Sunday, March 23, 2008

Nancy Drew Prices on eBay

A strange phenomenon has been occurring in recent months on eBay.   The prices for most Nancy Drew books have plummeted while others have gone sky-high.  It is now easy to get most older dust-jacketed Nancy Drew books at very reasonable prices, while oddly, the Applewood facsimile editions from the last 17 years often sell for much higher prices.   It would seem to me that the older books ought to sell for higher prices than the newer books.

The Applewood editions have exploded in value ever since Applewood stopped printing them over a year ago.  I feel like people are reacting emotionally as though these books are suddenly rare and don't realize that the books will come up for sale.  There have been cases where the Applewood editions, which retailed for under $20.00, have sold on eBay for $50.00, $100.00, and even above $200.00.  Even if the sellers claim that the books are rare, they are not rare.  The books are out there and will come up for sale again.  Not only that, I recently read that Applewood is under negotiation with Simon and Schuster to begin reprinting the first six Applewood editions and that they will likely negotiate a new contract in the near future for the rest of the titles that they previously printed.  I fear that some people will soon regret the huge prices that they are paying.

Here are some recent Applewood facsimile edition prices:

#7 The Clue in the Diary w/DJ $33.00
#8 Nancy's Mysterious Letter w/DJ $34.33
#9 The Sign of the Twisted Candles w/DJ, 4th printing, $50.32
#10 The Password to Larkspur Lane w/DJ $44.00
#15 The Haunted Bridge w/DJ, 1st printing $70.00
#15 The Haunted Bridge w/DJ, 1st printing $63.66

While most of the older dust-jacketed Nancy Drew books have collapsed in value, the printings from the early 1930s have exploded in value, in some cases far exceeding what the books have ever sold for in the past.  I have quoted some of these prices in older blog posts.   Here are the noteworthy auctions from the last week:

#1 The Secret of the Old Clock, true first printing 1930A-1, no DJ $306.00
#1 The Secret of the Old Clock, 1932 blank endpapers edition, w/DJ $401.00
#5 The Secret at Shadow Ranch, 1931 blank endpapers edition, w/DJ $361.00
#2 The Hidden Staircase, 1931 blank endpapers edition, w/DJ $800.00
#4 The Mystery at Lilac Inn, 1930 blank endpapers edition, probably the 2nd or 3rd printing, lists to Lilac Inn, w/DJ $761.50
#7 The Clue in the Diary, true first printing from 1932, blank endpapers edition, w/DJ $1,641.88
#8 Nancy's Mysterious Letter, true first printing from 1932, w/DJ $910.00
#10 The Password to Larkspur Lane, true first printing with revised/enlarged copyright page notice, w/DJ $515.00
#17 The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk, true first printing, w/DJ $107.46

As high as these prices are, the five true first printing books were all sold to a bookseller who will place them back up for sale on fixed-price sites, unless the bookseller already has a buyer in mind.   In fact, because I know several seller's multiple ids, I am quite aware of exactly how much buying to resell occurs on eBay.   If not for the people buying to resell, the values of the more commonplace Nancy Drew books would have collapsed down to nothing. 

I estimate that roughly 40% of the collectible Nancy Drew books that are on eBay at any given time were recently purchased on eBay for the purpose of resale.  Most buyers would rather purchase a well-described book, so they do not buy from the sellers who found something in the attic and toss it on eBay with no description.  Those books almost always go to someone who then describes it correctly and places it back up for sale.

More Chalet School Characterizations

I'm quoting some characterizations and introductions to important characters mainly so that I can refer to them later. When I first read the first two volumes of the Chalet books, I had trouble keeping some of the characters straight. There are so many characters introduced so quickly.

From pages 27 and 28 in The School at the Chalet (note that I am trying to keep to the British spelling as I type these quotes, unless I accidentally revert to the American spelling):

'It's to-morrow you go, Grizel, isn't it?' said the elder of the two, a pretty fair child of fourteen, Rosalie Dene by name. 'Aren't you sorry to leave home?'

Grizel decides to inform the girls, Rosalie and Mary, that her home is anything but happy, much to their horror.

'Sorry?' she said fervently. 'I'm not sorry; I'm glad—glad, I tell you!'

'Grizel!' gasped Rosalie. 'Glad to leave home and go right away!'

' 'Tisn't like your home,' replied Grizel sombrely. 'You've a mother!'

'Well, but you have Mrs Cochrane, and I'm sure she's awfully sweet to you.'

'Yes, when there's anyone there to see it,' replied Grizel recklessly.

The two schoolgirls stood in horrified silence. They did not know what to say.

From page 31, regarding Madge Bettany's response to a friendly man's comment about the weather:

Years ago, Miss Madge's nurse had accused her of being 'as friendly as a mongrel puppy.' She had kept this quality throughout her life. She was always interested in people, and, having met nothing but friendliness in all her twenty-four years, she had the same fearless, somewhat confiding manner with strangers as the pup to which nurse had likened her. So, instead of snubbing the good-hearted little man's advance with frosty good breeding, she answered him pleasantly.

From page 35, regarding the personalities of Joey and Grizel:

The outlook of the two children was so totally different. Joey always saw Paris through a rose-mist of history and legend: Grizel, now that her first wonder was over, so obviously took all that side of it for granted, and devoted herself to its life and people. At the church of the Invalides she did rouse to enthusiasm over Napoleon; but it was only temporary and she stared at Joey when that faithful devotee pushed a few sprays of lilies of the valley between the railings that surround the famous Emperor's tomb.

From page 53:

'I am Gisela Marani, and these are Gertrud Steinbr├╝cke, Bernhilda and Frieda Mensch, Bette Rincini, and my younger sister Maria.'

'These are Grizel Cochrane and Simone Lecoutier,' said Joey, waving her hand in their direction, while she looked eagerly at them.

The two Marinis and Bette Rincini were slight, graceful girls; Gisela and Maria very dark; Bette, brown, with wavy brown hair, brown eyes, and a warm brown skin. Gertrud was brown-haired, grey-eyed, and very pretty, and the two Mensches were of the fair German type. They were all between the ages of twelve and sixteen, with the exception of Maria, who was obviously not more than nine.

From pages 61-62:

Amy and Margia Stevens were nice little people of eight and eleven, who had spent most of their short lives in travelling, since their father was Foreign Correspondent to one of the great London dailies. Margia, the elder child, was a motherly person, who adored her small sister; Amy was a dainty, fairylike little creature, who thought Margia was all that was wonderful.

From page 73:

Towards the end of the meal Herr Mensch appeared. He was a big, jolly man, with fair hair and grey eyes, and, since he was in one of the big banks in Innsbr├╝ck, his English was much more fluent than his wife's. His children obviously adored him, and he sat down, pulling Frieda on to his knee with a loud and hearty kiss.

Grizel Cochrane, Chalet Girl

On pages 20-22 of The School at the Chalet, the reader is introduced to Grizel Cochrane:

At fourteen and a half Grizel Cochrane had realised that she was decidedly an unwanted member of the Cochrane family. Her mother had died when she was five. Grizel could just remember her as a fragile, complaining being, who lay on a couch all day, and said 'Hush!' in fretful tones whenever her little daughter ventured to raise her voice. After her death, Mr Cochrane had sent the child to his mother's, and led a bachelor life for the next five years. On Grizel's tenth birthday he had married again, most unaccountably, without informing his second wife of the fact that he had a daughter. That she discovered when they reached home after the honeymoon, to find Grizel awaiting them on the steps. To say that the second Mrs Cochrane was indignant is to describe the state of affairs much too mildly. At first, she insisted that the child must go to boarding-school. Her husband calmly replied that one reason for this second marriage was that he wanted Grizel under his own roof. He also pointed out that if she were sent away at once people would talk. Mrs. Cochrane desired that less than anything, so she gave way. Grizel went daily to a big high school in the neighbourhood, and, nominally at any rate, received the same care and attention of any of her friends. But life at her grandmother's had spoilt her in many ways, and before long she and her stepmother were at daggers drawn with each other. Mr Cochrane, never a particularly loving parent, refused to interfere. Mrs Cochrane was never actively unkind, but she possessed a sharp tongue, and she had never forgiven her husband for not telling her of Grizel's existence. By slow degrees the willful, high-spirited child gradually became a frightened, nervous creature, who did as she was bidden with a painful readiness.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Reading the Chalet School Series

After I finished reading the Betty Gordon series, I have been unable to get started reading another series. This is often my problem when I read a series that is unusually good. What I really want to read is at least part of the Chalet School series. I had read the first two books several months ago but stopped since I did not have the next several books. I decided a few days ago that I would not be happy until I could read more of the Chalet School books. I bought volumes 6 and 8 this week in fixed-price listings, even though the prices were a little higher than if I had waited for an eBay auction, just so that I would at least have all of the first 12 books. So now I'm going to read the first 12 books in order.

I am reading volumes 1 and 2 again to refresh my memory of all of the details. I am in the first chapter of volume 1, The School at the Chalet. This is how Jo Bettany is described on page 15:

Anything less like Madge and Dick it would have been hard to imagine. Her cropped black hair was so straight as almost to be described as lank, her big black eyes made the intense whiteness of her face even more startling than it need have been, and her cheeks and temples were hollow with continual ill-health. Like her brother and sister, she had been born in India; but, unlike them, had come home at the early age of seven months. The frail baby who had never known her mother or father had thriven in the soft Cornish air of their home till she was four years old. Then a neglected cold had brought on an attack of pleuro-pneumonia, from which she had barely struggled back to life. Since then, her health had been a constant worry to those who had charge of her. What made things still more difficult was the fact that Miss Joey possessed at least five times as much spirit as strength, and fretted continually at the restrictions they were obliged to enforce.

Jo Bettany is a spirited girl who is 12 years old at the beginning of the first book. Her sister, Madge, and her brother, Dick, are twins who are 24 years old. Madge and Dick are Jo's guardians. The Bettanys have nearly run out of money since their guardian, who recently died, left his affairs in a muddle. Madge gets the idea to open a school for girls in a chalet in Austria, and hopes to earn enough money in tuition to support Joey. Of course since this is the first volume in a 58 volume series, it is safe to assume that the school at the chalet will be a splendid success.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Which series are the most popular?

I have internal counters on my site that measure the number of visitors to each section of the site. It is interesting to see which sections get the most visitors. I already know which series are the most popular with collectors and which series tend to be ignored by most people. Even so, I find the data interesting since the results are not always what I expect. I have listed in order the most popular series sections followed by the number of visits to each section. This data is for the past month.

1. Sweet Valley High - 1,997 visits
2. Nancy Drew - 1, 716 visits
3. Dana Girls - 738 visits
4. Trixie Belden - 605 visits
5. Judy Bolton - 409 visits
6. Beverly Gray - 264 visits
7. Vicki Barr - 206 visits
8. Kay Tracey - 193 visits
9. Connie Blair - 190 visits
10. Outdoor Girls - 152 visits
11. Shirley Flight - 120 visits
12. Mildred Wirt - 118 visits
13. Penny Parker - 117 visits
14. Ruth Fielding - 94 visits
15. Blythe Girls - 85 visits

Sunday, March 16, 2008

More Chalet School Prices

I am continuing to keep track of Chalet School prices as a point of reference. The books consistently sell for high prices.

Hardcover with dust jacket:

#58 Prefects of the Chalet School GBP63.45 (~US$127.00)
#34 Mary Lou of the Chalet School GBP62.04 (~US$124.00)
#48 The Feud in the Chalet School GBP54.52 (~US$109.00)
#19 Jo to the Rescue GBP52.00 (~US$104.00)
#25 Shocks for the Chalet School GBP50.00 (~US$100.00)
#13 The New Chalet School GBP48.77 (~US$98.00)
#28 Changes for the Chalet School GBP48.50 (~US$97.00)
#38 Excitements at the Chalet School GBP48.10 (~US$96.00)
#45 A Leader in the Chalet School GBP46.00 (~US$92.00)
#46 The Chalet School Wins the Trick GBP43.00 (~US$86.00)
#57 Althea Joins the Chalet School GBP42.41 (~US$85.00)
#52 Redheads at the Chalet School GBP40.63 (~US$82.00)
#41 Trials for the Chalet School GBP35.34 (~US$71.00)
#42 Theodora and the Chalet School GBP35.00 (~US$70.00)
#30 Chalet School and Barbara GBP34.99 (~US$70.00)
#22 Peggy of the Chalet School GBP32.75 (~US$65.00)
#17 Lavender Laughs in the Chalet School GBP31.00 (~US$62.00)
#35 A Genius at the Chalet School GBP29.99 (~US$60.00)
#55 Challenge for the Chalet School GBP29.02 (US$58.00)
#10 The Chalet School and the Lintons GBP28.88 (~US$58.00)
#54 Summer Term at the Chalet School (front panel only) GBP28.00 (~US$56.00)
#32 The Chalet School Does It Again GBP26.55 (~US$54.00)
#15 The Chalet School Goes to It GBP23.51 (~US$47.00)
#29 Joey Goes to the Oberland GBP20.13 (~US$40.00)

Hardcover without dust jacket:

#27 Bride Leads the Chalet School GBP46.50 (~US$93.00)
#31 Tom Tackles the Chalet School GBP27.09 (~US$54.00)
#21 Chalet School and the Island GBP25.00 (~US$50.00)
#26 The Chalet School in the Oberland GBP20.15 (~US$40.00)
#16 Highland Twins at the Chalet School AU$34.69 (~US$32.55)

Friday, March 14, 2008

My Newest Ceramic Christmas Tree

This tree was purchased last week in a thrift store. The tree measures eight inches tall. It was priced at $3.00 and was missing all of the plastic lights, just like nearly all of the ceramic trees that I have bought. I decided to use lights that are shaped like bows. I find that the tiny ceramic trees often look best when the lights are something special like bows or butterflies.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"Writing the Series Book" by Margaret Sutton

I recently purchased a magazine that contains an article written by Margaret Sutton. The article is called "Writing the Series Book" and was published in The Writer in the April 1958 issue. The magazine contains articles that help others learn how to write and get published.

Margaret mentions the advantages of series books that are written by a single author instead of by multiple ghostwriters.

"On the other hand, if a single author writes the series, a theme or philosophy can be carried through the books. The theme becomes their reason for being, and if you believe in it you can say it over and over in story after story. It must be something you have learned from life and now want to pass on to the next generation. Your reader mustn't know this, of course. You may not know it yourself in the beginning. I didn't. I just had this strong inner urge to write."

Margaret states that Grosset and Dunlap eventually figured out that each book had been based on something that actually happened. "Somewhere along the way my publishers discovered that each book of the series had been based on something that really happened. I'm rather sorry they found it out. Facts can get in your way when you're writing fiction. Don't be afraid to change them. Only the basic truth you're trying to tell must remain unchanged. If you believe life is good and its problems can be solved, your story must say so."

Margaret mentions how some series books provide detailed summaries of previous books in the series and distract from the story while doing so.

"Flashbacks to earlier books prove difficult to some writers. I have avoided such paragraphs as,
In the first book of this series you were told how the Roulsville dam broke and washed away the town...
Instead, if I mention earlier books at all, it is done during the natural course of events."

Margaret gives an example from one of her stories and then comments, "This is a flashback, too, but it does not jerk the reader out of the story. I have told about that broken dam over and over, and always with emotion because the series began with a real flood which I experienced. But instead of telling the story the way it actually happened, with real names and real places, I told it the way I wished it with Judy Bolton, a doctor's daughter, and her brother Horace saving the flooded town."

Margaret makes an interesting point about how flashbacks should not pull the reader away from the story. All of the Stratemeyer Syndicate books are notorious for stopping the story in order to give a detailed history of the series. As an example, let's say that it is Chapter 1 in volume 15 of a Syndicate book. During this chapter, the Hero may encounter a vicious bear. As the bear is about to attack, the narrator states that while the Hero decides what to do about the bear, we will take a moment to review the Hero's past history. Next, the narrator gives brief summaries of each of the previous 14 books in the series, and the summaries end up taking up two to three pages of text. Finally, we get to see what happens with the bear.

I usually skim these summaries since I read the books in order with very little time between stories. The summaries are distracting and boring. In fairness, they were necessary back 70 to 100 years ago when only one book would come out each year and a child may not have read the previous book anytime recently.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

1930s Nancy Drew Advertising Card

This outstanding Nancy Drew collectible sold on eBay tonight for $1,311.00.  It's hard to say for certain how old this item is, but it is likely from the 1930s since Shadow Ranch is the last title listed; the pictured dust jacket has the 1930s art; and the price of the books is 50 cents.  The card measures 11 by 14 inches.  I would have loved to have bought this fantastic item, but the winning bid was well above what I allow myself to spend on items for my collection.  However, I can admire it from afar!