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.


beautifulshell said...

I think "priced accordingly" is the big key here. I've turned down buying books in stores (and online, obviously) because I have a price limit in my mind, regardless of whether a seller thinks that accurately reflects the market. I imagine a lot of other people do, too, especially for less collectible books.

Jennifer White said...

Pricing is definitely part of it. Reading copies need to be priced reasonably, or buyers will not purchase them. Many sellers do not seem to understand that some books should be priced lower.

Regarding pricing, I do not believe that all of my dust-jacketed books are priced outrageously high (I will acknowledge that some might be too high), and I cannot account for why they seem to be so undesirable. People coming to my booth do not want the dust-jacketed books, in general. Why is that? Is it that they simply want books that are priced for under $10.00?

I check eBay prices for closed auctions, and some dust-jacketed books are selling for double my prices or even higher. Are all of the buyers of dust-jacketed books only searching on eBay?

Jennifer White said...

Also, the dust-jacketed books that I price low because the jackets are in rough shape sell fast. The nice jackets priced sometimes only slightly higher do not sell. People do not want the more collectible copies. It's odd.

beautifulshell said...

I love the more collectible books, but I'm an unemployed student, so I can really only afford reading copies or really good deals on nicer books. Once I get back to working I might be more interested in the higher priced books....maybe the economy (or school, or other situations) are keeping other people away from those books?

As for eBay, I really think the auction format is a big reason. When a book starts lower, it's easy to forget that the price can pass equivalent prices elsewhere. The competitive aspect of auctions can get in the way of rational price evaluation.

Jennifer White said...

You are right about the auctions. I have seen some very competitive bidding for books recently, and the prices have gone higher than what the books are worth. In the case of one seller's auctions, the seller is shilling the auctions, and the buyers have no idea. They are so caught up in the competitive bidding that they are being victimized when the seller comes along and bids them up.

The economy probably is part of the reason for more collectible books not selling. Yet, some of the same books sell high on eBay. I think there is a certain group of buyers who do not ever look outside eBay, and they may think some of these books are more scarce than what they actually are.

rachel said...

OT but has anyone else read Kristie at college/Quarry Ghost by Mildred Wirt B? I started reading it today and havn't been able to put it down, its great, should have been made into its own series don't you think?

Jennifer White said...

I have read Quarry Ghost. I consider it Mildred Wirt Benson's finest work. If you click on the tag "Mildred Wirt Benson" in this blog, you can scroll down and find a couple of posts about the book. There could be something in the posts that may be slightly spoilerish, so you may want to wait until you've finished reading the book. I'm not really sure that the one certain thing mentioned will tip you off about anything, but whenever I am reading a really good story, I do not want any spoilers. It is a very good book.

Paula said...


Your finding on reading copies is interesting to me. What do you consider a reasonable price for a reading copy of a Nancy Drew picture cover book? What exactly makes a book a reading copy in your opinion?

I have a little trouble with this, as sometimes I find a book that is in good condition as far as wear and tear, but it has a flaw that makes it undesirable from a collecting perspective, IMO anyway. For example, a book with several text pages with torn-off corners, or a book where the blue ink has run down into the endpapers (not due to printing process).

In selling, I price this kind of book lower than a book in VG condition without major flaws, but should it be priced as a reading copy in your opinion? Or conversely, should it be priced higher, the same as VG condition (based on wear and tear), with the flaw duly noted in the description? As you can see, I have trouble with this, and I'm all over the map at times! It's pretty clear when a book has heavy wear and tear that it's a reading copy, but I wonder what other flaws would make it one to most collectors?

Jennifer White said...

I'll try to give you an idea. Most books that I consider reading copies are priced at around $5.00 or less depending upon what it is. Most people try to get a lot for Whitman books, but Whitman books typically have split hinges and are not worth much. This is why I have been able to sell quite a few of them easily.

The Nancy Drew books are worth more, but I tend to price PCs at $5.00 or less if the books have flaws like split hinges or a lot of wear.

Here is one book that looks pretty nice in the picture, but I think the flaws downgrade it enough that it should not be priced higher.

Nancy Drew Fire Dragon

The interior list page has been removed from the book, and I think that is a significant flaw.

Price is a struggle for me, as well. I mostly go with my gut feeling based on what I have seen over the years. Since I can't convey everything that goes through my mind, I would suggest looking through the completed listings on Bonanzle to see what has sold and at what prices. Check out the flaws in those books, and that should give you an idea of what the market will accept.

Jennifer White said...

The most important rule that I use is that I consider what I would be willing to pay if I were going to buy the book. This rule does not apply to all books that I sell, however. I have to price the Applewood editions higher than what I personally would be willing to pay since the buyers value them much higher than I do.

Paula said...

Thanks for the feedback and your comments, Jennifer! They are very helpful to me as a new seller!