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.


Jack C said...

Interesting observations Jennifer. I too am noticing the changes on Ebay. I am getting an increasingly full inventory of duplicate books I will be needing to dispose of, but not sure if Ebay will be the way to get rid of them. It seems the changes have brought about some real problems.

Interesting too that even though prices seem to be going down, I am finding very little to bid on these days. I need to go through my Nancy Drews, and figure out what exactly I have and in what format.

I'm curious what your thoughts are regarding the current discussion I started on the Sleuth's group regarding Library binding editions of the Girl Detective series. Do you think the 14-15 dollar investment is worth the price? Do you suppose hardcover editions of these books will become sought after by collectors similiar to the hardcover Wanderers? I'd love to know your thoughts, and if you have seen anyof thse library bindings, what are your opinions? Your collecting insights are pretty invaluable.


Jennifer White said...

I have decided to hold all of my better books until the end of December and see if the prices are any better then. I have some early and first printing Nancy Drew books with dust jackets, #12-15, that I do not want to sell right now because of the depressed prices. I am sticking to the stuff that I want to clear out quickly so that I will have more room for my better extras, which I will keep for now.

I am going to copy and paste the rest of this comment in the Sleuths group, so that my answer will be there as well.

I have not purchased any of the Girl Detective books in library bindings, but I would be interested in owning some eventually. I began to collect library bindings in an effort to obtain the paperback Nancy Drew books in hardcover editions. In most cases, it is necessary to purchase library discards in order to get the hardcover editions.

I have quit buying the Girl Detective books new because the cost is too high for the poor quality of the books. I have all of them up to #25, and I will get the higher-numbered titles once I can find them for no more than $2.00 each.

I checked my records, and I have approximately 65% of Nancy Drew #57-175 in hardcover library bindings. I do have all of these titles in paperback as well. I was able to purchase a good many of #120-150 new from Demco, so those are not library discards, whereas most of the others are library discards. From what I can tell, Demco no longer sells library bindings.

As to value, if the books are library discards, they are not worth more than the paperback editions. I find that most collectors refuse to purchase library discards even if the books are in superior condition. The library markings seem to override any desirability in the hardcover bindings. I don't feel that way. So long as the book is in excellent condition, the library markings are like having a previous owner's name inside the book. The library is the previous owner, in fact.

If the books are not library discards, such as the ones that you purchased, then they are in most cases worth more than the paperback editions. I had some extras of the Demco library bindings of #130 and up this summer which were not library discards, and I sold them for $15.00 each. The paperbacks are not worth $15.00 each.

When the books are library discards, they usually cannot be sold for more than their paperback counterparts.