Sunday, July 26, 2009

Follow-up to Low Prices for First Printings on eBay

My post on this topic brought forth quite a few comments, which are always appreciated. In my last comment, I stated that I regretted that I had not made my point more clear.

In the original post, I stated, "eBay is no longer a good auction venue for this type of item. Books like this last one are better off in an auction house such as PBA Galleries. eBay is now a great place to find bargains. Most of the books fall far short of value."

First, I am not referring to all books. Books with a low value, such as the third Connie Blair book, may bring a higher price on eBay than on another venue such as Bonanzle and may be easier to sell. Second, PBA Galleries only works so long as the minimum price is not set at an outrageous amount, like five to ten times more than the true value. The problem with some of the first printing Nancy Drew books that were listed at PBA Galleries in December is that the prices placed on them were so extreme that the books did not sell.

My point concerns the specific types of books that I mentioned in my post—early first printing Nancy Drew books with dust jackets. Early first printing Nancy Drew books with dust jackets are desired by hundreds of collectors and hold their values over the years. The values do fluctuate slightly, but the books will always be valuable, particularly the first printing dust jackets for the first three Nancy Drew books, which are worth thousands of dollars.

When I wrote my post, I failed to point out the most important observation of all. And Frank, I give you credit for making that observation in your message about Bungalow Mystery which made me go back and verify the winning bidders of all three auctions.

All three books were purchased by two different people for the purpose of resale.

Does that not prove that the books sold for well under their true values? We will be seeing these books for sale again.

So, I repeat my point again, but I make it more specific. eBay is no longer a good venue for selling high value books unless the seller starts the opening bid at what the books are truly worth. Second, the seller must know what he or she has or the books will not attain their true values. Third, eBay is now the best place on the internet for purchasing valuable books to resell either on eBay or on other venues. Frank also observed that the prices would be even lower if the resellers were not bidding against each other. This is true.

For the three auctions that I mentioned, the second highest bidder was also a reseller in at least two of the three cases. The final bid prices of the books were driven by resellers and not by people who actually wanted them. The books would be selling for next to nothing except that the resellers are buying nearly everything good on eBay and are bidding against each other.

eBay's CEO, John Donahoe, lamented in the past that eBay was like a flea market and that its image needed to change. At least from my perspective with regards to series books, Donahoe's changes have made eBay into a flea market. The selection of series books is more like a flea market than ever before and the prices realized are like flea market prices.

A big announcement is coming tomorrow, and the changes could affect sellers of antiques and collectibles in a negative fashion. One of the rumored changes is that Best Match is going to be tweaked to favor new items. If this rumor is true, then the prices for old Nancy Drew books will go down even more because newbie buyers probably use the default Best Match, and those buyers will not easily find the old books.

Overall, eBay is still great—but not in the way it once was. It is now the place to get bargains and then sell those bargains elsewhere for a nice profit.

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