Monday, July 26, 2021

July Closeout on eBay and Etsy This Week + Store Hiatus

I will be closing both of my stores on Sunday, August 1.  I will have oral surgery next week to remove two teeth, which I mentioned in my previous post.  A few days after that, I will go back to work for the fall semester.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I expect to be closed for two to three months.

Both stores currently have a 10% discount on all purchases.  The sale was supposed to end today, but I decided to extend it until the day before I close the stores.  The sale will end on Saturday evening, July 31.

I want to get my inventory down just a bit so that I can reduce the shelf space taken up by those books.  This will help me to continue to organize my different collections. 

I am also being very careful about what I purchase, as I don't want to end up with boxes and boxes of extra books by the time I reopen.  During the last week, I decided not to purchase four bulk lots that I would normally have purchased.  Any bulk lots will have to be especially enticing before I will consider purchasing them.  And yes, I have already purchased two small bulk lots, but they have important books in them (like hardcover Hardy Boys Digest books).

Sales have been brisk since March and mostly without any trouble.  The postal service has caused me a few problems with some delayed outgoing and incoming packages.  Two outgoing international packages were held up in customs for a month.  One incoming international package took two weeks to be processed through customs.  

Currently, I have one incoming package going in a circle in the northeast United States.  Hopefully, it will escape soon.  A few of my outgoing packages have also gone in circles.  This doesn't seem very efficient.

A few years ago, I wrote about the high cost of international shipping.

Chinese sellers are able to list items on Amazon, eBay, and other sites for as little as U.S. $0.99, shipping included.  The Chinese receive subsidized postage rates, and the rest of the world is paying their postage for them.  Read the following article for more information.

As U.S. Postage Rates Continue To Rise, The USPS Gives The Chinese A 'Free Ride'

I still offer to ship books internationally, but most of my prospective international buyers think I am ripping them off.  They think I am choosing to use the most expensive shipping method instead of using a less expensive method.  The United States Postal Service no longer offers surface mail.  It does not exist.  We are only allowed to use the expensive method.

This came up again last week, leaving me with the familiar but unpleasant feeling that the buyer thinks I am trying to rip them off.  A buyer wanted me to find a cheaper method to mail five books.  I looked into the cost, and it would cost me $80 to mail the five books together in a box to the destination country.  Yes, I agree that the cost is outrageous and not worth it for cheap books.  

I was then told that another seller sent seven books to the buyer via international mail for around $30.  It was suggested that I might be able to find a cheaper method.  I decided not to respond, just because I didn't wish to give a detailed explanation of the situation.

I don't have access to that cheap of a method through the regular shipping channel.  It is true that a cheaper, seldom-used method does exist.  However, I'm not going to go to the trouble of using M-bag, if that is how the seller ended up shipping the books for $30.  I used M-bag a few times many years ago, so I am quite aware of the service and the hassle involved on my end.  I don't care to go to that trouble, for personal reasons.

Years ago, the postal clerks were bemused when I asked for M-bag.  They didn't know what it was and had to find a supervisor.  A canvas bag had to be found.  The package had to be placed inside the bag, and then the bag had to be tagged with the mailing label.  I drop off my packages with preprinted labels, and I refuse to wait in line and go through all of that again.  I am sorry.

In past years when I have mentioned M-bag, some readers would tell me that it is a defunct service, while other readers would say that the service is still offered.  USPS updated its site, and the service still existed as of January 24, 2021.  That's pretty recent, so I'm confident that the service continues to be offered.

What Is M-bag Service?

I will close with a word of advice.  If you really want a book and the book is at all scarce, purchase it instead of asking the seller questions.  A prospective buyer asked me about whether a certain book had a mylar cover (the edge of the white paper backing could be seen in a chipped area in the photo) and whether the shipping cost would include insurance.  

I spent a few minutes typing an answer.  I stated that the book had a mylar cover.  I explained that the shipping didn't include insurance, and eBay does not allow sellers to charge for insurance.  However, I would gladly insure the book.  As soon as I sent my reply, I saw that the book had just sold to somebody else.  The person who asked the questions missed out by just minutes.  The book hadn't been listed that long.  

If a book is scarce and hasn't been listed for very long, purchase it if you think you want it.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Late July Selling Update and Forthcoming Store Hiatus

This is a continuation of these two posts.

June 2021 Update on My Activities

July 2021 Update on My Activities

In my last post, I mentioned that my goal is to clear out enough books so that I can get my Bee Gees stuff displayed out in the open.  I had one bookshelf partially emptied, so I cleared off two more shelves.  I began pulling my Bee Gees stuff together. 

The image seen below is not how it looks currently.  I have actually removed the books from the top shelf since I took the photo.  I have to put photos in my posts before I write any text since Blogger places the photos randomly instead of where my cursor is located.  I expect in a year or so Blogger will shut down due to greatly decreased usage.  They'll have no clue that it will be their fault for ruining the interface.  If I didn't have over a decade's worth of posts, I'd already be long gone.  As it is, I'm barely posting anything.

Target has some nifty wooden boxes.  45 rpm records with picture sleeves fit into them, and those are on the second shelf from the top. 

I'm really excited that my songbooks fit into the boxes as well. 

For months, I have been at a loss as to what to do with the songbooks.  They are oversized and heavy and won't fit in most of my bookcases.  Finally, I have a place for them.

I also have some magazines, and I've purchased sleeves and backing boards for them.  I plan to put the magazines in the wooden boxes as well.

Last week, quite a few of my Etsy listings expired from when I reopened on March 12.  I renewed them, but I lowered some of the prices.  I lowered the prices of all of the Three Investigators paperback books.

I also listed a large number of Nancy Drew Files paperback books on Etsy.  I chose books where I could use the same description on most of them, saving me time.  The vast majority of the Files books have very light wear, no creasing at all, and are in excellent condition. 

I also listed quite a few Nancy Drew Digest paperback books.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

My oral surgery for the removal of two teeth is scheduled for August 3 (read the above linked posts for the backstory).  I go back to work on August 6.  At the beginning of any school year, I have a moderate autoimmune flare.  There is nothing I can do to avoid it.  The change in schedule and stress of getting back to work causes my thyroid to shut down temporarily, and this results in me not feeling that great for up to two months.  I repeat this process every year.  

The biggest problem is actually the brain fog and not anything else.  I can say and do some dumb things at times.  I hate it when I say something really stupid due to confusion, and then a couple minutes later I am chagrined after I realize what I said.  This is why I am quite open about my condition, since it causes me to look like a fool at times.

With the oral surgery just three days before I go back, I am certain that I will have a strong autoimmune flare this year.  That will result in a lot of brain fog and my two-month recovery time being a very difficult and dysfunctional experience.  

For that reason, I must close my eBay and Etsy stores again for the beginning of this school year.  I will close them on August 1 so that my last trip to the post office will be on August 2.  Since I can expect to have two months of not feeling well, I plan to keep both stores closed for at least two months.  I think fall break would be the time to reopen them, which will set the closure at 2 1/2 months.  

If you want something I have for sale, you have until August 1.  After that date, you will have to wait until I reopen.  

I believe I am now finished listing new items for this summer.  I just have two weeks before I close, so there isn't much point in listing anything else.

I am very pleased with the progress I have made this summer in freeing up some shelf space.  I am not going into local stores, and I am avoiding purchasing most bulk lots online.  I don't want my extra books to begin building up too much.  In spite of my strong resolve, I couldn't resist purchasing a bulk lot of Hardy Boys Digest hardcover library editions.  I didn't have some of them, and others could be upgrades.  Those books will take up some space, and if I can avoid buying too much else, then I will remain in great shape.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Nancy Drew Lilac Inn 1940s Style Library Binding

In October, I wrote about an auction for a copy of Nancy Drew #2 The Hidden Staircase in the 1940s Style Library Binding.  The auction ended in what was at that time likely the highest price ever paid for a Nancy Drew library edition.  

The question is whether the book is worth the final price of $234.50 plus $3.45 shipping (with sales tax possibly added to the total).  Rare items are always worth whatever someone is willing to pay.  So yes, paying over $200 is worth it. 

A rule of thumb used many years ago was that the actual value of an item auctioned on eBay is what the third highest bidder was willing to pay.  The third highest bidder for this book was willing to pay $77.00.  I feel like $75 to $100 is probably a fair price to put on these books if using the fixed-price format, so $77.00 is in line with that.

However, I do not feel that the winning bidder paid too much.  When two people want a book badly, they will have to compete for it.  That's what happened here.  If I had needed the book, I would have had to have joined the fray as well.  With the competitive bidding now occurring on Nancy Drew library editions, I would have had to have to outbid anyone else who wanted the book.  That's just how it is.  Sometimes the winning bidder has to pay a large amount in order to acquire the book.

A copy of Nancy Drew #4 The Mystery at Lilac Inn in the 1940s Style Library Binding came up for auction in June on eBay.  This time, I had to join the fray, since I didn't have that title.  The winning bid was what must now the highest price ever paid for a Nancy Drew library edition.

Yes, I did win the auction. 

Here is a screen capture of the top part of the bidding list with the three highest bidders' highest bid amounts marked.  

To determine possible value, we should go by the amount bid by the third highest bidder.  For this auction, that amount was $175.  In my last post, I suggested that the 1940s Style Library Binding books are worth $75 to $100 each based on the auction from October.  Looking at this auction and using the third highest bid, the value for these books should be raised to $175 to $200.

Now that we know that this book exists, here is my updated list of known copies.

 #1 one (mine) 
 #2 three (mine and two others)
 #3 one (mine)
 #4 one (mine)
 #5 two (mine and one that I sold years ago)
 #6 one (mine)
 #7 one (mine)
 #8 one (mine)
 #9 one (owned by someone else)
#10 two (both owned by someone else)
#11 one (mine)
#13 one (owned by someone else)
#15 two (one that sold on eBay and another owned by someone else)
#16 two (both owned by someone else)

These books are rare.  They are more rare than any first printing Nancy Drew book in dust jacket.  I have been looking for these books for close to 20 years, and look at how few have surfaced.  

As I mentioned, I was the winning bidder.  With priority mail shipping (at my request) and sales tax, my total cost was $565.21.  I did not pay too much.  Even though I'm placing the value at $175 to $200, the book is really worth whatever someone is willing to pay.  To me, the book is worth $565.21.  

I thought it would be interesting to reveal the prices I have paid for the books I have in this particular binding and when I purchased each book.  The books are listed in the order I acquired them.

 #6    $19.35    3/10/2004
 #5      $6.53    7/15/2005
 #3      $6.00  11/21/2005
#11     $6.00  11/21/2005
 #7    $50.00         7/2009
 #8      $8.00    1/13/2012
 #1    $13.38      2/7/2012
 #2    $23.95      9/3/2015
 #4  $565.21    6/26/2021

The books don't come up for sale very often.  Leaving out the $50.00 price, the books cost around $20 or under until the two recent auctions.  The $50.00 cost of #7 was that high because that was the price that the seller set.  I gladly paid it.  I had learned my lesson in around 2005 when I lost an auction for #15.  I only bid around $30 or so, which at that time seemed like too much.  I should have bid so much higher.  It's been over 15 years, and I haven't seen another #15 come up for sale.

What you see with the low prices was typical for what I paid for Nancy Drew library bindings in the early 2000s.  I often purchased large bulk lots where the books ended up costing me $2 to $4 each.  In some cases I had to purchase books individually, and that usually raised the price to $10 or so each.

The Nancy Drew library editions did not begin coming into vogue until during recent years.  Late last year I wrote about "The Surprising Rise of the Nancy Drew Library Edition."  I won't quote any of that post, but I do want to quote what I stated in a private message to another collector right after the Lilac Inn auction closed.

It's been astonishing to me to see the rapid increase in interest in the Nancy Drew library editions in just the last few years.  I don't mind being forced to pay a lot for one because it means that someone else finally values them as much as I do.  It took long enough!  For 15 years, I was just about the only one and was able to purchase most everything that came up for sale.

I spent 15 years spreading the word with the response, "They look neat, but I only want them if they weren't used in a library."  When people discussed the library binding auction from last year that went for over $200, one person made a remark about how it is best not be be vocal about what one is seeking.  I follow that rule as well, but I don't regret spreading the word about library bindings.  It's no fun collecting something when absolutely no one else cares at all.  I'm glad that some other people care, even though I now have some serious competition.  

It's really wasn't any fun being just about the only person who liked the library editions.  I am so thrilled that others now love these books.  I truly do not mind having a pay a high amount for a book that is now coveted by multiple collectors.  I'd rather have this be the case than still be the only one who has any regard for library editions.

In another private message, a remark was made to me about how amazing it is that the Lilac Inn binding is the first one known to exist.  This was my response.

It really is!  There are people out there who will think the price too high, but we are talking about a book that is actually more scarce than the Old Clock 1930A-1 dust jacket.  The value is lower, but only because most collectors still won't touch the library bindings.

I also exchanged messages with the second-highest bidder.  I wrote this about the scarcity and possible future availability.

I was uncertain for many years whether I ever had even a chance of owning the 1930A-1 Old Clock dust jacket.  But as the years passed, a few more finally showed up, and I was able to get one.  These [1940s Style Library Binding] books would have been discarded from libraries a few decades ago at the latest, so there very well could be some that were purchased by patrons that have been in their homes all this time.  Maybe some more of them will surface soon.

Here are pictures of Lilac Inn.

The inside isn't great, but that does not matter at all to me.  I collect the bindings.  Library bindings come from libraries, so the insides of the books tend not to be that nice due to heavy usage by young people, some of whom choose to blot their lipstick inside the books.  

On a recent post on Facebook, I made the following comment.

To me, library editions come from libraries, so they ought to have library markings. That's just how they are. When I can upgrade a library edition and get a binding with lighter wear, I certainly do so. I have never been worried in the slightest about what kind of markings are on the inside.

I actually hate it that so many librarians remove the pockets and assorted markings when the books are discarded. I prefer that the information remains intact, because that tells me the history of the book, often including when it was rebound.

On my page about the 1940s Style Library Binding, I state that the books were bound as early as 1950 and as late as 1953.  Since Lilac Inn has an interior list that goes to Golden Pavilion, we now know that this binding went as late as 1959.  

Here are pictures of all of my books.

Monday, July 12, 2021

Those Last Six Elusive Hardcover Nancy Drew Digest Books

It's been over two years since I last reported on my progress in building a set of the Nancy Drew Digests in hardcover.  At that time, I needed six more books to complete the set.

148. On the Trail of Trouble, 1999
158. The Curse of the Black Cat, 2001
160. The Clue on the Crystal Dove, 2001
169. The Mistletoe Mystery, 2002
170. No Strings Attached, 2003
175. Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland, 2003

For those who haven't read my previous posts, here is an explanation.  Nancy Drew #57 through 175 were published in softcover by Simon and Schuster.  The Wanderer titles, #57-78, were printed in hardcover with dust jacket in limited quantities and are now very hard to find.  #79 through 175 were never issued in hardcover by the publisher, although hardcover copies do exist.  Some copies of #79 through 175 (as well as #57-78) were rebound in hardcover at the request of libraries.  The hardcover library editions are extremely hard to find for most titles in the set.

I decided in around 2001 that I wanted hardcover copies of #57-175 to use as my reading copies.  The last time that I read through the Nancy Drew Digest set, I had around two-thirds of the books in hardcover.  For the titles that I didn't have in hardcover, it wasn't easy reading my "as new" softcover copies without damaging them.  However, I managed.

In 2018, I wrote about my experience in building a set of hardcover books, and I explained that since the books weren't issued in a set, I couldn't be sure whether all of the books actually exist in hardcover.  For over a year, I have no longer had any doubt.  I saw a picture of a copy of #158 in hardcover that someone had checked out from a library.  Another collector found a copy of #175 in hardcover.  I concluded that if #175 exists in hardcover, then my other missing titles must exist.  I knew they were all out there, and I just had to find them.

It was not until the fall of 2020 that I purchased any of the six remaining books.  I was able to acquire #169 and #170.

A catastrophic ice storm hit during the last week in October, causing much chaos.  I was without power for 109 hours.  Of course it was during the power outage that a very nice copy of #175 in hardcover sold on eBay in an auction with some other high-numbered hardcover titles.  I did have internet, but I was so distracted that I somehow didn't check eBay carefully enough.  I didn't see the auction until it was over.  

I was devastated.  I was depressed for around three weeks after I noticed the auction that I missed.  The ice storm was certainly a cause for my depression, but the missed auction was what got to me the most.  I was so sad.  I was down to needing just four books, and I had missed out on an auction for what might very well be the most elusive one.

In January, I saw a bulk lot of hardcover library discards that included #160, one of the titles that I needed.  I purchased the lot and then waited for the books to arrive.  This transaction nearly turned into a package disaster, like so many that I have detailed over the years.  I wrote about it on Facebook on the day that the package arrived.

This package arrived today, with one end of the package torn and gaping open.  I was so annoyed, actually rather angry, when I saw it.  I just KNEW that I had lost some hardcover Nancy Drew Digest books.  I purchased these books just to get #160.  If #160 should happen to be missing, then....!!!  I yanked the box open from the damaged end and literally dumped the contents onto the floor.  I didn't care, and I knew that the books would not get damaged.  I had to know.  First, I counted the books.  They appeared to be all present.  And then I found #160.  Yay!

That was on January 19.  I had acquired #160, taking me down to needing just three titles.  Of course, it would have been just two titles if I hadn't missed that auction.  I couldn't help but think about that.  

In April, I was gifted with hardcover copies of #148, 158, and 175.  

So it worked out in the end, thanks to a friend.  I now have all Nancy Drew books from #57 through #175 in hardcover library editions.  So yes, they do all exist.  I have them.

My quest for all digest titles in hardcover took 20 years to complete.

While my quest to obtain all titles is over, I do need to upgrade some books.  I am still keeping a watch out for any hardcover digest books that I can upgrade.  I am grateful, however, that my set is now complete.  Awhile back I reported how Nancy Drew library editions have come into vogue.  There has been less interest in the hardcover digest books than in the library editions of #1-56.  However, that does seem to be changing.  I know of a few more people who are now interested in building sets of #57-175 in hardcover.  As the competition increases, I can relax, knowing that I have completed my set.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

July 2021 Update on My Activities

This is an update to my June update on my activities.  This is another long post.  

I did finally get done painting the one room.

I purchased the new dresser that I wanted.  The final step was going to be new carpet, but that was when I decided that I had had enough.  I quit with the dresser and did not get new carpet.  I was a bit overwhelmed with the mess that I had created by moving everything around.  

I began the process of getting it all picked up and put away.  I'm not done yet and still have quite a mess, but it is a lot better than it was.

I'm still working on selling down as many books as I can as fast as I can.  I mentioned earlier this year that I wanted to get stuff out of drawers and cabinets so that it can be displayed.  This requires me to sell off a good many books in order to gain the needed shelf space.  There is no point to me having neat stuff if I can never look at it.  (Note: I never make statements like this in the Facebook groups because people get really defensive.  I'm sure all of us have neat things stashed away that we can never see.  I want to change that problem for me as best I can.  I'm not judging others, since I'm guilty of it as well.)

I didn't get into the specifics of exactly what my endgame is, but I have a distinct goal: all of my Bee Gees stuff out where I can see it.  Just so that you understand why this is important, these are the four types of Bee Gees fans as I see it.

#1  These people are fans of the Bee Gees from 1960 to 1974.  They dislike everything that came later.

#2  These people are fans of the Bee Gees from 1975 to 1979.  They may like some of the other stuff, but the disco is primarily all that interests them.

#3  These people are in love with one or more of the brothers.  I'll leave it at that.

#4  These people are fans of everything Bee Gees and related from 1960 to the present day.  They are fans of the entire song catalog and are interested in knowing everything about the Bee Gees.  They get along quite well with all fans who fall under #1 and #2.  They tend to avoid the #3 fans.

I am #4. 

Getting my Bee Gees stuff out is of paramount importance.  It needs to happen.  Unfortunately, I don't think I will reach that point before summer break is over.  However, I will keep working at reducing my books and freeing up more space.  Here is a peek at some of my Bee Gees stuff, which is currently stacked here and there as I continue to shift items around.   

I have had multiple other complications this summer, most importantly the one involving my teeth.  Both tooth #30 and #31 have been quite painful.  #31 has been a problem periodically over the years due to a crack in the tooth under the crown.  #30 has never been a problem, but it was hurting with #31. 

My dentist wanted to pull tooth #31 since it is known to be cracked, see if that helped, and then put a crown on #30 if it didn't.  I declined to do anything last month since I was having an autoimmune flare and I had a suspicion that #30 was the real problem.  I didn't want to remove #31 and risk whatever that might cause.  I couldn't figure out the status of #30, so I did nothing.  

Three weeks passed.  At first, the pain went away.  And then it came back, worse than ever.  Tooth #30 became obviously infected (I'll spare you the details, but it was bad.).  Ah-ha!  I then knew which tooth was the bigger problem, just as I suspected.

I went back to the dentist where it was determined that both teeth need to be removed.  I felt like I was a fool for waiting, but my dentist thinks that I made the better decision.  This way both teeth can go together so that I have a shorter recovery time.  That's better than doing one (what would have been the wrong one to begin), waiting for it to heal, and then having to do another tooth. 

This is what is interesting.  I had suspected that #30 was a problem in June, but there appeared to be nothing wrong with it.  #31 has the known crack and a small air pocket that hasn't changed in the last couple of years.  When I went back to the dentist for the infected tooth to be checked, it had changed in just three weeks.  It now has a large large air pocket that goes down into the root.  It now has a visible crack.  Those two things explain the horrific pain.

I've been on an antibiotic, and I have the consultation with the oral surgeon this coming week.  Hopefully we can get the teeth removed soon.  While I hate losing teeth, I will be better off without them.  I cannot chew at all on the right side due to the pain.  Even chewing on the left side causes the right side to hurt.  It will be easier to eat once the aching teeth are gone.  

I do plan to get implants, so this will be a long process.  

The tooth pain has been a huge distraction, but I have still managed to get lots of books listed.  Things are starting to get cleaned up.  It will work out eventually.

In an effort to speed up sales, my books are 10% off this weekend through approximately midnight Sunday, July 11.  

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I end up listing stuff at all sorts of random times.  Those of you who have been on top of things have benefited.  

Yesterday, I listed some Applewood printing plates, which sold quickly. 

Normally I wouldn't mention items that have already sold, but a discussion about my listings that occurred on Facebook proved to be mildly annoying.  Interestingly, at least one of the comments has been deleted.  That was a comment that appeared to imply that my listings were priced too high.  There was even a suggestion that something hinky was going on since the listings sold fast.  Rather, the listings were probably priced too low, and they sold fast for that reason and because someone advertised them to collectors.  That's all.

You can see why I don't post much in the Facebook groups.  There are too many odd comments, which don't occur either here or on my own Facebook page.

I'm left with the vague feeling that I did something wrong by not having eBay auctions.  At the same time, I feel that I sold the plates at a fair price.  I don't regret it.  I do regret that the listings were mentioned on Facebook.

The irony is that the printing plates were readily available in 2004 and 2005 when Applewood offered them.  Very few of us purchased them.  My purchase was for 10 plates, which was 4.8% of the plates for the book.  I think Applewood only sold the plates for Old Clock.  If there had been more interest, then plates for additional titles would have been sold.  People aren't happy that they missed my listings yesterday.  The real loss is that more people didn't purchase the plates in 2004 and 2005.  If they had, more of them would be out there for those collectors who want them now.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Selling Practices and Saving Time When Listing

eBay continually comes up with new guidelines for sellers that end up wasting time.  The latest is that sellers are required to enter item specifics for the author and title of the book.  This is stupid.  Most sellers put the author and title of the book in the title of the listing.  Exactly why does the seller need to type the same information into the item specifics?  

I heard about this requirement awhile back and was highly annoyed.  I held off doing anything about it, wanting as many of my existing listings to sell as possible before the deadline, which would save me from having to edit them.  I did begin entering the author and title for new listings that I created in the last few weeks.

The new item specifics will be required on eBay beginning July 12.  Yesterday, I finished editing my existing listings to include title and author.  Language will also be required, but I was already using that item specific.  Since I sell international editions of series books, it's been necessary for some time for me to enter the language of the text as an item specific.

Since I complied with eBay's latest requirement, I resumed listing new items.  I always need to get many books listed very quickly, so I look for ways that I can reduce the amount of time it takes to create a listing.  For instance, I copy from old listings to create new listings.  I have used that practice for many years.  It alone saves a lot of time.  There is no reason to start over from scratch each time.

I now take fewer photos of my books.  One photo with the book open is usually enough.  I don't have to crop that one photo.  I have saved much time by cutting the number of photos taken in half and have saved even more time by avoiding having to crop many of my photos.

Interestingly, both eBay and Etsy have recently begun to suggest on the listing form that I need to add more photos.  The sites are unequal in their treatment of sellers.  They allow sellers like Thriftbooks to list books without any photos.  Small sellers are nagged about selling practices while the big sellers get to do what they want.  

In recent years, I have gradually reduced the length of my listings.  This has been especially necessary on Etsy, where listings are truncated when they are anything other than very short.  The truncation hides most of the text, and many buyers will never open up the remaining text to read.  This is a big problem.

An Etsy description that I wrote for an original text Nancy Drew book this spring is as follows:  "The book contains the original 25 chapter text.  The book has blue multi endpapers and lists to Crooked Banister on the back cover.  The book has light wear. The spine is slanted.  There is no writing inside the book."

With that all as one paragraph and short, the text does not get truncated.  In the last two weeks, I have realized that I can begin saving myself more time.  I always provide a picture of the book open so that buyers can see the front and back covers.  Why I do need to keep stating what the last title listed is on the back cover when it can be clearly seen in the picture?  

New listings for Nancy Drew picture covers can go like this:  "The book contains the original 25 chapter text and has blue multi endpapers.  The book has light wear. The spine is slanted.  There is no writing inside the book."  

I save time by not having to verify the last title listed and then change it in the text of the listing that I just copied from another listing.

Of course when the book is a special printing, I will continue to give more information.  But when a book is an ordinary picture cover printing, the back cover list is enough information.  

Most sellers consider the pictures in the listing to be part of the description.  The only sellers for which this would be an exception would be sellers like Thriftbooks, who use stock photos.  Any seller like me considers the photos to be part of the description.

Recently, a member of one of the Facebook groups posted a photo of a book that is for sale on eBay and said that it had no description.  The member was critical of the seller for not having a description.  I was rather baffled.  The photo showed the age of the book and the condition of the book.  Yes, the seller should have made some kind of statement about the interior condition.  Even so, it was unfair to state that the seller had no description.  The seller provided quite a lot of information just by posting a photo of the book.  

Did the seller really need to write out a description of what could be seen in the photo?  "The jacket has a tear in the upper left corner of the front panel.  The jacket has a chip at the center bottom of the front panel.  The jacket has a small piece missing from the spine."   To save time, I make a more general statement like, "The dust jacket has chipping." 

The seller must describe what is not apparent from the photos.  Sellers like Thriftbooks have a meaningless canned description and use a stock photo or no photo at all.  Why criticize a seller who photographs the actual book for sale?  That seller has provided a lot more information than Thriftbooks does.

I want to remind sellers that books should always be protected from moisture exposure. The vast majority of the books I receive in the mail were mailed with no protection from moisture, which is why I end up with wet and damaged books periodically.  Of course it doesn't rain often in most locations, but you never know when the package you mail to a buyer is the one that is left out in the rain.

I have been informed by two different buyers in the last few months about how the package I sent was sitting in the rain and soaked.  In both cases, I was told that my protection of the books saved them from water damage.  It does matter.  Wrap the books in plastic before mailing them.

Note:  In this post I used Thriftbooks as an example of a seller who uses stock photos.  Even though Thriftbooks uses stock photos, I am a big fan of Thriftbooks.  I understand what they do and know how to use their service.  I use Thriftbooks to build complete sets of books that I just want to read.  Thriftbooks is perfect for that and cannot be beat.

Format collectors should never purchase from Thriftbooks.  When format collectors make the mistake of purchasing from Thriftbooks, they are the people who complain about Thriftbooks sending the wrong book.  Thriftbooks sends any copy of the book.  They don't care what it looks like.  Thriftbooks should be used to obtain reading copies.  The service is great for that purpose.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Sunday, June 13, 2021

June 2021 Update on My Activities

This post is quite long, perhaps more than you will care to read.  Or, if you enjoy these kinds of posts, then this will be a good one.  

The first part of this post was written in May.  That part is as follows with some added notes for clarity.

I have some draft posts that were written at various times in the last year.  My enthusiasm for this blog dipped when Blogger changed the interface.  The interface has improved somewhat, so I expect to resume some regularity in posting once I am out for summer break.  (Note: That didn't happen.)

I have reduced my extra books to the point where I have some space on the shelves allotted to them.  My problem now is that I am still using too many shelves for my extra books, so I hope to reduce the quantity a bit more in the next few weeks.

February to the present (Note: early May when written) has been an incredibly stressful, difficult time for multiple reasons. 

The two winter storms and extreme cold that occurred simultaneously in February were devastating.  In Oklahoma, it was the coldest stretch in over 100 years.  Around half of the bushes lost all growth from above ground level.  They are now coming up from the roots.  Some bushes were completely killed, including the roots.  Some large trees were also damaged or killed. 

The bird and squirrel populations were decimated.  There are very few birds flying around and far fewer squirrels than usual.  I always put out seed for the birds and squirrels.  In the past, multiple squirrels and six to 12 birds could be seen eating the seed at any given time.  Now, I see no birds or squirrels eating the seed during most hours of the day.  Every so often, one squirrel or just one or two birds might show up to eat.  The squirrel and bird populations in the vicinity of my home have decreased by more than 75%. 

I actually was a bit traumatized by the cold spell, just like I was after the horrific ice storm in October.  I received my first Moderna Covid-19 shot on February 24, which caused an autoimmune flare.  I had pretty much recovered (or so I thought) from that by March 30, when I received the second shot.  I then had another flare, which I didn't perceive to be too awful.  It was bad, but I dealt with it.

It was not until around May 10 that I realized how messed up I had been for 2 1/2 months.  I felt the depression lift.  I didn't know that I was depressed.  I knew that I didn't feel normal and that I was stressed, but I didn't perceive that it was a big deal.  When the fog lifted, it was like I had taken a happy pill.  Wow.  I hadn't been well physically or mentally for 2 1/2 months.

During the 2 1/2 months that I wasn't well, I was under a large amount of stress.  We started making our students take tests on paper once again, and the students did not adjust well.  That was difficult.  I started selling again on March 13.  That went pretty well, actually a bit too well.  I sold so much that it finally got to me.  (Note:  In the last three months, I have sold as many books as I normally sell in an entire calendar year.)  I was incredibly stressed by the number of packages that I was having to prepare.  I pulled back on listing new items, which caused my sales to slacken off somewhat.  That helped a little bit.

It was in late April that I felt the very highest amount of stress.  Around then, problems on Facebook increased.  I manage some groups, and one group in particular is continually a problem because it has a bloated membership.  Several people kept submitting posts that were problematic for various reasons.

Those people might post about an extremely obscure series but not explain what it is.  We won't blindly approve something when we can't figure out what it is within around 30 seconds.  We repeatedly advised those people to explain their content, but they didn't seem to get the message.

At the same time, others used loopholes in the rules to get posts approved that shouldn't be in the group.  I won't get into the specifics of exactly what transpired, but I finally reached a point where I was done with letting people sneak things in under a loophole.  It just wasn't worth my time or trouble.  I have been stretched so thin the last few months, and I finally had enough.  No more loopholes.  On May 7, I decided that I was completely done with dealing with certain kinds of posts.

That was what I wrote in May.  I am now two weeks into summer break, and honestly, I am still a bit stressed for multiple reasons.  

Graduation was three weeks ago.  The ceremony was held outdoors due to pandemic precautions.  Of course it rained on us.  It was rather... unpleasant.  We all laughed about it.  What else could we do?  I dealt with it okay, or so I thought.  However, my autoimmune disease does like to betray me.  The very next day I began dealing with horrific tooth and jaw pain that was quite intense.  It has really settled down in the last week, so I think I'm going to be okay without having to get major dental work. 

My dentist wants to pull a tooth and put a crown on another in an attempt to solve the problem, but that's like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  They don't think that an autoimmune flare could be causing the pain, but I know my body.  In fact, I believe that the Moderna vaccine is still affecting my immune system, and that I'm not back to normal.  Oh, and my thyroid medication was recalled again in early May.  So there are several reasons why I would be having autoimmune problems at this time.    

While I have been dealing with intense pain, I have worked on the next step in getting my collection in order.  I have reduced my extra books, and now I need to start rearranging and getting my other collections out of drawers.  This has snowballed into a rather large project, so I haven't gotten that far.  

It started with my closet.  I wanted to remove my closet doors and change to curtains covering the opening.  But I now hate the light pink paint on the walls.  I didn't want to purchase curtains to match paint that I no longer like.  I decided to repaint the room.  I chose a nice shade of blue, then I found curtains that would look good.  Painting the inside of the closet took forever.  When I finished painting the inside of the closet and around the opening, I finally hung up the Judy Bolton Ghost Parade Spirit Masks I purchased in February just before the terrible cold spell.    

I started painting two of the walls.  I then decided to replace a piece of furniture and get new carpet in the room once I am finished painting. 

At present, I have a big task in front of me, which I am dreading.  In order to paint the third wall, I need to pull down all my Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton books with dust jackets, plus all the books that are shelved behind them. 

I can't stack the books on the floor, since I have to protect them from the cats.  I'm going to have to stack them on top of books that are shelved in other rooms.  I don't have much extra shelf space even after having sold a huge number of books since March.  Space is still at a premium.  

So, that's why I have seemingly abandoned the blog and am not posting much of anything on Facebook.  Once I get this project done, I can finally reorganize my collections as I originally planned.  This is apparently how I am spending my summer break.  

Before I started painting, I listed a large number of books on both eBay and Etsy in late May.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Sometime after I finish painting, I will have some more interesting items to list.  As I move my possessions around, I continue to find books and other items that I no longer want to keep.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Scarce Books Being Dumped Online

The pandemic has upended everything.  Not only are series books selling briskly (my sales since March 13 have been four times higher than my all-time highest sales for a comparable time period), but people are listing extremely scarce books online, often dumped into bulk lots.  I have never seen so many excellent bulk lots as I have seen in recent months.  This is amazing.

The bulk lots being listed may have to do with the age of the people who collected them and a decision to downsize.  However, most of the bulk lots do not look to be from collections.  When dust jackets have not been placed in mylar covers, it indicates that the books are not from a collection.  Most collectors protect their books.  These books have been released into the wild from somewhere.

I know of five distinct copies of Vicki Barr #15 The Mystery of Flight 908 with dust jacket that have sold (not just listed, but actually sold) on eBay in the last 90 days.  Two listings were individual listings, and three other books showed up in bulk listings.  Flight 908 is the hardest to find Vicki Barr book, so it's unprecedented to see five copies with dust jacket sell in such a short period of time. 

I have also noticed multiple copies of other very scarce books.  Four copies of Connie Blair #12 Ruby Queens with dust jacket have sold in the last 90 days, two individually and two in bulk lots.  Three Rick Brant Deadly Dutchman books have sold individually and four more have sold in bulk lots.  One Biff Brewster Caribbean Pearls has sold individually with two more copies in bulk lots.  All three books had dust jackets. Four Ken Holt Sultan's Scimitar books have sold individually plus two more of them in bulk lots.  All of this in just 90 days on eBay.

I have also acquired multiple duplicates of some very scarce books in recent months, more so than I have ever done in such a short period of time.  The pandemic surely has something to do with this.  However, I have a theory about when books get released into the wild, and it has to do with when the family home is sold.  The books often don't leave the parents' home when the young person becomes an adult.  It might be that the books from the 1960s are getting released from family homes at this time via estate sales.

In addition to whatever is causing many bulk lots to be listed on eBay, more series book collectors than usual are downsizing.  Even I'm doing this, which is a big reason why my own sales have been so brisk.  I decided to downsize because this pandemic has changed me significantly.  My habits have shifted, and so have my priorities.  When school was closed for five months last year, I had time to reflect.  I had a lot of time.  I realized that some of my collections are packed away where I cannot enjoy them.  I must reduce my books so that I can get other stuff out of drawers and cabinets.  I want that for myself.
continues to unfold.