Monday, May 31, 2010

Books for Sale on eBay

Since eBay has been running a promotion in which sellers can list up to 100 items for free in auctions over the holiday weekend, I decided to remove a bunch of books from my Bonanzle booth and place on eBay. I have been frustrated that my number of extra books has continued to increase because people are not buying the vast majority of the books.

I sell Dana Girls PCs and Beverly Gray books very quickly, for instance, but I have been unable to get people to buy my Outdoor Girls books with dust jackets. I have had those books since around October 2008, and I recall trying to sell them on eBay several times before I opened my Bonanzle booth out of desperation because people were not buying my books on eBay. I truly believe that eBay has placed a curse on my primary ID. Those of us who have been on the site since near the beginning are absolutely not wanted, at least not as sellers.

I put my Outdoor Girls books on eBay along with some other books that I have had for far too long. I used my secondary low feedback ID that has no DSRs, since it seems to get the exposure that my primary ID no longer gets.

Books for sale on eBay

My sales on Bonanzle are good, but some books, like the Outdoor Girls books, simply will not sell, and I would like to move them out.

I should be able to sell enough books that I can look for odd bidding patterns. I noticed an odd bidding pattern with the first lot I sold on this ID. Two of the bidders on the lot were from Michigan. It will be interesting to see whether any similar patterns occur on these lots.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Billie Bradley and the School Mystery

Goodness! Was it in October that I last read a Billie Bradley book? I took a detour into the Twilight Saga, Percy Jackson, and the Secrets of Nicholas Flamel books, so that is why it took me so long to pick up the next Billie Bradley book. Not only that, but I was thoroughly bored with the last Billie Bradley book that I read.

I just read Billie Bradley and the School Mystery and completed it in just over 24 hours. I liked it a lot and enjoyed it much more than the previous title. In this book, Billie befriends a new girl from Oklahoma, Edina Tooker, whose rough and tumble ways hardly endear her to the sophisticated girls at Three Towers Hall. The girls openly laugh at Edina's clothes. Billie vows to make over Edina, with or without her friends' help. Since Billie's friends proclaim their reluctance, it appears that Billie will perform her task without their help.

As is typical of Syndicate books that feature characters from the Wild West, Edina speaks with an exaggerated dialect. I noticed an inconsistency in it that I have also noticed in other Syndicate books.

On page 19, Edina yells, "Hold fast! Never give up the ship. I'll git up to that there shelf if it takes a leg!" On page 21, just moments later, Edina states, "I can't get you down there all by myself." First, Edina says git and then she says get. Consistency, people! A character speaking in an authentic dialect does not randomly switch between two pronunciations of the same word!

On a side note, we don't all speak like that in Oklahoma. I have no doubt that I have a strong accent, but I say get. Generally speaking, those of us who live in the greater Oklahoma City and Tulsa metropolitan areas are less likely to say git, warsh, and squarsh than people who live in the rest of the state. The accents tend to be stronger in the more rural areas.

To go back to the book, this one is set entirely at Three Towers Hall. The storyline centers around Edina's makeover, mean girls, and suspicion of Edina for theft. Billie's friends turn against Billie for a time, and I felt like I was reading of the conflict between Nancy, Bess, and George from the Nancy Drew book The Sign of the Twisted Candles.

The antics of Billie and her friends constantly remind me of the Beverly Gray series. The mean schoolgirl theme reminds me of the Dana Girls' conflict with Lettie Briggs and Ina Mason. Ina Mason is called Lettie's toady in the Dana Girls series just as Eliza Dilks is called Amanda Peabody's toady in the Billie Bradley series.

I felt like I was revisiting several familiar series as I read this book, and that is a good thing. The Stratemeyer Syndicate books that preceded the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls series paved the way for those series and are well worth reading.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

eBay's Unequal Treatment of Old and New User IDs

I had two lots of books from March that did not sell, one of which was a lot of 37 Nancy Drew books. My original price back in March was $49.99, and I lowered the price multiple times with no takers. I had low item views each time that I relisted the lot.

On the final relist on my primary user ID, I used "sell similar" instead of the relist feature. People have observed that items often do better when "sell similar" is used. The item is penalized in search when it is relisted by using "relist," since eBay thinks that anything that did not sell the first time is undesirable.

In spite of doing the relist in a different fashion, I still had very low views. I had edited the title of the lot shortly into the auction, and I believe that eBay made it invisible after the title was edited. The item went 24 hours with absolutely no item views. In the final 24 hours, the lot was only viewed a couple of times.

So, nobody wanted to click on a lot of 37 Nancy Drew books for $14.99? Odd. I believe that eBay did suppress my listing, but I cannot prove it. I was able to find it in search, but that does not mean that most others could. The search suppression conspiracy theory does sound crazy, but I'm just about on board with it.

A persistent rumor for months has been that eBay treats older and new user IDs differently and that eBay allegedly favors newer seller IDs over older ones. Of course, this theory makes as little sense as everything we know that eBay has done, but I have really begun to wonder about it. For the last year, since I quit selling most of my items on eBay, all of my items have had a very low number of views.

I listed my lot yet again (at this point I was rather annoyed about my difficulty in getting rid of these books), this time using a secondary ID created around 1 1/2 years ago for exactly this type of situation. Would my results be different? Does eBay treat newer IDs better in order to gain their loyalty?

What I can report is that the lot listed on my secondary ID had four times more views than the previous one listed on my primary ID. This may not mean anything, since neither had that many views overall. Nancy Drew lots used to have hundreds of views several years ago, but the final relist on my primary ID had only around 10 views. The listing on my secondary ID had around 40 views, which is an improvement.

The listing on my secondary ID sold for $55.59, which is higher than what I originally wanted for the books back in March. I have seen this type of pattern many times over the years, and it may just be the regular ebb and flow of buyers to eBay... but what if eBay did suppress the listings on my primary ID?

It is worth noting that I have no DSRs on my secondary ID. The lot that I just sold is the very first item I have sold on this ID. I believe that eBay cuts sellers a break when they have no DSRs. Ponder this intriguing idea and consider what you have gained for your eBay loyalty.

With my success at selling this lot of books on my secondary ID, I quickly listed two more lots on the same ID, and rather enthusiastically, at that. Why not? Both lots gained bids fairly quickly. One lot had 62 views shortly before it closed, and the other lot had 29 views. Both lots were viewed more times than most items I have listed in recent months. If I list anything else on eBay in the next week or so, I will use my secondary ID.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Latest Book Finds

I visited several antique shops and a book store on Saturday. This is what I found:

I bought a tweed Cherry Ames, a tweed Nancy Drew, Nancy Drew #17 PC, Nancy Drew #34 PC, Nancy Drew #39 1st printing, Nancy Drew #54 1st printing, Nancy Drew #55 1st printing, Nancy Drew #56 2nd printing, Jerry Todd Caveman, a Kay Tracey book, a Connie Blair book, a Black Stallion book with a very nice dust jacket, and the Hardy Boys Detective Handbook in dust jacket.

In one store, I saw a complete set of Nancy Drew books in the matte editions. I cherry-picked the ones that are worth more, such as #55 and #56, and left the rest. In several stores, the Nancy Drew books were offered by multiple booths. I saw plenty of books that were priced too high for me to resell, but many of those books were priced okay for someone wanting the books for a collection. It is nice to see that the books seem to be returning to local stores.

I am now regularly checking shops that I formerly visited only occasionally. In recent years, I would usually find nothing. I am now able to find books on a regular basis. I have suspected for a while that the current trend is away from the internet and eBay and towards selling books in stores. I am not quite ready to proclaim my suspicion as fact, but my findings seem to support it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dana Girls Picture Cover Editions

I recently wrote of a Dana Girls picture cover with blue ink on the top edge of the text block. The Dana Girls picture covers normally have green ink on the top of the text block. The book was a probable first printing of The Mystery of the Stone Tiger.

I just found another Dana Girls picture cover with blue ink on the top edge of the text block.

The ink is partially faded, but it is definitely blue instead of green. This book is an early picture cover printing. It lists to Sierra Gold on the back cover and lists Nancy Drew to Moonstone Castle and Dana Girls to Lost Lake on the inside.

I am curious as to whether anyone else has any Dana Girls picture covers with blue ink on the top page edges. Since we do not have a Dana Girls guide, we have far less knowledge of these types of variations than we do for the Nancy Drew series.

The same rules that apply to the Nancy Drew series also apply to the other Grosset and Dunlap series, and people who collect and sell series books tend to overlook that fact. I often see collectors classify Dana Girls picture covers that list to Stone Tiger on the back cover as first picture cover editions. Unless the book is Stone Tiger, then one listing to Stone Tiger is not a first PC.

The Sierra Gold Mystery was the last Dana Girls book printed with a dust jacket, just as The Mystery of the Fire Dragon was the last Nancy Drew book printed with a dust jacket. For Nancy Drew, Fire Dragon is the last title listed on the back cover for first picture cover editions. For the Dana Girls, Sierra Gold is the last title listed on the back cover for first picture cover editions.

Furthermore, when Nancy Drew first picture cover editions have an interior list, the last title listed is usually The Clue of the Dancing Puppet, which is the first Nancy Drew book that never had a dust jacket. Some Nancy Drew first PCs list only to Fire Dragon on the inside. Nancy Drew picture covers that list to Moonstone Castle on the inside are not first PCs.

Likewise, the first Dana Girls picture covers list Nancy Drew to Dancing Puppet. I do not know whether any Dana Girls picture covers list only to Fire Dragon; the ones that I have all list to Dancing Puppet. The Dana Girls PCs that list to Moonstone Castle are early PCs. With this in mind, the listings in Farah's Guide can help collectors figure out the characteristics of the first PCs of the Dana Girls series without having to have a detailed Dana Girls guide.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fixed-Price Listings and Auctions

Just as price guides can drive the prices of collectibles, fixed-priced listings can influence the outcome of auctions. Not only that, but I find that I often end up selling a book right after someone loses an auction for the same book on eBay. I have to wonder what would have happened in the eBay auction had I not had one up for sale.

Recently, a dust-jacketed copy of The Outdoor Girls in the Air in the original Grosset and Dunlap edition sold in an eBay auction. The book closed at $67.89, which is remarkably close to the price of my book, $64.99, which has been up for sale on Bonanzle for many months. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

The under bidder of the eBay auction promptly came to my Bonanzle booth and purchased my book at $64.99. That person apparently set his high bid with my book in mind, so my book potentially kept the price of the eBay auction down. This is smart bidding, since many people bid huge amounts without checking to see whether other copies are available.

How would the eBay auction have fared if I had not had one up for sale?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Popularity of Different Series

I haven't shared site stats in a very long time. Here are screen caps of the Google Analytics data for my website for the top 57 most-visited URLs on my website from early 2008 to the present.

#1 is the main page of the Nancy Drew section. #2 and #47 are the main page of the site. The Sweet Valley High page is #3. Trixie Belden is #4. Notice the steep drop in visitors between Sweet Valley High and Trixie Belden. By far, the most popular vintage series represented on my site is Nancy Drew, which is no surprise. The Nancy Drew section is more heavily visited than even the main page of the site.

The stats give a good idea of the popularity of the vintage series with respect to each other. Going by the number of visits, we have:

1. Nancy Drew
2. Trixie Belden
3. Dana Girls
4. Judy Bolton
5. Beverly Gray
6. Kay Tracey
7. Vicki Barr
8. Outdoor Girls
9. Sara Gay
10. Moving Picture Girls
11. Connie Blair
12. Penny Parker
13. Shirley Flight
14. Ruth Fielding
15. Betty Gordon
16. Blythe Girls
17. Sally Baxter

I noticed right off that Cherry Ames is missing. I realized that I must not have had the tracking code on the Cherry Ames page, so I fixed that problem.

I am encouraged by how high the Outdoor Girls is on the list since I love that series, but its placement is likely because the generic name probably causes it to show up in many unrelated Google searches. The Moving Picture Girls and Sara Gay are also a bit high, and this is most likely due to unrelated searches as well. Anything with the word "gay" in it pulls in a lot of people who are not looking for a vintage series book website. In fact, I checked, and many people who visit the Sara Gay page are looking for a "gay model" or for "gay modeling."

With those thoughts in mind, the stats do provide some useful information about how popular certain series are with respect to each other, but the information is flawed due to circumstances out of my control. The one obvious conclusion is that Nancy Drew is by far the most popular series. There can be no mistake about that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Nancy Drew Fire Dragon $1 Box PC Update

Back in January, I reported of a Fire Dragon $1 box edition that lists to Dancing Puppet on the inside instead of to Fire Dragon. Lian has also reported finding one, so we know of at least two examples. From what David Farah told me, it sounds like this one will make it into a future updated edition of his guide.

What this means is that we can no longer assume that all $1 box editions of Fire Dragon that surface are in fact first PCs. You need to ask the sellers what the Fire Dragon $1 box books list to on the inside, if that information is not given.

Over a year ago, I poked fun at all of the listings that claim that the $1 box Fire Dragon is RARE. I find extras of the Fire Dragon $1 box PC far more often than the other titles; in fact, I found one in just the last few weeks. If some of the $1 box Fire Dragon PCs list to Fire Dragon and others list to Dancing Puppet, that sheds light on why Fire Dragon seems to show up more often than the other $1 box PCs.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Misuse of Priority Mail Supplies

I wish people would quit using priority mail supplies for media mail packages.

The priority mail markings were partially visible along one side of the box, which made it that much easier for USPS to notice the problem.

I debated about contacting the seller, which is what I normally do. In this case, I decided not to worry about the extra $8.22 that I had to pay to receive the package. This was one of those transactions in which the seller bungled the description and got significantly less than the books are worth. The seller charged only $4.00 media mail postage, obviously not aware that eBay allows sellers to use the calculator to charge more than that amount. The seller paid $7.08 to ship the books media mail, taking a loss on postage.

Since the seller undercharged me in the first place, I really only had to pay $5.14 more than the seller's postage cost. This is still too much, but as I stated, the books sold for well below value. I decided not to worry about it.

On the same day that I received this package, I received two other packages. One of the other packages had brown paper wrapped around a priority mail box. That one made it through without getting noticed. If that package had been inspected, I would have had to have paid approximately $9.50 to receive it. So, two out of the three packages received on this particular date had priority supplies misused for media mail.

I received one or two packages during the previous week in which sellers used priority supplies for media mail. It seems to be more common than it once was. I guess these sellers do not realize that they can buy boxes from in bulk for under $1.00 each when purchasing quantities as low as 25 boxes.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Nancy Drew First PC That Isn't

Many of the picture cover Nancy Drew books have just one printing that lists to Fire Dragon on the back cover, so all copies that surface that list to Fire Dragon for those particular titles must be first picture cover editions. This is the case for #18, The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion.

The first picture cover printing of #18 lists to Fire Dragon on the back cover and to Dancing Puppet on the inside. The second printing cover printing lists to Whistling Bagpipes on the back cover and to Dancing Puppet on the inside.

I had what I thought was a first picture cover printing of the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion. I had identified it as the first PC based on the back cover list, since only one printing lists to Fire Dragon on the back cover.

I put the book up for sale, giving the interior list information. As I listed the book, I failed to register the fact that the interior list for this book goes to 99 Steps and Dana Girls to Silver Dolphin.

A prospective buyer pointed out the discrepancy, which I thought was a mistake on my part. I was chagrined to discover that the book does list to 99 Steps and Silver Dolphin on the inside, and I did not even notice the problem. The book is supposed to list only to Dancing Puppet and Sierra Gold, yet mine lists all the way to 99 Steps. This is another odd one that does not fit. The outside of the book appears to be from 1962 while the inside appears to be from 1966 to 1970. I'm keeping this book for now, since it interests me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Outdoor Girls Series Values

After the recent auction for The Outdoor Girls in Desert Valley in dust jacket closed at $204.39, I was asked whether that price was a bit high. Since I have a dust-jacketed copy of #22 The Outdoor Girls in the Air up for sale on Bonanzle at around $65.00, it was felt that #23 would not be worth much more, perhaps around $100. This was my response.
I think the closing price of that auction was a bit low. #23 is extremely scarce and seldom comes up for sale, with or without a dust jacket. If I did not already own that book with a jacket, I probably would have bid at least $350 to get it.

#22 is also very scarce in the original Grosset and Dunlap edition, although not as scarce as #23. What keeps the value of #22 down is that it was reprinted by Whitman during the 1940s, and the Whitman copies are not that hard to find. People have a cheap alternative to #22, so it is not necessary to pay much for it. There are very few surviving copies of #23.

There are no price guides for series books other than Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Rick Brant. John Axe’s books give an approximation for several other series as well, but there are no other guides.

I have been collecting long enough that I have a very good idea of what the books are really worth, so I go by my past experiences when pricing my books.

I believe I sold an Outdoor Girls #23 with a rough dust jacket for around $150 to $200 a couple of years ago. I had to upgrade twice before I had that book with a nice dust jacket. It took several years to finally get one that was to my liking.
After I sent that response, I found another Desert Valley without a dust jacket that sold for $28.99, so I sent this response:
Check out this auction that I just found:

It included Desert Valley, and it should have sold for at least $50 to $75, maybe more. Most of the value is in the dust jacket, which is why the other auction at over $200 went so high.

Click on the bidding history of this second auction. Look at how many times the high bidder bid. That person was desperate to win the auction and may have bid a huge amount.
It is very hard to know how much certain books are worth without years of watching the sold prices of books. Most of the Outdoor Girls books are worth no more than $10 provided that they do not have dust jackets. In fact, #23 is the only one that is worth more than $10 without a dust jacket.

With dust jackets, the average Outdoor Girls book is worth $15 to $50, and this depends upon the condition of the dust jacket. The duotone and plain dust jackets are harder to find than the color jackets, so their value will be a little higher.

It also depends upon how many people are searching for the books at a given time. Most people do not collect the Outdoor Girls books (which is a shame because the series is one of my very favorites), so the books can be had for fairly cheap prices. The consistent exception is Desert Valley, which is so scarce that not enough copies are available for the people who do collect the Outdoor Girls books.