Monday, November 23, 2009

Describing Books as Pristine

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

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

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


Paula said...

I really don't like that either...

The other thing is when a seller says "this book is valued at $1000" and their BIN price is $250. Why would you sell it for $250 if it's worth 4 times that?

Donna said...

My pet peeve is the non-disclosure of a musty smell on books that are described as very good. Or when a seller says "very slight must" and the smell would choke a horse! You cannot see "must" in the pictures, and I get very annoyed when I receive a book that I've paid a good price for and as soon as I open the box I can smell mould!

BookNook said...

I dislike it when sellers tell you how much of a bargain their book is and that you'd be stupid to pass it up (IN ALL CAPS). Of course, they're always overpriced.

Jennifer White said...

The other thing is when a seller says "this book is valued at $1000" and their BIN price is $250. Why would you sell it for $250 if it's worth 4 times that?

Exactly. They are using the prices in Farah's guide, but those prices are not the current selling prices. If the book is worth $1000, then the seller should price it at $1000. That's what I do. I price my books at what I think they are worth.

Jack C said...

I discussed the whole musty issue last week in my blog- That drives me crazy as well!

keeline said...

Sometimes the price comparisons made are not even for the same printing and condition. It is common for people to look at prices in the used book databases. Not only is there insufficient information to make a direct comparison, the copies which are too expensive stay listed for a long period of time. On these databases, the low- and fairly-priced books sell right away. The overpriced books stay listed indefinitely. The used book databases don't show how long a book has been listed at a given price (unlike real estate listings).

Hence, someone who knows little about the value of a book looks it up on one of these databases and sees a high price. Their eyes glaze over with thoughts of dollars and critical thinking stops. They assume that if someone else lists a copy of a book with the same title for $100 (or pick any number) then their copy must be worth the same or more.

In reality, the only value for a book is what someone will pay for it. Hence, a sale price on eBay can tell you something but this is harder information to obtain since the closed auctions are shorter and shorter time periods plus eBay has always restricted this information to the minimum information: number, title, price, dates. The used book databases don't tell you how much books sold for.


Kathleen said...

I suppose my pet peeves are more relative to intent.

What I cannot abide by is a book being listed as a First Edition and/or deliberately misleading people.

Many a new collector, myself included, has been duped by such claims.

I received the ugliest Nancy book and dust jacket as a First and when I found out it was nowhere near it- I almost hit the roof.

I paid way too much for it. The seller would not budge.

I gave it away as I could not stand looking at it.

This happens every day and I try to email the sellers most of whom have had no idea and truly welcome the info. Others are a bit skeptical. Among the worst just do not care.

You can see it in the high, at times outrageously, prices these sellers get- people are being duped. PERIOD.

I try to help out the new buyers and I love their enthusiasm.

But there is one seller in particular (who I hope is not reading this- LOL) who lists books that ARE technically first editions but people who do not understand are lead to believe they are true firsts (which I'd define as First Edition and First Printing).

Correct me if I am wrong- I am far from an expert.

That makes my blood boil. If he were honest, he would spell it out in his listings but he doesn't.

Another is a seller of cameos with phony dj's and reproduction dj's (both worthless) and leads people to believe that with the dj's, the books are worth a lot of money when they are not.

That individual is likely making more profit on Ebay than anyone else as the cameos alone are inexpensive so there is little overhead.

I happen to love the frontispieces.

People like that is where I draw the line- THE DISHONEST.

There are ads with prices that may be listed in Farah's Guide as stated but even Dave states that the prices are "guides" and not to be taken as gospel. I imagine that is true with many if not most collectibles.

I think people understand that.

I also think people reading "pristine" (well, the buyers anyway) understand that it describes a vintage book that looks about brand new or the pages do.

I use lots of adjectives in my listings because I get enthused by a beautiful book I receive in the mail.

I am selling something so I stress the assets. I also point out the flaws.

My customers agree to my accuracy according to my feedback but maybe people here might be disinclined to bid on my items. ;o)

I try not to list "rare" but to me a "Whistling Bagpipe" with an insert I have not seen on Ebay in two years (except two in the last month!) so I would describe it as "relatively rare" or I have not seen it for a long time.

I am not referring to professional book guides, I am using ever day language, I suppose.

I am just not in the price range of other sellers and some of these books like the Bagpipes I refer to use to be certainly not rare but I have seen less and less of the higher end and less common books since I started seriously collecting about 9 years ago.

I look for the finest books I can find. That is what I'd want to receive.

Ergo, I'd maintain that intent is the most important aspect. Is that seller trying to be honest or not?

...descending soapbox...
Chatty Cathy