Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When I Buy on eBay...

... I have much trouble finding items due to eBay's poor search experience. If eBay would just leave the search alone and let us sort it how we want, we could find items. On a positive note, the poor search experience has opened up a huge world of bargains.

... some sellers package poorly, but most sellers package adequately.
On Thursday I received a smashed box that had soft cardboard and should not have been used. However, the books were secure in bubble wrap, and newspaper surrounded the wrapped books. While not pretty, I had no problem with the packaging.

... some sellers overcharge for postage, but I avoid those sellers unless the total cost is acceptable. Sometimes I do get burned when sellers are incapable of understanding how to send a combined invoice and how to refund the extra charges. In those cases, I do end up paying too much and can do nothing about it.

... some sellers describe their items very badly, but that is where I get bargains. Most of the time, these transactions end well due to the low cost. Sometimes I take risks and get burned, but that is my fault.

I know some of you have gotten the idea that a disproportionately high number of my eBay purchases end badly. This is simply not true.

The vast majority of my eBay purchases end well. Probably more than 90% of my purchases end well. I only mention the few scattered bad ones. If my problems seem like too many, it is because I buy a lot on eBay. Since I buy a lot, I see more problems than people who buy very little.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

When I Sell on eBay...

... buyers argue about the postage charges. If you do not like the postage cost, then do not bid.

... international buyers try to tell me that the postage cost is lower than what I quoted. Unlike the sellers who inflate their charges for international postage, my charges are usually within $1.00 of the exact cost. Sometimes I even charge slightly less than the actual charges. I have had multiple people tell me in the last two years that a book can be shipped to Canada for around $3.00. Maybe 10 years ago...

All of my packages weigh at least 1 pound, four ounces for hardcover books. The minimum cost to Canada is $5.99 if I don't charge $1.00 for the cost of my supplies.

... buyers change their minds and want me to cancel their bids. There is a form for that, right? Why can't the buyers take responsibility for their own actions? They are not supposed to cancel their bids, but eBay gives them that ability, so long as it is done before the last 12 hours of an auction. But no, they want me to do it, probably so it won't count against their records.

... buyers want me to break up a lot and sell them just one or two books for a low price. For instance, let's say I have a lot of 20 books for $50.00, so the books are priced at $2.50 each, but the buyer must buy all of them. The buyer selects the most valuable book in the lot that might be worth $10 or more and wants me to remove it from the lot and sell it for $2.50 plus shipping. Um... no.

... buyers make really strange requests. For example, someone liked a dust jacket on a book up for sale better than the one on her book. She wanted to trade jackets with me. She wanted to pay for the cost of postage, and I would only mail her the dust jacket. She would mail me her dust jacket. The end result would be that I would have a mismatched book and jacket. This was not to my liking, so I did not agree to it.

... buyers ask for me to take a much lower price on the first or second day of an auction that is scheduled to run seven days. Shouldn't they wait until the item closes without bids before asking for a bargain? If the item does not sell, then a seller might be willing to negotiate. These buyers seem not to understand that normal auctions have a minimum and then the price goes up, rather than down.

... some buyers cause no problems at all.

In the last year, I have sold very little on eBay. I have had around 40 transactions as a seller on eBay during the last year. I have had slightly over 300 transactions on Bonanzle during the last year. I have had far fewer problems with buyers in my transactions on Bonanzle. There have been a few scattered situations, but those situations are very few. I have had more transactions on Bonanzle with fewer problems. Hmm....

I find that eBay buyers are now very picky and demanding, in general. Before you get offended, please note that I am an eBay buyer, and I know that not all eBay buyers are of this type. This is based on my transactions as a seller. Perhaps the large lots attract the bottom feeders. I don't know what it is, but I don't like it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Inconsistent Prices on eBay

I am feeling disgruntled about eBay again, for a variety of reasons. I have been wanting to write about my thoughts for a couple of weeks, but I have had trouble finding a place to begin. So, I will start here and see where it takes me. This post is going to contain several disjointed thoughts. I gave up on the idea of making it cohesive.

The prices for completed auctions on eBay have become very inconsistent. Some books are selling for very high prices while others are selling for very low prices. The uneven results are odd.

Part of the problem is that the fixed-price listings are taking over eBay. The fixed-price listings, which are often very overpriced, take up most of the results. These items make it hard to notice the auctions.

I do not believe that the fixed-price listings are all that is wrong. It could be that the loss of buyers and sellers is affecting the auction results. It could be something else. A number of conspiracy theories abound in the blogosphere, one of which alleges that eBay has rolling blackouts.

The people who believe in the rolling blackouts claim that certain items are shown only to people who live in certain geographic areas. I have not sold enough on eBay in the last couple of years to have any idea whether this could be true. However, quite a few people believe this theory, so it has to be considered as a possibility. I do recall that when I did sell a lot on eBay, that I did sometimes have multiple auction winners that were from the same state. I always thought it was coincidence.

Another conspiracy theory, that of search suppression, was recently explained to me by a reader of this blog. The people who support this theory allege that auction items which receive early bids are then suppressed in search and are only visible to the people who had already seen the item. eBay uses cookies to track all users, so in this case eBay would only let the people who had already seen the item view it. Furthermore, eBay knows by tracking cookies when the seller is searching, and the item receives the normal placement when the seller searches, so the seller is not aware of the suppression.

This idea sounds kind of crazy, but eBay auctions do not deliver the consistent results that they once did, so I'm willing to consider it. Of course, one could ask how the search suppression would benefit eBay, since prices could end up lower for certain items.

The search suppression would make for a few very happy buyers, and perhaps that is what eBay wants. Of course it still does not make sense, but consider that many of eBay's well documented crazy changes have made little sense. Therefore, logic can be thrown out the window. I don't think we need to have a reason.

I have been looking at closed auctions in the last few days and have been comparing ones that had bidding wars to ones that did not just to see whether there were early bids. I sold a lot of 40 Nancy Drew books with the double oval endpapers a couple of weeks ago for $250.99 due to a bidding war. I do think that price is a bit high. My lot had no early bidders, so my item would not have been affected by the search suppression theory.

I want to remind you of this auction mentioned in this post. It received an early bid which removed the Buy It Now. It closed too low. Was it suppressed?

A certain reseller buys around 100% of the lots that contain certain series books in dust jackets. He is very persistent and bids very aggressively. He missed one in the last few days, and the lot sold for less than what he would have paid. That lot had a very early bid.

On the other hand, I have found examples that appear to contradict the idea of search suppression. I will look further into this in the coming weeks. What I do know is that eBay does manipulate its search results for Best Match. What I do not know is whether the other sorts are manipulated.

Whether it was rolling blackouts or just a search glitch, at several times in the last few years I noticed search results that were very inconsistent. I detailed what I saw in this post. I was able to purchase some bargains due to items getting dropped from search.

Recently, I was running a Nancy Drew search. I refreshed repeatedly to see what the item count was. The item count went something like 835, 836, 835, 835, 836, 835, 835, 836, and 836. An item was disappearing and reappearing. Which item was it? I have no way of knowing.

On another occasion, I decided to try searches on different browsers. The exact same search returned 8282 items in Explorer, 8229 in Firefox, and 4124 in Google Chrome. This is worrisome. Hmm... something smells funny here. I think it is true that we are not all seeing the same items. The question is why?

I have been looking at completed listings lately. I have seen a few listings that I missed when they were active. I suppose I just missed them, but one of them would have stood out, and I would have placed a bid. I'm stymied as to how I missed it, unless it was an item dropped from my search results.

I am peeved that eBay manipulates searches but does not let us manipulate the searches to suit our own purposes. We know what we want, right? We are strictly limited in how many sellers we can block in our searches. In the media category, we have dozens of sellers listing multiple copies of the same ordinary books. How can we find anything?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Which Is More Common?

Is the Nancy Drew Format 12 book with Dana Girls endpapers...

more or less common than the Nancy Drew Format 12 book with orange silhouette endpapers?

Both are mentioned in Farah's Guide as variations of Format 12, which normally has blue silhouette endpapers. People make such a big deal about the Dana Girls endpapers that the Dana Girls endpapers seem more common.

What do you think?

Until I found this book, I had forgotten that Format 12 can have orange silhouette endpapers. Nobody ever mentions it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #38

37 Vintage Nancy Drew Book Set

Here is the seller's picture:

Question: Do the books have tweed or blue and orange hardcovers under the white spine dust jackets?

Answer: They are a blue "tweed" look.
This was an unnecessary question. Notice in the photo that the tops of the books can be seen. The ink on the top edge is dark blue. The books with orange silhouette endpapers have red ink on the top edge of the book.

I should mention that there is an extremely slight chance that a book with dark blue ink on the top page edges could have orange silhouette endpapers. A few such books are beginning to come to light, and I need to change my format page to mention that a few variations may exist.



This listing was for a lot of 62 Nancy Drew picture cover books.
Question: What year (years) are these Nancy Drew books?

Answer: All but approx 6 are 1959 to 1974. The other six have all capital letters in the title on the spine that I've read indicates that they were revised in the 70's. These books have copyright dates in the 1970's.
Yay! The information is getting out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Using the Copyright Date in Listings

I am going to give you guys something else to gnaw on today. Please read my previous post, although this one should have been posted first. I received a question about one of my books on Bonanzle. Someone was confused because I identified a picture cover of Haunted Showboat as being a "1957 PC" in the title of the listing. I do all of my listings that way. It was pointed out that I do not mention anywhere that the book is from 1972, even though that can be concluded by the information I give in the listing. Later, it was pointed out that buyers might think my book is from 1957 rather than a later printing, and it was suggested that I use the term "publication date" incorrectly.

I want to give my original response.
I make it a habit of sticking the copyright date in the title of my listings. In my blog, I have told people that they can tell whether a book has a 20 chapter text or a 25 chapter text by just looking at the copyright date. All books that have a copyright date of 1956 or earlier have 25 chapter texts. All books with a copyright date of 1957 or later have 20 chapter texts. That is where I am coming from.

Also, I have found that a lot of people use the copyright date when searching for books, which is why I like to use that date. I am aiming for any possible advantage I can get on Google.

I can see where it would be confusing or bothersome to others. Haunted Showboat was never revised, so all books have the 1957 text. I consider it to be too much trouble to try to make sure I put the actual year of printing in each listing. Sometimes books can list to a certain title but be printed in two different years.

Farah's Guide uses guesswork to figure out how old books are. It is not an exact science. With my luck, I would quickly identify a book as 1972, and it would be a 1973 book. I don't like having to get Farah's Guide out for every single listing in order to make certain I am right.

Anyway, that is my reasoning. I believe in using easy fast methods to glean certain information about books, and the copyright date is an easy way to tell how many chapters a book has.

You brought up a good point. Sometimes I have thought about not using the copyright date, but I think it is useful information, especially for people who have read my blog.

This ended up kind of long, and I may end up using it as a future post in my blog. I may even elaborate some.
And elaborate I will. I am a very self-reliant person. I like to figure things out for myself. Since I am self-reliant, I expect buyers to be self-reliant. Of course I'll help them when they have questions, but I provide the necessary information and they can take it as far as they want. If they want to go to Farah's Guide and get the exact Farah's Guide printing, I have given them the information to do so. If they don't care about the printing, I have given them the information to figure out about how old the book is.

As already stated, I find the copyright date to be a super easy way to determine whether the book has the original or revised text. 1956 is the key year. 1956 and earlier copyrights are for books with 25 chapter texts. After 1957 copyrights are books with 20 chapter texts. With this method, you don't need to worry about obscure little details or whether your seller knows that "XX" is 20 or that "XXV" is 25.

It is not my intent to deceive others about the age of the books. To me, it is common sense to include the copyright date in a listing and then give the information so that buyers can figure out the age of the book. I suppose I could solve the problem by changing future titles to "1957 text PC." However, I doubt that I will do so.

This is only the second time I have ever had someone take issue with what I have entered into the item specifics. The first and only other time it happened, someone told me something like, "Your book is not from 1935. Sorry!" If I had been someone who did not know what I was doing, that person's comment was not very helpful.

I do think most buyers are perfectly capable of figuring out for themselves how old a book is. I do not feel that I should have to spell everything out. This blog, my website, Jenn's website, my eBay guides, and other sources fully explain everything that is in Farah's Guide. The Farah's Guide number is meaningless without a Farah's Guide to explain it. It is better just to use the last title listed and let buyers draw their own conclusions.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Publication Date Debate

What does "publication date" or "date of publication" mean to you? To some people, it means the year that the book was printed. Usually this date can be found on the copyright page of the book.

The trouble with Grosset and Dunlap books is that the copyright page was seldom updated. What should be used? Do we use Farah's Guide for Nancy Drew books even though the dates given in Farah's Guide are not found in the book? Do we use the original copyright date as the date of publication?

To me, the "publication date" is more when the book was first published. This may not be correct, but that is how I see it.

I always use the copyright date in my listings as the "publication date" for the item specifics. I have been called out a few times on this in the past. I am currently discussing this with someone who disagrees with my use of that field. If a Nancy Drew book lists to Mirror Bay, then it was printed somewhere around 1972. We don't really know for sure, regardless of what Farah's Guide states.

The problem is that the Farah’s Guide “printings” are not actually print runs. For instance, there is no way that the first printing of Crossword Cipher according to Farah’s Guide was an entire print run. The book is too scarce. Typical print runs from the 1960s and 1970s had 10 to 15 thousand books in them. Farah has taken all of the differences he has found and made them different printings, when they are not from different original printings. A lot of his printings are actually printing anomalies and are subsets of actual printings. I am not against Farah’s Guide, but I have come to realize in recent years that his printings are not the actual printings. They are what he chose to call printings.

Should I identify the date of publication as 1972, even though that date is not in the book? What do you think? Is it misleading to place the original copyright date in that field? I do so because I have told people that the copyright date is an easy way to tell which text the book has. All Nancy Drew books with copyright dates of 1956 or earlier have the 25 chapter text. All Nancy Drew books with copyright dates of 1957 or later have the 20 chapter text.

I looked through some Nancy Drew listings. Pretty much everyone who does not own a Farah's Guide uses the copyright date. People who have a Farah's Guide use the Farah's Guide year. I guess I am the lone rebel who has a Farah's Guide but does not like to use it because I think it is too much trouble. Heh.

This should make for an interesting debate. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Crazy Deals for You

This one is funny. A seller has what appears to be an early picture cover printing of Nancy Drew Old Clock which has at least moderate wear. In short, it is a $5.00 book.

Collectible Nancy Drew #1 The Secret Of The Old Clock

The book is priced at $99.99 with the Best Offer option available. What really strikes me funny is the seller's user ID. I took a screen cap since the listing will not be available for viewing months from now; click on it so that you can read it.

Funny, yes?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dana Girls Stone Tiger First Printing

I upgraded a significant number of my Dana Girls books in a recent purchase. I was going through the books tonight, comparing my new ones to my old ones in order to decide which ones to keep. When I got to Stone Tiger, I noticed something that had never registered before.

The Dana Girls picture cover books from the 1960s are supposed to all have green ink on the top page edges. Both my old and new Stone Tiger books have dark blue ink on the top page edges. The ink is the identical shade used on the Nancy Drew books.

Both books list to Stone Tiger on the back cover. On the inside, both books list Nancy Drew to Moonstone Castle and Dana Girls to Stone Tiger. I presume that both books meet the points for the first printing.

I have had my old first printing of Stone Tiger for years, but I had never noticed the color of ink, at least not that I can recall. When I saw the color of ink on my new Stone Tiger tonight, I checked my old one, and both books have the blue ink. I know that I have had later printings of Stone Tiger in my possession in recent years, but I no longer have those books. It seems like I would have noticed if the ink were not green.

My assumption is that all first printing copies of Stone Tiger have blue ink on the top page edges. This is where you can help. I am curious as to whether I am right, but I have no books with which to compare. If you have a first printing of Stone Tiger, does it have blue ink on the top page edges?

If you have a later printing of Stone Tiger, does it have green ink on the top page edges? I want to clarify that I am only asking about the books that have the cover art pictured above. The white spine Dana Girls books from the 1970s have blue ink on the top page edges, and I am not asking about those books.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Buying Large Lots of Books

Purchasing a large lot of books is a great way to acquire scarce missing volumes to complete a set and at the same time get extras of other books that can be sold to reduce the overall cost. It is a great way to build a set and spend less than buying books separately.

I love buying large lots of books, but I am a low ball bidder. This means that I usually do not win the lots unless the books are rough condition reading copies. I am cautious, especially when the seller has provided poor photos and minimal information. I have been burned multiple times on such lots, so I know to look for clues that the books might be in worse condition than stated and never bid aggressively on those lots.

People lose their senses when large lots of books have dust jackets that appear to be in nice shape from a group photo taken from five or more feet away. They act like the books are perfect and bid accordingly.

I once bid aggressively on a complete set of Outdoor Girls books with dust jackets. I could tell that the books had some water damage from the photo, but I needed Desert Valley in a dust jacket, so I bid to win. I won the books, but I paid way too much because the water damage was quite extensive. I was able to dispose of the books I did not need at about cost, but it was not easy. I learned from that and a few other experiences to be very cautious.

Recently, a near complete set of Judy Bolton books was offered on eBay.

Vintage Judy Bolton "Margaret Sutton" Mystery Books (34)

Here is the seller's photo:

The lot closed at $384.89 and contained some valuable books. The lot was a good deal, provided that the scarcest books, #32, 33, 34, and 35 are in very good or better condition. I sincerely hope that the books are in very good or better condition for the buyer's sake.

I had concerns based on my past experience with the Outdoor Girls lot. In my opinion, this lot was not worth risking more than $150.00 to $200.00 on. Why? The books appear to have water damage.

The second book in the second row from the bottom has obvious water damage. I was also concerned about the appearance of #32 and #34, which are the fourth and sixth books in the bottom row. Why do the covers look so dark?

While the seller stated that the books were cared for and in good condition, several comments caught my eye. The seller stated, "The books smell musty from being stored all these years." That means that the books were stored in a moist environment.

The seller also made the comment that "Book 22 does not have a jacket cover and the cover (front and back) looks like it had some rain on it but the inside is still in good condition." Would just one book get rain on it or get wet? It is possible, but if the books all smell musty, there is likely some damage to the other books. I have bought lots in which some books were water damaged but others were fine, but usually multiple books were damaged. Also, the seller felt that the inside of the book was in good condition, but would we? I have observed that people who do not collect books tend not to notice flaws like wrinkled or stiff pages that have been exposed to water.

Finally, the seller remarked, "Book 35 has the cover (which I believe is 22) on the back of it that stuck and I didn't try to take it off." Covers get stuck when they are have been exposed to water. While the book is wet, the cover sticks and dries stuck in place. This is a bad sign.

Let me more plainly state what the seller meant. The front panel of the dust jacket of #22, which is the second book in the second row from the bottom, is stuck to the back cover of #35 Hidden Clue, one of the valuable books. It is unlikely that the dust jacket can be removed from the back cover of Hidden Clue without damage, so Hidden Clue is not in very good condition.

With all of these clues, I concluded that quite a few of the books were likely water damaged. I hate books that have water damage. I can imagine that these books probably have that nasty gritty dirt-like stuff on the covers that is usually mildew that comes off when the books are handled. Yuck. I always quickly dispose of books that have that horrid stuff on them unless I need the books for my collection. Even at that, I upgrade the books as soon as possible and get rid of them. By "get rid of," I mean sell cheaply with the damage made plain in the description.

I hope my thoughts give others an idea of what to look for when supposedly very nice lots of expensive books are put up for sale. Always be on the lookout for possible water damage in the photos and description.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What I've Learned in the Last Year

My experiences during the last year while selling on Bonanzle have really opened my eyes as to which books are in the most demand. I have discovered that much of what I once believed is not necessarily true.

This is what I have learned that I did not already know:
  1. Cheap reading copies sell much faster than more expensive collectible books. That is, reading copies are easier to sell, so long as they are priced to sell. Many sellers place high prices on reading copies, so those books never sell.

  2. Volume one in a series is in great demand. I find it very hard to keep the first volume of most series in stock than later volumes. This is even true for the Nancy Drew series, even though the first book has been printed more than any other.

  3. The softcover Trixie Belden books from the 1980s are in much higher demand than the older hardcover editions. I thought the hardcover editions were more desirable, but this is not the trend I have seen in the last year. Buyers are willing to pay higher prices for the low-numbered Trixie Belden softcover books than they are for the older hardcover editions of the same titles.

  4. It is much easier to sell any matte Nancy Drew picture cover edition that is priced for around $5.00 than it is to sell the very desirable printings such as the first picture cover editions that are priced higher.

  5. The Nancy Drew matte picture cover books from the 1970s seem to be in great demand.

  6. The Nancy Drew books in dust jackets have become a bit difficult to sell.

  7. The Donna Parker books are easy to sell.

  8. People will readily buy books that are in poor condition, so long as the books are priced accordingly.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Clues to Collecting #7

Question: Regarding the $1 boxes, are the books you have listed in your poll the only ones that were printed with it? I've been wondering about that. Also, were all of the books that were printed with the $1 box, also printed with the blackened box (I'm assuming indicating their second printing)?

Just #1-6, 37, and 38 were printed with the $1 boxes. All of those books also were printed with the blackened box, which is the second picture cover printing.

Question: I have gone through your main web site looking for information on a 1970 reprint by Grosset and Dunlap in which the Nancy Drew books were combined in pairs and printed with a grey pictorial cover. Each copy has two of the original Nancy Drew books in it. I have been all over the Internet and finally I found some of them on Abe's books, but they don't provide any information. Are these a rare printing or unusual? Is that why I can't find them mentioned with all the other printings of Nancy Drew? I have 19 of these books. Would there have been more in the collection?

Those books are known as the "twin thriller" editions. They are a book club edition from the 1970s. I don't have a page on them, but here is one from another site:

Twin Thriller Editions

 There are 27 books in the set of the smaller sized ones. There is a smaller set of 8 books in which the books are slightly taller and thicker.

 The books are harder to find than the regular editions, but they are not that scarce.
Question: Speaking of your booth, when I've receive PC books from you, I've noticed they always have a nice sheen on the covers that really adds to their beauty. Do you use something special to clean them? The matte covers can get dull, and I've tried gently cleaning them various ways, but I don't ever get that nice sheen. Is there a secret to this or are they just better books?

I do not clean books before I sell them. A small number of the books that I have sold had price stickers that I removed with lighter fluid, but I have done nothing to the vast majority of them. To answer in short, the books are in better condition.

Now, I will give the long answer. I have noticed that some of the print runs are shinier than others, so some of the matte Nancy Drew books are "dull matte" while others are "glossy matte."

The books that were not shiny when first printed tend to get dirty easily while the books that have a shinier finish repel the dirt better. Some of the early 1960s Nancy Drew picture covers are very shiny while most of them are just a little shiny. Some of the 1970s PCs are very dull while others are shiny to varying degrees.

Some people say that they clean their picture covers with Windex, but I would never use liquid on one of the dull matte books. I find that liquid of any type gets absorbed very easily by those books and causes some removal of the color on the cover.

The only safe liquid to use on paper or dull matte books is lighter fluid, but it can even stain paper in isolated instances. Some people say that Goo Gone works on PCs, but I find that Goo Gone is kind of greasy and leaves a residue unless the surface is shiny. I never use it on books.

Sometimes dull matte books can be partially cleaned by using a soft eraser, like the kind that artists use. Soft erasers crumble easily and do not wear away at paper as much as regular erasers, like the ones on pencils. Sometimes PCs can be buffed and made shinier by rubbing with a soft cloth, so this can be tried to see if it helps.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Clues to Collecting #6

Question: Since this post was about some differences that occur in Nancy Drew PC's, I thought this would be a good place to ask my question. I've noticed that many 1962 first printings of the ND PC books seem to have good quality covers that are shinier than later matte covers and stay cleaner. Also, the colors are very intense. These books are really beautiful!

However, I do have some first printing PC's from 1962 that are VERY dull and dark looking. Even though they are in excellent condition as far as wear and tear goes, and they appear to be clean, the cover is not as smooth as the shinier ones, it has a rough feel to it, it is dull, and kind of foxed (I guess) throughout, so that all the colors appear darker and subdued. There usually are some brown spots but not many, just a general "browning" on these covers. The inside pages are fine. The color difference on the spine is amazing. The shinier covers are still bright yellow, while the dull covers are yellowish-brown. They aren't faded from being exposed to too much sunlight, they are "browned".

Is there any explanation for the difference since they are all first printings from 1962? I have two Ringmaster's Secret books, and they both have the same dull covers.

I know that different materials were used for some of the printings from the early 1960s. As far as I know, the same bindery in Kingsport, Tennessee was used for all of the 1960s Nancy Drew books. They must have had different suppliers for the boards, etc., and some of the suppliers had poor quality materials.

The $1 box edition PCs tend to have the bad materials. They tend to have really heavy wear and discoloration because the materials used were shoddy.

The book club edition PCs (the ones that have the blank yellow back covers and are stated book club editions on the title pages) are almost always found in horrible shape. I don't even like the book club edition PCs very much because of how horrible they usually look. They tend to be foxed, have stains all over the covers, and have heavy wear to the edges of the boards.

I don't have a definite answer, but different materials were used to build the books, and certain printings are the ones that got the materials that were of poor quality.

Question: Have you ever seen a Nancy Drew picture cover book with red ink on the top of the pages instead of blue? In a lot that I bought recently, I received a copy of Bungalow (latest cover art) like this. It lists to Cookbook and Double Jinx on the back, so it must be a 70's printing. No internal lists. This was a first for me and I haven't been able to find any reference to this abnormality anywhere. I wonder if it's "RARE"? ;)

I think it is just volumes 1, 2, and 3 that had the red ink on the top page edges for perhaps one printing in the 1970s. There are some special boxed sets from the 1970s that have a purple Halloween-type design one them, and I think the books came from those boxed sets. Here are some pictures from the Nancy Drew Sleuth website:

Boxed Set

Another Boxed Set

I own a copy of the second boxed set, and the books have the red ink on the top page edges. This is why I think the books with the red ink originally came from these boxed sets. I have once or twice found one of the books mixed in with regular editions like you did.

Since the books probably had just one printing, they are definitely scarce. People do collect them. I don't think the books alone are worth much more than an ordinary copy, unless they are still with the original boxed set. The boxed sets have sometimes sold for $50 or more each. It is possible to get a bargain for one of the boxed sets by searching carefully.

Now if you were going to sell them on eBay, you would say that they are "extremely, unbelievably RARE" and "never before seen by anyone." ;)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why Didn't It Close Higher?

I mentioned my luck at being the first person to notice four Nancy Drew books with blank endpapers each offered at a Buy It Now price of $300 in this post. I bought two of the books, which were the best two in my opinion, including a book that had the first printing dust jacket of Lilac Inn. Someone else bought the third book. The fourth book had the Buy It Now deactivated by a bid.

Nancy Drew Old Clock Auction

The auction closed at only $56.00, which is quite a steal for the person who bought it. The buyer is a reseller who will no doubt have the book back up for sale within the next couple of months. It's too bad that more people who needed the book did not bother to bid. It probably would not have mattered, since I am quite confident that the winning bidder had a maximum bid of at least $200 to $250.

Why did the book close at such a low price?
  1. The auction's title did not mention how early of a printing the book is.

  2. The fixed-price listings are now mixed in with the auction results by default. Many buyers may not be removing the fixed-price listings from the results and may have missed noticing this book in eBay's horribly cluttered search results.

  3. The dust jacket is in two pieces and does not look very good in the photo. The jacket will look much better in a mylar cover.

  4. Many prospective buyers may not have bid because they thought that the book would be certain to sell for a high price. It is always worth trying.

  5. Those of us who seek the Nancy Drew books with blank endpapers are not wanting a seventh or eighth printing of Old Clock. It is the first three printings that have dust jackets that list to Bungalow Mystery or Lilac Inn that are of the most interest.
I want to elaborate on my last point. Unquestionably, this book has value, but the amount of value is far less than the first few printings. Here are the values of the blank endpapers printings of Old Clock according to Farah's Guide.

1st $10,000 or more for DJ/$1,000 book (jacket lists to Bungalow Mystery)

2nd $1,500 DJ/$400 book (notice the sharp drop in value from the first to the second printing)

3rd $1,500 DJ/$250 book (the 2nd and 3rd printing jackets both list to Lilac Inn so they have the same value)

4th $750 DJ/$250 book (this jacket lists to Shadow Ranch and shows another steep drop in value from the third printing)

5th $750 DJ/$200 book (jacket lists to Shadow Ranch)

6th $600 DJ/$200 book (jacket lists to Shadow Ranch)

7th $400 DJ/$200 book (jacket lists to Red Gate Farm)

8th $400 DJ/$150 book (jacket lists to Red Gate Farm)

9th $400 DJ/$150 book (jacket lists to Red Gate Farm)

The book offered in this auction appears to be the 7th printing, the 1931B-7 printing. Consider that the dust jacket is valued at $400 in very good condition, and the dust jacket is not in very good condition. It is worth less than $400.

Many people are under the mistaken impression that all of the blank endpapers editions are equally scare and of equal value. While all of the blank endpaper books with jackets are scarce, the ones that list to Bungalow Mystery or Lilac Inn are significantly more scarce than the ones that list to Shadow Ranch, Red Gate Farm, and Clue in the Diary. The 1931 and 1932 printings were probably larger than the 1930 printings. The 1931 and 1932 books, while scarce, are much easier to find than the 1930 books.

Now consider the value of the first three printings. Those are the printings that are brutally hard to find and that we want more than anything. The first printing dust jacket of Old Clock that lists to Bungalow Mystery on the front flap is extremely scarce, so scarce that fewer than ten surviving examples are known to exist. Most of us will never own one.

If I cannot have a dust jacket of Old Clock that lists to Bungalow Mystery, then what is the next best one to own? Why, the second printing of course! This is the second printing dust jacket of Old Clock.

Since I have the second printing dust jacket, I had little interest in one that lists to Red Gate Farm, which is why I did not buy Old Clock at $300.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Clues to Collecting #5

Question: Because of a surgery recovery (needed lots of easy reading to fill lots of extra time!), I started to re-read titles in both series... and when I began going thru some of the Danas, I discovered that unlike with ND (for which I enjoy BOTH the early 25-chapter versions & the later 20-chapters, both are fun for diff. reasons) with the Dana stories, I'm finding I really don't enjoy the later 20-chapter stories very much. But I adore those older Dana books... there's just something about the earlier style and the types of stories... (perhaps I just prefer M.Wirt Benson's style.)

 Anyway, what I'm trying to figure out is if any of the #1-13 (or 1-24) DGs were revised from 25 chapters down to the shorter 20 chapters, like NDs were. Sure, like you said in this blog posting, it's easy to understand which NDs are 20-chapter versions (I grasped this fully by reading your webpages and also, the NDsleuth pages). But I'm not seeing the same info about DGs; so it's making me wonder if perhaps they never did "revise and shorten" the DGs? Did those early stories stay the same throughout the first two printing runs?

I think the reason I'm confused is this: my copy of Winking Ruby has only 20 chapters, but it's #19, written in 1957. My copy of #17 Ghost in Gallery has 25 chapters, but it lists to Bamboo Bird. Do you know when they started revising and shortening the DGs? Did they just start doing that with one of the titles (like, with Winking Ruby?), and then NOT go back and revise the earlier #'s? If this is the case, I just won't bother filling-in my collection with anything past #19.

Thanks again so much, your series book knowledge is amazing and so helpful! :D :D

Dana Girls #1-16 were never revised down from 25 chapters, so each book only has the original text in all printings. These sixteen books all still had the original text in the beige spine picture cover format, and all of them went out of print and never made it to the white spine format, which is where some revisions occurred.

#18 and up only had 20 chapters in the first place, so those titles were not revised, except a couple of titles that made it to the white spine picture cover version had very slight revisions like just a sentence or paragraph in the beginning of the book. The order of the titles changed in the white spine format, and this caused them to have to correct minor inconsistencies like when the Danas returned from various travels.

#17 is the only volume that was revised down from 25 chapters to 20 chapters. The revised version appears in the white spine format.

You don't have to worry about making sure you have the original text for #1-16 in the original set, since all of those books have the original text. The higher-numbered titles with the 20 chapters are generally not as good as the lower-numbered titles, just like in the Nancy Drew series. Lettie Briggs and Ina Mason disappeared from the Dana Girls series in the later books. Not only that, the Danas travel all the time and hardly ever attend school in those books. The series is quite different in the later titles.