Friday, October 31, 2008

More Nancy Drew Printing Anomalies

I have two more interesting printing anomalies which I have had for a long time. These two books are examples of printing errors; something went wrong when the books were printed. Here is a PC of The Mystery at the Ski Jump in which Nancy's sweater and the man's hat are orange instead of red:

I have seen other examples in which the sweater and hat look more orange than red, but the above example is the most extreme case that I have seen.

Here is a PC of The Secret of the Old Clock in which the different colors used on the outside of the book were printed on the book out of alignment with each other:

When I bought it, the seller advertised it as a 3-D book and enclosed a pair of 3-D glasses. The seller was right. The illustration is 3-D! It even looks kind of 3-D even without the special glasses.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kit Hunter #3 Rival Riders

After several weeks in which I did not read at all, I have now resumed reading the third book in the Kit Hunter series, Kit Hunter, Show Jumper, in Rival Riders. Here is an amusing scene from page 50:
Françoise Dubois, having now received the homage of the officials rather than paid her respects to them, took deliberate stock of the rest of the company. She coldly scrutinised everyone thoroughly with unabashed disdain, as if deciding whom she would honour with her presence. Her arrogant gaze lingered on Kit for a few seconds as she inspected her from head to toe.

Kit could not resist turning round slowly like a model gracefully displaying every feature of a gown for the benefit of a wealthy customer. Françoise was quick to get the point, and Kit had the satisfaction of seeing the girl's expression change abruptly from one of lofty condescension to a self-conscious irritation, and one or two people tittered . . .
I have really enjoyed this book. Once Kit competes against Françoise for the first time—and wins, Françoise becomes a bitter rival. At one point Françoise causes Kit to have a serious accident that places her in the hospital for a couple of weeks. Kit finds an unexpected ally in Françoise's escort, Pierre Latour, who helps Kit after her accident.

I always enjoy books which have a mean, bitter rival who is seething with hatred, and I love seeing the rival get what is richly deserved. I haven't gotten that far yet, but I'm sure Françoise will get what is coming to her.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some eBay Observations

During the last week, I have made some observations about the behavior of buyers and sellers on eBay. The prices have dropped considerably for series books, and far fewer people are buying them. I had a complete set of yellow matte picture cover Nancy Drew books up for sale this week, and normally, I would have had 20 to 25 watchers. This time, I had only 12 watchers.

I had four people contact me about four separate lots, asking me to break up the lots and sell just a few books individually. I have never had this many people contact me in a single week asking me to break up lots. If I weren't so busy, I might consider doing it, but I have too much to do right now. I don't even want to sell on eBay right now, and I am only doing so in order to try to reduce my extras so that I can organize them better. It is not worth my time to mess with special lots.

Also, when people ask me to break up a lot, they usually want to pay the same price per book as they would if they were buying all of the books. They don't seem to understand that the books are discounted when sold in bulk. For instance, one of the lots had 31 books at $24.99. Someone wanted two of them. They probably wanted to pay $0.81 each plus postage. With what the books cost me plus the PayPal fees, it is not worth it. I would have to charge several dollars each for just two books in order for me not to take a loss, and it would still not be worth my time. The prospective buyer would be better off buying the books new.

I decided not to answer most of the people who asked me to break up the lots, simply because I am not interested in doing it. I am going to list the lots again and lower the prices until someone decides to take them off my hands. I need them all to go away quickly.

I also had more nitpicky questions than usual. I had two people ask for more information on the condition of the books, despite the fact that I had the condition stated in the listings. I answered the questions, and neither person placed a bid. If you ever wonder why some sellers are reluctant to answer questions, it is because most people who ask questions do not bid.

I had someone ask me about the complete set of Nancy Drew books. This person asked, "I was wandering [sic] if you would be interested in selling these books privately. If so, what would you be willing to take for the set. I am looking for a set for my daughter who loves Nancy Drew." I was not certain whether the person was wanting a Buy It Now or whether this person wanted a private auction so that it would not show in her bidding history. I asked for clarification and did not receive a response. Most likely, this person was hoping I would be willing to sell the books privately at a lower price than my opening bid, although why I would want to do that is a mystery to me.

I had one person outright criticize my price of the complete set of ND books, telling me that the books are only worth $1-2 each and that I should "reconsider" my asking price. I did not reconsider it, and I have re-listed it at the same price of $295.00. A set recently sold for $345, so my price may be high but is not out of line.

I notice that I am buying very little on eBay. I have only three packages on the way to me, and this is not what is usual for me. I know why I have not purchased as much as usual; I'm not finding many interesting items up for sale. I believe this is eBay's fault. EBay has driven away many sellers and is now blocking sellers who have low DSRs. Remember that eBay considers low DSRs to be DSRs of around 4.3 out of 5. EBay is successfully getting rid of many sellers. The overall quality of the stock of series books on eBay appears to be greatly deteriorating. I hope it is cyclical and that the stock gets better in a few months.

For what is getting listed, the closing prices are lower, and good books are not selling. Someone had a complete set of all eight Peggy Lane books up for sale at $60.00, and no one placed a bid. Considering what the books were selling for this last summer, $60.00 for the complete set is a bargain.

The economy is definitely a factor in the lack of interest in bidders, but I also wonder how much is eBay's fault as well. I hope things get better after the end of the year. EBay management must know that the company is in danger, because even though the site is now supposed to be PayPal only, eBay has stated that the policy is not going to be enforced until January. Belatedly, they must have realized that just before the holiday season is not the time for such a dramatic change.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Even More Bizarre Nancy Drew PC Anomaly

I have another strange Nancy Drew picture cover that I have had for around a year. It has a bizarre combination that I have never seen before. The book is an early picture cover of The Ringmaster's Secret that lists to Fire Dragon on the back cover. Therefore, it should list to #39 or 40 inside the book, right? Those are the choices we have for early picture cover books. This one lists to #42 Pine Hill inside the book.

The back cover list matches the 1962A-22 (1st PC) and 1963A-23 (2nd PC) printing according to Farah's 12th edition. The interior list matches the 1965B-26 printing. I have never had an early picture cover book that is that far off on what the back cover and inside lists have. Does anyone have one like this?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Bizarre Nancy Drew PC Anomaly

I found another Nancy Drew matte picture cover that is just plain bizarre. After checking the books on my shelf, I found that I already had one that I had set aside, so I now have two of these rather unusual books. They are identical. I will describe one of them in the singular, because it is easier, but both books have all of the same points.

The book is a matte picture cover edition of The Crooked Banister. It lists to Crocodile Island on the back cover, which would normally date the book to 1978. The only problem is that the book has double oval endpapers. The double oval endpapers were not used until the 1980s, and all of the double oval endpapers books list to Thirteenth Pearl on the back cover—or so I always thought. Farah has very little information on the post-1979 Nancy Drew books in his guide, so it does not help much with the 1980s-era books.

The back cover list dates the book to 1978, but the double oval endpapers date the book to 1982 through 1986. What is even more strange is that the book has the order form inside, and the order form lists to The Strange Message in the Parchment, which dates the book to 1977.

Obviously, the book cannot be simultaneously from 1977, 1978, and 1982 through 1986. The most obvious explanation is that a text block from the 1970s was somehow not bound until the 1980s. However, that does not explain why the back cover lists to Crocodile Island instead of the usual Thirteenth Pearl. It also does not explain why I have two of them.

I'm sure the books are from 1982 through 1986, especially since neither book has the dark blue ink on the top edge. What I do not understand is why the books list only to Crocodile Island on the back cover and to Parchment on the order form (which isn't even supposed to be there in the first place).

I would pass this off as a random anomaly, but if I can find two of them, just months apart, there must be more of them. Are the books from an actual print run? Does anyone else have one of these books? Maybe there are a whole bunch of them out there!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Nancy Drew Picture Cover Anomaly

I was preparing to list a set of Nancy Drew books when I noticed that The Whispering Statue had the back cover all in black print. I decided to pull that copy out of the set and keep it for now.

Normally, "Solve these Thrilling Mystery Stories with NANCY DREW" and "By CAROLYN KEENE" are in red ink. This is just the third picture cover book from the 1970s that I have seen with the all black print back cover. I have seen thousands of Nancy Drew picture covers from the 1970s, so for this to be only the third one I have seen with the print all in black makes it a scarce anomaly.

It is not mentioned in Farah's Guide, and my opinion is that these books are probably subsets of certain print runs. This book lists to Parchment on the back cover and on the order form inside the book, so it matches the points for the 1977A-66 printing according to Farah's 12th edition.

The other two books that I have seen like this one have been two copies of The Secret of Mirror Bay. Both copies of Mirror Bay list to Parchment on the back cover and on the order form inside the book, so they match the points for the 1977B-9 printing. One of the books has the gray overstamp of the price on the back cover, changing the price to $2.95. The other one has the identical back cover to the above book.

All three books are from 1977 and list to the same title on the back cover and on the order form. All three books are from printings in which Farah states that some copies have the gray overstamp of the price. I wonder how many other Nancy Drew books ended up with this anomaly? Does anyone else have any of them?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Betty Gordon Prices

I decided to look at what I paid for each of my Betty Gordon books, which are pictured in my previous post. Some of the prices were kept down by buying books that were part of larger lots. Large lots of books are always the way to go if a collector wishes to keep costs down and does not mind having to sell the extras.

I rounded the prices to the nearest dollar.

#1 Bramble Farm - $15
#2 Washington - $9
#3 Land of Oil - $15
#4 Boarding School - $25
#5 Mountain Camp - $6
#6 Ocean Park - $15
#7 School Chums - ?
#8 Rainbow Ranch - $5
#9 Mexican Wilds - ?
#10 Lost Pearls - $32
#11 Campus - $27
#12 Hale Twins - $28
#13 Mystery Farm - $22
#14 No-Trail Island - $46
#15 Mystery Girl - $40

I do not have record of what I paid for School Chums and Mexican Wilds, but my cost for each would most likely have been under $15 each.

#12, 13, and 14 are the hardest titles to find. I consider #14 to be the very hardest title to find. It was the title that was elusive for me, and I was pleased when I won an auction and paid only $46. I was prepared to pay quite a bit more, but the other bidders did not bid very high. The low demand for this series keeps the prices down. I sold an extra of #15 earlier this year for around $70, so it sometimes sells for higher amounts even though it is easier to find than the previous three titles.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Betty Gordon Books

I recently upgraded three of my Betty Gordon books. My set is finally beginning to look pretty good on the shelf:

Of course this means that I once again have some Betty Gordon books with dust jackets to sell. I also have an extra of Betty Gordon and the Mystery Girl in dust jacket which has a nicer spine than mine but the front panel is slightly worse. My extra of Mystery Girl is my second extra of that title, but I have failed to upgrade the one in my collection both times since the extras have not been better to my satisfaction. Perhaps I will upgrade it, someday. I'd also like to upgrade Rainbow Ranch and Mystery Farm eventually.

The books that I upgraded are Lost Pearls, Campus, and Hale Twins, so sometime soon I will sell those titles with dust jackets. I also have an extra of Mystery Farm that does not have a dust jacket, and as previously mentioned, I have an extra of Mystery Girl with dust jacket.

When I first assembled my set of Betty Gordon books, I had to settle for several titles in bare books without dust jackets. I also had to be satisfied with several rough condition dust jackets. The Betty Gordon series is a somewhat difficult set to build, so it is necessary to settle for books and jackets that are not in top condition unless one wishes to spend years trying to build a set.

The Betty Gordon and Ruth Fielding series were heavily cross-promoted, so they are like sister series. This is why I have a poll asking which of the two series people like better. I'm not surprised that Ruth Fielding has more votes, since the Ruth Fielding books seem to be much more abundant. However, I feel that the Betty Gordon series is a better series overall, from start to finish. The Ruth Fielding series is quite good towards the end, but I feel that the earlier titles are much weaker than the later titles. Once my poll ends, I'm going to create a more specific poll about the two series. I suspect that the people who voted that they like Ruth Fielding better may not have read both series. I have read both and like Betty Gordon better.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Haunting of Castle Malloy

The latest Nancy Drew PC game, The Haunting of Castle Malloy, was released by Her Interactive this month. It is the nineteenth game in the series. Each game, at least up through #18, has been based in part on a Nancy Drew book. So far, nobody has figured out which book Castle Malloy is based on, if in fact it is based on a Nancy Drew book. I have played the game, and I cannot connect the game to any Nancy Drew book. I have not read some of the books in the various spin-off series, so it could be based on a book I have not read. At this point, I tend to think that the game is not based on a Nancy Drew book at all. If it is based on a Nancy Drew book, then the plot has been significantly changed.

The games contain spooky settings as seen in the below screen captures.

Each game has a mystery which the player, who plays as Nancy, must solve. During the game, Nancy can phone her friends either for help or just to tell them what has happened. The phone calls are usually humorous. Below, view a few screen captures of a portion of a phone call that Nancy makes to Bess and George:

The games characterize Bess and George perfectly. George scoffs at any display of sentimentality while Bess gushes about love, food, and whatever else takes her fancy. Nancy also can call Ned Nickerson during most of the games, and sometimes Nancy can call Frank and Joe Hardy.

During one game, The Phantom of Venice, Nancy calls Ned Nickerson, and the phone is picked up sometimes by Ned and sometimes by Joe Hardy, who is staying with Ned. Joe is trying to fix Ned's car. When Ned answers, Joe is working on the car, and when Joe answers, Ned is test-driving the car. Joe's mechanical skills are lacking, so the phone calls are quite humorous.

The games can be played on two levels: junior detective and senior detective. I always play on senior detective, even though it makes some of the tasks quite difficult. I excel at the tasks that involve rotating puzzle pieces in order to create a certain picture, and these puzzles are too easy for me in junior detective. Since the other tasks are more difficult than I would like, I always use a walkthrough to cheat my way through the harder tasks.

If you ever decide to play one of the Nancy Drew games, I do recommend using a walkthrough in order to help get you past any parts in which you get stuck. The walkthoughs can be found by googling the name of the game followed by "walkthrough."

Hints can be found in Her Interactive's message boards, but I dislike using the message boards since the titles of the messages reveal plot elements that are anywhere from near the beginning of the game to near the end. I would rather use a walkthrough and only scroll down as far as necessary in order to get the solution to my problem.

I found that Castle Malloy had several glitches. At the very end, the game had Nancy saying that she messed up even when what she did worked. It is the first time I have ever played one of the games and had that type of glitch. Also, some of the phone calls seemed out of order. The one that should have occurred first did not occur until at least halfway through the game. Each event in the game is triggered by a previous event, so the phone calls should not have been out of order.

While I overall enjoyed The Haunting of Castle Malloy, I would not recommend it to anyone who has never played a Her Interactive game. One reason is because of the glitches, and the other reason is because many of the game's puzzles seemed more random than usual. Some of the puzzles were optional, and normally, the player must complete all of the puzzles in order to advance. There were four dollhouse puzzles, and I'm not sure how many of them were required. I never did the final one, and I was able to finish the game.

My favorite past games are Message in a Haunted Mansion, Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake, Danger on Deception Island, Curse of Blackmoor Manor, The Secret of the Old Clock, and Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon. I probably enjoyed The Secret of the Old Clock the most, since Nancy gets to screech around curves in her blue roadster. Vroom!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Problems with Spam

Not only is someone spamming this blog, but I have also been getting some bad spam to my personal email this week. It is only a few messages, but the content has been nasty and has included viruses. My spam filter catches close to 100% of spam, so I never see those messages. This week, spam is getting through, so I report it as spam. The filter will probably start catching these new ones, so it will drop off after a more days.

I always wonder what happened whenever I have a new outbreak. Did someone's computer get infected, thus giving my email to the spammers? Is someone targeting me specifically? If so, it is not likely to work. I delete everything that contains unknown content.

One of the messages I received had the title, "Your illegal internet activity is being logged." Even though I know I'm not doing anything wrong, the title sounded scary and made me want to look at it. Instead, I googled it and discovered that it contained a virus. I deleted it.

I received another message which I cannot describe because the sender's name and the message's title both contained pornographic words. I deleted that one.

I just received a message that appears to have been sent by The title reads, "You've received A Hallmark E-Card!" I don't know if I have or not, but I deleted it without opening. The "e-card" is an attachment. I'm not about to open that attachment.

Never open attachments unless you know the sender quite well and know exactly what they have sent you.

Seriously, if someone known to me wants to send me an e-card, they need to tell me that they are doing it so that I will open it. I hope I don't miss legitimate messages, but I am not going to fall into a trap and get a virus. One common way in which people send viruses is to masquerade them as e-cards. This is why I never open e-cards.

This brings me to one of my biggest pet peeves about email. Some people send legitimate messages with titles like "hi," "question," or "wondering." Unless I recognize the sender's name immediately, I delete them without opening. Spam messages containing viruses often have vague titles. People need to give specific titles that state the purpose of the message. If you have a question for someone, you need to give them have an idea of what you want so that the message will be opened.

I am also in a pretty safe position with regards to my email account. Around seven years ago, I quit using Outlook Express for my email. I am able to view my personal email account while being logged in to Yahoo. Web-based email is much safer, because the attachments are on the web rather than stored on my computer. None of my messages are ever stored on my computer; they are all stored on Yahoo. Even if I decided to click on an attachment, Yahoo scans it for viruses before giving me the option to view it. Everyone should look into the option of web-based email.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Site Statistics

I like to look at the site statistics for my site,, because I like to see which pages are of the most interest to site visitors. I signed up for a Google Analytics account at the start of February, so this data goes back to the first week in February. The pages are ranked from most hits to least hits. #1 and #28 both refer to the main page for the site. #27 is the file manager, which is only accessible to me. #2 is the main page of the Sweet Valley High section. It should be fairly easy to determine the pages to which most of the names refer. Here are the results:

The main page is just narrowly the most popular page, followed by the main page of the Sweet Valley High section and the main page of the Nancy Drew section. I never expected the Sweet Valley High section to be so popular. I am certain that most visitors to the Sweet Valley High section do not visit the rest of the site and that most of the rest of the site's visitors have little interest in the Sweet Valley High section. It is unusual for a subsection that does not appeal to most of the site's visitors to be more popular than the rest of the site.

It is apparent that Nancy Drew is by far the most popular of the vintage girls' series books. Trixie Belden is in second place but is far behind. The least popular pages are the pages for Dan Carter, Flash Evans, and some of Mildred Wirt Benson's other minor works.

I notice that the Betty Gordon section is receiving more hits than the Ruth Fielding section by a small margin. This interests me because I believe more people collect the Ruth Fielding books, and more people have voted for Ruth Fielding in the poll which is listed on the right side of this blog. I have some theories about Ruth Fielding and Betty Gordon, but I will save those for a later date, most likely after my poll closes.

I also notice that a few pages are missing from the list, so I still need to add the tracking code to the ones I missed back in February.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #16

When a listing is discovered that omits the necessary information, always scroll down to the end of the item description to see whether your question has already been asked. I found an auction in which the seller received four questions which asked about the last title listed on the front flap, among other things. The seller should be praised for answering the same question over and over again, while remaining polite.

1933 Nancy Drew Mystery SIGN OF THE TWISTED CANDLES D/J Item #140269471926
Question 1: What is the last nancy drew title listed on the dj flap?

Answer: The secret in the Old Attic. Thanks for your interest in this item.

Question 2: What is the last title on first flap of DJ?

Answer: The secret in the old attic. Thanks for your interest in this item.

Question 3: What is the last Nancy Drew book title on the front flap of the dust jacket? Is the lettering on the front of the book in blue or orange? Are the endpapers orange silhouettes? Thank you.

Answer: The Secret in the Old Attic, Orange Lettering on Front and Oranges Silhouettes. I also see nopw that someone has underlined 8 of the titles on the front flap of the dust jacket in red pen. Thanks for your interest in this item.

Question 4: I have a number of questions about the book: Design of the end papers The last book listed for each series on the inside and back of the dust jacket The number of (if any) glossy pictues Thanks for your time.

Answer: The end papers have Orange Silhouettes, The front dust jacket has THE SECRET IN THE OLD ATTIC listed last, the back cover dust jacket has THE PORTRAIT IN THE SAND Dana Girls Mystery Title. There are no glossy pictures Just one illustration on the 2nd page of the book. Thanks for your interest in this item.
In fairness to the questioners, three of the questions were answered on September 22, and all three questions may have been sent before the seller posted any answers. I have seen a few cases in which the same question was answered multiple times days apart, due to the questioners not bothering to look for answered questions.

The questions were necessary in order to determine the age of the book, since the seller's picture did not show more than the outside of the book. Even so, the seller's photo did reveal some important information.

Notice that the white spine of the dust jacket wraps around to the left part of the front of the book. During the 1930s, the white spines of the dust jackets were designed to be the exact width of the books. During the 1940s, the books became less thick, so the white spines were too wide for the the books. Since this dust jacket is too wide for the spine of the book, it is a 1940s book. As a result, we can rule out the possibility of the book containing glossy internal illustrations. Since the book is a less thick version, we can conclude that the book is from around 1942 through 1949 which means that it could have either a glossy frontispiece or a plain frontispiece illustration. By the seller's answers, we know that the book is from 1944.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

More Crazy eBay Prices #2

Nancy Drew RARE Vintage 15 Book Set Vol. 1-15 ExcCond Item #280260181168

First, the books are not RARE. Second, they are revised text picture cover books. Third, there are only 15 books in the lot. Why would someone pay $153.50 for 15 books?

Here is a much better deal:

Lot of 38 Nancy Drew Yellow Spine Carolyn Keene Item #160275663035

This lot of 38 picture cover books sold for just $87.77 and contained many original text books.



This early Nancy Drew book with orange silhouette endpapers, four glossy internal illustrations, and no dust jacket closed at $147.50. I have no idea why. It is not a blank endpapers edition. It is early, but often books of the same age with dust jackets close at lower prices.


Nancy Drew The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk 1ST ed Item #320293854735

This is insane. A first printing picture cover that is really not in that great of shape closed at $71.00. What were the bidders thinking? Personally, I think anything above $25.00 is outrageous, and yes, you can get first printing picture covers for under $10.00 if you look carefully.

Of course, the seller says that it is rare, but not in the usual capital letters. It is not rare! Far too many of this particular seller's books are described as RARE, usually in capital letters.


Why not? Here is a RARE book from the same seller:

Nancy Drew The Clue of the Tapping Heels 1ST ed PC RARE Item #320293691060

It-is-not-RARE! It is a first printing picture cover book that is not in that great of shape, and it closed at $51.00, which is also too high.


This is a different seller, but I have the same complaints:

Nancy Drew The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes Item #260287127079

The subtitle reads, "VERY RARE TRI-FOLD ADVERTISEMENT." No, it really isn't. Yes, it is scarce, but not RARE, and definitely not in the condition the book is in. The book looks to be quite worn. Probably quoting another recent auction for this book, the seller states that the book is valued at $100.00 in Farah's Guide. No, not in that condition. The book closed at $50.00, which I feel is far too high.