Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Little about Patsy and Pudge

I have skimmed through the outline for Patsy and Pudge at the Circus, and it reminds me a lot of The Brownie Scouts in the Circus. I will have to re-read The Brownie Scouts in the Circus to verify the similarities. I also have several of the Brownie Scouts outlines, so it looks like I may have to re-read all of the Brownie Scouts books in order to fully appreciate these outlines.

It is very good that the outlines are for the Brownie Scouts series rather than Wirt's Dan Carter series. I do not particularly care for the Dan Carter series. In the Dan Carter series, the boys are continually forced to prove themselves innocent of wrongdoing and are overly concerned about doing the right thing. It was a bit repetitious for me, and I do not care ever to read the Dan Carter books again.

On the other hand, the Brownie Scouts series is surprisingly good for a series that centers around scouting activities and is aimed at young children. I tend not to like series that are aimed at young children, like the Bobbsey Twins series, so it is unusual that I like the Brownie Scouts series as much as I do.

A rough draft of a letter to the publisher is also included with the Patsy and Pudge summary. It was on the back of another page, and I was surprised to find it. The letter indicates to me that the Patsy and Pudge summary must be from the 1940s and must be from before the Brownie Scouts series was published. In the rough draft of the letter, Benson actually mentions that she writes (she stated "I write" - present tense) "the Nancy Drew stories." This is a gem. I will place excerpts of the letter in a future post. This is so exciting. Gosh I wish I could have purchased all of those documents...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Indian Mound Mystery

One of the sets of original Mildred Wirt Benson documents that I purchased was the outline for a book called The Indian Mound Mystery. While I have not read every single one of Mildred Wirt Benson's published works, I feel like I can safely rule out the very few that I have not read. For the record, the only ones I have not read are Sky Racers, Carolina Castle, Courageous Wings, Linda, Connie Carl at Rainbow Ranch, and the Honey Bunch books.

Here are the characters, as described in the outline:
Rance and 'Rene Caldwell, children who are visiting their uncle,

John Spranger, a bachelor....a writer of historical novels.

Jean Romanes, an orphan who runs a quick lunch room. She is a direct descendant of Eugene Romanes.

Jack Hardley, Jean's cousin.

Robert Quittance, a lawyer, who has a fine collection of antiques. He is interested in adding to his collection by fair means or foul.

Judge Van Wenter, a kindly man who assists John Spranger in his research work.


The Eagle or Jewel of the Cincinnati. ....The order was formed by the officers, French, Polish and American, who fought together during the Revolution. George Washington was its first president. The eldest son of a dead officer could step into his father's place in the organization.
I like the description of the Jean's cafe as a "quick lunch room."

I'm going to give a short rundown of the plot. The outline has no dialogue. This would have been fleshed out as the book was written. I have tried to rephrase everything so as to use only my own words, and I have left out some of the plot.


The children's names are Ranceford and Irene Caldwell, and their nicknames are Rance and Rene. Their parents have gone away on a trip, and the two children must stay with their uncle, John Spranger, who is reluctant to take care of them. He is afraid they will distract him from his writing. Additionally, Uncle John's housekeeper, Truda Hausfenger, is displeased about the extra guests. Hmm...a housekeeper with a foreign-sounding name. It sounds like one of the famous ethnic stereotypes of old series fiction!

The children are asked to help remove some old wallpaper in Uncle John's house. As they finish the job, the children find a hidden door to a closet which contains an old chest. In the chest, the children find two diaries, one belonging to Robert Spranger. The diary contains a letter written by Eugene des Romanes.

The children visit the nearby Indian mounds. While there, Rance looks around while Rene reads the diary. She finds mention of some missing object and a partial clue to its whereabouts. The children return home to find that Uncle John is going on a trip to do research for a new book. The children go with him to an Ohio river town.

Soon after arriving in the town, the children meet Robert Quittance and Jean Romanes. From Jean, the children learn of a missing pay chest. Jean tells them that she has some papers in a trunk which may be of interest to their uncle. Jean is not able to get to the papers at the present moment.

The children meet Jack Hardley, Jean's cousin, and find him to be very unpleasant. Rene had brought the old diaries with her on the trip and left them in a briefcase. During the night, an intruder, who is later found to be Jack Hardley, tries to steal the diaries. He does not succeed.

Jean goes to retrieve her papers from the trunk and learns that some of them are missing. The Eagle of the Cincinnati, which is kind of like a locket, is on display at the library and Jean, Rene, and Rance go to look at it. They find a clue inside, and the words seem to fit with the words in the diary.

Rene learns that Judge Van Wenter had given Mr. Quittance a map of the Indian mounds. The judge draws a map from memory for Rene. Meanwhile, Jean learns that her cousin and Quittance are in collusion to find the pay chest. The two were seen driving in the direction of the Indian mounds.

The children arrive at the mounds in time to see Jack and Quittance discover the chest. They leave to get help, but the police will not believe them. Fortunately, Uncle John arrives in time to lend assistance. The chest is opened in court, and the judge determines that the money belongs to the government. Quittance is discredited in the eyes of the townspeople, and Jean returns east with Rene and Rance.


The outline was good, and I feel like this story could have made a good book. The outline is five pages long in single-spaced type. In its present form, it makes for a good short story, though lacking in dialogue.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Revisiting Quarry Ghost Part 2

I have a carbon copy of a letter Mildred Benson wrote to her editor at Dodd Mead concerning the rewriting of Quarry Ghost. The letter is dated October 3, 1958.
I have the first chapter rewritten on GHOST and am awaiting the complete manuscript. It will be possible, I think, in the early chapters to make use of the old pages, or some of them, which will greatly reduce re-copying time. The second half of the manuscript will be the trying part.

The scientific material will give the story more substance and I believe, is an improvement on the tin soldier idea. Anyway, the story is starting out with promise--and hard work!
I wish we could see the original manuscript to get an idea of how the tin soldier idea would have played out. I find it interesting that Quarry Ghost was rewritten after the original manuscript was finished. This is from a letter written by Benson's editor, Dorothy M. Bryan, on October 28, 1958:
I hope that, now it is all over, you feel the change was a wise one. I would not want you to be unhappy about it. I do feel that it is better to try for a more permanent value and an underlieing [sic] substance, in addition to the entertainment aspect in our young books, particularly since over eight per cent of our sales are to institutions, such as libraries, state reading circles, school libraries, etc. I certainly do not want any author to feel "pushed around" by me, though!
It sounds like Dorothy Bryan was a nice editor.

This is from Bryan's letter to Benson from December 2, 1958:
Your manuscript for QUARRY GHOST has gone to the printer and now I can take time to congratulate you on your good rewriting. All the ends seem safely tied together. I checked on the long hair for the Ghost and the turkey egg for Cookie. Also, I straightened out any other minor inconsistencies. The only thing that I could not explain was how a group of boys could stay away from school on a weekday and huddle around the police while they were searching the quarry and not be questioned or even sent packing off to school for playing hookey!

The most important fact is that your story seems to have more substance now - your heroine more character. I think that the touch of the dinosaur egg will intrigue more readers. I know how much interest the fact that the young hero of another of our books wants to become an archaeologist has aroused, particularly in the libraries and schools.


I think that you are going to be delighted with the jacket for your book. The artist works for the Ford Company and Coca Cola and he has made an intriguing watery scene with a flash of excitement.
The main reason I decided to read Quarry Ghost again is that I could not remember the exact details about the turkey egg or the long hair on the Ghost. As I suspected, the editor must have been checking up on whether dinosaur eggs are at all similar to turkey eggs in appearance.

Long hair is mentioned at one point in the book, but I do not know of more than one occurrence. It may be that an inconsistency was removed. For instance, it is possible that the hair could have been short in one scene and long in another.

I really enjoyed revisiting Quarry Ghost. This book is well worth purchasing, if you can find one. It was published in both hardcover and softcover editions. The softcover version, while quite scarce, is normally less expensive than the hardcover edition. The UK edition, Kristie at College, is also a relatively inexpensive way to acquire a copy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Revisiting Quarry Ghost

Some of the Mildred Wirt Benson documents that I purchased concern Quarry Ghost, which was published in 1959 by Dodd, Mead & Company. It is one of the hardest to find of all of Mildred Wirt Benson's books. It is somewhat easier to find Quarry Ghost in the UK edition titled Kristie at College.

Quarry Ghost is my favorite book by Mildred Wirt Benson. It is also one of the last couple of books that she wrote, so the book is the product of Benson's decades of writing experience. It shows; the book is outstanding.

After looking at the Quarry Ghost documents, I was inspired to re-read Quarry Ghost. The book opens like this:
KRISTIE ROLLED a sheet of copy paper from the typewriter and, with a quick intake of breath, raised startled eyes to the shadowy doorway. Across the street from the deserted college journalism office, the chimes of Old Trinity carillonned the hour of seven.

Not the clear cadence of the striking chapel bells, but another sound had caught the girl's attention. Footfalls, soft and steady, whispered along the freshly-scrubbed hallway, padded closer and now hung suspended at the entranceway to the student newspaper workroom.

Aware that she sat alone in a slowly darkening room, Kristie snapped on the overhead, swinging electric bulb.

Framed in the doorway stood a tall man with angular features. His well-cut tweeds and gold-rimmed spectacles suggested that he might be a faculty member. Kristie, however, was quite certain she had never seen him on the campus.

The glare of the unshaded light accentuated a gray-fringed, bald head as the visitor politely removed his hat in approaching the desk.

"Good evening." His voice was low-pitched, friendly. "May I see your journalism school director, please?"

"Mr. Munn? Oh, I'm sorry, sir, he left an hour ago." Kristie smiled to cover her nervousness. The caller's easy manner had quieted her initial alarm. Nevertheless, she was fully conscious that she sat alone in a deserted office. It would be nearly an hour before the Daily Collegian night staff would straggle in to get out the early morning edition.

Long before that time, Kristie expected to be at the women's gymnasium swimming pool, preparing to compete in an important meet at 7:30 p.m. She had remained at the journalism office only to finish an assigned story on the student council election.

"You are in charge here?"

"Not exactly." Kristie squirmed impatiently, wishing the caller would state his business promptly. Any delay now might make her late for the swimming competition.
Notice how suspenseful the book is from the very first page. The narrative flows from paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter, and the reader hardly wants to put the book down. The entire book is as suspenseful as the first page.

The documents that I purchased give some insight into the creation of this excellent story.

Revisiting Quarry Ghost Part 2

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mildred Wirt Benson Document Auctions

A collector recently sold quite a few documents that were purchased from Mildred Wirt Benson in the 1990s. I found it quite interesting how high some of the auctions went while others closed at lower prices. Some of the documents that I personally thought were the most interesting and had the most valuable historic information closed for lower prices than some of the ones that I found less interesting historically. Apparently I think differently than the average eBay buyer. For this I am rather glad since I was able to purchase the documents that were most important to me. Some of the documents that went for the highest prices were ones that were not as important to me. I let others fight over them. I also knew that I did not wish to buy all of the documents since they were going to be very expensive.

Some of the documents that went for the highest prices were ones that had Mildred Wirt Benson's autograph. Other documents that were valued had to do with books that are more popular with collectors or are hard to find, like the last Penny Parker book and the Trailer Stories for Girls series. It's like the documents were viewed with the same sense of awe as the books that are so hard to find.

I'm going to run through some of the highlights.

Mildred Wirt Trailer series contract signed Item #270383078042

This document closed at $155.30.


Mildred Wirt Laughing Mask Plot Summary Item #270383099881

This auction closed at $115.30.


Plot summary for Penny Parker Cry at Midnight Item #270383025332

This auction closed at $114.30, and I think that the scarcity of the book is a factor into how high the summary closed for.


Mildred Wirt Patsy & Pudge Plot Summary #1 Item #270383062835

This auction closed at $70.69. To me, this is more interesting than the plot summary for Cry at Midnight because Patsy and Pudge is a series that was never published. These papers contain a summary of a book by Mildred Wirt Benson that is much more scarce than Cry at Midnight because it does not exist in print. I feel that this lot should have closed for a much higher price because of what it contained. I bought this lot.


Mildred Wirt - Lot of 3 Cupples & Leon letters Item #270383057493

This lot closed at $67.10. It was an absolute must-have for me, since it contains some important information about the Brownie Scouts series. Information is what I seek, so of course I bought this one, too.


Mildred Wirt Pirate Cove Plot Summary Item #270383095408

This lot closed at $62.01. I am not sure whether the book is one that was published under another name or whether it is unpublished. I bought this one, too. I should be able to quickly figure out whether this is a published work as soon as I take the time to read the summary.


Mildred Wirt Nancy Drew Quarry Ghost Letters signed Item #270383092194

Quarry Ghost is my favorite book by Mildred Wirt Benson, so I had to have this one, too. It closed at $51.01.

There were other documents as well, but this gives an idea of what was sold.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interesting Old A. L. Burt Dust Jacket

A bookseller posted a photo of a very early plain A. L. Burt dust jacket on the eBay Booksellers board.

Old Dust-Jackets

Here is the photo:

The title of the book appears only on the spine and nowhere else. The entire front and back panels of the dust jacket contain the lists of titles that were printed on the reverse side of dust jackets in future years. According to the bookseller, the jacket is from 1908 to 1915.

These types of jackets were used for advertising purposes only. They were intended to be thrown away after the purchase of the book. It is amazing that it has lasted for around 100 years.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Another Problem Transaction

I find that many sellers on eBay describe their books inaccurately, package horribly, and generally mess up most stages of the transaction. I am to the point that I believe that a disproportionately large number of the sellers who remain are the bad sellers. Let's say that previous to all of the annoying changes that 10% of the eBay sellers were bad. I know that many good sellers have fled, so it is quite possible that 20% or more of the ones who remain are the bad sellers. Those seem to be the people who are immune to the DSRs. They can do whatever they want and keep plugging away.

Can you tell that I'm in a bad mood? I'm really sick of all of the problems I keep having with my eBay sellers. It really is a much higher percentage than it was a few years ago. I received a badly damaged box in the mail this past week.

First corner:

Second corner:

Third corner:

The last and only intact corner:

Top of box:

Bottom of box:

Notice that books were beginning to fall out of the box as I shifted it for the photos. The cardboard was so soft that it should have never been used for shipping 46 books. I opened the box to see this:

I guess that the stray cardboard was intended to strengthen the package, or maybe the cardboard was trash and the seller decided to use it to take up space in the package. I have had sellers use trash as packaging material. This seller is an eBay Power Seller, so he is one of eBay's finest, at least so eBay thinks.

One book was missing. I am surprised that only one book was missing. In addition to the poor packaging, some of the books had undisclosed previous water damage. The seller stated that the books "look as good they would in the local big box book store like Barnes & Noble, Borders etc." So, Barnes and Noble sells books that are water-damaged and have heavy wear? I did not know that.

The seller also placed stickers on all of the dust jackets so that he could "note which number of the Hardy Boy series the book was." #%$@*&! Sellers should never put stickers on old paper! I used lighter fluid to soften the adhesive and was able to remove most of the stickers without damage. Several dust jackets were not so lucky, though. Sometimes it is amazing that old books pass through the hands of some sellers without getting destroyed.

On this topic, I once saw a listing for Nancy Drew books in which the seller stated that he was going to throw away the jackets but decided to let the buyer make that decision. Please do! Just think...some books offered on eBay without their dust jackets may have had their dust jackets for all of these years until the seller decided that the books would look better without them when selling them. I'm sure it has happened.

All in all, my transaction turned out okay, even though I lost one book, some books had undisclosed water damage, and several jackets were slightly damaged by the stickers. It still is annoying, though.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Interesting Article about eBay

This one is worth reading:

eBay Exposed

It is long but worth it. The website is in the UK, so the pricing and features mentioned will be reflective of the policies of the site.

Here are a few excerpts:
One of the great ironies of eBay is that generally whomever it tries to help, someone else always loses out. The scammers and fraudsters that look for the loopholes are probably the only winners. Take, for example, the company's reaction to the wave of fraud concerning buyers who send payments, but never receive the goods.


EBay says it's committed to fighting fraud, and has put systems in place. The problem is that as fast as the company implements - often unpopular - changes, the scammers find another way to make a quick buck. "People are out there blackmailing us saying they want their money back, but then they don't even return the item," said Hamer. "PayPal will refund the money without even checking if we've got the item back - the buyers end up with the item, the money and all we get left with is negative feedback. The buyers just have complete control. EBay is allowing crooks and conmen to operate as buyers, and us sellers are being robbed blind."


"If there's a problem such as goods aren't as described, then we'd look into it and if we decide in favour of the buyer we'd remove the funds from the seller's account," said Skinner.

However, the company doesn't actually look at the item in question. Instead, said Skinner: "We'd look at what the buyer and the seller said and take a view." So, quite possibly, the party who shouts loudest and most convincingly is protected, while a potentially innocent party loses out.
The following comments fit me and my future plans for using eBay:
Indeed, according to ChannelAdvisor, some retailers now use the site merely as a way of liquidating stock they can't shift on their own sites. "It's gone from being the channel of first resort to the channel of last resort, and that's not where eBay wants to be," said Wingo.
I will probably be listing quite a few books on eBay in bulk in a couple of weeks. The books will be ones that are in too poor of condition for Bonanzle or ones for which I have too many duplicates, like the first Nancy Drew book in picture cover. This is why I'm not impressed with eBay's five free listings. I plan to list bulk lots cheap that I know will sell, and I could pay higher fees for any lots that get bidding wars. I had a cheap bulk lot sell for around $60 a few months ago. I would have paid a higher final value fee if that lot had been "free."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

eBay's Dispute Process

Recently, eBay unveiled its new dispute process. According to the new policy, buyers can file a dispute with eBay/PayPal and state that a seller has sold a fake item. Once the buyer confirms that the item has been destroyed, PayPal refunds the buyer's money and puts a strike against the seller's account. Apparently, under the new policy, a buyer's word is golden and no buyers would ever try to cheat a seller.

Many people quickly pointed out that the policy has no safeguards against a buyer claiming that a real item was fake. On May 13, Ina Steiner wrote about this new policy in her blog at AuctionBytes. Steiner raised the following points of concern:
For instance, under what circumstances would eBay instruct a buyer to destroy an item? (and how would eBay know if the item was authentic or not?)

Are there cases where eBay would instruct a buyer to destroy an item without having it authenticated?

Does this provision apply to all sellers? Or will eBay have agreements with certain trusted sellers so it is understood those sellers would not be subjected to this particular provision?
Incredibly, eBay revised the policy the very next day after Steiner's article. The user agreement now states that eBay will require the buyer return the item to the seller instead of destroying the item. In a followup article, Steiner wrote:
This evening, after eBay announced the revisions on the Announcement Board, eBay spokesperson John Pluhowski told me, "Ina, you raised questions, and we looked at them very seriously, and realized, I think, after examining the policy very closely, that revisions were in order to ensure that the policy was, in effect, providing an equitable solution to protecting our sellers - to protecting sellers and buyers."
In the comments section of Steiner's blog, someone named Daisy wrote, "When Ina has the power to point out the obvious implications of their poorly thought out policy and they back down immediately admitting stupidity, there's something very wrong."

A person going by the name "unaware" wrote, "I have always been amazed at how slip-shod eBay appears to be run AND amazed at the inability of the investment community to see how slip-shod eBay is run."

This is a good time to bring up an interesting blog I read this week. Two investors had a private discussion about eBay, which one of them posted to the blog after the discussion ended. At least one of these two people invests in eBay but does not appear to use eBay. They have no firsthand experience of what the users have gone through in the last couple of years.

Questions for eBay

It is worth reading just to get an idea of what some people not connected to eBay are beginning to notice. Here are a few comments.
EBORO: “Recently, I started going over [eBay's] annual reports as well as well as using various value the business...I spend even more time “scuttle-buttin” to discover what the users (buyers, sellers etc…) think about the company. Although I only started my examination a month ago, I’ve spent hours on the eBay forums reading over thoughts and comments, as well as asking questions. Out of interest, have you done this?”

WIDE MOAT: Yes, I’ve done this and have been impressed by the indiscriminate vitriol toward eBay.....My impression is that there is a significant group of former sellers that are very upset with recent changes. It’s almost as if they feel personally violated in some way. Rather than quietly take their business elsewhere, they want others to know that they have been (morally?) wronged, and eBay’s management are fools. Really, very odd…

EBORO: “I only ask because it was during this process that I realized something was not quite right at eBay: buyers and sellers were complaining, in huge numbers, about the business; literally thousands of sellers are leaving the site. It seems as though this could have a negative effect on one of the key elements of eBay’s moat: its network. In my opinion, eBay’s growth potential relies heavily on the following: buyers come to eBay because they know that there are an abundance of sellers; sellers come to eBay because they know there are an abundance of buyers. Buyers don’t find the selection they used to, they don’t find the low prices they used to, and eventually, they start leaving. What happens when there is a reduction in the number and type of sellers?
There is a lot more, but the above part is important. Some investors are beginning to notice that something is not quite right at eBay.

This company is apparently run by people who make decisions without carefully thinking them through. It is just amazing. EBay is not run well, and its future is uncertain. I want eBay to remain viable, since it is the very best place to find a wide selection of vintage series books. The selection has deteriorated, but eBay still has the best selection.

It is vitally important that anyone who sells does keep an eye on the alternative sites such as Bonanzle. I feel that I already need Bonanzle because I was jerked around too much in the fall by eBay's DSRs and lowered search standing. We need for eBay to have at least one competitor that is viable and that can give collectors a place to continue to sell their items, regardless of eBay's future course.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More eBay Problems

This is a continuation of what I have been thinking with the previous post and what I have learned in recent days. I do not have an eBay store, but I feel for what those people are going through. EBay is beginning to roll out the new item pages, which are not better, and people are complaining about what eBay has done.

The sellers have a custom list of categories that appears on the left side of their listings. This list is like the custom category list that appears on Bonanzle on the right side of listings. In eBay's new item page, only a few of the categories show, which greatly reduces the ability of a buyer to easily browse a seller's store.

Exactly how does this make eBay better for either buyers or sellers? Reducing the list of categories reduces the exposure of a seller's store, which reduces possible sales. Why do this? Are they idiots?

Second, I cannot edit my saved searches. I found a seller who listed a ton of Nancy Drew books, and this is one of the diamond power sellers. I want him out of my results, but eBay will not let me edit my searches. What did they do to break it? I tried on three different browsers, so I feel confident that my problem is not my computer. Heck, I should try it on a different computer later just to prove it. It can't hurt.

What angers me is that it will take eBay at least three to six months to fix the problem, and this is a feature that I need.

eBay's Fee Increase for Small Sellers


Note: The examples provided are only for the Books category.

EBay announced this week that beginning in June, sellers who use eBay's Sell Your Item form will receive five free listings each month. This means that sellers will not be charged for listing their first five items each month. At first, it sounds great. But...

In exchange for not getting charged for the insertion fees, sellers will pay a flat 8.75% in final value fees for those items, with a maximum final value fee of $20.00. Depending upon the closing amount, these five free listings could cause sellers to have higher fees. With the free listings, sellers pay 8.75% final value fees regardless of the selling price. For paid listings, sellers pay 8.75% for up to a final value of $25.00 and then just 3.5% for up to a final value of $1,000. This is how it breaks down:

1. I start a book at $9.99, and it closes with one bidder at $9.99. By paying the insertion fee, I am charged $0.25 for listing the book and $0.87 in final value fees. For the free listing, I am not charged $0.25 for listing the book but am still charged $0.87 in final value fees. I pay $0.25 less for the free listing.

2. I start a book at $9.99 and it closes at $50.00. By paying the insertion fee, I am charged $0.25 for listing the book and $3.07 in final value fees. For the free listing, I am not charged $0.25 for listing the book but am charged $4.38 in final value fees. I pay $0.81 more for the free listing.

3. I start a book at $74.99 and it closes at $74.99. By paying the insertion fee, I am charged $2.00 for listing the book and $3.94 in final value fees. For the free listing, I am not charged $2.00 for listing the book but am charged $6.56 in final value fees. I pay $0.62 more for the free listing.

4. I start a book at $74.99 and it closes at $150.00. By paying the insertion fee, I am charged $2.00 for listing the book and $6.57 in final value fees. For the free listing, I am not charged $2.00 for listing the book but am charged $13.13 in final value fees. I pay $4.56 more for the free listing.

For items with high values, like over $500.00, the free listings would be cheaper, but I never sell books that are that expensive. For what I list, the only way that I would save would be on books that sell for low prices, and the savings are minimal. I would prefer not to have free listings and to pay the usual final value fees.

Many people have stated that they plan to waste their five free listings on low value items that may or may not sell so that they can get the regular final value fee pricing for their normal items. I may try something like that when I next sell on eBay, assuming that I ever decide to list more than just bulk lots of low value books.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

eBay's Homepage

EBay's homepage is providing me some entertainment. I mentioned recently how eBay was trying to sell me books to complete my Grace Harlowe set, except that the books had nothing to do with Grace Harlowe. This is what eBay showed me:

This continued until a couple of days ago. Finally, eBay quit that nonsense and changed that section to a list of categories.

The only problem is that a different part of eBay's homepage has gotten quite funny. On Friday I saw this:

I took a screen cap because I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Wow, twelve different Twisted Candles books to purchase. I would never have found them on my own in a search!

So, on Sunday, I saw this:

At this point, I was curious. The pictures seemed too similar, so exactly what were the criteria for this array of books? I clicked on a listing and checked the seller. I could not right-click and open a new window, so I had to left-click. I viewed the listing and returned, but sneaky eBay had switched up the books somewhat. I did find one of the original listings, so I viewed it. I figured out that most of the books were from the same seller. How nice for that seller! It seemed a little weird, though, to put a bunch of books with the same title from the same seller on the homepage. I kept clicking on listings and figured out that most of the sellers were Power Sellers. After around five to six clicks, the array morphed into this:

How funny! I now had my very own array of mostly flashlight edition Mysterious Letters to choose from! Lovely! Which one should I purchase? Hey, one of them looks like a library discard. What a selection!

Sarcasm aside, I have to mention that at least eBay did choose Nancy Drew books, which I do purchase, which is better than what was done with the books that had nothing to do with Grace Harlowe or anything I have ever purchased.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Billie Bradley and Her Classmates

This book has Billie and her friends back at Three Towers Hall for another year of school. I have found this story to be more interesting than the last one, Billie Bradley on Lighthouse Island, which bored me tremendously.

Billie has already had quite a few assorted adventures in this book. Billie and her friends rescue three young children who fall through the ice into the lake, and as a result, meet the children's mother and learn that the family is extremely poor and in need of food. Billie receives permission from Miss Walters to put together a basket of food for the family.

Billie and her friends go sledding with Teddy and the other boys from Boxton Military Academy. Billie and Teddy sled down an unexplored trail which results in an accident when the sled goes over a cliff. The two young people seek refuge in a cave which is inhabited by a simpleton.

Billie and Teddy's relationship grates on my nerves. Here is an example from page 79 when Billie is frightened:
Teddy looked down at her with a grin.

"Why worry?" he asked. "Haven't you got your Uncle Ted?"
I do not know why it bothers me, but I cannot stand it when Teddy refers to himself as Billie's "Uncle Ted." I want to gag. Part of the problem is that the relationship is over-the-top for a series book, so the "Uncle Ted" business just makes it worse. Also, the romance between Billie and Teddy is not compelling to me, so I find nothing endearing about "Uncle Ted."

The teasing that occurs after Billie and Ted's accident is a bit suggestive for an early series book from 1921. From page 90:
"Perhaps they got lost on purpose," said a nasal voice, and Billie's chums turned indignantly to face the speaker.
From page 94:
"Did you and Teddy Jordon have a good time when you ran away to-day?"
From page 96:
"She and Teddy Jordan ran off together to-day and were gone for about three hours," she said triumphantly. "Billie just came in."

Billie's eyes, black in her white, set face, looked up at Miss Arbuckle steadily.

"I didn't do it, Miss Arbuckle," she said, her lip quivering. "I—I couldn't."
From page 98:
"Didn't Teddy keep you warm?" asked Rose Belser, wickedly, but just then the door opened and Amanda came into the room. Needless to say, Billie did not answer the question.
All of the teasing added to my gag factor. Maybe the real problem is that I do not like Teddy. I am not really sure what it is aside from the "Uncle Ted" business, so I am going to pay close attention in future scenes. Perhaps I can pinpoint it better. I usually like the girls' beaus in series books, so this is a different experience for me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Crazy Cherry Ames Ski Nurse Auction

I know the last Cherry Ames book is a bit hard to find, but...

Cherry Ames Ski Nurse Mystery Helen Wells 1968 1st Ed Item #170310713073

What in the heck? Why would someone want to pay $903.66 for one? According to the seller's feedback left page, the buyer actually paid for the book! Since I discovered the buyer's full ID by checking the seller's feedback, I decided to see what else the buyer has bought—all Cherry Ames and other nurse stories, but mostly low-priced ones.

As I checked the buyer's items purchased list, I decided that he or she must have really wanted Ski Nurse badly. However, a couple days before winning the above auction, the buyer purchased a Ski Nurse at $150.00. The buyer made many bids on the above auction after purchasing the other Ski Nurse. This person must have more disposable income than I do. Two Ski Nurses, and nearly $1,000 for one of them? Really?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

eBay and Amazon's First Quarter Reports

Last week, both eBay and Amazon released their first quarter reports. The results were not at all surprising.

EBay posted that its first quarter 2009 revenue decreased 18% year-over-year. From eBay's press release:
The ecommerce company posted first quarter revenue of $2.02 billion, a $171.6 million year-over-year decrease caused primarily by the impact of the stronger dollar and the decline of the core Marketplaces business in difficult macroeconomic conditions. PayPal, Classifieds and Skype performed well, delivering year-over-year revenue growth.
Notice that eBay blamed "difficult macroeconomic conditions" and "the impact of the stronger dollar." While I can see how the economy might possibly be a factor, the stronger dollar excuse makes little sense to me. Ina Steiner's blog mentioned that "approximately 54% of Marketplaces revenue came from markets outside of the U.S." I assume that this is the reason that eBay claimed that the stronger dollar reduced revenue. People from outside the U.S. buy less from inside the U.S. when the dollar is stronger. International markets decline when the dollar is stronger. I am quite skeptical of this since 54% out of the U.S. versus 46% inside the U.S. is not that big of a difference.

When Amazon released its results the day after eBay, it proved that eBay told fibs to hide its further decline. According to Ina Steiner, Amazon's net sales "increased 18% to $4.89 billion in the first quarter year-over-year, and net income increased 24% to $177 million. Worldwide unit growth was 30%. Active customer count exceeded 91 million, up 16%. Worldwide active seller accounts were more than 1.6 million, up 19%."

Consider that Amazon has international sites just like eBay and that Amazon also has international customers. How is it that the strong dollar is not causing Amazon's earnings to decline? How is it that eBay is plagued by "the impact of the stronger dollar" and "difficult macroeconomic conditions" while neither the dollar nor the economy are affecting Amazon at all? It seems to me that eBay's problems are unique to eBay. We all know that eBay is to blame for its own problems, and it is truly sad that what was the number one place to find unique collectible items is self-destructing.

What is even more pathetic is that after eBay announced its decline in revenue due to bogus reasons, eBay stock went up and several articles were posted by enlightened analysts that praised eBay. How can eBay's Board of Directors and these analysts be so clueless?


This is something that I decided to tack onto the end of this post. For whatever reason, I have eBay's home page as my home page on Google Chrome rather than eBay's search page, which is what I have always used as my home page on Firefox and Internet Explorer. EBay uses its home page to try to sell me stuff, and I am continually amazed at how off the mark the results are.

I bought some Grace Harlowe books a week ago. Even though I have bought other books since that time, eBay is fixated on trying to sell me Grace Harlowe books, or what eBay thinks are Grace Harlowe books. Actually, I don't know what eBay is trying to do. Here is what I have seen on eBay's home page on different days this week:

What?! These books have nothing to do with Grace Harlowe or anything I have ever bought in my entire life! Each day I see a different selection of "Grace Harlowe" stuff that is totally unrelated to Grace Harlowe and series books. Give it up! At least when eBay tries to sell me Nancy Drew books, they usually pick Nancy Drew books. Of course in the case of Nancy Drew, they still miss the mark by a mile.

What is also important about this is that eBay is only picking Buy It Now Items, which is probably why the results are so screwed up. Auctions are more expensive, yet eBay does nothing to promote them. This is why I am listing on Bonanzle, where I feel like I have a chance at selling books without having to pay huge prices for little exposure.