number of times in various ways. Some of the diversions are interesting, while others are not.

I partly liked and partly didn't like the ending of the trilogy.  I wish that one scene had ended differently, although I am overall fine with the ending of the story.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spooksville #3 Haunted Cave and #4 Aliens in the Sky

In Spooksville #3, The Haunted Cave, Watch and Sally tell Adam and Cindy about the Haunted Cave that is located outside Spooksville.  Watch and Sally report that the cave is full of dangerous creatures.  Cindy doesn't believe it, and she insists that they go to the cave to see if anything strange is there.

The children decide that Watch will stay outside the cave while the other three explore. Shortly after Adam, Cindy, and Sally enter the cave, the cave's opening closes, trapping them inside!  The trapped children are forced to explore deep inside the cave in hope of finding a way out.  The cave is full of dangerous creatures.  Meanwhile, Watch tries to get Bum to help him find a way inside the cave.

This book is excellent.

In Spooksville #4, Aliens in the Sky, two flying saucers land by the lake.  Adam and Watch are abducted by the first flying saucer.  Cindy and Sally end up in the second flying saucer. Sally launches a crazy scheme that might just work.  The girls hope to find a way to rescue the boys as both flying saucers race towards an alien planet.

A young alien is able to read minds better than the older aliens, and he states that this is because the younger aliens have less stress.  I found that interesting, and it makes sense.

I did not like this book as much as the others, but it is still good.


Monday, May 8, 2017

One Year on Etsy

It has now been one year since I closed my Bonanza booth and opened my shop on Etsy.  I made that change because my Bonanza booth was no longer getting views.  I tended to have one to three pages viewed per day on Bonanza during my final months there.  The site had died.  Even when I placed links to my booth here, I would get very little response.  There was no point to continuing there, since something was wrong.  I speculated about the possible reasons in this post.

Online selling goes in an endless circle as sites try new policies and then eventually change them back to what they were years before.  I quit using eBay in early 2009 because eBay's policies were hurting my sales.  I had great success on Bonanza (originally Bonanzle) in 2009 through 2011—really smashing success.  My best month ever on Bonanza was November 2011, detailed here.  In 2012, my Bonanza sales began to decline.  I reported a slow month in November 2012, and that was the final month that I reported my Bonanza sales in this blog.  In late 2012, Bonanza pulled out of Google's product search, and soon after, Bonanza placed Amazon affiliate links through its own search results on the Bonanza site.  It's no surprise that sales declined sharply.

In this post, I listed all of my Bonanza fees by month to show the sales decline that occurred on Bonanza during the final years my booth was open.

In 2013, I began selling on eBay again, since eBay had backed out of many of the negative changes that made me leave in 2009.  Just two months ago, I wrote about my growing concerns with some of eBay's latest changes, where they seem to be going back in the wrong direction.  The endless circle continues.

With that background, the purpose of this post is to detail what success I have had on Etsy in the last year.  Etsy helpfully makes it easy for sellers to know how many of their items have sold in the previous year.  eBay hides that information, so I had to go through my feedback left for others and actually count items sold in the last year.  I then had to count the recent items for which I have not left feedback.  I am probably off by a few, since I likely miscounted, but the eBay total should be close enough for this discussion.

I have sold 603 items on eBay and 225 items on Etsy in the last year.  The number of items I had listed on the two sites is also important.  I don't have the exact data, but I can make an educated guess.  I have always had significantly more items listed on eBay.  For most of the year, I had between 250 and 325 items listed on eBay at any given time which averages to roughly 288 items.  On Etsy, my total number of items listed was between 90 and 140, which averages to 115 items.  Neither average is the actual average since I do not have the complete data, but both numbers are good enough to give me an idea of my Etsy success rate as compared to eBay.

My Etsy sales of 225 items is 37.3% of my eBay sales of 603 items.  My average number of Etsy listings of 115 items is 39.9% of my average number of eBay listings of 288 items.  Since the percents are close, I can conclude that I am doing about as well on Etsy as I am on eBay with respect to the number of items up for sale.  I am quite pleased.

I have been very careful about which books I list on Etsy, since I must pay $0.20 to list each item.  I have found that Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, and the Three Investigators books do the best on Etsy.  I have had poor success with the Hardy Boys and with most other series.

In fact, my care with listing quality items on Etsy is the reason why my Etsy sales are about as good as my eBay sales.  While I have sold more items on eBay and have listed more items on eBay, the average quality per item has been lower.

As long as I list the books that are the most likely to sell on Etsy, I have pretty steady sales.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Final Friends Trilogy by Christopher Pike

The Final Friends books were published in 1988 and 1989.

In Final Friends Book 1:  The Party, Mesa High has been combined with Tabb High, so Jessica Hart, Sara Cantrell, and sisters Polly and Alice McCoy are new to Tabb High.  The friends soon become acquainted with Michael Olson, Nick Grutler, Clair Hilrey, Bill Skater, and Bubba.  Alice throws a party so that all of the teens can become better acquainted.  But the party ends in death.

The characters are introduced quite well in this book.  They are introduced slowly and with adequate descriptive information.  I was able to remember each character apart from the others. I always enjoy books better when special care is taken by the author to explore each character fully.

In Final Friends Book 2:  The Dance, Michael is obsessed with finding the killer of his friend.  He also wishes that he could date Jessica, while Jessica wishes the same about him.  Neither is aware of the other's feelings.  Sara continues trying to have a relationship with Russ, and it's just not working out.

Meanwhile, Jessica, Maria, and Claire are all running for homecoming queen.  Jessica and Clair are now sworn enemies, and each girl is determined not to allow the other girl to win. Unfortunately, the homecoming dance ends in horror, just like the party did.

I have purposely not mentioned specifics, since that information spoils the suspense in reading these books.

In Final Friends Book 3:  The Graduation, the senior class graduates from Tabb High.  A party is planned on an ocean cruise the night of graduation day.  Michael knows that the cruise will be the last time everyone is together and the last chance he has of discovering the identity of the killer.

This trilogy is a hybrid of the horror and teen romance genres.  These books are a bit different from Pike's typical teen horror books, but I really like them.

This is an excellent trilogy.  The characters in this trilogy are what makes the trilogy so good.  All of the characters are memorable, and some of them are quite eccentric.  Most all of them are quite likable.  The trilogy is also filled with humor. I love these books.  I know I read them several times years ago.  I never could get enough of them.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spooksville #1 The Secret Path and #2 The Howling Ghost

The Spooksville series was written by Christopher Pike and was published by Simon and Schuster, presumably to compete with R. L. Stine's Goosebumps series.  The series is mild horror with all books containing supernatural events.  The series ran for 24 volumes.  The first half of the series has been reprinted, but the second half has not. As a result, the second half of the series is hard to find.  The last four to six books are very scarce and can easily cost $20 or more each.

In the back of each book is a biography of Christopher Pike.  I love it.
Little is known about Christopher Pike, although he is supposed to be a strange man.  It is rumored that he was born in New York but grew up in Los Angeles.  He has been seen in Santa Barbara lately, so he probably lives there now.  But no one really knows what he looks like, or how old he is.  It is possible that he is not a real person, but an eccentric creature visiting from another world.  When he is not writing, he sits and stares at the walls of his huge haunted house.  A short, ugly troll wanders around him in the dark and whispers scary stories in his ear.  Christopher Pike is one of this planet's best-selling authors of young adult fiction.
The series is set in Springville, which is a town somewhere on the western coast of the United States.  I assume that Springville is in California, since many of Pike's teen books are set in that state.  The unofficial name of Springville is Spooksville, because many citizens have disappeared and strange creatures roam the town.

Adam, Cindy, Watch, and Sally are the primary characters.  Adam and Cindy both recently moved to the town, and Adam is the leader of the group.  Watch wears four watches and does not seem to have a last name.  Watch wears thick glasses and cannot see well.  Sally is outspoken and rude.  She always bosses the others.  The children frequently go to a homeless man named Bum for assistance.  Bum used to be the mayor before he became homeless, and he knows all about the town's history.

In Spooksville #1, The Secret Path, Bum tells Adam, Watch, and Sally how to find the Secret Path.  The children follow his directions and end up in a dangerous alternative version of Spooksville.  The children struggle to find a way back home.

This book serves mainly as an introduction to the series.  I enjoyed it less than most books in the series, although it is okay.

In Spooksville #2, The Howling Ghost, Cindy and her brother, Neil, have recently arrived in Spooksville.  Cindy and Neil are at the beach near the abandoned lighthouse when it suddenly lights up.  Neil is sucked into the air and vanishes!  When Adam, Watch, and Sally learn about the disappearance, they introduce themselves to Cindy and offer to help her find her brother.  The children soon learn that an angry ghost occupies the lighthouse.  The children decide to explore it in hopes of finding Neil.

After I read this book, I decided to acquire all of the books in the set so that I could read them.  I enjoyed this book.