Sunday, September 27, 2009

Billie Bradley Page Now Up

I just placed the link to the Billie Bradley section on the main page of my site. Here is a link:

Billie Bradley section

I almost put it up a week ago, but I was feeling ill enough that I never followed through. I still have to finish the summary for #7, which I am currently reading, and do the summaries for #8 and #9, which I have yet to read. At the rate I am going, it might be a number of weeks. #7 has been difficult to get through, but it is getting better. I am on page 124, which is where I found the quote that I used on the main page of the Billie Bradley section. Finally, the book is getting interesting. I will expand upon my thoughts regarding #7 in another post.

Last weekend before I felt too ill to do anything, I placed my extra Billie Bradley books up for sale on Bonanzle.

Billie Bradley books for sale

These books are from some lots that I purchased relatively recently on eBay. In each lot, I was able to get at least a couple of dust jackets that I did not already have.

In just the last week, I acquired one of the Sully dust jackets. I like the Sully dust jacket because it actually has summaries of the first three titles in the series. The Cupples and Leon dust jackets do not have summaries.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Watching a Seller's Feedback

10/01/2009: I edited the title since some people apparently found it offensive.

10/05/2009: PayPal has decided the claim in my favor and states that $33.95 will be credited to my account within five days. I have not received the books, nor have I received any communication from the seller. The seller did apparently mail out some items that were sold around two weeks after my purchase, since she has received some positive feedback for those transactions. It is a mystery why some sellers decide not to mail some purchases but then mail ones that were sold later.

On August 25, I bought a fixed-priced lot of books from a seller on eBay. As I have mentioned in the past, the fixed-price lots that are priced a little low tend to arrive packed badly, since the sellers do not know what they are doing. Another problem with low fixed-price lots is that the sellers might not be honest.

Readers of this blog may recall that I had to file a PayPal claim earlier this year for a Betty Gordon book that I never received. I had to file a PayPal claim this week on the lot of books from August 25. As far as I can recall, this is the first time I have had to file more than one PayPal claim in one year due to not receiving a purchase, so from my perspective, eBay is not a better place after J.D. tightened the rules for sellers. I feel like he drove off half the good ones, and all of the bad ones are still there.

My seller's feedback was fine on August 25, and there were no signs that anything was amiss. In fact, the seller's feedback was fine until this week. The only indication of a problem was that the shipping time DSR was slightly lower than the other three DSRs, and I do mean slightly. I did not think I would have a problem because of the fact that the shipping DSR was lower; I knew the seller would ship a little slow, so I was not concerned about the purchase until three weeks had passed. The feedback comments were great, so the buyers had no problems with the seller. Slow shippers can still be overall good sellers.

This is a good example of how the DSRs do not help. The shipping time DSR was only slightly low and actually reassured me that everything would probably work out in the end. It did nothing to warn me of the kind of person that the seller actually is. No matter much eBay harasses sellers and reassures buyers that transactions are guaranteed, eBay cannot prevent this from happening. We, as buyers, have to make educated decisions about whether we can trust our sellers, and we are always taking a risk when we send money to a stranger. We cannot be protected by eBay (I typed "from eBay" accidentally at first, which is quite funny and true.).

I filed my claim on Thursday. I would have done it sooner, but I was too tired to feel like messing with it. I noticed that when I filed the claim, PayPal had me escalate it immediately, which is not how it normally works. Usually PayPal has a seven day waiting period in order for the seller to have time to leave a response. PayPal stated that the seller was unable to respond and that I should escalate at once. This told me that the seller must have already lost access to her PayPal account due to multiple claims. Not good.

I now have a new recreational activity, which happens each time I find myself in this position. I now take the time to check my seller's feedback multiple times per day to see what kind of feedback is getting posted. The seller's feedback is tanking. The communication and shipping time DSRs are plummeting fast.

I predict that the account will be suspended within the next week or so. The seller had listings up until this week, so the account may now be restricted. I hope so. Who knows how many people were defrauded, and we do not need any more people to join us.

There is still a slight possibility that I might receive the books, but I do not expect it to happen. I hope that PayPal will recover my money ($33.95 to be exact), but I have no guarantee. I will add an update to this post once something happens.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some Funny "RARE" Books

Vintage RARE Nancy Drew Book LoT Double Books C. Keene Item #300338900982

Since when are Twin Thriller editions RARE? I laughed when I saw it, which is why it ended up in my watched items list for mention here later.

This next one is even funnier:

RARE Nancy Drew Mystery stories 7 Hollow Oak ATTIC bell Item #360181180489

Now ordinary Nancy Drew picture covers from the 1970s are RARE. I really laughed at this one! Also funny is how the books were placed on top of a bush for the photo. I would never have thought of photographing books on top of a bush.

This next one is an example of a seller stating rarity for the wrong reasons.



Back ten years ago, not finding a book in the completed listings actually meant something. Completed listings went back three months. For quite a few years, completed listings went back 30 days. That length of time has now been reduced to 15 days. So what the seller was really saying was that the Applewood Hollow Oak is a rarity because one had not been seen on eBay in the previous two weeks. Wow. I did not know that rare books are ones that have not been seen in two weeks.

So what about Linda Carlton's Perilous Summer and Linda Carlton's Hollywood Flight which no one can find for their collection? Hmm? The books were published in the 1930s and have all but disappeared from the face of the earth. A few people own them, but most people will never ever see a copy, even if they search for 30 or more years. I am not exaggerating. Isn't that what "rare" ought to mean? No wait... that is what "rare" means to people like me, which is why I laugh at these listings.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #30

Here we go again:

Nancy Drew: The Haunted Bridge (1937) 1st Edition? Item #220459821578

Here are the seller's pictures:

Question: Hello, Can you tell me if the book has orange title on the front cover, orange top of pages, & orange pics inside? Is copyright on the title page? Thanks.

Answer: Hi! The title on the front cover is black. The tops of the pages are blue. The pictures are black and white. The copyright is on the back of the title page. Sorry to have taken so long to answer, but I was called out of town.
First of all, the copyright date is never on the title page of a Nancy Drew book, except maybe in some oddball case that I can't quite remember. The buyer must know that, for many publishers, a way to determine a first printing is when the copyright date appears on the title page and is the same as the copyright printed on the copyright page. This is not true for Grosset and Dunlap. It would have required effort on G&D's part to print the date on the copyright page and to change it accordingly for later printings. G&D was low budget and low effort.

Next, the first picture tells me that the book is not thick and must be a tweed book from the 1950s. The reason I know is because the white spine wraps onto the left edge of the front panel, which indicates that the spine design of the dust jacket is too wide for the book. Most white spine dust jackets that were printed for tweed books wrap onto the left edge of the front panel. When the white spines were originally designed, they were sized to fit the thick books. As the books became less thick, the spines overlapped onto the front panel.

The second picture proves that the book is a tweed book. The list of Dana Girls titles ends with Black Flower, which was published in 1956. Therefore, this book was mostly likely printed in 1956 and must be a tweed book. Tweed books do not have orange endpapers, orange on the front cover, or orange on the top page edges.

As I have stated in the past, buyers need to educate themselves about the books before jumping into trying to buy a bunch of old books. Multiple websites exist that detail how to tell how old a Nancy Drew book is. Just a search for "Nancy Drew old books" will bring up some of the important pages. "Nancy Drew formats" works even better. A search for "Nancy Drew orange silhouette" brings up some good results. It is not hard to find the information, and having the information saves so much time. I would hate to have to ask every single seller whether a book has orange endpapers. It would waste so much time.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Billie Bradley Observation

I have been proofreading the Billie Bradley section of my website, since I am thinking of putting it up before I finish the summaries to the last three books. I am having some trouble getting through the 7th title, Billie Bradley at Sun Dial Lodge, as the story is boring me. I just feel like part of it is a retread of some earlier events in the series, and I find that I really don't care. It also isn't helping that I now have a wicked cold, no doubt because my immune system took a hit from the virus I had a week ago. Anyway...

I was looking at my summary page in which I have pictures of the frontispiece illustrations. Since my head is stuffy right now, I am having trouble thinking, but also, I am seeing things differently. Having a cold can have its benefits. I glanced at one of the frontispiece illustrations, and then I really stared at it.

This is the frontispiece illustration for Billie Bradley at Twin Lakes. As I stared at it, I thought of the Outdoor Girl series and how much it reminded me of a couple of Outdoor Girls dust jackets.

Walter S. Rogers drew the Billie Bradley frontispiece, and he drew most of the Outdoor Girls duotone dust jackets. I can't remember at this moment if Rogers drew the duotone dust jackets for The Outdoor Girls of Deepdale or The Outdoor Girls Around the Campfire, but he did draw the color dust jackets of those titles. Regardless, the illustrations are similar.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #29

Here is my 29th example of buyer confusion on Nancy Drew:

Nancy Drew THE CLUE IN THE CRUMBLING WALL Item #250480505779

Here is the seller's main picture:

The Clue in the Crumbling Wall had just one dust jacket design in all of the years that it was in print. Apparently many people do not know this fact.
Question: does dustjacket have a white spine ?

Answer: Yes, the dustjacket is white. It has a slight tear at the top. Nixie
A visit to one of several online resources would have answered that question for the buyer.

Nancy Drew Dust Jacket Gallery

Note that only one version of #22 is pictured in the above gallery, and it has a white spine. The buyer probably didn't realize that #22 only had one dust jacket version. The buyer may also thought that some jackets had both the white spine and the wrap spine but kept the same cover art. This is not true. When the jackets were changed to the wrap version, the cover art changed as well. The entire jacket was redone. Of course, #22 was never issued with a wrap dust jacket, so the white spine version is the only version.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Billie Bradley at Sun Dial Lodge

A scene in the opening chapters of Billie Bradley at Sun Dial Lodge really caught my attention. The girls have befriended an old woman who was held captive by a giantess (Does this not also remind you of Beverly Gray?). The girls have helped the woman to escape, and Billie has paid for the woman's ticket on the train to New York City. The woman has told Billie her sad story and how she hopes to make a living in the city. Billie writes her address on a slip of paper and tells the woman to come to her home if she ever needs any help.
The woman tried to smile as she accepted the slip of paper, but her lips trembled and she turned sharply away to the window.

Billie was suddenly startled by something that fell into her lap. It was a dollar bill!

"For the old lady !" some one said.

Now the girls saw for the first time that a group of passengers had gathered about them, evidently attracted by the plight of the miserable woman. That they had listened to her story with sympathy and interest was practically demonstrated a moment later.

The dollar bill became only one in a small snowstorm of bills. The passengers were betraying their sympathy in a very practicable and pleasant way!

Laughing excitedly, Billie gathered up the bills and thrust them into the trembling hands of the little old woman.

"There!" she said. "That will get you started nicely, anyway."

"But she has no pocketbook," Vi protested.

A young girl in the group of passengers hurriedly emptied the effects out of her own bag and thrust it toward the old woman.

"Here," she said. "Take mine! I haven't much money to offer, but at least I can contribute something to hold it in!"

"You see, people do care !" cried Billie gayly. "Every one wants to help. I'm sure you will find it the same in New York. But if you don't, there's still North Bend and our house with a welcome sign always hanging out for you! Don't forget!"
Usually only our heroes go out of their way to help those in need, and the other people who are in the vicinity are mainly bystanders who take no significant role in aiding the needy person. It was interesting for the other passengers to be the ones to give the woman money and a pocketbook in which to keep the money.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

More on Cover Art Anomalies

I recently mentioned that sometimes the cover design gets shifted up, down, left, or right from the normal position. An excellent example of this anomaly appeared in a recent eBay auction.


In this example, the cover was shifted significantly to the left. This caused part of the back cover to appear on the spine and part of the spine to appear on the front cover.

The book sold for $8.50, and the auction had two bidders. It is not easy to sell an ordinary copy of the first Nancy Drew book, so the bidders were probably interested in obtaining this particular copy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Billie Bradley at Treasure Cove

Billie Bradley at Twin Lakes ends rather strangely for a volume that is not the final title in the series.
And so, with a glorious summer gloriously ended and countless others just as glorious opening up before them, we must reluctantly bid good-bye to Billie and her chums, hoping that some day we shall meet them all again.
Aside from the awkwardness of the overuse of "glorious," this ending is odd for volume 5 in a 9 volume series. I noticed that the copyright for volume 5 is 1922, and the copyright for volume 6 is 1928. The series must have been over at volume 5, and then six years later, the series was resurrected for some unknown reason. It is odd.


I have mentioned before that Clair Blank must have read some of these earlier series books and was influenced by them. Since Clair Blank died decades before series book fans became organized, we will never know which series she read in her childhood. I have noticed similarities to the Beverly Gray series in the later Ruth Fielding titles, the Betty Gordon books, and the Outdoor Girls series. I pointed out that the banter between Billie and her friends in Billie Bradley on Lighthouse Island reminds me of the banter between Beverly Gray and her friends.

Billie Bradley at Treasure Cove reads like a Beverly Gray book and is probably my favorite book in the Billie Bradley series so far. The entire book feels like a Beverly Gray book. The treasure hunt that occurs in this book is the primary reason. A group of young people, following a map given to an acquaintance by a man now dead, digging in the sand on a beach by a cliff, fearful that others might notice what they are doing... doesn't that remind you of something?

Additionally, Billie Bradley at Treasure Cove has some of the same over-the-top excitement that appears in the Beverly Gray series. The book opens with a harrowing scene that is on par with any of the wildly improbable situations that Beverly Gray and her friends experience. Here are some excerpts from what happens on pages 7 through 14:

"Goodness! What's that?"

A deafening explosion had shattered the silence. The girls felt the ground quake beneath their feet.

Billie Bradley looked wildly around her.

"It's an earthquake!" she cried. "Oh dear! what next!"

Next was a series of harsh explosions that frightened the girls badly and sent them scurrying to the trees for shelter.


Another detonation shook the earth.

Something whizzed through the air so close above Billie Bradley's head that she gasped and flung herself flat upon the ground.

They heard an object strike in the woods not far from them. There was a rending, tearing sound and the limb of a tree struck the ground.


Instantly the place was bombarded by flying missiles. Whether these were bullets or bits of hurtling rock the girls did not know—and did not stop to find out.

They dashed madly into the woods, driven by an appalling dread, to find refuge, somewhere, anywhere from the rain of death.


Explosion followed explosion. The noise was deafening, terrifying. With hands pressed close over their ears, the girls crowded close to the rock, hoping that it would prove a real protection.
That has to be one of the most potent scenes that I have ever read in a series book outside of the Beverly Gray series.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

eBay's Annoying Test Search

It took awhile, but eBay finally managed to annoy me again. My search results got all funky this past week, and I did not like what I was seeing. I thought it was a new change that affected everyone. I learned, via AuctionBytes, that I was made part of the lucky 20% of eBay users that were placed in a new test search.

This is what I saw in a Nancy Drew search in Firefox under Best Match:

Please do click on the image to get the full size and beauty of this... whatever you want to call it. The stupid top-rated seller icons are HUGE and distract me from the rest of the display. Oh, it's great for the top-rated sellers, at least for pulling in buyers who are swayed by pretty icons, but honestly, I don't decide what to purchase based on the seller's rating. I do regularly buy from borderline sellers (hence, the horrible packages I showcase in this blog) and borderline sellers often have the very best stuff.

Also notice that the Buy It Now logo is in all black text and harder to spot. I love trolling the listings for good Buy It Nows, so disguising the logo makes my search experience worse.

This is what I saw in the same Nancy Drew search in Google Chrome under Best Match done just a few seconds after the first search.

Notice that completely different items are shown. It is true that Best Match displays different items in a different order for different users. Also notice that it is much easier to spot both Buy It Now and free shipping.

I tried to find a way to make the top-rated seller icon go away, but eBay would not allow me to remove that feature. I went to eBay's search message board and found someone else complaining about search. I posted a few messages to that thread and was able to solve my problem by removing all of my eBay cookies.

BIN icons completely missing in FF search only - help!

(Edited to add: The above topic has since disappeared, which is interesting. It was up for days and disappeared right around the time this post was published. It is like eBay does not want people discussing the test search and how to get rid of it. I can still discuss it here, and they cannot stop me.)

Glenda explained that eBay does sometimes conduct tests by opting users in not by their IDs but by their browser cookies. This would explain why both Firefox and Internet Explorer had the test search but Google Chrome did not. I am extremely happy that I was able to rid Firefox of the annoying test search. I hope it does not come back, as it was ruining my search experience.

I feel for all you sellers who might be impacted by 20% of your potential customers not seeing the icons you paid to have show in searches. You are to be refunded 20% of those special fees by eBay, but would that really compensate you? How can you know whether the 20% of the people affected by the test search is equal to 20% of what you might potentially lose in sales? I find it appalling that eBay has tainted the search results for 20% of its users with no option to opt out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Books That We Keep Seeing Again

On July 21, I mentioned some low prices on eBay. I want to revisit one of the auctions. From my original post on this topic:
TRUE FIRST EDITION of very 1st Nancy Drew book, 1st Ed Item #160345733650 This auction was for the 1930A-1 printing of the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock. The auction closed at $112.50. While the book had some stains and wear, all four glossy illustrations were present, and the book should have closed at a higher price. I recently sold a copy of the first printing of Old Clock. See this listing. While my copy did not have the stains inside the book, it did have a faded spine. It is hard to say which book was in better condition since they had different flaws. I sold my book for $275.00. The seller could have gotten more than $112.50 for the book.
Here is the picture of the book from the above listing: In my follow-up post, I made this point:
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.
Since the book shown above was sold to a reseller, I knew we would see it up for sale once again. Here it is: CAROLYNE KEENE Nancy Drew Secret of Old Clock1ST PRINT Item #190329845300 Here is the picture: Compare the position and shape of the soiled spots, and I think you'll agree that this book is the same one from the auction that closed at $112.50. As further confirmation, I also know that the ID under which the above book is being sold is the selling ID for the person who won the original auction under his buying ID. The seller wants $1,500.00 for the book. This particular reseller likes to try to get at least three times the value of each book. I question how well that strategy works, but the seller must have some success or else he would price his books lower. While the book is definitely worth more than $112.50, I feel that it is worth considerably less than $1,500.00. I would price it at no more than $500.00 and probably a little less than that.