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.


Lenora said...

Oops, I meant to respond to your last post and got sidetracked. Anyway:

In my experience a fair number of buyers are pretty inexperienced and incapable of figuring out the printing year of a book on their own. I don't have a Farah's guide, but will figure out the APPROXIMATE printing year based on the info that I have available. I usually try to indicate that this is only an estimate, (this dates the book to roughly/c. 1956, that sort of thing). I include the copyright in the bulleted section at the beginning of the listing, as well as if this is the original or revised text when applicable, but I'll always list the printing year as my best guess--and I'll leave it blank if it's missing the dj, and I really can't tell. In those cases, I'll usually give a date range in the listing itself.

In the past, I tried to simply list the information directly stated on the book, but I wound up getting questions about the age of the book. In those cases, I would be very specific in my responses, hoping that that person would know in the future ("as stated, the back lists to x, the the front and back flaps list to y and z, so it's roughly from 19xx, you can find publication dates at . . . "). In my opinion, the sort of buyer who knows enough to figure it out will understand what I did, while the one who does doesn't care if I'm off by a year in my estimate. It's tedious, but I find that it's helpful in attracting buyers. I also think that these very uninformed buyers could genuinely take the copyright date as the printing date--just like all those inexperienced eBay sellers--and I try to avoid that sort of thing, even if it's not your fault that they should be more informed about their purchases.

I hate all of it, though. I have a ton of books I need to list now and haven't, just because it's so tedious and time-consuming. I figure that if my listing is up against someone else's, though, they may pick mine because it directly states something they're not sure of, while they'd have to wait on a response from someone else. The convenience/impulse factor on Internet purchases is a powerful thing.

stratomiker said...

I never get much comment about copyright/printing dates, only about the whole 'edition/printin' thing because most new buyers are so ignorant on that point.

I always use the copyright date for date of publication, because that IS the date the story was 'published' (not 'printed'). Then I'll say it's a tweed book from the 1950s or a PC from the early 1960s or mid-1970s - whatever. If I'm in the mood for looking it up in a guide, or happen to know the exact year of last title listed. I'll use it. But not always. And doing that is not always exact, so I think it's better just to estimate - and easier.

I like to enjoy handling books, buying and selling. I don't like when it gets too complicated and/or too job-like.

And it's not our responsibility to educate new buyers. Most of us give away a lot of information as it is, way more than most 'professional' booksellers do. I know that we are all really nice to new buyers and very helpful. Any of them who complain or cause trouble are just expecting far too much from a casual sales transaction.


Jennifer White said...

I don't get that many comments about printings or copyright dates either, which is why I have not worried about it too much.

I have gotten many questions and comments about the glossy illustrations and which books contain the original text. I once had a buyer purchase one of the higher-numbered purple Dana Girls books from me, and she was disappointed because the book did not have a glossy illustration. She did not realize that not all of the purple Dana Girls books have glossy illustrations.

Likewise, I have had many buyers ask how many glossy illustrations Nancy Drew #14 and up have. They do not realize that only #1-13 had the four glossy illustrations.

I once had someone ask me how many chapters a first printing copy of Nancy Drew #49 had. That buyer did not realize that #35 and up only have 20 chapters.

I have been asked many times about how many chapters tweed copies of ND #35-38 have. They only have 20 chapters, but many buyers think all tweed books came with 25 chapters.

So, I now am quite specific about thick books and how many/what type illustrations they have. For Haunted Bridge, I state that it has a glossy frontispiece and no additional illustrations so that buyers will not ask.

For tweed copies of #35-38, I usually state that those books never had 25 chapter texts so that buyers will not ask.

I should give which decade at least for my Nancy Drew books. I'll try to do so for future listings, but there is no guarantee that I will. As others just stated, I don't like it when listing books takes up too much time. I try to do it quickly but efficiently while listing the information that I have had people ask about in the past.

stratomiker said...

I always list if the book has the original or revised text and how many chapters (a couple original Hardys have 23!). That way there's no question about that.

Interesting that no one used to care about that until a few years ago when younger people who originally had the 70s books started collecting. Then we had to discern between the original and revised and the newer ones.

Prior to that, 70s books were throwaways to most collectors and sales people. I never threw them away and have lots of them and it's amusing that they are now in demand. Makes me wonder if the flashlight books will ever be hot items!


Jennifer White said...

The books from the 1970s have definitely gone up in value.

I may have mentioned it before, but when I went to the book sale at the private school, I passed on all of the flashlight editions except for the two sets with the bookmarks. There were dozens of flashlight editions, and they were all grabbed within the next five minutes after I made my selection. I think the person who took them was a book dealer. He obviously saw value in them. I think it is possible that eventually people will collect the flashlight editions.

Lenora said...

I assume the flashlight editions will eventually become desirable. While there are a fair amount of straight-up collectors, a lot of purchasers are just people looking for a nostalgic reading copy. As the readers of the flashlight editions age, I expect they'll become interested in purchasing those books again. I know at least one person asking me about the age of books was specifically looking for books from the mid-sixties, when she first read them.

I'm probably one of the first of these flashlight people. Even though I prefer the matte (and had some as a child, from used book stores), I can't bring myself to get rid of my glossy flashlight editions, that I remember reading as a kid during storms, with my parents' address still written in the front. For now, that's one area I'm willing to have duplicates.

Paula said...

As someone else mentioned, I also state the copyright date and number of chapters as a bullet point upfront in the description. Also, there is an item attribute for "Printing Year" so I use that rather than "Publication Date". I think this is simple, clear way to get across the information, without complicating the matter with editions and publication dates that can confuse. Personally, I don't like to put any year in the title. Even though I have a Farah's Guide (an older version), I don't like to use Farah's number, but I will state if it is a first or second printing, according to Farah's, of this particular text, cover art, or format if I think it matters.

What *I* have trouble with are those books numbered 35 and up that always had 20 chapters. What do you call the text for those books? Since I say the 25 chapter books are "original" text, and the 20 chapter versions of these same stories are "revised" text, I don't know what to call the other books without being confusing. They are "original" text books in that they were first written this way, but they can also be considered "revised" text books as they were written with 20 chapters, with the same general guidelines as the truly revised stories, and they are more like the "revised" stories. But I think both of these terms are confusing when used for the books that never were revised. Currently, I'm sorry to admit I'm calling them "unrevised" text -yuck! - that really stinks! What was I thinking? Is there any shorthand way to describe these texts to someone who is concerned with "original" vs. "revised" texts?

Jennifer White said...

I have used variations of what you have mentioned at times in the past. This is what I did in a recent listing of Fire Dragon in the tweed format, which is when buyers think all of the books come in both versions:


Nancy Drew Mystery Stories
#38 The Mystery of the Fire Dragon
By Carolyn Keene
Published by Grosset and Dunlap
20 Chapters

#35 and up never had 25 chapter texts. These books were always printed with 20 chapter texts.

Most recently, I have avoided calling them either text. Maybe someone else will chime in with their opinion.

I have seen some people call them "original text," but that is confusing to new collectors. Interestingly enough, the same person who criticized me uses "original text" for the 20 chapter books, and I think that is confusing to the average uninformed buyer, not that I am going to tell that person. It is none of my business. This is why people should never contact other people and try to tell them how to do things. The recipient of the unwanted advice can then go tit-for-tat with them, which they would not appreciate.

Jennifer White said...

I am putting this here, since it is not enough for a new post. I am reading a message thread on the eBay Booksellers board. In this message thread, I came across this quote.

I put it in third place for incomprehensibility, after the Nancy Drew and Tauchnitz bibliographies.

This was from a book seller. People do not understand Farah's Guide unless they own a bunch of different Nancy Drew books and have really thought about it.

The guide is great, but the average buyer is not going to understand what the printings mean. Unless the book is a special printing or first printing, I do not use the Farah's Guide printing information.