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.


stratomiker said...

One thing that's happening a lot in reaction to all this craziness is that savvy sellers and buyers are taking their transactions offsite to avoid high fees, even accepting checks and money orders to avoid the Paypal fees.

It's sort of like, 'we'll hook up on eBay and do business offsite.'

I know this has gone on before, but now it's standard.

Another strange thing - I got one of those copyright infringement notices for a CD I listed using the item specifics. All I listed was the artist name and the item name, the rest came from the programmed synopsis and reviews. They deleted the ietm and I was advised to check with the property rights owner via email. I wasn't that interested to bother. Odd that they objected when the info wasn't mine.

I think eBay is just getting way too whacky and probably doesn't even know where it's headed.

On the other hand, Bonanzle, to me, is like a stagnant swamp. Nothing moves. Nothing happens. I think you have the benefit of your girls book site and your blog, a following.


Jennifer White said...

The realization that an alternate low feedback ID on eBay can bring me sales is a big breakthrough. I may never sell again on a my primary ID, which is sad. I am probably going to list several large lots of books on eBay shortly so that I can begin to clear out the massive number of extras that I currently have.

On the other hand, Bonanzle, to me, is like a stagnant swamp. Nothing moves. Nothing happens. I think you have the benefit of your girls book site and your blog, a following.

Even for me, it was a stagnant swamp during the first half of last year. It took me quite awhile to finally get people to buy from me regularly. That is the reason why I have way too many extras now, and I need to try to reduce them some (see above).

Most people who have under 50 items on Bonanzle are likely seeing no sales. As I mentioned in a recent post, the people who are actually getting a few sales on Bonanzle have at least a couple hundred books available. It appears that most other sellers are getting no sales at all.

If a few of these people who are still trying so hard to sell all of their books on eBay would also list all several hundred books of their books on Bonanzle, the venue would begin to grow faster. I guess they are waiting for it to be successful. I am thankful that I acted when I did, because I now have a following on Bonanzle. It takes a lot of time to build a following.

Brandi said...

Jennifer! I'm so excited! I'm way off subject of this post, but I think I have a 'mule'! While posting a few books to my new Bonanzle booth, I noticed something strange. I have a Clue in the Old Album that has all caps in the title on the spine, the new cover art and lists to Invisible Intruder on the back. But when I opened the book, imagine my surprise to find blue end papers and 25 titles! Do I have a 'mule'???

Paula said...

Brandi, If you are talking about the second cover art - Nancy looking into the gypsy camp from the left, books with this cover are more common with the 1947 text than with the revised text. Based on the Picture Cover Art Gallery on Jennifer's website, there is only one printing of Old Album with that art and revised text. I've been searching for a copy of that particular Old Album for over a year and haven't found one yet, so maybe the revised text version is actually a mule!

My version of Farah's Guide - 10th edition - doesn't show *any* revised text printings with 2nd cover art. Now that this is has come up, I wonder if Jennifer or someone with a 12th edition of Farah's could double check this.


Brandi said...

Aww man! I thought when I saw the capital letters that I had something! Darn. Thank you though, Paula!

stratomiker said...

In Farah's 12th there is one PC printing listed of the revised text of Old Album with the second cover art. It's a 1977B printing.

It waa 'discovered' recently, so obviously it's a 'mule'; the back board is the same as the next printing with the new art (instead of being like the back of the previous printing), but the front board is the older art. That's odd. Somehow an old front board got hooked on a new back board.

It's valued at $15 but I suspect it's very rare and worth more.


Paula said...

Thanks, Mike! It must be rare, or at least very scarce, as I have been looking for it for a long time and began to wonder recently if it really existed! It really appears HTF to me!

Jennifer White said...

These variations that had just one "printing" according to Farah's Guide are often very hard to find. I don't think I have that particular one, but my books are a bit disorganized at the moment.

Even though Brandi's book is already known to exist, it is still special. I know I have seen a few of the Jewel Box final cover art books with the original text, and they are like Old Album in that they are an odd combination. I like finding those types of odd combinations.

On the subject of this post, I checked the bidder's locations for my lot. Two people were from Michigan, one from Ohio, and one from California. I find it odd that two people were from Michigan. This information makes me wonder whether the rolling blackout theory could be possible.

stratomiker said...

Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, friends of mine from the Cleveland and northern Ohio area would meet Mildred Wirt in Toledo and take her out to lunch at her favorite restaurant. There were many book stores on the way and in the area, so we'd incorporate bookhunting into the adventure. Frogtown Books, which was pretty well-knowm, was very close to Millie's house, a few blocks away, and it was terrific store, always something rare and unusual.

Sometimes Farah would come down from Ann Arbor where he was a college student, and join us. At times we'd go back up there, stay the night, then spend the next day on a wild caravan bookhunt across southern Michigan from Detroit (lots of book stores) west to Grand Rapids and back. We'd do hundreds of miles in a day. David was a real mover. We were lucky to get a couple bathroom breaks.

At this time he was not listing the picture cover books and didn't seem to care much about them, but I liked them and would buy all the early ones, and this is when we found some of the odd ones.

Like I've said before, there still are many books not listed in the guides. Some are mules and other variations, some oddball formats unlike the others. One of these days when I can make headway to them in my two storage attics I'll start featuring them on my blog. There is always that rumor about the maroon Crumbling Wall from 1945. Or is it just a rumor?


Brandi said...

After I finally completed reading this blog from beginning to end, it spurred my interest and I started looking at the return addresses from where I got my most scarce books and I did notice a pattern. Most of these books are from the northeast (CT, NJ, PA and NY) and also California. Some are from Ohio. I find it interesting, Mike, that you say that general area is where you would do some book hunting as well. I would think that because of these findings, that there would be some of those books here in WV. I can tell you, I have visited every used book store in the capital area and some surrounding areas and do you know, I haven't found a darn thing! I have found a few scatterd very old and battered Nancy PCs and some Hardy Boys PCs, but other then that, not a darn thing. When I ask about some authors, people look at me like I'm crazy and direct me to Janette Oke. I thank them and leave. It frustrates me because I think that surely there has to be something hiding around here. While we were part of VA to begin with, we were still one of the earliest settled areas. I would think there would be a diamond in the rough. My dear friend just moved to the Pittsburg area so I am planning a trip to visit and book hunt there. I also plan to travel to and look in the Lewisburg, WV (very close to the Virginia line) area and Parkersburg (close to the Ohio border) soon because I am convinced that somewhere around here there is a hidden gem. To sum it up, you inspired me, after I had given up, to keep looking in the area. I'm convinced that some day, some where I am going to find what I'm looking for!

Brandi said...

Also, Mike, can you tell a bit more about the maroon Crumbling Wall? I am new to the scene, and I don't know about it. While Nancy is one of my favorites, she's not my main concern. So it's not what I have looked at so much. I'm just curious...

stratomiker said...

Bookhunting in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s was totally different from the way it is today. There were scads and scads of the books in all the used book stores, thrift stores, and antique malls, and they were all cheap. Then along came the Internet and the book sites and eBay, and suddenly everyone who had books in the attic and a computer in the house was a dealer - so the books didn't get sent to the book stores any longer. It totally changed everything.

Now it is very hard to find books in stores or at antique shows or malls or flea markets, and if you do they are usually high-priced because that's how they are online.

I also used to buy huge collections through ads in the local newspapers and national antique publications. I'd go to people's houses or they'd send the books by mail. I bookhunted all over Ohio, Michigan, PA, NY, and Ontario, where I used to spend a lot of time up North. Toronto was a great book town. There were a couple stores on the east end near the beaches that literally had hundreds of great books and only at a couple dollars each.

Farah used to call his get-togethers Farah-Cons, and some collectors would come from as far as California. We'd stay in Ann Arbor near the University of Michigan (which I think he attended for about ten years, getting several degrees - doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, etc.). One day we put on over 400 miles just in the Detroit area, and accumulated several carloads of books. There used to be many used book stores with lots of good stuff, and there were always collectors' houses to stop at, people who had books for sale. One time we ended up in Flint, where David's mother lived and where his collection was nicely displayed in a lovely recreation room-library. She had prepared wonderful refreshments for all, but he hustled us out of there too, as he always had one more place to go to.

I miss bookhunting, as I seldom do it anymore. The stuff just isn't out there.You are probably better off going to antique malls than book stores today. I knew several collectors who would do very well in West Virginia, and in the little towns in Ohio along the border. Try to go to the bigger flea markets in nearby towns and the antique malls. There are always directories you can pick up that list all such facilities in the areas.

The maroon Crumbling Wall is pretty much a faux-Drew that has been speculated about and joked about for years. In 1945 there was a maroon printing of the Hardy Boys book THE SHORT-WAVE MYSTERY. It was a third printing of that title and very hard to find. The boards and endpapers were maroon instead of the normal colors of brown and orange, probably because it was printed along with that particular batch of Lone Ranger books by mistake, which had the maroon binding. Thus, we used to look for a maroon Crumbling Wall, which would be the corresponding Drew from 1945, hoping that one had been made and would show up.

A library worker in Toronto made a couple mock-up copies that looked absolutely real, and the silhouette endpapers looked great in maroon!


Jennifer White said...

You are probably better off going to antique malls than book stores today.

This is true, with the exception of Half-Price Books. After being ignored for years, we finally have one in Oklahoma City, and I am finding a few decent books there that are not priced too high.

The other book stores are worthless, since they sell their books online and think they should get online prices for all books. What they fail to understand is that most fixed-price books are overpriced online, and few people want to pay those prices.

The antique malls are great, since a few books are once again showing up there, and the dealers are less likely to overprice them.

Brandi said...

Thank you for the information, Mike!