Wednesday, December 30, 2009

More Thoughts on the Twilight Saga

I have been reading various discussions about the Twilight books. I found this site:

The purpose of the site is to trash the series and Stephenie Meyer. It makes for some very amusing reading. According to the first post in this discussion, "to pull a Meyer" means "to (mainly) chuck a hissy fit over nothing whatsoever." Apparently, Meyer does not react well to criticism. I also interpret "to pull a Meyer" to mean to epically fail at something.

Many discussions center around the fourth book and all of its problems. Meyer's characterization and premise shifted in the final volume, and this is a source of many complaints. During the fourth book, the werewolves are suddenly explained not to be werewolves but merely shape-shifters. I think it is odd that Meyer's werewolves are no longer werewolves. Jacob and his pack are never werewolves by definition, but that is what Meyer calls them in the first three books. I think Meyer did not realize exactly what werewolves are and made a mistake in the first three books. Apparently, Meyer has admitted that she knew little about vampires which is why her vampires are completely different from other vampires.

PLOT SPOILER FOLLOWS (Skip the rest if you do not want to know.)

I was able to accept Jacob imprinting on Renesmee even though it is creepy. I accepted it by how Meyer described it and with the expectation that no romantic relationship would occur until Renesmee comes of age. Now if I knew someone who had been molested as a child, I would not be able to accept it.

Many people have mentioned how Jacob's imprinting would come across if the fourth book is made into a movie. While I was able to accept it fine in the book, the movie would be different. Think of how it would look for a young man to be in love with a baby. At the very least, Jacob would look ridiculous. At the worst, Jacob would look like a full-blown pedophile.

On Twilight Sucks, Edward is called "Sparkles," and Jacob is called "PedoWolf." Funny.

Edward is very accepting of Jacob in the fourth book. Edward does not seem to mind that Jacob is obsessed with Renesmee. Is this the controlling Edward of the first book? I think not. Edward is mostly in the background in the fourth book except when Bella is sexually assaulting him (yuck).

I have really enjoyed reading all of the criticism of the Twilight books. I am glad that I read the books so that I could appreciate all of the criticism. It's been a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thoughts on Breaking Dawn

I have finished Breaking Dawn. I did not enjoy this book very much, because I never wanted Bella to become a vampire, and I never liked Edward. I did find Edward bearable in this book, at least when he and Bella were not kissing and when he was not described as "perfect."

While the author's poor grammar quit bothering me partway through the first book, I began to notice it again in this book, no doubt because the book lost my attention at times. Bella's sex-crazed desire of Edward is just repulsive, so during those scenes, I tended to focus on the grammar and poor descriptions.

Here is a sentence from page 480 that stood out as particularly awful.
I was about to take advantage of the fact that he hadn't gotten around to setting me back on my feet and that his wits-scramblingly beautiful face was only inches away when he said, "We're lucky Esme thought to add an extra room. No one was planning for Ness—Renesmee."
What a mouthful. The sentence is awkward, but the worst part is "wits-scramblingly." Enough said.

Now let's prepare to puke. This is how Bella sees Edward on page 482.
I could really appreciate him now—could properly see every beautiful line of his perfect face, of his long, flawless body with my strong new eyes, every angle and every plane of him. I could taste his pure, vivid scent on my tongue and feel the unbelievable silkiness of his marble skin under my sensitive fingertips.
I am just so happy for you Bella... not.

Here is another sentence that sounds bad from page 679.
They came in a rigid, formal formation.
A "formal formation?" Eliminating "formal" would have produced the same mental image without sounding stupid. Isn't an editor supposed to fix problems like that? Or, did the editor fix even worse problems? Could the books have been worse before they were edited?

I could have marked hundreds of poorly-constructed sentences throughout the four books. Rather, I spent my time enjoying the books. It was during the moments when I found the story less interesting that I paid more attention to the grammar.

I enjoyed the books, but not as much as I could have. The author's endless mentions of Romeo and Juliet and other literature convinced me that Edward and Bella were going to die (By death, I mean cease to exist.). I dreaded the ending since I thought it would be full of destruction. Oddly, it isn't. I think the author should have dropped all of the references to literature and let us figure it out for ourselves.

The final "battle" scene in Breaking Dawn is all talk and no fighting. Literally. The Cullens and the Volturis reason out their differences instead of fighting. How lame. The Volturis go back to Italy, leaving the Cullens to live in peace. How does that resolve anything? The Volturis could always come back as soon as the book ends and destroy everyone. It reminds me of those Friday the 13th movies in which Jason is "killed" at the end of each movie yet comes back to life at the beginning of the next movie.

Several aspects of the plot are excessively creepy, like Renesmee's birth and Jacob's imprinting, but the events didn't upset me as much as they did a bunch of people. I guess I wasn't as bothered because I expect those types of events in books that involve vampires and such, so I was not surprised.

What I found missing in books 3 and 4 are Bella's high school friends. Her friends are no longer important after the first book. Bella's friends make a few appearances here and there throughout the last three books, but the characters are missing from most of the plot. I would have liked to have seen one or two of the teenagers, like Jessica or Mike, bitten by a vampire and pulled into the main plot. How about killing one or two of them to add some conflict? Speaking of conflict, the final "battle" scene would have been more effective if some fighting would have occurred with a few vampires destroyed. It just fell flat.

I could say a lot more, but I'm going to stop here for now. I did enjoy reading the four books, but probably not enough to ever read them again. I have some more thoughts which I'll cover in my next post.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thoughts on Eclipse

I didn't write many comments about Eclipse, but here they are.

is definitely a better book than the first two books. Edward is finally somewhat likable. I say "somewhat" because I have found him repulsive from the beginning. I fail to understand why Bella wants to be with someone whose body is cold and hard. She shivers from the cold when she is near him. Now that is a turn-on. I think not.

I like Jacob better than Edward, and the author tried to put a conflict in place in which Bella had to choose between the two. Tried, because the author has made it obnoxiously obvious from the beginning of the first book that Bella is hopelessly in love with Edward and destined to be with him. Yuck.

I like it when Bella spends time with Jacob. That is the best part of the second book, and it is the best part of the third book.


Unfortunately, I had a growing sense of dread as I read this book. I felt sad because I was pretty sure I knew where the story was going. My gut feeling told me that I would not like the ending of the fourth book. I felt like I needed to prepare myself. I ended up okay with how the fourth book ended, but it still could have been a lot better. My next post will contain my thoughts on Breaking Dawn.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Books for Sale

I have a bunch of books that I have put up for sale on eBay in lots. Most of the books are ones that I tried to sell this fall without taking a loss. At this point, I no longer care, and I have placed them up for sale at about what the postage will cost. So, I am essentially selling them for the cost of postage. I want the books to be gone. I am happy that someone has bid on three lots.

Thoughts on New Moon

These were my thoughts after I finished reading New Moon.

I really like how Jacob and Bella's relationship was developed in this book. Even though Jacob is less likable after he changes, I still like him. I can understand why Bella likes him. The author did a good job with Jacob's characterization and with Bella and Jacob's relationship. The best part of the book is the time Bella spends on the reservation. Jacob is my favorite character.

What has bothered me since the beginning of the first book is Edward. I don't quite see why Bella is so smitten with him. Or, I know why, yet I don't feel it at all. I don't care that much about Edward and Bella's relationship, which is kind of sad since it is the most important relationship.

Edward likes Bella because her blood smells good. I get it, but it does nothing for me. Bella likes Edward because his breath is sweet, he is beautiful, and he is just perfect. Blech. I really don't see why Bella likes Edward. She wants to spend forever with him? No, wait, maybe not. Edward asks Bella to marry him, and she says "no." What? She wants to be with him forever, but she does not want to marry him? What is that girl thinking?

I am sickened by how silly Bella acts when she kisses Edward. She kisses him and then loses control of herself to the point of trying to force herself on him. Please.

PLOT SPOILER FOLLOWS (Skip the next paragraph if you don't want details.)

The climax of this book involves Bella and Alice racing to Italy to save Edward from stepping into the sun in an attempt to make the Volturis destroy him. Edward thinks Bella is dead, so he decides to end his existence. For some reason, I did not care. This must be because I don't care about Edward. It just seemed so lame. Yawn.

At the end of New Moon, Edward, Bella, and Jacob have a confrontation. Jacob is clearly torn and hurt, as is Bella. Edward is just... there. Why should I care about him?

I went to, found New Moon, and looked at the reviews. I was interested to see whether anyone else has some of the same problems I do, so I went to the "one star" reviews. Ah, other people don't see the attraction in Edward. I'm glad I'm not the only one.

As I read this book, I realized that I do not like the direction that the author is taking the characters. Edward never felt right to me, yet it was obvious from the beginning that Edward was the one for Bella. I would rather see Bella with Jacob.

Despite the nagging feeling that I will not like how this series of books ends, I enjoyed reading New Moon. I did not notice the horrible grammar so much in this book since the book kept my attention, although not so much near the end since I did not care about Edward.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thoughts on Twilight

I have finished reading all four of the Twilight books. I waited until I was finished with the last book before posting any of my thoughts. Most of this post was written before I read the other three books. I have mentioned my primary observations without going into any great detail. I admit that I agree with much of the criticism from the reviews on The reviews are quite entertaining, and some of the reviewers are quite good in how they present their views. The "one star" reviews are particularly entertaining.


I have now read the first book, Twilight. The book is an engaging read, but at the same time, I can see where the book could be better written. During the first chapter of the book, I wanted to know exactly why Bella left Phoenix. I gathered that it had something to do with her mother and a man. It was not until page 48 that Bella explained that her mother had remarried and wanted to travel with her new husband. Bella left Phoenix to live with her father so that her mother would be free to be with her husband. Why did the author not state that in the first chapter? Why omit that information?

I despise it when authors choose to be mysterious in the opening chapter regarding explanatory details that are vital to the reader understanding the main character. It served no purpose to hold back that information. I was less confused about Bella once I reached page 48.

The grammar and composition really bothered me during the early part of the book. Way too many sentences end with prepositions. We all do that when we speak, usually, but I try not to do it too often when I write since I know it is not correct grammar.

This sentence from page 118 annoyed me:
As they finished eating, people started to drift away in twos and threes.
Pronouns should not be placed at the beginning of a sentence before the subject to which they refer. Notice that I avoided ending that sentence in a preposition. It's not that hard, you know? Now I'm not being a snob. The average written communication on the internet is usually informal, but I have higher expectations of published books. I feel like the author should have used much better grammar.

I noticed that the grammar no longer bothered me by the time I was halfway through the book. At the time that I was reading this book, I was not sure if the grammar was better or whether I was just not noticing it. Now that I have read all four books I can state that the grammar was bad in every part of all four books. It bothered me less because the story had finally captured my interest.

The author's descriptions are awful. Near the beginning of the story when Bella first sees the Cullens in the cafeteria, the descriptions are confusing. The author uses too many pronouns, like stating that "he" was looking at Bella without any explanation of which "he" at the table was the one looking at Bella. Three of the Cullens are male. I knew the author meant Edward since I already knew the basic premise, but it was too vague and confusing. If I had not already known, I would have been totally lost.

Did the author not reread the manuscript for clarity? Did the editor not read the manuscript? How does a book with so many errors get published?

Despite all of the grammatical errors, I greatly enjoyed the first book and quickly began reading the second book.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Hunting in December

Since I have a break from work, I have been visiting various stores. On Friday, I began with Borders and Barnes and Noble, which are both around 15 miles away. I haven't been to either store in around a year. I have a heightened awareness of the Young Adult section, since I am currently reading the Twilight books.

I recall that Young Adult had already become gothic in recent years, but I honestly did not pay much attention. I noticed that the Young Adult section is very much gothic with lots of vampire books.

The juvenile series section still has the usual short supply of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but those books look boring compared to most of the other books that are available. I am viewing the books from the point of view of someone who is not heavily invested in them like I am.

My eyes fell on the Percy Jackson books. I remembered Jack's review of this series, so I found the first book and spent a bit of time reading the first few chapters. I read far enough to decide whether I wanted to purchase it. I decided that I would, but not at Borders. The price was $79.99 for the boxed set, and that was too high. When I got home, I found the set on Amazon for under $50.00, and I should have it in the next day or so.

On Monday, I decided on the spur of the moment to visit a few antique shops. I seldom bother since I hardly ever find anything. This time was different. Here is what I bought:

I bought 17 of the Collins Nancy Drew books from the United Kingdom. It is odd to find them in an antique shop here in Oklahoma. I bought two Connie Blair books with dust jackets, both of which seem to be first printings. I found first printings of Nancy Drew #53 and #54 as well as the first printing of the last cover art PC for #34.

The PC for The Clue in the Diary has the 1932 text! I also bought $1 box PCs of a Hardy Boys and a Tom Swift Book. I came away with a PC of Nancy Drew #37 with Carolyn Keene twice on the spine and the blackened price box on the front cover.

I bought a copy of The Tower Treasure with the red ink on the top page edges. Some people try to sell those books for $40.00 to $50.00, but I don't really think they are worth more than around $10.00 at the most. I will have to research to make sure. Last, I bought Judy Bolton #25, a Collins UK edition of a Three Investigators book, and a Hardy Boys book in dust jacket.

It was a very productive outing and very unusual for me. I haven't come home with this many books from visits to antique shops since around 2000-2001. They usually have nothing but overpriced books. Of course, I saw many overpriced books today.

I checked out a relatively new used bookstore that I had never visited. It has signs up stating that their prices are the average of the prices for the books on the internet. That is obvious. They must use the fixed-price sites and average all of the prices, including the insane high ones. They wanted around $15.00 each for picture cover editions of various series books (not the high-numbered ones). They wanted $10.50 each for common Ruth Fielding books that do not have dust jackets. I will never go in that store again.

I saw lots of books, including high-priced ones, but I was able to come home with a box full of books. I am debating whether I should go somewhere else on the spur of the moment. This has me energized.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Dana Girls and Copyright Infringement

Simon and Schuster had the listings for the three unauthorized Dana Girls books removed from Bonanzle last week. Simon and Schuster also had at least one vintage Dana Girls book removed as well. The person who requested the removal of the books mistakenly thought that a vintage book was unauthorized. This could pose a problem for all of us.

Bonanzle's customer service questioned the removal request for the vintage book, and Simon and Schuster's representative insisted that it was unauthorized as well. Bonanzle had to remove the book or else could have faced legal problems. This does not bode well. I have heard of situations like this one with regards to other items. It is often very difficult to get copyright attorneys to understand, and frequently, people have to go to court to prove that they are not in the wrong. Of course, I doubt any of us would go that far over the right to sell a vintage book.

This means that we could now encounter problems selling the vintage Dana Girls books that have the blue and red dust jackets. It was a vintage book with the blue and red dust jacket that was removed from Bonanzle. The title of the book was In the Shadow of the Tower. I thought it might be a good idea for a lesson about the vintage books and the unauthorized new ones.

Here are some pictures of the vintage Dana Girls books with blue and red dust jackets.

It should be noted that the first six titles were also issued with lavender and green dust jackets, which I did not photograph.

The titles that were printed with blue and red dust jackets are:

1. By the Light of the Study Lamp, 1934
2. The Secret at Lone Tree Cottage, 1934
3. In the Shadow of the Tower, 1934
4. A Three-Cornered Mystery, 1935
5. The Secret at the Hermitage, 1936
6. The Circle of Footprints, 1937
7. The Mystery of the Locked Room, 1938
8. The Clue in the Cobweb, 1939
9. The Secret at the Gatehouse, 1940
10. The Mysterious Fireplace, 1941
11. The Clue of the Rusty Key, 1942
12. The Portrait in the Sand, 1943
13. The Secret in the Old Well, 1944

None of these titles match the titles of the unauthorized books. Also, notice that the books have old copyright dates. I have never heard of illegal copies of the old Dana Girls books, so Simon and Schuster has absolutely no grounds in preventing the sale of any of these books.

The unauthorized books that have so far been published are:

The Mystery of the Cameo Curse, 2009
The Secret at the Windmill Estate, 2009
The Clue of the Buried Box, 2009

All three books are copyright 2009. Just by looking at the titles, it should be fairly easy to tell the difference. Here are images of the unauthorized books:

I hope that this does not become a continuing problem.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two More Rants!

Some good points were brought up in the comments section of my post "Five Mini Rants in One!" I want to address a couple of them. Kathleen commented, "Sometimes I slip. Like I had a 'Whistling Bagpipes' listed with a tri-fold that I have not seen in years. That I consider relatively rare, at least."

While I do not consider the tri-fold to be rare (it is on eBay quite frequently), I do not have a problem with sellers using "rare" sparingly for certain books. My problem is with the sellers who tell buyers that virtually all matte yellow Nancy Drew picture covers are rare. These sellers tell buyers that the tweed books are rare (like, all of them). These sellers tell buyers that the dust jackets are rare, and so on and so forth. It gets old, and it makes the word mean absolutely nothing. I tend to scroll past those listings. If you have read all of my recent posts carefully, then you know that the instance of me nearly missing out on a truly rare book because of nearly scrolling past the listing is what set me off to write my rants. I am still a little annoyed over that, but I am mostly calmed down.

One seller has gotten in the habit of using "rare" for all the vintage picture covers that are not so special and using "scarce" for first printings of the earliest Nancy Drew books—you know...the ones that you might consider rare. Huh????? What that tells me is that "rare" is used for books that are less scarce in order to lure in buyers and that "scarce" is used when the books are more scarce. I have a problem with that.

As brought up in the comments and as seen often in eBay listings, several sellers state that they do not sell any books that they would not want to own, meaning that they only sell books of a higher quality. While I understand the point, I think of all of the library editions that I own and all of the reading copies I have since upgraded. I still own some reading copies that I have not upgraded. Most people do not mind having reading copies.

In my nearly one year of experience on Bonanzle, I have learned that buyers prefer inexpensive books above all other books. They do not care if the books are in rough, perhaps poor, condition. One person has stated that she desires cheap reading copies since she is reading the books for fun. She does not care about the condition as long as the books are inexpensive and readable.

I have sold some books that are in very rough shape. Take this one, for instance:

It was cheap and sold only 13 days after it was listed. I have very nice books that have been in my booth since January and still have not sold. I sell the cheap books fast.

The problem with eBay (among many others) is that sellers can no longer afford to list cheap books in individual listings. They have to group the books into lots in order to avoid paying high fees per book. Notice that the lots of rough condition books tend to sell without difficulty on eBay, unless the seller overprices them. People love cheap books.

For that reason, Bonanzle has been quite a blessing. I have been able to offer reading copies at reasonable prices, and people have been able to purchase them without paying high prices. I find that the first volume in any series sells particularly fast when it is a reading copy.

Here are my new rants:
  1. The glitches on eBay. Last spring, eBay would not accept a new expiration date for my credit card (the same thing happened many years ago) and told me to contact customer service. Um, no. I signed up to pay my fees through PayPal due to eBay incompetence. So...

    An alert was just placed on my account because the card that eBay would not accept in the spring is about to expire. I am told that I must enter a new card number in order to continue to sell on eBay (not that I am selling on eBay). #&%#*@)!!! So eBay stored that card number back in the spring but would not allow me to use it. Now eBay wants me to update it. I had better not have a permanent alert on my account, or I am going to be really peeved.

  2. People who wait until right before Christmas to buy presents and expect the books to arrive on time. This is why I usually never have books for sale right before Christmas. Someone bought the 75th anniversary Applewood boxed set on Thursday, and I mailed it priority mail just in case. I paid four dollars postage above what I charged for media mail so that I could be certain that the buyer would be happy. That sale came through during a small window of time in which the set was unavailable on Amazon, which is no doubt why the buyer went to Google.

    I received an order for one Applewood book on Friday, and the buyer asked for expedited shipping so that the book would arrive by Thursday. This one cost me $3.00 above what I charged to ship it. I hope it arrives. In my opinion, it is already getting too close to Christmas to guarantee delivery by priority mail. Since I print my labels online, my package probably will arrive Monday or Tuesday. Packages that have handwritten labels will likely not arrive until after Christmas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ripping Off the Post Office and the Buyer on Shipping

Here is a situation in which I left a seller a "one" on the DSR for the shipping charge. I only go to that extreme when I feel that what the seller did was very wrong. The seller charged $7.38 for media mail shipping. The seller paid $2.57 postage, so the seller had nearly a $5.00 handling fee added to the actual shipping cost.

Wait—it gets worse. Not only was I overcharged, the post office was underpaid on the postage it was supposed to receive. The seller paid $2.57 in postage but was supposed to pay more. The seller's PayPal shipping label had a weight of 1 pound 0 ounces, so I know that the seller paid $2.57. The package actually weighed 1 pound 5 ounces, so the postage that the seller should have paid was $2.96. I am including the $0.19 charge for the delivery confirmation on these amounts, since all sellers must pay for delivery confirmation for those labels.

It gets even worse. The seller used a brand-new priority mail box inside the package. The seller used a free priority box that is made only for priority mail use but used it on a media mail package. This is against postal regulations. I have heard that USPS takes a loss on media mail, so for the seller to underpay USPS for media mail and use a USPS box for media mail is wrong on multiple levels.

The seller greatly deserved the "one." Now some of you might wonder why I didn't contact the seller with my grievances. I have done that in the past, and the response was almost always very unsatisfactory, and ultimately stressed me out. These types of sellers see nothing wrong with what they do, and they usually get very defensive and do not apologize. I don't want to deal with that type of response ever again. I remember one seller's response which contained lots of exclamation points, and it was apparent that my comments greatly infuriated her. Of course after reading that seller's response, I was even more angry myself. It wasn't worth it.

The only time I contact the seller with a complaint about shipping is when the package arrives postage due. While I had a positive reaction the last time I contacted a seller about a postage due package, I am still very reluctant to contact sellers about other similar problems.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Five Mini Rants in One!

This time you get five mini rants in one. I find that a lot of stuff is annoying me lately.
  1. Sellers who abuse the books when they photograph them. Some sellers bend back the boards really far so that the outside of the book makes a smaller angle than the inside of the book. The normal position for holding a book open is with the inside of the book at a smaller angle. One seller does this to really expensive books.

    I have also seen photographs in which a seller was holding a book while pinching the pages. Don't do that! If you abuse the book while photographing it, I worry about how you will pack it!

  2. Sellers who state that a 70+ year old book is in "as new" condition. I don't think so. The last old book I saw described in "as new" condition was a book that had yellowed pages. I doubt that the paper was yellowed 70+ years ago when the book actually was new. Thus, the book was not in "as new" condition. Not only that, but the book did have light wear to the edges, which also took it out of the "as new" category. Do these sellers think we are that stupid?

  3. Sellers who overuse the word "RARE." I have beaten this one to death already, but I might as well do it some more. If you are one of the people who likes to lure in buyers by describing a majority of your books, including the common ones, as "RARE," please consider that many of us are now avoiding your listings. People have told me in private that they avoid certain sellers, and I also tend to avoid these sellers. I'm sure newbie collectors just love "RARE" books, but those of us who have collected for many years are not impressed. We do still buy books, you know. We do have money to spend. Do you want to chase us away? If so, you are succeeding.

  4. Sellers who use the word "PRISTINE." Drop it, please. My dislike of "PRISTINE" is rapidly surpassing my dislike of "RARE." While not the exact definition, "pristine" implies that a book is perfect and without flaws. Every single time that this word is used I can easily see at least some wear and tear to the book in the seller's photographs. Sometimes I see major flaws, like the books with dirty spines.

    If the seller means that the inside of the book is pristine, then the seller should make that distinction. Otherwise, I assume that the seller means the entire book is pristine, and that is where I take exception.

  5. Sellers who use overuse capitalization. Not only do I dislike "RARE" and "PRISTINE," but I also dislike "STUNNING," "BEAUTIFUL," and "GORGEOUS" and everything else that is in all capital letters. Do people not realize that all capitals is considered SHOUTING on the internet? It is also harder to read.

  6. Sellers who claim that a book is valued at $1,000, but they only want $200.00 for it. Give me a break! The book must be only worth $200.00 if that is all the seller wants. We are not stupid!
In closing, I want to link to the New York Times article that I already mentioned in a previous post. The article contains this sage advice:
Make sure the listing looks reliable. Proofread it carefully and don’t use too many exclamation points or language that suggests you’re inexperienced or unprofessional. "Stay positive, clear and concise — that’s really important," Mr. Lindhorst said. "It’s all about making the buyer feel comfortable."
I doubt that buyers run a search for a "stunning Nancy Drew book" on eBay. Consider using some of these descriptive keywords:

original text

Some people do use those words when they run searches. Why annoy buyers by overusing meaningless words in your titles? Help us find your book by describing exactly what it is.

These rants come as a result of my frustration that I am beginning to miss out on truly rare books because some informed sellers describe them exactly the same way as they do all of their other much more common books.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Is It Worth?

I posted about this unusual book last night.

I nearly missed noticing the auction for this book because of the manner of presentation.


The word "rare" has been used and abused so much on eBay in the last few years that seeing it in the title of a listing no longer piques my interest. In fact, I am less likely to click on a book described as "rare" in the title than one not described as "rare."

This is what I saw that afternoon in eBay's search results.

Click on the image to see a larger version. I almost scrolled past the "RARE" books without clicking on either of them. I decided to click on one of them only to see what was so special this time. I was expecting to roll my eyes and hit the back button. My jaw dropped when I saw that a solid blue book had digger endpapers. Now this was interesting.

I suspect that most collectors did not ever notice this book when it was up for sale. I think the book would have been more readily noticed with the following title, which does fit eBay's title length limitations.

Unusual Non-tweed Nancy Drew Book with Digger Endpapers

I know that title would have drawn in my interest for sure. I have been frustrated ever since I saw and purchased the book. How many other good books am I missing on eBay because knowledgeable sellers choose to use non-descriptive adjectives in their titles rather than simply describe what the books are? A seller who has not been seen on eBay in several years was one of the first to use glowing adjectives to describe her Nancy Drew books. She is long gone, but others have copied her style, and new sellers continue to copy this style. How about just stating what it is?

Would any of you have bid on this book had you noticed it? If so, how much would you have bid? Or, if the book was above your budget, what do you think it might be worth? I'm not saying what I bid—just yet, but my bid was significantly above the closing price. Whenever I see a book of high interest, I ask myself how long it might take for another one to come up for sale. In this case, the answer might be "never," so I bid accordingly. I don't like to have regrets. In looking back, I think my bid was too low since the book may very well be one of a kind, but I was bidding aggressively at the time according to what I was thinking on that day. I was expecting to have to pay much more and was pleasantly surprised at the low amount of interest.

I am not kidding when I state that I nearly scrolled past it. In fact, I may have scrolled past it and then changed my mind. I am glad that I did view the listing and was able to purchase the book.

Once again, what would this book be worth to you?

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Very Unusual Nancy Drew Book

I bought a very interesting book last week. It is one of the most interesting purchases I have made in the last couple of years. I believe it is a printing anomaly, and a rather bizarre one at that. In the past, I have referred to several Nancy Drew printing anomalies as "bizarre," but this one trumps them all. This book is a thousand times more bizarre. If I did not have it in my possession, I would think it was a scam. In fact, when I viewed the seller's auction, I was concerned that the book was not what it appeared to be.

For those of you who have Farah's Guide, I have a book with boards that match that of Format #13. The boards are Cover Stock #6. The book is Format #13 in every way except for one thing: The book has digger endpapers. No one has ever mentioned seeing digger endpapers on any book from Format #13.

Nancy Drew books in Format #13 were printed during 1949 and 1950. Format #13 books are commonly called "solid blue" books. These are the books that came right before the tweed format. The Format #13 books all have blue silhouette endpapers—or so we thought. The tweed format began in 1951, and for a short time, the early tweed books were printed with blue silhouette endpapers. The digger endpapers were not introduced until 1953, two years later.

It does not make sense for a Format #13 book to have digger endpapers, since Format #13 ended two years before the introduction of the digger endpapers. As soon as I had the book in my possession, I carefully looked it over to see if it could be some kind of scam. It does not look like the book has been tampered with, except for the unfortunate fact that someone took black ink or marker and heavily darkened the top edge of the text block. Aside from that, the book looks fine to me.

I decided that the book is not a hoax. My other thought was that the book could be some kind of international edition. We have discussed the "blue velvet" Dana Girls books recently in one of the Yahoo! Groups, but I see nothing to indicate that this book is something similar to that. The dust jacket has no special codes, nor does the book have any special markings that I can find. Besides, if the book were an international edition, it seems we would have seen some of these already.

If the book is not a hoax or an international edition, then it must be a very strange misprint variant. But how? How would digger endpapers end up on a book that is in an earlier format?

The dust jacket meets all of the points for the 1955C-34 printing according to Farah's 12th edition. The book seems to be Format #13 from 1949-1950 except for the digger endpapers. After closely examining the book against Farah's Guide, I determined that the inside of the book cannot be from before 1953. The first page of the story does not have the title of the book present on that page. Printings from 1953 on did not have the title on the first page of the story. Books in Format #13 are supposed to have the title present on the first page of the story. Therefore, this book that appears to be in Format #13 is from 1953 or later.

It could be that a 1955 dust jacket is on a 1953 book, or it could be that the book and jacket are from 1955. I have checked the book and the jacket, and I can find nothing about the wear to the jacket that is obviously different than that of the book. This does not prove that the jacket is original to the book, but no evidence exists to disprove it. If we assume that the book and jacket are from 1955, then we have a very bizarre variant book.

Both Jenn Fisher and David Farah agree that this is a very unusual book. David Farah wrote:
"It seems strange to me that this hasn't come up before. Not on any volume where there were several years between cover stocks rather than just being used near the time they were discontinued.

I get lots of potential listings which turn out to be incorrect, which is why I usually don't list anything remotely controversial unless I get two confirmations.

I trust that Jennifer knows what she is looking at, but I still find it unusual.
I have to agree. Consider that in decades of gathering data about the Nancy Drew series that David Farah has never run across a book like this one. Exactly what do I have here? How did it happen?

I have one theory, which is that solid blue boards from another series ended up on a Nancy Drew book. I have always assumed that all of the Grosset and Dunlap books switched from this format to tweed at about the same time. I know that the Judy Bolton books remained in the tweed format during the early 1960s longer than other series. For that reason, I wondered whether any Grosset and Dunlap books remained in this format longer before going to the tweed format.

If so, the books that would be of interest would be ones that are solid blue. Vicki Barr and Beverly Gray are the two series that come to mind. If anyone can think of others, please let me know. I checked my Beverly Gray books, and it appears that Beverly Gray went to the tweed format at least a year later than Nancy Drew, but likely not as late as 1953. I have never paid enough attention to Vicki Barr to know exactly what happened with the Vicki Barr series.

I will have additional comments to make about this book and related topics in the coming days.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Twilight Saga Collection

I have been hearing about the Twilight books for quite some time and have been curious. With the movies, I have heard even more about them. I went to Amazon and read the beginning of the first book. It is engaging. I decided to treat myself to an early Christmas present and have bought the boxed set of four hardcover books.

Have any of you read them? Did you like them?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Misusing Priority Supplies and the Seller Response

I had to go to the post office on Friday to pick up a package that had arrived postage due. The seller had used a priority mail flat rate box turned inside out. The priority mail boxes are easily recognizable even when turned inside out since they come in certain sizes that do not match the boxes sold by Uline and other companies.

I realized later that the seller also used one of the plastic sleeves that the post office provides for the customs declaration form for international mail. It might actually have been the plastic sleeve that was noticed first instead of the box itself. In the below image, I have placed an arrow pointing to where "priority mail" can be seen on the plastic sleeve.

I am always highly annoyed when I receive a package that is postage due. I already had paid the seller nearly $5.00 for media mail shipping. When I pay for media mail, I assume that the seller is using boxes that are not priority mail boxes. Since the seller used a priority box and was caught, I had to pay an additional $6.22 for the package.

By the way, most packages in which priority mail supplies have been misused are returned to sender for insufficient postage. The people at my post office know me and have asked whether I want to pay the postage due or have the packages returned. I would rather receive the books and then take it up with the seller, so I have requested that the packages be sent to me postage due. Sometimes these packages contain books that are very important to me, so I don't want the packages returned and then shipped again. It is better to pay the extra postage and guarantee the safe arrival of the books.

So that there is no doubt, this is what I saw when I opened the package.

It was a priority mail flat rate box. I photographed one of the flaps. Read the part that I highlighted.

I am sure that some people reading this blog think that it is okay to use priority mail supplies for other classes of mail. Some people cannot be convinced otherwise, regardless of which argument is used. All that I will say is that the postal service, as can be seen above, has a problem with it, so it is against regulations to use priority mail supplies on other classes of mail. It is not worth the risk of upsetting your customers.

As always, I contacted the seller, provided a photo, and requested a refund for the $6.22 I had to pay for the extra postage. The seller apologized, sent me a full refund of my entire original payment for the books and the postage, and sent me a PayPal payment of $6.22. Now I have some free books, which is not at all what I wanted. I just wanted a refund of $6.22.

I think that sellers are now so afraid of buyers, because of eBay's changes during the last year, that they will do anything to make buyers happy. I did not want free books. My first reaction to the seller's full refund was that I wanted to send the seller the original payment again. I then reconsidered. The seller did what she thought was right, and even though I disagree, perhaps I should just let it rest. I feel bad about having a full refund and the books, but this is apparently what she felt she needed to do in order to make it right. What do you think?

Friday, November 27, 2009

eBay's Search Outage

On Saturday, eBay suffered from what was apparently a major search account—at least from all of the reports that I have read. Oddly, I was able to search on eBay with few problems on Saturday. On days that I am off work, I tend to check eBay several times a day to see what has been listed. Saturday was no exception.

I do recall that early in the day, I ran a search, and it took unusually long to complete, probably around 30 seconds. In spite of the delay, I did get my search results. Later in the day, I viewed a listing and clicked on the link to see the seller's other items. The resulting page returned no items, which was a result of the outage.

At some point after that, I read of the outage on AuctionBytes, and I realized that many people were unable to use eBay on Saturday at all. I checked my searches again, and they were all fine. I then learned that the "Buy" section of eBay was broken in addition to search. I checked the categories and found that all of them were empty. I never use the "Buy" section of eBay to search.

Later, I read that eBay posted a workaround to the broken search, which was to go to eBay's Advanced Search page to search. This surprised me, since I always search through the Advanced Search page. Apparently most people search eBay through the "Buy" section of the site. Is that true for those of you reading this, or do you use the Advanced Search page? I use Advanced Search because that was the place to go back 12 to 13 years ago to search, and old habits die hard.

For me, this was the major outage that never was. I don't doubt that it was a major outage because of how eBay has reacted. According to AuctionBytes, eBay sent this letter to sellers who had auctions end during the outage.
"All auction-style listings completed during this time will be protected from negative and neutral feedback as well as DSRs below a five star rating. In addition, we will not expect you to fulfill Auction-style orders completed during this time if you feel the search outage prevented you from realizing the full expected price from your auction-style listings that closed during the outage or within an hour after the outage. It's up to you whether you want to fulfill the item in the interest of good relations with your buyer or cancel the transaction."
I won a couple of auctions during the outage. I was able to bid with no problems, and I feel that the ending prices were about what they would have been anyway. Fortunately, my sellers are honoring the transactions. I have never heard of eBay allowing sellers to refuse to complete transactions because of an outage. Protecting sellers from negative or neutral feedback is also unprecedented.

It gets even more interesting. Anyone who won an auction during the outage is to receive a 10% coupon as compensation. I assume that buyers are getting the coupons since it is possible that sellers may renege on transactions. Of course, this really interested me since I won a couple of auctions.

True to their word, eBay sent me a coupon. The message stated, "You may have experienced difficulty shopping on Saturday. We'd like to offer our apologies for any inconvenience you may have experienced by offering a 10% off coupon, good until December 14, 2009."

This is a bit amusing since I really did not have any problems on eBay on Saturday. I will happily accept the coupon, however. I hope I can find something priced at around $100 or so to purchase by December 14. I'd like for my coupon to save me at least $10.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #37

A Collection of 30 Nancy Drew Mystery Books
Question: how many of the 30 books have a blue cover with an orange picture on the cover? also of the the above books that are this way do any have a blank page on the inside of the cover, and if so what books?

Answer: The Sign of the Twisted Candles - inside covers are white with orange pics inside The Quest of the Missing Map - white w?orange complete and unabridged The Mystery of the Tolling Bell w?o The Message in the Hollow Oak w/o The Secret at Shadow Ranch w/o Thw Whispering Statue - w/o complete and unabridged Nancy's Mysterious Letter w/o The Hidden Staircase w/o The Mystery at the Moss Covered Mansion w/o writing in front cover The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk w/o writing in the front cover The Secret in The Old Attic w/o The Clue in The Diary w/o writing in the front cover The Clue in The Jewel Box w/o The Secret of Red Gate Farm w/o The Haunted Bridge w/o The Password to Larkspur Lane w/o The Clue of the Tapping Heels w/o The Mystery of the Ivory Charm w/o Complete and unabridged The Clue in the Crumbling Wall w/o 11 white with blue in cover *Complete and unabridged = This Book, while produced under wartime conditions, in full compliance with goverment regulations for the conservation of paper and other essential materials, is Complete and Unabridged these are only ones marked this way
It sounded like the prospective buyer wanted to know how many of the books had the orange silhouette on the cover, and of those books, whether any of them had blank endpapers. It is not possible for a book with an orange silhouette on the cover to have blank endpapers.

It is worth revisiting Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #7. In that post, I stated, "All books with the orange silhouette in the center of the front cover have the orange silhouette endpapers. There are no exceptions whatsoever! Notice that the center of the front cover has an orange silhouette. Likewise, the endpapers have the orange silhouette."

I then pictured a blank endpapers book, which has no silhouette on the front cover. I stated, "Notice that there is no image of Nancy Drew on the front cover. Likewise, the endpapers are blank; there is nothing printed on them."

Going back to the above question and answer, I have to admit that the seller's response was a bit confusing. Trying to understand it all just about gives me a headache. The seller stated that a book had the orange silhouette endpapers, but for most of the books, the seller only made the comment "w/o." It rather made it sound like all of those books had blank endpapers, but the books had to have had some other type of printed endpapers like blue silhouette.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Describing Books as Pristine

This is a mini rant. I'm getting really tired of seeing eBay sellers use the word "pristine" to describe books that are not pristine.

pristine - Remaining free from dirt or decay; clean: pristine mountain snow.

The example that prompted me to write this post has some books that have dark, dirty spines and other books that have faded spines. Could someone please explain to me how a book with a dark, dirty spine is pristine? I really would like to understand, because I sure don't get it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Economy and Series Book Prices

I have been meaning to write this post for a while. Series book prices are the lowest I have ever seen. While some books that are rare and desirable still command high prices (this one, for instance), many others are slipping through the cracks and selling for atypically low prices.

In particular, thick blue Nancy Drew books with either one glossy illustration or all four glossy internals and intact dust jackets are selling for ridiculously low prices. I could cite quite a few instances of these books selling for $20 to $50, when they are supposed to sell for hundreds of dollars.

Here are a couple of low auction results:

Nancy Drew Hidden Staircase WS dust jacket OEPS Item #330373145796

This is a thick blue book that has a dust jacket listing to Tapping Heels. It sold for $10.99.

Nancy Drew SECRET SHADOW RANCH early formt internals dj Item #370272219711

This thick blue Nancy Drew book had the glossy internal illustrations and a dust jacket. It sold for $57.78. The same seller auctioned off a Lilac Inn with internals and dust jacket for the same price.

I could give many other examples. I dislike mentioning specific information when I have purchased something at a bargain that I will ultimately resell, but I have a similar story on something I purchased in recent months. The book was something that was very desirable, and this could be seen in the gallery photo and in the title of the auction. There was no reason for it to sell at a bargain. It was clear what it was from the description. It was a very scarce book but not quite rare. I placed a lowball bid and won the auction at a fraction of the book's value. If I wished to fully disclose the details, you would be impressed. It missed being better than the copy I have, so it will be sold. It will bring in a nice profit even if I price it at the low end of what it is worth.

I have blamed eBay recently for these atypical results, but it is actually more the economy than eBay's foolish actions. The economy is still in bad shape. The media have reported that the economy is getting better, but the results have yet to be seen for the average person. As I stated in comments to my last post, I expect sales to be very slow through the end of the year. I think sales will get better in January, and we just have to wait it out. The prices will go back up again eventually.

I admit that I am disgusted with how difficult it is to sell good books. I am not happy about the situation, but I know that it will get better at some point. The value of series books is always going up or down, depending upon supply, demand, and the economy. The 80th anniversary of Nancy Drew in the spring will hopefully generate some good media coverage and maybe that will help.

Remember the buying frenzy of the summer of 2008? Gosh, those were such great times! We could list anything for a high price, and she would buy it! For those who don't know what I mean, a certain buyer was buying approximately $20,000 worth of series books per month for around three months on eBay in the summer of 2008. She paid $50 to $100 for $5 books. She paid $500 for $100 books. She paid $1,000 or more for $300 to $500 books. She won just about all auctions she bid on because of her huge bids. Months later we learned that she had stolen several hundred thousand dollars from a bank and went to federal prison.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #36

This time the question was for me. A prospective buyer asked, "I'm concerned about the disparity between this cover and the multipic endpapers, this looks like a very old dj (which is great) w/ a newer edition, especially w/ the listing to The Golden Pavilion which was, I think, after the sixties rewrites. Can you help me out on this one?"

This is the listing:

Nancy Drew #12 Message in Hollow Oak Carolyn Keene HCDJ

It bothers me to get comments like this. I am not sure whether they just need an explanation or whether they think I have misrepresented the book.

First, Golden Pavilion was published in 1959, which is not after the 1960s. My copy of Hollow Oak has a jacket that lists to Golden Pavilion, which means that it was printed in 1959. According to Farah's 12th edition, the book and jacket match the points for the 1959B-52 printing. This is not a mismatch, and there is no disparity.

The blue tweed books went out of print in 1962, so a blue tweed book cannot be from years later, if that is what the buyer thought. The blue multi endpapers were used on all original text books until they were revised, with the exception of #35-38 which had blue multi endpapers but were never revised. Additionally, the older picture covers for the revised books, #1-4 and #6, did have the blue multi endpapers. The blue multi endpapers were used on at least some books until when they were revised or went through a cover art change in the 1970s.

Aside from #1-4 and #6, all blue multi endpaper books have the original text (#35-38 do have the original 20 chapter text). This might be the first time that I have found someone who thought that the blue multi endpapers likely indicate a revised text book. The presence of blue multi endpapers is more likely to indicate that a book has the original text rather than indicate that it does not have the original text.

Hollow Oak was not revised until 1972, so all printings of Hollow Oak from 1935 through early 1972 have the original text.

All blue tweed books have the original text except for just a few printings of #1-4 and 6. Those are the only blue tweed books in which a buyer needs to worry about which text the book has. Even in those cases, the vast majority of tweed books that surface will have the original text. It is actually quite difficult to find #4 and #6 in blue tweed books with the revised text.

This is a battle that will never be won. We have quite a few people who are confused about formats and must not be visiting the several websites out there that explain formats. Just do a Google search for "Nancy Drew formats," and you will find the information you need.

I remain convinced that the popularity of the Nancy Drew Applewood facsimile editions is largely due to people who cannot figure out which of the older books have the original text, so they pay high prices for the Applewoods so they can be guaranteed to receive a book with the original text. For those who disagree, remember that someone once commented in this blog that it was too confusing to figure out which old books have the original text, so she found it easier to buy the Applewoods.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Foam Pellet Disaster

This catastrophe can alternatively be called "The Foam Peanut Disaster," depending upon which type is used inside the package. Whenever I receive a heavy package in which the seller has used some type of foam, the foam is usually damaged enough that small pieces go everywhere when I open the package. It is worse when the foam is not the anti-static type and sticks to me and everything else. It can take forever to clean up. I received one such package this week.

I had bought a large lot of books. When I cut open the top, I saw a sheet of foam as well as tiny pellets that had broken loose. Oh no... I immediately closed the box and began dragging it towards the front door. Despite my quick action, a number of tiny pellets had already escaped. I pulled the box outside, then I went to get the vacuum cleaner, which I also took outside.

This is how the books were packed.

The books were packed well, but the problem was the foam. The little pellets that had broken loose from the foam sheets had found their way between the dust jackets and books and into the front and back hinges of the books.

In some cases, the smashed pellets had lodged in between the mylar covers and dust jackets. It took me 30 minutes to remove the books from the box and vacuum all of the pellets off of and out of the books.

This is why packing unwrapped books in foam peanuts or sheets is a bad idea. It causes the buyer to waste a lot of time cleaning up a mess. That same night, I wasted some more time on the next package. I went inside and opened that package, which was a lot of 15 books. That seller had wrapped every single book individually in paper and taped the paper shut. It took at least five minutes to extract those books from that package. I was not prepared to spend the better part of 40 minutes opening packages.

While I prefer to receive my books packed well, the sellers can go too far, such as wrapping every book securely. It would have been better to have wrapped the books in groups so that it didn't take so long to extract them.

As to the foam, it is always a nightmare.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Destroyed Package

It was bound to happen eventually. I have written of some of my damaged packages, and sometimes the packages have been missing a book or two but most books arrived okay. I finally received a package which turned out to be a total loss. I knew it was likely a total loss as soon as I saw it.

The package was enclosed in a plastic bag that USPS places around damaged packages. The thin brown paper that the seller used was quite torn. The seller sent the package priority, so it was destroyed in the first two days of transit. I received the package a week later after it had been processed through the place where damaged mail is sent.

Before I opened the package, I could see what was inside. This next photo shows what I saw.

There were two DVDs, a book that was definitely not anything I had bought, and a mysterious smashed box-like shape. Hmm. This was definitely not good. I opened the package, and this is what I found.

I was the lucky recipient of two Pam Grier videos, Sheba, Baby and Fox in a Box. I had never heard of Pam Grier until I received these DVDs. Wow. No offense to Pam Grier, but I was not impressed. One of the DVDs was badly scratched.

Even better, I received my very own Reader's Digest Condensed book. I'm sure all book collectors know that RDCBs are the most unwanted books ever printed. You have to just about pay people to take them. Most book readers want to read the entire story rather than a condensed version.

The only item that was kind of cool but still unwanted was the mysterious box. The box was smashed, but the model railroad log car inside was in perfect shape. I noticed that the log car did not have a UPC on the box, so it must have been part of a set of railroad cars and got separated from the rest.

I knew that these items were so random that likely the seller did not mail them to me. I checked with the seller, and she had never seen any of them before. She is supposed to be sending me a refund for my payment.

What must have happened is that my package was ripped open, which was not surprising since the brown paper was quite thin. My books fell out and were separated from the wrapping. The package was sent to a mail sorting center along with all of the other damaged mail, and USPS was unable to figure out what the package contained. Someone took random stuff from other damaged packages and placed enough stuff in the wrapping to fill up the package, then sent it along to me. Nice.

I did get a good laugh out of the message on the plastic bag that contained my package. The beginning of the message read, "We sincerely regret the damage to your mail during handling by the Postal Service. We hope this incident did not inconvenience you." Inconvenience? I got random junk I did not want and will never receive my books. I spent 20 minutes taking pictures, cropping them, and sending them to the seller with a letter of explanation. It was much more than just an inconvenience.

I have heard of this happening to others in the past. I have been lucky that this is the first time it has ever happened to me.

In closing, remember that it is never a good idea to wrap a stack of books in brown paper, especially thin brown paper. If you must package in brown paper, at least run a strip of tape all the way around the package horizontally and vertically just like you would do if you were using ribbon on a present for someone. If this package had had tape around it, the books may have been damaged but would have arrived. I would rather have damaged books than no books.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #35

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories- Lot of 2 Books Item #110441656908

This auction was for two Nancy Drew books with dust jackets. The seller stated that the books have the wartime conditions notice, which dates the books to World War II. The seller stated that one book lists to Missing Map and the other one to Moss-Covered Mansion. The seller also stated that the books were printed around 1942-1943.
Question: Please send pictures of the book without the dust jacket. Are they blue cloth or tweed? Orange on blue or blue on blue? Are the inside end papers orange?

Answer: Yes books are orange lettering on blue. and inside Orange figures/pictures
The buyer's questions were all unnecessary. While the seller did not state the requested information in the original description, the books were printed during the early 1940s (for multiple reasons given by the seller and mentioned above). All Nancy Drew books from the early 1940s have orange print on the cover and orange silhouette endpapers. The prospective buyer asked whether the books are tweed. The tweed books did not come along until the 1950s, so the books cannot be tweed. Please see my Nancy Drew formats page for this information.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #34

Question: Is there printing on the reverse side of the dust jacket or is it blank? Thank you.

The prospective buyer was asking the question in order to determine whether the dust jacket is the first/second printing dust jacket, which are identical. Only the first/second printing dust jacket has the print on the reverse side.

While the seller did not show the reverse side of the dust jacket, one of the photos contained the information that the buyer was seeking. It is something that I always watch for when a seller shows a photo of either flap of an early dust jacket. Here is the important photo:

Notice along the extreme right edge of the back flap that something is printed in red ink. The only Nancy Drew dust jackets that have that message on them in red ink are the ones that have lists of books printed on the reverse side of the dust jacket. Therefore, this dust jacket is one of the very early dust jackets with the ads on the reverse side.

Both the front and back flaps have a message along the edge in red ink. On the front flap, the message reads, "LOOK ON THE REVERSE SIDE OF THIS JACKET." On the back flap, the message reads, "PRESERVE THIS WRAPPER FOR FUTURE REFERENCE." Anytime you see a photo of one of the jacket flaps and see a message at the edge in red ink, it is a very early dust jacket from the early 1930s that has the lists on the reverse side.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The "New" Dana Girls Books

Two "new" Dana Girls books are now for sale on various websites. I have seen them on at least three different websites, and I am sure that they are available on others as well. Two different people have asked me about these books, and they are also the subject of some discussion in the Judy Bolton group.

The "new" Dana Girls books are called The Secret at the Windmill Estate and The Mystery of the Cameo Curse. These are not new stories. They are actually Kay Tracey books that have been "rewritten" into Dana Girls books by someone. While names have been changed and passages have been partially rewritten, the "new" Dana Girls books have heavily plagiarized the two Kay Tracey books.

Here is the beginning of the Kay Tracey book, The Secret at the Windmill:
Three high school girls, their arms loaded with textbooks, raced across the Carmont station platform, swinging aboard the train just as it started to move.

"One day we'll be a second too late," Betty Worth declared, brushing a wisp of blond hair from her eyes. "Kay Tracey, you're a regular sprinter when it comes to catching trains at the last moment!"

"I don't like to stand around at a station platform when I can find more interesting things to do," Kay responded, her brown eyes twinkling. "Besides, foot racing is good for the figure."

"If we keep pace with you we'll be skeletons before the school term ends," Wilma drawled. "Look at me already."
Here is the opening of the "new" Dana Girls book, The Secret at Windmill Estate:
Two school girls raced across the Penfield station platform, swinging aboard the train just as it started to move. The train slowly left the station in the late afternoon sunshine.

"One day we'll be a second too late," Jean Dana declared, brushing a wisp of blond hair from her eyes. "Louise, you're a regular sprinter when it comes to catching trains at the last moment!"

"I don't like to stand around at a station platform when I can find more interesting things to do," Louise Dana answered her sister, her eyes twinkling. "Besides, foot racing is good for the figure."

"We'll be skeletons before the school term ends," Jean said. As the days grew longer and the temperature became warmer, she knew that Summer would soon be upon them.
The above passage is taken from the preview that appears on the link that I provided near the beginning of this post. I have not purchased these books, and I do not intend to do so. They sound interesting, but I do not find them interesting enough to want to pay nearly $20 for each of them. Perhaps if they were less than $10, I would at least consider it.

The copyright pages, which can be seen in the preview of the books, refer to the books as parodies. Parodies are protected under copyright laws, so by calling the books parodies, the author was able to get a publisher to accept them. By definition, a parody "imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule." First, I do not believe that these texts are intended to ridicule the original texts. Second and more importantly, these texts are much more than imitation. Large portions of these texts are identical to the original books. This is plagiarism.

Both the Dana Girls and Kay Tracey series were properties of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which was purchased by Simon and Schuster. I doubt that Simon and Schuster gave permission for these books to be published.

As to whether collectors should purchase these books, that is an individual decision. Some collectors have expressed positive opinions and will be purchasing them. Others, like me, will not be purchasing the books. Mainly, people need to be aware that these books are not completely new stories.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Crossword Cipher Saga Continues...

This is just amazing. I bought this lot of books on eBay: Nancy Drew 10 hardcovers 1933 & up GREAT set!!! Item #220494603776 I only bought the lot because of the library binding of Whispering Statue, not that I really needed another library binding. The books didn't look to be in very good shape, in spite of the seller's comments. I just received the books, and they are what I expected—not in very good shape. Whenever I buy library bindings, they usually come with poor condition books, and that is what I expect regardless of what the seller states. As I pull Nancy Drew picture covers from packages, I always turn to the back cover to see what is the last title listed. I get to the rather trashed copy of Crossword Cipher and... it lists to Pine Hill on the back cover. The elusive first printing! Or is it? The book lists to Pine Hill on the back cover, which meets the points for the elusive 1967A-1 printing. However, we have a problem. The elusive first printing has no interior list of titles... then why on earth does mine have a list of titles? It is on the reverse side of the last page of text, which is page 177. The list of titles is ND #1-43 and DG #1-27. This matches the interior list for the third, fourth, and fifth printings. So I seem to have a hybrid between the first and one of three later printings. So what do I have? Do I have the elusive first printing? As far as I'm concerned, I have yet another interesting anomaly. I'm not convinced that it is the first printing. I still think that the "first printing" of Crossword Cipher is more of an anomaly, even though multiple examples exist. So if you own a Crossword Cipher listing to Pine Hill, does your book have a post-text list of titles? This gets stranger and stranger.