Monday, June 23, 2008

eBay Prices Hit Record Levels

Rare ODDITY Applewood #11 Nancy Drew 1st Edition Item #350070727088

This book closed at $305.00. It is an Applewood edition bound upside down. The text block was placed in the binding upside down so that the title on the outside of the book is upside down in relation to the text. This is a binding error, and what some people don't seem to understand is that in the book collecting world, binding errors greatly reduce the value of the book. It is only when collecting things like coins that ones with errors are more valuable. This is because flawed coins are usually destroyed, and the ones that escape become quite valuable. This is not the case with books. If the book is readable, it will usually be sold. The only time that a binding error does not reduce the value is when it is one of the points that determine a first edition, but that is seldom true.

Assuming that I were going to pay $305.00 for an Applewood edition (which I wouldn't), I would want my book to be bound correctly. I wouldn't want to have to open it upside down. How annoying!

I don't have binding errors like this in my collection as they don't interest me. I have had a few from time to time, but I always get rid of them when I find an unflawed copy. Some errors do interest me, however. I still regret not winning an auction for a nice Nancy Drew book with dust jacket from the 1940s that had the Bobbsey Twins endpapers. That sort of error makes a book unique and takes nothing away from its aesthetic appeal, in my opinion.

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Nancy Drew Clue of the Velvet Mask HBDJ CAMEO Book Club Item #330244708038

This is also insane. This book closed at $222.51 and is one of the easiest to find of the Cameo editions. If you actually want to pay over two hundred dollars for a Cameo edition (and two people did in this case), pick Hidden Staircase or Old Clock. They are, at least, quite a bit harder to find than this one.

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Judy Bolton 30 /30 Phantom Friend Margaret Sutton HB/DJ Item #320263992459

This book closed at $200.01. It also went rather high, though not so much as some other recent Judy Bolton books. It is one of the harder to find Judy Bolton books; however, I have sold several of this title for around $35.00 to $50.00. It normally does not sell for anywhere close to $200.00.

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Due to all of this competitive bidding by people with deep pockets, the prices for all series books are quite inflated at the moment. Take Nancy Drew, for instance. Doing a completed items search for Nancy Drew and sorting by highest price first, the top fifty results all ended at $199.00 or higher. This is incredible. In normal times, the lowest-priced of the top fifty highest-priced completed Nancy Drew books will be as low as $50.00 or sometimes even lower.

Going to the second page of completed Nancy Drew books, still sorted by highest price first, the last item on the second page is priced at $104.49. Going to the third page of results, the lowest one is $76.00. At least 150 Nancy Drew auctions closed at $76.00 or higher.

If you are new to collecting and are wondering how you are ever going to be able to collect series books, the prices will come back down. It may be a few weeks or a few months, but the big spenders will eventually complete their collections or else move on to something else. It would be better to be patient than to spend $200.00 to $300.00 on an Applewood edition.

Recently when I read some of the back issues of The Mystery and Adventure Series Review, there were various articles about series book hoarding. This is when certain people buy up all available copies of certain books so that they can sell them at a high price. I am not into conspiracy theories, but I have noticed certain buying and selling patterns. I quietly file away what I notice in my mind. Series book hoarding does occur to a certain extent, and it is occurring on the internet.

Applewood editions are selling for grossly inflated prices. Go to a used book database such as the Advanced Book Exchange and enter a search for Applewood editions. Click on my link to see the results. Several months ago, there were available copies of the higher-numbered Applewood editions, some of them at high prices. Currently, the only ones there are the first six titles. The rest have been purchased, probably by the people who are selling them on eBay. Even the most expensive of the higher numbered Applewoods have now sold. People are certainly going to buy them up on ABE for $75.00 or so apiece when bidders are eager to pay $200.00 to $300.00 on eBay.

I also checked the listings on Amazon.com for the Applewood editions. For volumes 10 through 15, the only available copies are priced at around $100.00 and up. This doesn't mean that the books are actually worth that much. It means that all of the lower-priced books have been purchased, probably to resell on eBay, leaving only the expensive ones. At the level that the Applewood editions have now reached, some people may begin to purchase the $100.00 copies on Amazon and put them on ebay, hoping to get $200.00 or more.

My point is that the Applewoods may be artificially hard to find at the moment because people have bought up all of the available copies that were reasonably priced in order to resell them. This would not be happening if the bidders were not willing to pay such high prices. If more people would step back and wait, the prices for the Applewood editions would fall again.

This sort of thing also happens on eBay with the Cameo editions. I frequently sell extra Cameo editions that I have found, and the books nearly always sell to one of a few people who then resell the books at much higher prices. There is not anything wrong with this. I have made many sales because there are people who can sell the books for a higher price than I can. As long as I can sell the books for the price that I want, I'm not going to worry about what they do with the books.

What I fail to understand is why the buyers do not purchase the listings that sell for reasonable prices and why they choose to pay high prices for the same books offered later by someone else. I believe that some people feel that just because a book is priced higher that it must be better. If you have ever wondered why some people will throw a $100.00 book up on eBay for $500.00 or even $1000.00, it is because they know that some buyers will be influenced by the artificially high price and will buy it thinking that it is better.

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