Saturday, December 19, 2009

Two More Rants!

Some good points were brought up in the comments section of my post "Five Mini Rants in One!" I want to address a couple of them. Kathleen commented, "Sometimes I slip. Like I had a 'Whistling Bagpipes' listed with a tri-fold that I have not seen in years. That I consider relatively rare, at least."

While I do not consider the tri-fold to be rare (it is on eBay quite frequently), I do not have a problem with sellers using "rare" sparingly for certain books. My problem is with the sellers who tell buyers that virtually all matte yellow Nancy Drew picture covers are rare. These sellers tell buyers that the tweed books are rare (like, all of them). These sellers tell buyers that the dust jackets are rare, and so on and so forth. It gets old, and it makes the word mean absolutely nothing. I tend to scroll past those listings. If you have read all of my recent posts carefully, then you know that the instance of me nearly missing out on a truly rare book because of nearly scrolling past the listing is what set me off to write my rants. I am still a little annoyed over that, but I am mostly calmed down.

One seller has gotten in the habit of using "rare" for all the vintage picture covers that are not so special and using "scarce" for first printings of the earliest Nancy Drew books—you know...the ones that you might consider rare. Huh????? What that tells me is that "rare" is used for books that are less scarce in order to lure in buyers and that "scarce" is used when the books are more scarce. I have a problem with that.

As brought up in the comments and as seen often in eBay listings, several sellers state that they do not sell any books that they would not want to own, meaning that they only sell books of a higher quality. While I understand the point, I think of all of the library editions that I own and all of the reading copies I have since upgraded. I still own some reading copies that I have not upgraded. Most people do not mind having reading copies.

In my nearly one year of experience on Bonanzle, I have learned that buyers prefer inexpensive books above all other books. They do not care if the books are in rough, perhaps poor, condition. One person has stated that she desires cheap reading copies since she is reading the books for fun. She does not care about the condition as long as the books are inexpensive and readable.

I have sold some books that are in very rough shape. Take this one, for instance:

It was cheap and sold only 13 days after it was listed. I have very nice books that have been in my booth since January and still have not sold. I sell the cheap books fast.

The problem with eBay (among many others) is that sellers can no longer afford to list cheap books in individual listings. They have to group the books into lots in order to avoid paying high fees per book. Notice that the lots of rough condition books tend to sell without difficulty on eBay, unless the seller overprices them. People love cheap books.

For that reason, Bonanzle has been quite a blessing. I have been able to offer reading copies at reasonable prices, and people have been able to purchase them without paying high prices. I find that the first volume in any series sells particularly fast when it is a reading copy.

Here are my new rants:
  1. The glitches on eBay. Last spring, eBay would not accept a new expiration date for my credit card (the same thing happened many years ago) and told me to contact customer service. Um, no. I signed up to pay my fees through PayPal due to eBay incompetence. So...

    An alert was just placed on my account because the card that eBay would not accept in the spring is about to expire. I am told that I must enter a new card number in order to continue to sell on eBay (not that I am selling on eBay). #&%#*@)!!! So eBay stored that card number back in the spring but would not allow me to use it. Now eBay wants me to update it. I had better not have a permanent alert on my account, or I am going to be really peeved.

  2. People who wait until right before Christmas to buy presents and expect the books to arrive on time. This is why I usually never have books for sale right before Christmas. Someone bought the 75th anniversary Applewood boxed set on Thursday, and I mailed it priority mail just in case. I paid four dollars postage above what I charged for media mail so that I could be certain that the buyer would be happy. That sale came through during a small window of time in which the set was unavailable on Amazon, which is no doubt why the buyer went to Google.

    I received an order for one Applewood book on Friday, and the buyer asked for expedited shipping so that the book would arrive by Thursday. This one cost me $3.00 above what I charged to ship it. I hope it arrives. In my opinion, it is already getting too close to Christmas to guarantee delivery by priority mail. Since I print my labels online, my package probably will arrive Monday or Tuesday. Packages that have handwritten labels will likely not arrive until after Christmas.


beautifulshell said...

I thought of another pet peeve: sellers who list books as first editions and then describe things that clearly make the books later editions. I want to message all of them and tell them why they are wrongs sometimes.

stratomiker said...

I thought of another pet peeve: sellers who list books as first editions and then describe things that clearly make the books later editions. I want to message all of them and tell them

**********They may be right. According to professional bibliographical standards, any copy of a book with the original text is a 'first edition', no matter what the printing. If you are thinking of a 'first printing', you need to use THAT term, not 'first edition'.

A second (later) edition comes into being only when the text is 'substantially' altered, as in the revisions of the Hardys and Drews.

Many sellers know only the proper definitions of the standards of bibliography, not the recently made-up 'new' definitions from the fan-made series books guides. These terms and listings do not jive with bibliographical standards and have been confabbed into use by less than a handful of people - three.

If you email someone and tell them their listing of a 'first edition' of a Drew or similar book is wrong, you are doing them an injustice. They are most probably right.

The error in not knowing the true meaning of bibliographical terms is caused by buying into a guide some collector, not an expert in books, made at home, instead of educating one's self on the acceptable standards in use in the book world today.

If those guides had any merit or credibility in the larger world of books, they would be published by professionals at publishing houses, not by the three amateurs at home.


beautifulshell said...

Ahh, my bad. In that case, I would ammend my pet peeve to overuse of the term "first edition," since for a lot of books it seems to be meaningless. It becomes even less helpful when sellers just put "1st."

beautifulshell said...

I would also argue that there's enough information out there online for those of us who are only casually involved in book collecting to make these definitions less clear. For instance, this website: describes first editions of Dorothy Lyons books as only those with "first edition" on the copyright page. Therefore, when I see a seller say "presumed first edition" without that appearing, yes, I get frustrated. Now, if this website is also ignorant as to formal book term definitions, that's another story. But this is the kind of thing I was first talking about.

Jennifer said...

I think that most people who collect series books think that "first edition" means "first printing." This is the problem. While it is correct that all of the original text books can be considered "first editions" by definition, most people are wanting the earliest examples that were printed.

I avoid this problem by using "first printing" and never use the other term.

stratomiker said...

Most older books have 'first edition' or 'first printing' stated on the copyright page, or coded. There are endless ways in which they coded the books, from putting letters or numbers on the final page to using an alpha-numeric code on the copyright page.

Grosset & Dunlap did not state or code any of their series books, so there is no way to tell a 'first' other than by speculation.

The best guide out there to all publishers is A POCKET GUIDE TO THE IDENTIFICATION OF FIRST EDITIONS by Bill McBride. This book shows in a simple manner how hundreds of publishers stated or coded their first editions, and subsequent printings. It also has a lot of other information.

When First Edition is stated, that means 'first edition, first printing'. When you see the second printing of these books it is always stated as 'second printing', meaning the second printing of the first edition. You never see 'second edition'.

Today, most publishers list 'first edition' with the numbers below to denote the printing. Older books that have no stating or coding may be book club editions or those of 'reprint' houses like A. L. Burt and G&D that did not state or code.

The acceptable way a bibliophile would quote a first of a Nancy Drew would be:

"First edition, early printing, possible first"

There just is no way to know for sure.

Current guide makers argue that they computer-scan for aging and wear marks to determine earlier volumes, but fans of Christ's Shroud of Turin, that He supposedly wore after death, claim the same thing - computer scanning show it;s real age, 2000 years. However, other scientists say that's bunk, that their scanning shows the shroud dates from the 1400s. A lot of 'technical' proof is really only a reflection of the agenda of the claimants.

This whole topic of listings is a pet peeve of mine because I have been email-harassed hundreds of times for NOT using fan-made guides listings in my eBay book descriptions. Nastily harassed the by guide makers themselves and their cronies. I was selling books for 30 years before the guides came out with their newly 'made-up' system - what do they think we did all that time?

And eBay does not require that listings be quoted from any guide!


Kathleen said...

Many buyers are casual collectors. So just what constitutes a first edition, first printing and a true first could easily be spelled out.

I would take the oppotunity to educate someone. But, then, that is my nature/career.

I am considering selling reading copies myself. You are right- some people want them.

Then I imagine it is for "collectibles" that I am fussy.

I don't just collect girls series books. I collect anything Disney, a few Barbies (lol, yup. I have one of Tippi Hedren from "The Birds" complete with birds on her head), Beatles (oh do I try to stay away: Danger Danger), the Great Pumpkin, Hanna Barbera "stuff", stickers, planners, moleskines, scrapbook stuff...

But I love these books the best. I must!

Oh and I would not worry too much about quality girls books competing with vampire and gothic garbage- it is a fad.

Nancy, e.g., is truly timeless although the originals are very much tied to their era- that is okay.

I loved reading my Mom's quaint, brittle "Ivory Charm" with the charming language.

Much like the Beatles, as long as kids are exposed to it- good and/or interesting literature- they'll take to it enthusiastically!