Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Be Careful of High-Priced Listings

People who are new to collecting are easily deceived by sellers who overstate the condition and rarity of their books. If you are new to collecting, be wary of all sellers until you figure out the true value and scarcity of the books. Yes, you should even be wary of me until you figure out what the books are really worth.

In this post, I gave examples of how inflated the prices are for Beverly Gray at the World's Fair. The prices are inflated because the sellers all copy each other's insane prices.

Many sellers on eBay and Bonanzle quote the high fixed-price listings as evidence of how valuable certain books are. Some of these sellers mistakenly believe that the prices are indicative of the value of the books. Remember that anyone can price a book at any amount. Never use a fixed-price listing from Amazon, the Advanced Book Exchange, Alibris, or anywhere else to justify the price of a book.

It does not matter if a book is unavailable at a low price. Beverly Gray at the World's Fair is unavailable for under $332.45. However, Beverly Gray at the World's Fair does not bring a price of $332.45 without a jacket; yet, the fixed-price listings are all at or above that amount. The sellers have copied each other's prices.

I personally avoid all listings in which the seller quotes a high-priced fixed-price listing as proof of a book's value. Most of the sellers probably do not know any better, but some of the sellers are deliberately misleading their buyers. If you are new to collecting, be careful. Just because someone wants $200 to $300 for a book does not mean that it is worth that much. Even if the $200 to $300 book is the only one up for sale, the book may still not be worth that much.

Buyers can be easily swayed into believing that because there are no inexpensive copies available that the books must be worth that much. Do you know why there are no inexpensive copies? They have sold. Duh. The expensive ones remain untouched. There is only so much that the market will bear. Even if only one copy is available, most people are not so desperate as to pay three to four times the true value. Most buyers realize that additional copies will surface in the future.

Consider this: If a book is worth the price a seller has set, exactly why do some sellers feel the need to justify their prices by quoting the fixed-price listings on Amazon, ABE, and elsewhere? I also put the people who quote the Farah's Guide values into this same category. The Farah's Guide values are not indicative of the current value of Nancy Drew books. Some of the values are far higher than the current market while others are far lower.

When a seller has a book up with a $50 Buy It Now and quotes Farah's Guide has having a value of $250, do you really believe the book is worth $250? If so, then the book should be priced at $250, right? At the very least, the book should be priced somewhere near $250.

Recently, someone was selling a blank endpapers edition Nancy Drew book on eBay. The book was in rough shape, and the seller had the book priced at well under $100. Near the end of the description, the seller stated that the book was purchased for $200 and that he or she was taken advantage of by the seller.

Of course I immediately thought of one specific seller who is particularly guilty of asking far too much for the blank endpapers editions. So, I had this suspicion... I clicked on this person's feedback and then looked at the feedback received as a buyer. I did not have to look very far before finding feedback left by the seller who grossly over-exaggerates the condition and rarity of books. While I cannot be sure that that particular seller is the guilty one, I strongly suspect that I am right.

Buyers who are new to collecting can be easily misled, but they do figure out the true value of the books eventually. I am thankful that I was always cautious in the early days of my collecting. Sure, I have gotten involved in bidding wars and paid too much at times, but for the most part, I have cautiously avoided overpriced books.


Paula said...

Talk about overpriced books - you won't believe this one! Ebay link: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=330418715359&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

It's a horrible condition Nancy Drew picture cover, Scarlet Slipper, from the 70's or 80's, worth nothing, and the seller is claiming the book is worth $249, and is asking $99 plus $4.00 S&H. The description states the book is "VERY RARE" and "THERE ARE HARDLY ANY SURVIVING COPIES OF THIS BOOK LEFT, MOST OF THEM HAVE BEEN DESTROYED OVER THE YEARS".
The same book, same timeframe, better condition, is currently being offered by eight other sellers on ebay alone, with the normal price range of 99 cents to $7.99.

Jennifer said...

That one is amazing. Where did the seller get the idea that only a few copies have survived? Just a simple search would show that many other copies are available.

Lauren said...

It's a freaking ex-library book!

Also, what's up with the sticker on the front, is that the price this person paid at a garage sale (I'm reading it as $1.45.) Or is it the seller's method of numbering their items? Because he's downgrading the value of an already crappy copy by putting stickers on it. (I HATE it when bookstores put price stickers on the covers!)

I normally don't like to interfere with other people's auctions but I'm dying to email this guy. I won't, but I'd love to know what he's thinking.

beautifulshell said...

so this is random again, but since i'm trolling ruth fielding auctions these days, i found another format that goes later than your page:


it includes 'at the war front' (14) in the 2nd format DJ. i'm not planning to bid, but just fyi. :)