Saturday, February 27, 2010

Moving One Step Closer

The ultimate goal of advanced collectors of Nancy Drew books is to own all of the first printing books for #1-56 including all of the first printing jackets for #1-38.

I am not willing to pay the Farah's Guide value for the first printing books and jackets for the earlier Nancy Drew books. This makes it impossible to win auctions for books that are described correctly. I have to find auctions that are not described well, and I search for reasonable Buy It Nows for books and jackets that might be first printings. I will buy early books on speculation without knowing for certain which printing they are. For the earliest Nancy Drew books, buyers have to hit that Buy It Now button fast, or the lot will sell quickly to someone else. Buyers cannot take the time to ask questions.

I used to acquire first printing books and jackets at the rate of at least a couple per year until around five years ago when I only needed around half a dozen. For several years now, I have needed only two first printing books, #4 and #44, and four first printing jackets, #1, 3, 4, and 5.

I may now have a first printing of #44 Crossword Cipher, since it does list to Pine Hill on the back cover. It does not exactly match the first printing information in Farah's Guide, however. This does not concern me since eventually I should be able to acquire a Crossword Cipher which is definitely the first printing.

I am more concerned with my goal of owning all first printing books and all first printing jackets for Nancy Drew #1-38. My most important wants are the #4 first printing book and the #1, 3, 4, and 5 first printing jackets.

Since I am not willing to pay the Farah's Guide value for these books or jackets, I must try to find bargains. I am always looking for good Buy It Nows on eBay. This week, a seller listed four Nancy Drew books with blank endpapers and dust jackets in individual lots each with a Buy It Now of $300. I did not see the books until around five hours after they had been listed, and I am surprised that all four were still there. I did later check to see whether the four books I saw were the only ones that were listed in the first place, and they were.

I clicked on all four before making a final decision about any of them, but I knew immediately which one I had to have.

Nancy Drew Mystery at Lilac Inn

The dust jacket lists to Lilac Inn. I did grab Farah's Guide before buying it, which was risky since someone else could have purchased the book, but I wanted to know how many printings list to Lilac Inn on the front flap. The first two printings list to Lilac Inn on the front flap, so it could have been either one. I bought the book then looked at the other three books again.

Nancy Drew Secret at Shadow Ranch

 The dust jacket lists to Red Gate Farm, so it is not the first printing. I own a second printing of Shadow Ranch with a rough dust jacket. I decided that I wanted a pretty nice early Shadow Ranch dust jacket, so I bought this one as well.

I decided to pass on the other two. Since that time, someone has bought the Bungalow Mystery book with jacket. The fourth book, Old Clock, has a pretty rough jacket, and someone placed the opening bid, thus removing the Buy It Now. That book has three days to go.

I received the two books I bought today. I have been hoping that Lilac Inn would have the first printing jacket, but I knew realistically that it probably would not since the other three books are later printings.

I opened the package and extracted Lilac Inn, which was wrapped in plastic and bubble wrap. The only difference between the first and second printing dust jackets is the list of books on the reverse side. The first printing jacket has a list of Grosset and Dunlap fiction in alphabetical order. The second printing jacket has the usual lists of series books that are found on most early jackets. Which would it be?

The jacket is in rough shape, and part of the reverse side print was visible due to a tear that was folded back. I saw "Jerry" and thought, "No! That must be Jerry Todd, and it is the second printing dust jacket with series books on it!" Darn, darn, darn. It was still good, but I was hoping for more.

I finally extracted the book from the wrapping and opened the book. There was the front flap list ending with Lilac Inn. I then removed the jacket, actually half the jacket since it is in two pieces, from the book and turned it over. I saw "Zane Grey" and a bunch of fiction titles that were not series books! It is the first printing dust jacket!

Yay! I had to stop and celebrate for a few minutes. I then returned to the book and examined everything against Farah's Guide, verifying that the jacket meets all of the points for the 1930A-1 first printing. Unfortunately, the book and jacket are mismatched, since the book lists to Clue in the Diary and meets the points for the 1931D-7 printing. This is slightly disappointing, as I still do not have a first printing book of Lilac Inn. Just slightly. Who cares? I'll get that first printing book yet!

 This is what the jacket looked like once I had it placed in the mylar cover.

Not to worry, the star is on the outside of the mylar cover. I always mark my first printing jackets so I can find them easily.

Farah's Guide assigns a value of $3,000 to the Lilac Inn first printing jacket and a value of $500 to the Lilac Inn first printing book. The values are for books and jackets in very good condition. I don't have the book, and the jacket has a few problems, although I think it is in pretty decent shape. Based on what I have seen in past auctions, I feel like this book and jacket would sell for at least $1,000 in an auction. These early first printing jackets are so scarce that buyers cannot be that choosy about condition. I do not expect to ever have an opportunity to upgrade this jacket.

Regarding Shadow Ranch, the book and jacket meet the points for the 1931C-3 printing. Farah assigns a value of $400 to the jacket and $250 to the book, and I have seen similar copies sell for at least around $500 in an auction.

I now only need the first printing dust jackets for #1, 3, and 5. I still need the #4 book. I need just three first printing jackets and one first printing book for #1-38.

2010 Book Sale Report Part 3

The general section of the sale always stresses me out. Since I go to the other side first, the general section is very crowded by the time I enter it, since the entire line has already filed in. The temperature inside the general section is at least 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the building. It is very difficult to move around the tables. The general section has so many books that the books are also piled in boxes underneath the table. It is just about impossible to get at all of them.

I decided to use a different strategy this year. Normally, I try to approach the general section in the same fashion that I approach the collector' choice section. I want to move fast when I cannot, so I get very frustrated. When I cannot move at a table, I quit and go to another. As a result, I miss books.

The night before the sale, I recalled that each year, the crowd begins to thin out towards 8:00 PM as more and more people finish and get in line. I realized that I needed to take it slow so that I could look for books after people began getting in line.

Each time I found that I could not move at a table, I stood and waited until whoever was next to me finally moved. By waiting, time passed and I was able to look easier as the checkout line grew. I did my most productive searching between 7:45 and 8:30 PM. At 8:30 PM, I joined the end of the checkout line, which had at least several hundred people in it.

I got lucky. The express line was nearly empty, and the person in charge of that line came over to the main line and began pulling people off the end of the line. This was done to expedite the process, since the sale was nearing its 9:00 PM close. I went to the express line with my books and was near the front of the line. I was checked out fast and left the sale.

Here are the books I found in the general section:

You will notice that the softcover books are in worse condition than the ones found on the other side. The books that are in lesser condition are placed in the general section. Some of the books that I found on the general side should have been on the collector's choice side, such as the softcover Trixie Belden books, which are in excellent condition.

I came away with more duplicates of the softcover books than I would have liked, but this always happens every year. It is impossible to keep track of what I have. In some cases, I see so many duplicates of some books that I do pass on them. I know I saw at least around five copies of Nancy Drew Girl Detective #24 that I did not pick up. When I see a book too often, I know not to get it.

In the collector's choice section, I passed on all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys flashlight editions. I do not get everything that I see.

I spent less than last year, and I bought about the same number of books. The books on the collector's choice side were priced lower this year, and I am thankful for that. Most of the books on the collector's choice side are priced between $0.75 and $4.00. I did get a couple of $5.00 and $6.00 books. Last year, several of the books that I found were priced at $8.00 to $10.00, and those books made a big difference in my total cost.

All in all, the sale was a success, and I had a lot of fun.

Friday, February 26, 2010

2010 Book Sale Report Part 2

I took my place in line at approximately 12:03 PM on Friday. The line forms in the foyer of one of the buildings at the state fairgrounds. The floor is concrete, and most of us bring our own chairs so that we do not have to sit on the floor. The floor is always cold.

Despite the abnormally cold winter we have been having, the weather from Wednesday through Friday was pretty good and near normal. As a result, I was not nearly as cold as I have been most years during the hours of waiting for the sale to begin. I usually have to wear my gloves because my hands are so cold. Since I was not cold, the wait was fairly pleasant.

The sale is divided into two different rooms. I always wait in line on the collector's choice side, where the books are better and are priced individually. I was around the 40th person in line, and most of the people in front of me were the usual dealers and collectors who arrive early each year just like me.

Our library book sale is one of the largest book sales in the United States. The weekend news stated that the sale is the biggest book sale in the country. I doubt that it is the very biggest, but I am confident that it is one of the top five sales in the county. The sale has around 500,000 books for sale each year. I am always amazed that year after year, the sale always has the same large quantity of books. I feel so fortunate to live near such a sale.

The sale is always free on Saturdays and Sundays, but Friday is always the presale party, and the cost is $10.00 for four tickets. The people who wait until Saturday morning to attend are unaware that all of the good books are sold first thing Friday night.

I actually enjoy waiting in line for 5 1/2 hours. The anticipation builds as 5:30 approaches. It is fun to watch the line get longer and longer and know that I am near the front of a line that ultimately will contain several thousand people.

I take luggage on wheels to the sale, and to me, this is the easiest way to store and transport my books. Some people take shopping carts, which are too bulky, strollers, or dollies. I like my luggage because I can have it zipped mostly shut so that people cannot see exactly what I have already found. I am very possessive about my finds.

Right before 5:30 PM, the announcer counted down the final seconds to the sale. Once the doors opened, the line began filing in. It took probably around 30 to 40 seconds before I made it in the door. As each of us passed through the door, we were walking, but we quickly increased in speed. My goal was to reach the far end of the building where the old books were located as fast as I could. Once I had a clear path, I began to jog. As I approached the far wall, I slowed down to a walk. What is great is that the 40 of us who were in first all went to different locations. We each had first pick at whatever we sought!

Here is a big secret: all of the best books are grabbed within the first five minutes of the sale. It is quite an adrenaline rush, and it is the best fun I have all year!

I quickly scanned the shelves. Sometimes the volunteers are very helpful by placing like books together. This time, the series books were mixed in together with all of the other old children's books, so my task was a little harder. It was not that hard, since the books were contained in just two bookshelves that were side-by-side. I spotted some Bobbsey Twins books with jackets from the 1940s and grabbed them.

I was nervous because a book dealer and his helper were near, and the helper was asking which readers to grab. After receiving instructions, the helper proceeded to quickly clear a couple of shelves of readers, which the volunteers had placed all together. Meanwhile, I was glad that the dealer wanted the readers, and I continued to scan the two shelves. I found a few Nancy Drew books with jackets as well as a Ruth Fielding in jacket. I found a couple of Lone Ranger books and a bunch of Trixie Belden books. I scanned again and decided to dash for the front of the building. I had no time to spare!

When I reached the front section of children's books, I found some picture cover books. I found a couple of Applewood Nancy Drew books with jackets and a bunch of the Twin Thriller editions. As soon as I felt like I had gotten what was there, I returned to the shelves in the back. I spotted a few books that I missed the first time, a couple of Black Stallion books, which I do not collect.

When I look at books, I do not read the titles. If you've read my "Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew" posts, you know that I rely heavily on the outside appearance of books in order to guess the age of the books. I use a similar approach when hunting books in person. Since books are usually shelved with only the spines visible, I rely on the familiar spine designs, which allows me to find what I want extremely fast. Who cares which title it is? I have time to worry about that later.

Since I am not as familiar with the way the jackets look for the Black Stallion books, I did not notice them the first time. After I was done looking, I swung by the table that had books from the 1800s, just in case an old series book might be there. No such luck, so I decided that I was done.

Only around 12 minutes had passed. The end of the line had still not finished filing in, and the best part of the sale was over.

I took a few minutes to look inside the covers of my books to make certain that the prices were not too high. Last year, I had some unpleasant surprises. As I quickly checked my books, I estimated what my total would be. I joined the checkout line; actually, I took my place at the front of the line. Only a few people had checked out. I was sent to a cashier, and I checked out.

Here are the books I bought on the collector's choice side of the sale:

I then took my books to my car and prepared to enter the general section of the sale.

—to be continued

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Different Nancy Drew Library Edition

I promise I am working on my report on the library book sale. I don't want to try to finish it tonight since it is taking awhile, so I have something else for you. This interesting Nancy Drew library edition arrived in the mail today.

I have never seen one with this image on the front cover. Has anyone else? I almost did not spot it in a lot of books on eBay. Here are three of the pictures from the auction:

I had to look carefully at all three pictures in order to conclude for certain that the lot contained a special library edition.

My change in search strategy paid off with this lot. It was just a few days before spotting this lot that I switched to auctions only for my ending soonest search. If I had not omitted the fixed-price listings, I would not have noticed this lot. I'm so glad I did.

Of course, I also now have a bunch of junk books to get rid of as well, but that is the way it goes. By the way, the Crossword Cipher PC is the somewhat common third printing; I was hoping that maybe I had another possible first printing listing to Pine Hill. Oh, well. Each time I get a Crossword Cipher that is one of the first three printings, it usually arrives with library discards that are in rough shape. Have you ever noticed similar odd patterns in your collecting experiences?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Clues to Collecting #4

Question: I've been collecting series books in a kind of haphazard way for a few years (mostly just reading copies of series I like), so I don't often bother looking for dust jackets. however, I have a fairly nice dust jacket of a Marjorie Dean book, but a wedge has torn away from the top of the dj spine. assuming I get a protective cover for it, how would you go about reattaching a broken piece of dj? or would you give it up as lost? I'm just assuming that tape is the collector's enemy... thanks, and love the blog!

I only throw away a piece of a dust jacket when the piece is tiny, such as less than around an 1/8 inch square piece.

In most cases, detached pieces can be placed in the mylar cover so that they will stay in place once the cover is folded shut and placed on the book.

Companies such as Demco do sell archival tape, which is expensive. Some collectors frown upon the use of any type of tape, including archival tape. I have used archival tape for serious problems, such as when a page from the book is ripped into two pieces.

Question: Where do you buy archival tape? Would you recommend that for repairing book spines?

Answer: Demco has archival tape:

Filmoplast Mending Tape

It is expensive, but I have been using the same roll for around 9 years. It lasts a long time.

I only use it on the reverse side of dust jackets and usually for very serious problems. I don't think it could be used to repair the spines of books.

I have never bought archival products for book repair, but Demco has several products that could work for binding and other types of repairs:

Demco NeutralBond Modified Vinyl Adhesive

Systematic Archival Glue Pen

Question: Wondering... I found your site thru a librarian -- no Sue Barton? I collect her, wondering why she is excluded? 

My site represents what I have collected and read to the present time. Right now, I do not own any Sue Barton books.

My primary current interest is in Stratemeyer Syndicate series books that were published prior to 1930. I may eventually get around to Sue Barton. What I buy and collect is constantly evolving.

While my site is intended as a reference site, it is beyond my capability to cover every series ever published. There are hundreds of them. All that I can do is cover the ones that I have collected and read. Go to these two sites to see what I mean:

Girls Series Checklist

Mary Crosson's List

Friday, February 19, 2010

2010 Book Sale Report Part 1

Last night I attended a small book sale at a local private school. I am horrible at estimating how many books are in a sale, but I recall that in the past this sale advertised having somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000 books. This sale used to be a yearly tradition, except that they did not have the sale last year. It returned this year.

I normally do not get that many books at this sale, nor are they anything that great. The thrill is in the hunt, and I am not going to miss going to a sale that could have something good. One year I bought Judy Bolton #34 in dust jacket at this sale for under $5.00, so that is why I keep going back.

I left this sale with about the same number of books as usual.

I bought two sets of six flashlight editions because they contained the bookmarks. I do not believe that I have that particular bookmark, so I will be keeping one of them. I consider the bookmarks to be the best items I found at this sale.

I also bought two flashlight editions that have the textured surface. I found quite a few softcover books, which will hopefully supplement books that I find tonight and will go in lots on eBay. I bought a few hardcover books which will probably be listed on Bonanzle. I bought two individual flashlight editions because they have the textured surface.

Tonight is the big library book sale. I will leave for it within the next two hours and will wait in line around six hours in order to be one of the first people in the door. I reported on this sale last year, and here are the posts:

Book Sale Report Part I
Book Sale Report Part II
Book Sale Report Part III

This year's experience will be similar. I never know how well I will do at the sale. Last year was better than the previous year, and this year could be about the same or not quite as good. What I do know is that it will be an exhausting but fun experience.

I noticed that last night's sale had fewer people than usual. I am wondering whether it is because the sale skipped one year and lost momentum. Perhaps some people forgot about in in the last two years. Could it also be because of how eBay has declined? The big library sale that I will attend tonight was a zoo back in around 2001-2003, and it was very hard to get any children's books during those years. Everyone was selling on eBay and was there for inventory. I have had better luck in the years since that time.

A book seller did grab large quantities of children's books last night—books that I did not want. I may have to contend with him tonight. Last night's sale had around 50 to 75 flashlight edition Nancy Drew books that I did not purchase. Those books lasted on the shelf only a few minutes past when I took the ones I wanted. People do consider the flashlight edition books to be desirable.

Last night's sale had no matte Nancy Drew picture cover books. The fact that the matte books have been out of print for 24 years is causing them to be harder to find at sales. Last night's sale consisted of books that were donated by the students and staff of the private school. It is easy to see why the sale only had the flashlight books.

I will report on tonight's sale sometime in the next few days. I will be exhausted after spending 9 to 10 hours at the fairgrounds, so once I am rested enough, I will give my report.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Describing Books as Better Than They Are

This is an old post from last year that was never published, mainly because I wanted to wait until the listing could not be easily found. I forgot about the post, and it was never published. Here we go... and prepare yourselves...

THIS is in "very fine" condition?

 I am speechless. To be fair, in the description, the seller does differentiate between the condition of the book and the dust jacket. The seller states that the book is "very fine" with almost no shelf wear. I do see wear to the edges of the book, and to me, that is not "almost no shelf wear." If there is almost none, then I should not be able to see it from a photo that is not close up.

The dust jacket is stated to be in "fair to good" condition. In my opinion, the dust jacket is in poor condition. The jacket is awful!

Buyers are not stupid. When sellers describe books as better than they are, buyers do notice and tend to think of the sellers as unethical and dishonest. At the very least, buyers think of the sellers as unprofessional.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How I Am Coping with the New eBay

I am not sure exactly when it happened, but my search results now contain all store items, all fixed-priced items, all international items, and all auctions mixed in together in an untidy mess. I think it has been a gradual process that has occurred over the last week. I noticed an increase in my results last weekend, and around two days ago, I realized that it was taking me forever to scroll through the items that close in the next 24 hours. That was when I realized that eBay has now fully integrated all items into the search results. It is quite aggravating to say the least.

Even the searches with relatively low results are now rather difficult to navigate. The larger searches, such as "Nancy Drew," are a nightmare. I have decided how I will cope, so I am sharing this information for those of you who still sell on eBay.

When I run my searches, I immediately sort by "newly listed" to see whether any of the newest items are good deals. I have used this strategy for a long time in order to troll for good Buy It Now items. This strategy will not change.

I have to make a change for the other half of my searches. In addition to sorting by "newly listed," I like to search by "ending soonest" so that I will not miss any of the good auctions. This is where I have the problem. The number of fixed-price items included in the results makes it next to impossible to search just the items that close in the next 24 hours.

My solution is to click on "auctions only" when I run my "ending soonest" searches. This way, the fixed-price items are missing, and I will not fail to notice any good auctions that are ending soon.

When I run a search for "Nancy Drew," nearly 10,000 items show up in the search (Note: This is a search with restrictions such as the maximum allowable number of blocked sellers. Over 16,000 results show with no restrictions.). This is impossible to navigate. When I search for "Nancy Drew" and limit my results to auctions, I get slightly under 1,000 results. This makes all the difference.

Think about what my decision to limit my "ending soonest" searches to auctions means. If you sell on eBay and use the fixed-price format, you have one narrow opportunity to make a sale to me, which is when I run my searches that are sorted by "newly listed." I will see your item the day it is listed, and I will never see it again.

What if other buyers decide to use my method? Think of how hard it might become to sell a fixed-price item. On the other hand, most buyers may just go with eBay's default, but if that happens, then the auctions will suffer. We will only know after a few months of this format how the changes will affect fixed-price items and auctions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thoughts on the Percy Jackson Series

Over the course of the last five weeks, I have read the entire Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. With the exception of #2, I have read each book twice, not only to make sure that I didn't miss anything, but to extend my reading pleasure. Before I continue, I want to mention that this post contains no plot spoilers. I chose not to review each book as I read it because I would have had to give away parts of the plots. So, this post contains my thoughts about the series as a whole in a general sense.

Click here to read my two posts about the first Percy Jackson book. I am not going to explain the premise in this post, so you will need to read those posts if you are not already familiar with this series.

This series is similar to Harry Potter, yet at the same time, it is very different. Many narrow-minded people who are Harry Potter fanatics think this series is a rip-off of Harry Potter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The series has some obvious similarities to Harry Potter, but at the same time, the books are very different.

The books were written in first person, and the author, Rick Riordan, pulled it off well. Percy comes across as a likable, awkward, modern teenage boy. The grammar is not perfect, but I doubt that any of us think in a grammatically correct fashion. With that in mind, the books would be far less convincing if they were grammatically correct, especially since they are told from the point of view of a boy with dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The books are very humorous, and Percy's dyslexia plays into it. For instance, Percy begins to read aloud a prophecy about a child "of the eldest dogs" and is quickly informed that the words are "of the eldest gods." I love it when books make me laugh. Humor is important.

Each book tells the story of one year of Percy's life, usually just the summer months when most of the important events occur. In each book, either Percy or another one of the half-blood children is sent on a quest. Even when the quest is not Percy's, he somehow gets involved.

All of the books contain battles with monsters and gods. Percy and his friends are in deadly danger during these events, and the reader does fear for their safety. It is important that the reader cares about the characters. I cannot help but contrast the Percy Jackson series with the Twilight Saga, which I read just before I began Percy Jackson. While reading the Twilight Saga, I never, ever cared about Edward, which is sad.

In the Twilight Saga, I felt like I was going to be disappointed the entire time I read books 2 through 4. I knew where the author was taking the books, and I did not like it. As expected, I did not enjoy how the fourth book ended. One of the biggest complaints people have had about the Twilight Saga is that Bella got exactly what she wanted and never paid for it. She never lost anything. She never had a price to pay.

Much like Harry Potter, I knew that the Percy Jackson series would culminate with a final battle. I expected losses to occur, just like in the Harry Potter books and unlike the Twilight Saga. It was very convincing.

Rick Riordan gives us clues to Percy's future as we read through the books. By book three, we are given some very intriguing clues that we do not quite understand. A lot of the fun is guessing what the clues mean and wondering how it will end. By the last page of the last book, Riordan has explained it all to us.

Overall, I feel like the Percy Jackson books are a masterpiece. The storytelling is excellent. The Harry Potter books (and the Twilight Saga books, unfortunately) are excessively wordy at times. The fifth Harry Potter book drags. I love the Harry Potter books, but parts of them are boring and too long.

The Percy Jackson books are not excessively wordy and never drag. Each book was plotted tightly to cover the events of a single quest. In fact, I wish the books told us even more. The difference between a good book and a really great book is that a really great book leaves you wanting even more.

The ending of the last book is very satisfying. I am one of those people who found the epilogue of the last Harry Potter book to be very annoying. Rowling messed up by not letting us see what happened in the weeks following the final battle. Thank goodness, rather I should say thank the gods, that Rick Riordan did not make that mistake.

I have nothing bad to say about this series. It is just great and a lot of fun. I recommend this series to anybody who likes series books that are full of adventure and fantasy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Clues to Collecting #3

Question: I realized that my copy of "the Hidden Window Mystery" #34 was bound upside down! I was wondering if this makes it "rare" or "scarce" or is it worth less since it is goofed up?

Binding errors usually make books less valuable. Most people prefer for their books to be bound correctly. Some collectors do seek out variations, so there is a small amount of interest. Most binding errors that I see on eBay either fail to sell or sell at the opening bid. There is usually not a lot of interest.

Question: Regarding value, have you found a greater value in re-sale for unused library bindings, or do they still seem to bring low prices?

Also, regarding another post I can't find now, which mentioned the '70's double edition ND's and their relative low value (not RARE as a seller had claimed), have you found collectors looking for the harder-to-fine tall versions of these double editions, or do both tall and short seem to command low prices? I came across 5 of the tall ones yesterday, and picked them up since they were only $1.50/ea. But not sure if they're really collectible.

The lavender Grosset and Dunlap library bindings definitely command a higher price when they are not library discards. I find that the lavender G&D library editions are the one type of library binding that many collectors desire, but they only want them when the books are not library discards.

For all other library bindings, I don't find that whether the books are library discards makes much of a difference. Most people have no interest in the vast majority of library bindings.

The tall double edition books tend to be worth more than the short ones. The tall ones are harder to find, and they seem to be made better. I like them better, so I feel like they are worth more than the short ones. They are definitely collectible.

Question: Regarding the $1 box PC's - are they always worth picking up if you find them in decent but not neccesarily fine condition? Thanks!

As to whether $1 box editions are always worth picking up, it depends upon how rough the condition is. The $1 box editions tend to always be a little rough. Some people have stated that the materials used on them were inferior to what were used on other picture covers.

I have noticed that both the $1 box editions and the book club edition picture covers seem to always look a little bad. If you can get a $1 box edition with moderate wear for just a few dollars, it is worth getting.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Search Mess on eBay

In the last week, my searches have become increasingly cluttered on eBay. The results have changed to a greater degree just this weekend. I always use Nancy Drew as the example, because it is the worst one of the searches that I run.

For the last couple of years, eBay has been playing all these games with search exposure. For a time, eBay was making people pay for international search exposure. That program has clearly ended, because the international results are now further cluttering up our results. In some ways, this is not bad, but it is also not good. Scratch that... it is awful.

My Nancy Drew results have increased by around 1,000 items since just yesterday. I am noticing a huge number of international items now mixed in, and the results are all fixed-price. These are not the type of items I want to be seeing. I don't want to see dozens of Armada softcover Nancy Drew books offered at $5.23 each. Consider what the cost is with the high international postage factored in. Ugh!

I am now going to use a search that is easy to navigate to show what part of the problem is with eBay. As far as I am concerned, the eBay user "Buy" is the root of all evil for the media category on eBay. has one of the anchor stores and while I am sure that Buy pays eBay a hefty amount for the exposure, I am equally sure that Buy pays eBay next to nothing per listing. Buy currently has one million listings on eBay. Yes, one million... 1,000,000!

Here are the results for a search for books by Edith Lavell.

The search contains exactly 14 results, and seven of them are offered by Buy. I highlighted the ones offered by Buy. Exactly why is it necessary for Buy to offer seven copies of the exact same book at a bunch of different prices? Buy is doing this with everything. It is ruining eBay! It is condoned by eBay! It is infuriating!

It is going to be a nightmare by March when people begin listing their free 100 $0.99 auctions and when all of the store items are also mixed into this great big mess. Around a year ago, the CEO stated that we would not recognize eBay in one year. He was right. This is the end of eBay as we knew it. R.I.P. eBay.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Clues to Collecting #2

Question: Slightly off topic of the blog, but on the topic of Beverly Gray, I just received today what appears to be a 1st (or at least very early) edition of #21: Secret. In the back, it lists the next volume as being Beverly Gray's Masquerade. Obviously the name ended up being changed when the next volume was published. I didn't see this listed on your Beverly Gray page, so I didn't know if you might want to mention it. I'm wondering if all the copies of Secret continued to list the wrong title, or if it was corrected later on.

I don't know if the draft title was corrected for later printings, since I just have what is also probably the first printing. Sometimes the draft titles remained uncorrected for many printings, such as in the Nancy Drew series. I would say that since #21 was so close to the end of the series, the draft title was likely never corrected and is probably present in all of the original Grosset and Dunlap tweed printings. Grosset and Dunlap was usually quite slow to correct mistakes like that, and sometimes never bothered to correct them.

Question: I have a daughter owns a recent Nancy Drew paperback (The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery #110 - Aladdin) which has a printing error on the spine. Instead of listing "The Nutcracker Ballet Mystery" over Carolyn Keene's name, it says "BOOK TITLE". Is this worth holding on to, or are there millions of them out there with this error?

The first Aladdin reprint had the error on the spine and then the error was corrected for later printings. It is not rare but may be scarce. It will probably not ever have any great value since there are probably quite a few of them, although it is of interest to collectors who want everything.

Question: I have a question on the topic of gleaning information from the spines of ND books. There is an auction on eBay right now Item # 330307377666 that shows 7 tweed books with white spine dust jackets. Two of these look unusual to me in that they have light blue lettering, as well as the typical light blue silhouette, on the spine. Does this indicate anything about the books? I thought the lettering was always black.

The Whispering Statue and The Clue in the Jewel Box are the only two Nancy Drew books that have blue print on the spines instead of the usual black. I believe all printings in dust jacket for those two books have the blue print. None of the other books have the blue print, so it doesn't mean anything as far as determining anything about the books. It is just one of Grosset and Dunlap's random inconsistencies which cannot be explained.

Question: I was searching your blog for some other information, and came across this post which reminded me of a book I have. It's "Nancy's Mysterious Letter", an original text PC, which lists to Fire Dragon on the back. The odd thing is that it lists to Clue of the Velvet Mask and Dana Girls Jade Ring inside, both first published in 1953. Quite a difference! Is this a normal 1st (or later) PC printing of this book according to Farah's? Or do I have my own bizarre anomaly? This is why I am intrigued by collecting ND books! Thanks!

The 1950s and early 1960s printing history of Mysterious Letter is really odd - there are lots of mistakes and anomalies. All copies of Mysterious Letter printed from 1953 through 1962 have the same list of titles inside the book: Nancy Drew #1-30 and Dana Girls #1-15.

The last two printings with that list of titles inside the book are the first two picture cover printings. The first picture cover printing lists to Fire Dragon on the back cover, so you do have the first picture cover.

During the 1950s, several printings of Mysterious Letter have "The" in front of the title on the front cover, which is obviously an error. Some sellers like to say this error is RARE because it was caught quickly, but the error is an anomaly that occurs in five printings from 1952 through 1957, so it was NOT caught quickly.

Then there is also the oddity of the many hole-punched dust jackets from 1950 that list to Wooden Lady that have inexplicably shown up on mid-1950s books which of course have the odd list of titles, ND #1-30 and DG #1-15 inside the book. Enough of the hole-punched jackets have shown up on the mid-1950s books that I am confident that a stack of them was found in the mid-1950s and placed on books. I have personally had at least three of the mismatched hole-punched jackets on tweed books pass through my hands and know of multiple other examples that exist.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Clues to Collecting #1

I begin this feature by posting old questions and answers that appear in the comments sections of many old posts. Unless you have subscribed to the comments to this blog, you probably miss many of the good questions that I have received over the last couple of years. I have selected the really good questions to highlight here.

Question: How can you tell when the sellers are reproducing the dust jackets? Obviously, I want the best condition dust jacket I can afford but I've noticed on ebay there are some books with damage where the dust jacket should have protected it and the dust jacket looks clean in that same area. That makes me suspicious, but I'm wondering how you make the determination. I hate to think of being ripped off like this.

You can almost always tell in person whether a dust jacket is a reproduction. Most copies are either in two pieces or are cut off at the back flap. This is because the dust jackets are longer than legal-sized paper. Additionally, reproduction dust jackets are often pixelated, so the clarity of the image is reduced. Last, many copies are on plain paper, which is another way to distinguish the copies.

Online, buyers must depend on the seller's honesty or level of knowledge in order to be sure that copy dust jackets are not purchased. I do find that most of the copy dust jackets are labeled as such in the listings, but sometimes this information does not jump out at the buyer. Always read all descriptions carefully.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons why a book and dust jacket would not have the same wear. I have heard of people removing the dust jacket while reading the book, so the book could get damaged while the dust jacket is safe.

Some people remove the dust jackets from all of their books and store them. By doing this, ultimately the books are sold or destroyed while the dust jackets are safe. In the past, I have bought several lots of near perfect dust jackets from 70+ years ago. I was able to swap out the dust jackets with ones from my books, thus upgrading my dust jackets. In those cases, the books have wear that the jackets do not have.

Libraries have been known to store dust jackets instead of keeping them on the books. I once bought a large lot of beautiful old dust jackets that came from a library.

Monday, February 1, 2010

eBay's Huge Fee Increase

A big announcement was made last week about how eBay will greatly reduce seller's upfront fees. Please make note of the word "upfront," which is important. By the title of this post, you can tell that I have ignored the commentary about how it is a fee decrease. For people with a low volume like me, it is a huge fee increase.

By upfront fees, eBay means the listing fees which are applicable whether the item sells or not. By reducing those fees, eBay is saving sellers money. The trouble is that the final value fees have gone through the roof.

For those who have not read the announcement, I'll give some information.

1. It will be free to list up to 100 auctions per month... that is if you start them at $0.99. It is very hard to find items on eBay. Why would sellers take collectible items and start them at $0.99? I wouldn't. They'd sell at $0.99 or thereabouts. I would lose money.

2. The final value fee is now a flat 9% regardless of selling price. This raises the final value fee significantly for most items priced at under $1,000. The good news is that the fee is now capped at $50.00, which is great for people who sell very expensive items. I have never sold a book for high enough to have a final value fee of $50.00, so I won't be saving money.

3. For items starting at above $0.99, eBay is now offering new lower listing fees. There is a big catch... sellers must now subscribe to an eBay store in order to get the new lower listing fees.

$0.20 fixed-price listing fees for a Basic store at $15.95 per month
$0.05 fixed-price listing fees for a Premium store at $49.95 per month
$0.03 fixed-price listing fees for an Anchor store at $299.95 per month

Read between the lines: you have to do a high volume in order to get lower listing fees. This leaves me out. It is price discrimination against the small sellers. As we've now known for nearly two years, eBay no longer wants us.

Forget the lower listing fees that are only available to store subscribers. We need to discuss the final value fees. Someone made a couple of excellent charts that show just how bad it is. I have copied them from this message thread.

This one is for people like me who will not be opening an eBay store:

I will admit that I thought it was an exaggeration when I first saw it. Unfortunately, it has now been copied into so many message threads and backed up by so many people that I am speechless. Just look at it. I have nothing to say.

This is the chart for the high volume sellers who have an eBay store:

Even this one is a significant fee increase, and most importantly, these people will be paying a monthly subscription on top of the fees. Think about that for a moment. This is a huge fee increase for most sellers except for the extreme high volume sellers whom eBay loves so much.

Also consider that all sellers must accept PayPal, which gives eBay even more money and adds to sellers' costs.

Here are my thoughts:

The most significant part to me is the requirement to have a store subscription to get lower fees. I left eBay over a year ago to get lower fees, and I did not have to subscribe to anything. Bonanzle offers lower fees with no subscription.

Bonanzle does offer a subscriber option, but this is for a few perks such as the ability to use Google Analytics. It has nothing to do with fees. I chose to pay for a $200 one-year subscription to Bonanzle because I decided to support the site and I wanted to have access to Google Analytics data. I do not get lower fees because of it. All Bonanzle users get the low fees! My subscription was just renewed on Friday, January 29, and I feel like my $200 for the previous year was well spent, especially because I probably saved around $1,000 in eBay fees by selling on Bonanzle.

Why would I want to become a subscriber to eBay where the fees are much higher no matter what? It makes no sense.

I hope that the higher fees will pull some of the garbage off of eBay, but my gut feeling tells me that this will not be the result. The 100 free $0.99 auction listings per month could prove to be detrimental to the site. People like me who know the value of collectible items and who know how hard it is to search on eBay will not use the free listings.

Unfortunately, the average uninformed eBay seller will not know better and will likely flood the site with free listings. Some of these people are like the seller I mentioned in a recent post; they have no idea what they are doing, and those people will remain on eBay despite the high fees. They are the ones who will flood the site with garbage.

Another change not mentioned above is that eBay store results will now be mixed in with the core search results. This will make it even harder to find the good, vintage books. My conclusion is that I will soon have to limit my searches to "auction only" in order to weed out the fixed-price items. Even that could be problematic due to the 100 free auction listings per month. It is a shame.

It was sometime over a year ago when I stated that eBay was at either the beginning of the end or the middle of the end. At this point, I feel like eBay is now past the middle of the end and is approaching the end of the end. When I state that eBay is at "the end of the end," I mean the eBay we all knew and loved. That eBay is ceasing to exist.

I don't want eBay to fail; it is still the best place to find vintage books. However, eBay seems destined to sink its own ship, and I feel like this year may be the year that another venue, such as Bonanzle, begins to take a strong-hold on the collectibles market.