Saturday, January 31, 2009

Those RARE $1 Box Editions

Remember this auction?

 1961 Rare Nancy Drew BOOKS $1 BOX Vintage OLD Gifts

The seller sold the above $1 box edition of Fire Dragon for $15.50 with free shipping. In the auction, the seller made the following claim:

"Only a handfull of volumes were printed this way...just try to find another!"

Considering that the seller just dared us to find another, I was stupefied [sarcasm] to find this auction.  Check it out:

(<--sarcasm a="" auction.="" check="" discover="" href="" it="" out:="" this="" to=""> 1962 RARE $1 DOLLAR BOX HARDY BOYS BOOKS Vintage GIFTS

Approximately three weeks later, the same seller had another one up for sale. This time he stated, "With the ‘impossible-to-find’…One Dollar BOX printed on the top right front cover corner !"

Now this is my favorite part: the seller goes on to say that the $1 box edition of Fire Dragon "is a rare printing" that "is increasing in value every day!" I love it because this second auction closed at just $5.95 with free shipping. It looks like the value went down by nearly $10.00 in just three weeks.

If the book is so very RARE, why did another seller also have one for sale?

Nancy Drew Mystery Books - 2 - $1 box books! GREAT

The above lot contained #4 and #38 with the $1 boxes, but it did not sell, most likely because the seller wanted $38.62 for the lot. Of course if the $1 box editions were as RARE as the first seller stated, $38.62 would be quite a bargain. Apparently nobody was interested in such rarities.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Growing Reports of eBay's Folly

I do believe that 2009 is the year of reckoning for eBay when it will face the consequences of its bad decisions. It is worth revisiting an article that I mentioned in this blog during the fall; but first, read this blog post by someone who used to work at eBay:

In the above post, Alan Lewis explains that he was one of the managers of the "eBay 3.0" team that is mentioned in the Forbes article. Here is the Forbes article:

The Real Reason eBay Is Stuck

I have also found an article from the past few days which mentions eBay's rapid decline:

EBay Sales: Going, going...

At the bottom of the article, there is a link to view all of the comments that readers have posted:

Reader's Comments

Nancy Drew collector and Sleuth Fred Pike has posted a comment about how eBay's poor management has caused series book prices to crash and how eBay is no longer a good place to sell series books. Many people are also posting links to their favorite alternative sites, such as Bonanzle.

Consider this: I am not selling my series books on eBay, and neither is Fred. There must be other people who are also no longer selling their series books on eBay. This is why the selection of series books offered on eBay is deteriorating.

After eBay announced its radical changes in August, I knew that it was going to go downhill. I want to revisit some of my own comments.

On August 31, I wrote, "Earlier this year, I still had optimism that eBay would remain viable, while others thought that it was the beginning of the end. I now feel that eBay is indeed self-destructing and that it may be unrecognizable in less than one year."

As of today, I feel that eBay is already beginning to be unrecognizable.

On September 9, I stated, "I am not going to let eBay destroy me, but I will bail out fast if another venue opens up."

In a private email message to someone on December 11, I made these comments:
"I really think there are more sellers buying books on eBay than actual buyers. I have been annoyed at how many times I have been driven up by people that I have known are sellers when all I want is a book for my collection.

I will try to sell on eBay again around December 20-22. I have done well on eBay in the past when auctions close right after Christmas. Depending upon the results and whether my DSRs are okay after that time, I will assess whether to continue on eBay. I have been checking out among others, and they may be viable should I ever decide to list there. I'd have to mention it in my blog if I do."
On January 2, I made these comments in this blog:

"Normally I do extremely well the week after Christmas with a sell-through rate of around 60-75% and some bidding wars. My sell-through rate so far this week has been around 26%. This week has been the worst post-holiday week for me of the nearly 12 years I have been on eBay."

So that is what caused me to register on Bonanzle at the beginning of this month. I am now bailing out. I have always been highly successful in the week after Christmas. People get new computers and gift cards, and they go online and buy stuff. It didn't happen this year, at least not on eBay.

Too bad, so sad; we need to find another venue. I have chosen Bonanzle, and I know a few others have already followed me there. I am also open to other possibilities, so if anyone finds series books listed elsewhere, let me know.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Google Chrome

I downloaded the Google Chrome browser to use in the "new and improved" My eBay. I found myself refusing to do searches on Saturday until I found another way. That is how much I hate the way my saved searches page functions in Firefox, and it is all eBay's fault for messing it up.

The download page for Google Chrome is here:

Google Chrome

Most people are likely content with the speed of their current browsers on eBay, but I highly recommend that you download either Google Chrome or Firefox if you are having any problems with the new version of My eBay. As people have stated on eBay's message boards, users should not have to download a new browser, but eBay's shortsightedness forces us to do so or we must waste time on a slow site. Do it, and you will not regret it. I still plan to use Firefox for everything but eBay, since I love Firefox.

My problems are solved. My saved searches pages loads just as fast as it once did, and my saved searches load very quickly. Thank you, Google, and no thanks to eBay! There is something wrong with eBay when users are forced to find alternate ways to effectively use the site's features. It is quite sad, actually.

For Internet Explorer users who need a better browser for eBay, I first recommend that Firefox be tried since it is more like Internet Explorer than Google Chrome is. Firefox can be downloaded here:

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox is based on some of the old source code for the now-defunct Netscape Navigator browser, which is what most people used on the internet in the mid-1990s. Firefox is faster and more stable than Internet Explorer on most websites.

I especially like the fact that Firefox blocks just about 100% of the ads and pop-up windows. I have never found that Internet Explorer does as well at blocking ads and pop-ups.

I notice that Google Chrome does let some of the ads through, and I am not certain whether I can tweak it to avoid the ads. Even though I now see ads in my eBay search results pages, which is why I switched to Firefox several years ago, Google Chrome is loading the search results faster than Firefox does after eBay's overhaul and destruction of My eBay.

To summarize, I must now use Google Chrome for my eBay searches because eBay has done something to mess up Firefox's speed and has caused Internet Explorer to be completely unusable within My eBay. Google Chrome is not perfect, but it is the only way I can use eBay until eBay comes to its senses, which will probably be never.

At some point back in the fall, I suggested that eBay was likely in the middle of the end of its self-inflicted destruction. I feel like eBay is now approaching the end of the end.

Do consider trying Bonanzle. Other people are beginning to list their series books there, so the selection of books is improving.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More on the "New and Improved" My eBay

I still don't like it. I'm fine with the main page of My eBay now that I've tweaked it, but I hate the saved searches page and how long it takes to load for me on Firefox. Since most of the people complaining about the new version use Internet Explorer, I decided to see how bad it is. Keep in mind that I'm using a very new computer that has virtually no glitches yet.

My eBay loaded slowly in Internet Explorer. The saved searches page hung for 20 to 30 seconds before I could scroll or click on anything. I then decided to reload the page just for kicks. That was a mistake. Internet Explorer froze up on me, and I had to open Task Manager in order to get it closed. I'm not going to make that mistake again. I will never again try to open the "new and improved" My eBay from Internet Explorer. I now know why so many people are howling with displeasure on the message boards. One person even suggested that the new version was created by baboons!

I am running a few searches from my saved searches page, but I am doing around half of them from my bookmarked page on eBay Canada. Sad to say, eBay Canada is supposed to switch to the new version in a few days. After it changes, I will see if I can find another international site that has not changed.

One of my primary problems with the new version is that recently visited links are no longer a different color. Some of my searches are not run very often, so I may just delete them since they now look exactly like all of my other searches. This probably will result in me buying less.

While most Firefox users are not reporting any slowdowns, the pages are definitely slighter slower for me than they were with the old version. I have read that Google Chrome is faster than Firefox is with the new My eBay, so I may download it this weekend. I must either find a way to make my saved searches page load faster or else stop using eBay. I'm not quite ready to completely abandon eBay even though I'd like to do it.

If you hate the setup of the summary page for the new version, you can make changes so that it will resemble the old version. This is what mine now looks like:

The color bar for each section can be changed. Select "edit," and change it to the color of your choice. We only get five choices, so I picked green because it's Bonanzle's color. The sections can be dragged up or down by at least two different methods. There is also a place where you can choose which sections will appear on your summary page. It took awhile, but I finally managed to get the messages section to appear first followed by selling reminders, buying reminders, and watched items just like I had it before. Now I'm happy with the summary page. If only I could make the saved searches page look like it did before and could get it to load faster . . .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The "New and Improved" My eBay

On January 20, we all were dumped into the "new and improved" My eBay. Each time I was defaulted to the new version in recent months, I opted out. Like everyone else, I now have no choice.

My saved searches are very slow. Even my saved searches page loads very slow. Until now, I could click on my saved searches and get results within around one second. It now takes four to five seconds to get the results. Exactly how is this better???

I can deal with the new page setup. I just don't like it that my searches are now slow. I have been having fits today trying to run my searches. Are they wanting to completely drive me away? I am not selling on eBay, but I am still buying. Do they want me to stop?

There is a lot of unhappiness on eBay's message boards, especially the My eBay message board:

Just click on the link and view the titles of the message threads to get an idea of the level of unhappiness. Some people are reporting that the new version is sucking up nearly 100% of their computers' CPU usage, which means that their computers are slowing to a crawl.

I gained some useful information from the message threads. First, the Google Chrome browser is the only internet browser that works well with the new version. Why exactly would eBay redesign an important page to work with only one browser which is not the most widely-used one? I quit using Microsoft Internet Explorer several years ago when I could no longer do my eBay searches quickly. I switched to Mozilla Firefox, which has always been fast on eBay. Now eBay has fixed it so that Firefox is slow. Therefore, I must either quit using Firefox or quit using eBay. Hmmm......

The second piece of information I learned is that eBay has not yet changed the international sites. Yes! I logged into eBay via the eBay Canada site, and my searches run just as quick as ever! I bookmarked the link to My, and I'm going to run my searches from there at least until they pull the plug on the old version.

The "new and improved" My eBay no longer has the option to see the full ID of the winning bidders under the auctions not won page. That is definitely not an improvement.

EBay claims that 90% of its users were already using the new My eBay. Really? I guess all of the 10% who weren't already using it are all of the people complaining on eBay's message boards. I'm not going to start a poll on this topic, but I really want to know how many others were still using the old version. Post a comment and state either "yes" or "no" to whether you still used the old version.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Seller Dashboard Update

I'm not selling anything on eBay right now, and I no longer care that much about eBay. While I am still running searches, I no longer enjoy the process at all.

While my last batch of items were up for sale, eBay reduced my search exposure from raised to standard, which is their way of punishing me for not selling for a couple of months. Right after all of my items closed, my search exposure returned to raised, which is where it has been since that time. I have nothing for sale, and I have raised search exposure. This is good, right?

I did not sell that many items, and my feedback has been trickling in one by one. I now enclose a note in all of my packages requesting my buyers to let me know how I can improve my customer service should they feel that they cannot give me five-star ratings on the DSRs. I do not ask them for fives, but I request constructive criticism so I can improve. Of course, nobody has bothered to tell me how I can improve.

I finally received the 10 DSRs required for my 30-day DSR ratings to display. Here they are:

As always, click on the image to see a larger version. The four ratings are 5.00, 5.00, 4.80, and 4.89. Since I know I have to have exactly 10 ratings, I am able to figure out what ratings I received. I received all fives for the first two ratings. I received eight fives and two fours for the third rating. I received nine fives and one four for the last rating.

As I have long suspected, eBay does not display the averages correctly. It is not mathematically possible for 10 ratings to average to 4.89. The average should be 4.90. It does not matter, but I like to be precise. I have a degree in mathematics, so this irritates me greatly when I find mistakes in numerical averages. A computer calculated the average. It should be 4.90. How does a computer calculate it wrong? Please.

None of this really matters, but I thought it might be of interest to others. EBay's seller dashboard is bogus. EBay's searches are polluted with all of the diamond powersellers' listings, so now searches are ruined. A few people are predicting that eBay will split into two websites within one year, one for vintage items and one for new items. I hope so, because in my opinion, it is the only thing that can save eBay from what it has done.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Book That Came Back

I purchased a partial set of Outdoor Girls books with dust jackets. The books were packaged quite well with lots of packing peanuts and bubble wrap, so it took me a few minutes to finally get at the books. As I pulled them out of the wrapping one by one, I did a double-take when I saw The Outdoor Girls on a Hike. My immediate reaction was, "I know this book." I was not certain, but my instinct told me that I had once had that specific book in my possession.

Several years ago, I purchased a complete set of Outdoor Girls books on eBay, and the books had water damage along the lower right edges. All of the books had the same area affected by water, and the damage also affected the same part of the dust jackets. I kept some of the books and sold others immediately. Eventually I upgraded most of the books.

This copy of The Outdoor Girls on a Hike had that familiar area of water damage. I opened the book and made note of the name, Eugenia Ward, written inside the book. I also noted that the dust jacket had a Demco mylar cover, which is what I use for my books. Was this book from that set of water-damaged Outdoor Girls books? Was it a book that I had once sold?

I had no idea whether I still had any of those books, but I thought it was quite likely that I had one or two. The Outdoor Girls series is not an easy series to collect. I went to my set of Outdoor Girls books and began checking them for the name Eugenia Ward, beginning with the high-numbered ones. I remember how long it took me to upgrade those water-damaged copies of The Outdoor Girls in the Air and The Outdoor Girls in Desert Valley, so I knew that I should begin checking the series from the last titles in reverse order.

I made it halfway down my set to The Outdoor Girls at Bluff Point. I opened that book to find . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the name Eugenia Ward. A-ha! I was right! How funny is that?

Without getting into all the specific details, I know that I did not get the books I just purchased from the person to whom I sold The Outdoor Girls on a Hike. I was able to search my PayPal account to help make that determination. The book was sold in early July 2005 to someone who was a reseller. The book has obviously changed hands multiple times before finding its way back to me.

By the way, I checked the rest of my Outdoor Girls books, and The Outdoor Girls at Bluff Point is the only one of Eugenia Ward's books that is still in my possession. If not for it, I would not have been able to prove that I had once owned Eugenia's The Outdoor Girls on a Hike. Even without the proof, I would have been convinced of it. There is no mistaking that familiar water damage.

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Mega-Sellers to Block

I did a Nancy Drew search by newest items first and found almost two pages of results hogged by one seller. The seller used to two IDs to list the books, but they were obviously the same person. I blocked both IDs, thus removing around 100 flashlight and recent softcover editions from my search.

I find it curious that two IDs were used. It did mean additional steps to get all of the listings blocked, so that would be a reason why a seller might list with multiple IDs.

Exactly why do people try to sell flashlight edition Nancy Drew books on eBay? There are so many of them listed that the likelihood of success is minimal.

This is my list of blocked sellers:


It keeps getting longer and longer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Vague Buyer Questions

I had quite a few books listed on eBay last week. Soon after the auctions began, a prospective buyer from Canada asked what I would charge "complete with shipping" for five certain books. I assumed that the buyer wanted to know what the postage cost would be for the five books. Understandably, almost all international buyers request this information so that they will know whether the shipping is too high.

I replied that the five books would have to go via priority mail since the weight of the package would be slightly over four pounds, making the postage cost a total of $23.75. I also told the buyer that four books would weigh under four pounds and could go first class at a total of $16.25.

The buyer replied that she actually wanted to know "if we buy all five books, what would you charge us? (book cost + shipping)." I replied that all five lots were auctions and that I had no way of knowing what the final prices would be. Argh. At this point, I realized that this person was likely wanting me to cut her a good deal for each book at a price lower than the opening bid price. Not surprisingly, the buyer never placed a bid on any of the books.

I cannot understand why this person could not just state that she wanted to pay less than the opening bid prices. I would have declined, but at least I would have known what was really wanted. Be specific when asking questions. We cannot read minds.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Beverly Gray Burt Blue Ribbon Books

The A.L. Burt Company was the original publisher of the Beverly Gray series by Clair Blank. Volumes 1 through 8 were published by A.L. Burt. The A.L. Burt books are gray hardcover books with blue endpapers.

The A.L. Burt Company was sold to Blue Ribbon Books, Inc. in 1937. The Beverly Gray Blue Ribbon Books have "Burt" on the lower spine instead of "A.L. Burt." Some of the Blue Ribbon Books are gray like the original Burt editions, but the others have different colors of binding. I have one that is red and one that is pink.

The pink book is faded on the front cover and spine, and the back cover is a slightly darker shade.

The red book has dark blue endpapers:

The pink book has very light blue endpapers that look faded:

Blue Ribbon Books, Inc. published the Beverly Gray series for a very short period of time as the series was soon sold to Grosset and Dunlap. All of the Burt books are quite scarce, but the Blue Ribbon Burt Books are even scarcer than the earlier Burt editions. Most examples that come up for sale are the earlier gray books.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Early Betty Gordon Dust Jackets

All fifteen volumes of the Betty Gordon series were printed with this style of dust jacket:

For a time, I thought that the above dust jacket was the only type of dust jacket used for the Betty Gordon series. After I learned of an earlier format, I began trying to find one and was finally able to purchase one of them:

I was beginning to wonder when I would ever be able to find one. I was happy that no one else bid on the auction. I made some good purchases in December!

Since this dust jacket is for volume six, I can safely assume that at least volumes one through six were printed with this style of dust jacket. These dust jackets are very scarce and much harder to find than the second style of dust jacket.

Notice that RUTH FIELDING is quite LARGE on the dust jacket. This is a good example of the heavy cross promotion of the Betty Gordon and Ruth Fielding series.

Betty Gordon is a mostly unknown early series and one of my favorites. I feel like all series book enthusiasts should check out Betty Gordon. Follow this link

for the text of the first Betty Gordon book. Many of the early series books are in the public domain and are readily available online without having to spend a cent.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blocking Sellers from eBay Search Results

The books category on eBay is getting more swamped every day with the garbage listed by eBay's wonderful Diamond Powersellers. The Nancy Drew searches are more impacted than the lesser-known series. I hate having to exclude sellers from my searches, because eBay does not make it easy to do. Gee, I wonder why they would make it difficult?

Diamond Powersellers are those sellers who have shooting star feedback that is in the tens of thousands and have tens of thousands of items listed at any given time. Some of them have hundreds of thousands of items listed. They clutter the searches with all of their garbage which collectors of vintage books do not want to see listed. The type of Nancy Drew books that they list are hundreds of flashlight editions, Girl Detective books, and other new items. If I want to buy any of those books, I will go to where I know I will get my order shipped promptly and with good customer service. I don't want those books on eBay. Get a clue!

I did a Nancy Drew search this last weekend, and the first couple of pages of newly-listed items were cluttered with more garbage from several of the Diamond Powersellers. Even though it is cumbersome, I took some time to edit my Nancy Drew searches and exclude several more sellers. My list of excluded sellers removes approximately 1,000 items from my Nancy Drew searches. Since this might save some of you some time, here is my current list of excluded sellers:


The list can be entered into the form just like that. I believe that I have one small seller in that list, but the rest are Diamond Powersellers. The one small seller was put in the list because he or she had listed dozens of Little Golden Books with Nancy Drew mentioned in all of them for no good reason. I can't stand that type of keyword spamming in which an entire page of results can be irrelevant all because of one seller. I have blocked other small sellers in the past for the same reason, and those sellers eventually lost their registered user status because they had other problems as well. I have no use for those kinds of sellers.

Since some people may not know how to exclude sellers from searches, here are the directions I gave many months ago in this blog:
There is a remedy for this situation. In order to combat this problem, it is necessary to use the saved searches feature from within My eBay. The buyer must first enter a search from eBay's Search page. If the buyer does not already use the Advanced Search, it will be necessary to click on "Advanced Search" right underneath the search selections. From the Advanced Search page, enter the desired search term. Scroll down to where it states "From Sellers." Click on "From specific sellers (enter sellers' user IDs)" and select "exclude" in the drop down box. Now enter the IDs that need to be blocked inside that search box, separated by commas. Click on "Search" and then click on "Save this search." The search will be saved and those sellers' listings will no longer show when the buyer clicks on that search from the Saved Searches page.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Another Grosset and Dunlap Myth

1961 Rare Nancy Drew BOOKS $1 BOX Vintage OLD Gifts Item #330295999541

The auction is for a picture cover of Fire Dragon that has the $1 box printed as part of the front cover. The seller states:
"it is part of the book and cannot be removed. And Therein was the problem. Retailers couldn’t jack the price, and they hated it.. This brilliant idea was quickly halted and the ‘idea-man’ still works in the mail room to this day. Only a handfull of volumes were printed this way...just try to find another!"
Then why did Grosset and Dunlap make it a practice from the 1970s and continuing to the present day to actually print the price on the back cover of all of its books? It is quite common to find Nancy Drew books from the 1970s and 1980s that have the price covered by a gray box with a new price printed off to the side. If printing the price on the book was such a bad thing, why did they keep doing it later? Why are they still doing it? All stores have to do is put a sticker over the price that is printed on the book.

The $1 box editions quickly were halted because the price increased past $1. Since Grosset and Dunlap still prints the prices on their books, I doubt that the reason was solely because retailers did not want the price on the books. The main point of the seller's story is to add interest to the listing.

As to whether only a handful of copies were printed, I doubt it. Each book that had a $1 box appears to have had an entire print run with the price box on the cover. By Kingsport press file copies that I have seen from the early 1970s, each printing of each Nancy Drew book had around 10,000 copies. It is quite likely that the $1 box books had as high of a print run as any other printing.

The books are scarce, but they can be found. I have one of each in my collection, and I know I have had extras of several of them. The seller stated to "just try to find another," but I have had duplicates. The number of copies that come up for sale is a bit low, but I have seen them often enough that it is a stretch to imply that a buyer is not going to be able to find another. The examples that come up for sale are usually in rough shape, so the more likely reason as to why so few copies are around is that most of them may have been destroyed by wear and tear.