Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nancy Drew DJ and Dana Girls PC Prices

In the current market, Nancy Drew books with dust jackets seem to be mostly unwanted, while Dana Girls books in the beige spine picture covers are greatly in demand.

For the most part, I can no longer sell Nancy Drew books with dust jackets. People do not seem to want them. One could conclude that the people who want the dust jackets are not shopping on Bonanzle, but I lowered my prices when I relisted some on eBay. Those books did not sell, and some of them were below cost.

The books and dust jackets were not in perfect shape, but several years ago, I could have priced those same books at $15 to $20 and sold them easily. I had tweed copies of #1, 12, 14, 20, 21, and 29 with dust jackets and priced each at $6.99 each. None of them sold. A few years ago, people buying to resell would have purchased them for around $10 each and then marked the prices up. Times have changed.

I do not want to reset the listings for Bonanzle, so I may place those particular books in one lot and see if I can get a taker. I also wonder whether I should place many of my dust-jacketed books in lots to move them out, since I now have way too many. I hate doing that, since I do not feel that the books are worthless. Some people are still buying the dust-jacketed books at higher prices, so I do not wish to give away what I have. I just wish I could sell at least some of the dust-jacketed books to cut down on my extras.

Nancy Drew in the original text picture cover editions sell for around $5-$10 each unless the picture cover is a special or first printing. In those cases, the picture covers can sell for $15 and higher, although I have noticed that many people seem to prefer the cheaper copies rather than the first PCs.

I used to think that the Dana Girls beige spine picture covers have approximately the same value, with the exception of the high-numbered ones. I have concluded based on my sales on Bonanzle that the Dana Girls beige spine picture covers tend to be worth more than the original text Nancy Drew picture covers.

It is worth viewing the completed listings for Dana Girls books on Bonanzle, sorted by highest price first. While #27-30 are the hardest to find volumes, they are the hardest to sell when the prices are marked accordingly. I suspect that many buyers are content with the much cheaper white spine counterparts of those volumes, which keeps the demand down somewhat.

I have noticed that the prices of #1-26 in the beige spine picture covers are often priced low by many sellers. I began by pricing them low and sold them extremely fast. As I found more, I gradually marked the prices up since I concluded that the books had to be worth more than I thought. The books continued to sell fast even as my prices gradually increased.

The following comments do not apply to books with heavy wear or books that have noticeable flaws like a tape scar on the cover or a split binding. Books with those flaws are always worth less.

I have this lingering idea that the low-numbered volumes should be worth a little less than the mid-range volumes, but I may be wrong. I first priced these books at around $5, but I have now raised my prices to around $10. If the book meets the points for the first PC printing (#23 on back cover, ND to #39 and DG to #23 on inside), then I price it slightly higher, unless the condition is rough.

#7 to maybe around #11 are probably worth around $15 each. #12 to around #21 are definitely worth at least $20 each. Some of #12 to #21 may be worth more than $20 each. Some volumes are much harder to find than others, and #12 seems to be one of them. #23 to #27 are worth $20-$25 each. #28 and #29 are worth $40 to $70, roughly. #30 is worth around $100, and possibly a little more.

Collectors have known for years that the higher-numbered volumes are scarcer, but it is apparent that many people have trouble finding the middle volumes. The values mentioned here are based on what I have successfully sold so far, and some of the middle volumes may be worth more than what I have quoted.

I have observed that eBay auctions no longer yield actual values for the majority of books sold. Often, the Dana Girls picture cover editions sell on eBay for under $10 in the auctions, and that is why many people price them so low in their listings. The sellers who successfully get the higher prices have used the fixed-price listings in which buyers have more time to notice the books.

The completed listings search on eBay is mostly useless now, and I encourage sellers of series books to utilize other methods in order to fairly price their books. For series books, Bonanzle's completed items search will help greatly since it has many months of completed listings.

Sellers always need to watch pricing trends. Some books that were once high in demand are not currently of interest, and many once-coveted books are no longer worth very much at all. Sellers must be willing to adjust their prices up and down based on the current trends, even when the trends are down.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Courageous Wings by Mildred A. Wirt

Courageous Wings was written by Mildred A. Wirt and published by Penn in 1937.  It was later reprinted by Books, Inc.  The Books, Inc. edition is not too difficult to find and can be found fairly inexpensively.   Books, Inc. published the book in a hardcover edition with dust jacket and a glossy picture cover edition.

The story begins from the perspectives of Jim Sherman, a young pilot, and Shorty Dawes, his mechanic. The two men are approached by another man, Marcus Reman, who asks the men to fly him to Martin Bowman's estate at Pinetop. The weather conditions are poor, and the men refuse, despite Reman's offer of five hundred dollars. Consider how much money $500 was in 1937. Reman must be up to something!

Reman obtains the services of another pilot. In the meantime, a young woman, Cleo Bowman, approaches Sherman and Dawes and wonders whether there is a way that she can get to Pinetop that night. She refuses to state why, but explains that her father has a great deal to lose if she fails to make the trip.

Jim Sherman offers to take Cleo to Pinetop (for free, of course), even though he just refused to fly due to the weather. After a very harrowing flight in which the plane nearly crashes, the young people arrive at Pinetop. They find Reman and his pilot already there. Reman produces a letter written by Mr. Bowman that summoned Reman to Pinetop immediately. Cleo notes that the signature does not look like her father's, but Reman insists that the signature is genuine.

Cleo confesses in private to Jim and Shorty that her father's company is in danger of failing due to much bad luck in recent months. An incident occurs which makes it apparent that Reman is up to no good. Around this time, the perspective switches to Cleo, and the rest of the story is told from Cleo's point of view. The remainder of the book centers around Cleo's attempts to help Mr. Bowman get out of financial debt. Jim and Shorty lend their assistance.

It is a bit odd that the story begins from the young men's point of view and later switches to Cleo. At the beginning, I thought that Jim Sherman was the main character and did not realize until a few chapters later that it was Cleo Bowman.

This is a typical good story by Mildred Wirt Benson and is worth reading.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

An Unexpected Book Find

A new Half Price Books opened a few days ago, and I checked it out today. I did not find anything there, but I was impressed with how the management makes a store that has been open only three days look just like a store that has been in business for many months. The store had the full range of books and even had books in the clearance section. The clearance section amused me since the store just opened.

I then visited a thrift store where I found another ceramic Christmas tree. Next, I checked out a used book store that I visit occasionally. Much to my surprise, I discovered that the owner was liquidating his inventory. Every book in the store was $1.00! Of course many books had already sold, but many books remained.

I felt like I was at a library book sale except that I did not have to hurry. I pulled out the books that interested me the most, and then I thought about how far I wanted to go. I probably spent around 20 minutes looking over the children's books, and this is what I bought.

I probably have some duds in the bunch, but I tried to take what I thought would be of some interest to somebody. I will be keeping a few of the books. Most of the books will be sold, and many of them will be sold in lots. It's always fun coming home with a big stack of books.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Carolina Castle by Mildred A. Wirt

Carolina Castle was written by Mildred A. Wirt and was published by the Penn Publishing Company in 1936. It is a stand-alone novel and is quite scarce.

In Carolina Castle, Joan Carling spends the summer with her school friend, Evelyn Brandleton, near Charleston, South Carolina. The girls' ages are not given, but since Evelyn's brother Benny drives, I assume that the young people are not very young. Perhaps the young people are supposed to be around 17 or 18, but somehow, they seem a little younger to me, so I place their ages at around 14 to 15.

As the story opens, Evelyn frets because her brother, Benny, has gone off in his car, forgetting that he was to take the girls to Charleston that day. The situation is made worse because of the rain, since the girls cannot go outside.

After the rain clears, Evelyn decides to take Joan to Castle Hill where the girls explore the ruins of an old plantation that was burned down during the Revolutionary War. The girls discover an old passageway hidden in the ruins. They have no candles, so they are unable to explore the ruins that day. They cover the opening and decide to tell Benny nothing about their discovery.

Of course Benny immediately suspects that the girls are hiding something from him. Unknown to them, Benny explores the ruins. Soon, the three young people exchange stories and explore the passageway together. They discover an old buried chest that contains a diary.

The diary was written by a young woman during the Revolutionary War. It tells the story of her family's harrowing experiences during that time. The young people decide to try to discover the fate of the young woman who wrote the diary.

This book is an excellent read. Unfortunately, Carolina Castle is very hard to find. It has been reprinted in recent years, but those copies seldom come up for sale and tend to be expensive.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Linda by Mildred A. Wirt

Linda was published in 1940 by Cupples and Leon. It was written by Mildred A. Wirt and is one of her most obscure books. It seldom comes up for sale with an original dust jacket. Most examples that surface are offered by collectors and have reproduction dust jackets. I recall seeing examples with original dust jackets selling for possibly $500 to $600 years ago.

I advise against reading the dust jacket's synopsis unless you are fine with the entire plot of the book being spoiled before you read it. I have found the dust jacket synopsis online in a listing for a book that is up for sale, so also be cautious about any synopsis that appears in a seller's listing. My objection is to one specific piece of information that is mentioned in the synopsis. While I still greatly enjoyed the book, I would have preferred not to have had that part of the plot spoiled before reading the book. I cannot understand why the Cupples and Leon company did this with some of its books.

I will now give a setup of the basic premise, and needless to say, I will not mention how the book ends.

Linda Calvert is a spoiled 18-year-old girl who lives with her 57-year-old father, Jim Calvert. Linda's mother has been dead for three years. Mr. Calvert runs a successful golf course that he built on an old farm. The Calverts live in the renovated farmhouse.

Mr. Calvert worries that Linda has developed bad habits, including laziness, during the last few years. He does not approve of Barney Durbin, who is Linda's favorite golfing companion. Linda does not understand why Mr. Calvert disapproves of Barney, who is lazy and self-centered.

As an aside, the caddy who figures prominently into the subplot of the book is a boy named Sammy. The caddy in the Nancy Drew book, The Haunted Bridge, is also named Sammy. Coincidence? Perhaps, but I kind of doubt it. Mildred Wirt Benson wrote both books, and why not put in a sly nod to Nancy Drew?

To go back to this book, Mr. Calvert has decided to send Linda away for the summer to Iowa to live with Aunt Rachel, Doctor Cameron, and their teenage children, Faye and Clyde. Linda temporarily postpones her banishment to Iowa when she manipulates her father into letting her stay by cleaning the house properly, staying away from Barney, and cooking dinner correctly.

Soon, Linda makes her father a promise she fails to keep, and Linda is sent to Iowa. Linda thinks that all she needs to do is impress the other young people, and they will flock after her. Linda little understands that the others see her as a hopeless snob and has no idea why they avoid her. During Linda's time in Iowa, she is put through a number of hardships that begin to shape her character.

I did not like Linda during the first few chapters, but that is to be expected since she is portrayed as shallow and selfish. As the book progresses, the reader begins to care about Linda.

This book is comparable to Mildred Wirt Benson's other standalone titles, which are all good. The difference with this book is that it is not a mystery, but that does not take away from the excellent story presented.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Buyer Confusion on Nancy Drew #39

Nancy Drew #1 Secret Old Clock Tweed Original Text DJ

I was asked, "What is the publication date?" This type of question bothers me since I can never be certain what the buyer means.

My response follows.
You can tell how old a Nancy Drew book is by looking at the last title listed on the dust jacket and inside the book, which is information I always provide in the description. This book has a dust jacket that lists to Witch Tree Symbol, and Witch Tree Symbol was published in 1955, so the jacket is from 1955. The book lists to Velvet Mask, and Velvet Mask was published in 1953, so the book was printed in 1953. The book and jacket are slightly mismatched, which happens sometimes. Follow the links on my eBay About Me page for more information about telling how old a Nancy Drew book is. Most sellers do not provide the information you need, so buyers have to educate themselves. I hope this helps.
I was then asked, "Thank you, I appreciate your information. But on the title page of the book, isn't there a publication date?"

I gave this response.
The vast majority of Grosset and Dunlap books bear only the original copyright date, which appears on the copyright page. Grosset and Dunlap never printed a date on the title page. I have several thousand Grosset and Dunlap books in my possession, and none of them have dates on the title page.

Grosset and Dunlap books do not have publication dates stated anywhere in the book, except for a few oddball printings from the early 1970s and most all printings from 1985 to the present day. Those books are the only ones in which one can refer to a date printed inside the book as a reference to the age of the book.

For all other cases, we must rely on the last title listed on the dust jacket list or on an interior list that is not on the copyright page.

For the very few Grosset and Dunlap books that have printing dates stated, those dates are always on the copyright page, which is the reverse side of the title page. However, as I stated, only a few scattered books have a stated printing date.

Grosset and Dunlap was a company that printed in such a way to keep costs down, so they changed the list of titles in the series ad rather than anything else about the book. They would have to have changed the printing plates, thereby raising costs, in order to change any stated publication dates. As a result, Grosset and Dunlap avoided that practice except for in a few oddball printings.

You probably should look at my Nancy Drew guide which is on my other user ID. In that guide, I explain about how the copyright pages were not updated.

Let me know if you have any additional questions.
Immediately after sending the second response, I had a hunch that I may have missed the point of the question and checked my listing. I sent another response.
Perhaps I have confused you because I did not explicitly state in the listing "copyright 1930." I stated that the book has the "original 1930 text with 25 chapters." The book is copyrighted 1930 on the copyright page, and all copies of this title printed from 1930 through 1959 have the 1930 copyright date. The copyright date was not changed until the 1959 revised text was published. Since this book has the 1930 copyright date, it has the 1930 original text. Since the jacket lists to a 1955 title, the jacket was printed in 1955. Since the book lists to a 1953 title, the book was printed in 1953.
I did not receive another response, so I have no idea what the buyer needed and whether I answered the question. I am left feeling frustrated. As almost always happens with these types of questions, the buyer did not buy the book.

Out of curiosity, I checked the buyer's bidding history, and this person bought two revised text picture covers of #2 and #3 on the same day that I was questioned. I hope that the buyer got what she wanted, since I don't have a clue.

I also am left with the nagging feeling that no matter how I present my listings, a certain percentage of buyers will still not understand. For that reason, I will continue to do what I do and not worry about it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Why Isn't My Favorite Series Listed?

I sometimes come upon a message thread somewhere on in the internet in which my site is mentioned. Invariably, one or more participants are dismayed and sometimes offended that their favorite series is not listed on my site, and they wonder why.

The answer is quite simple: My site represents what I collect and was never intended to be a complete list of all juvenile series books. I created it to supplement what was already out there, and in particular, I wanted to cover some favorite series that sadly had been ignored by others.

It was on July 31 that I encountered the most recent example of a mention of my site.

eBay Bookseller's Board

Of course it was immediately mentioned that I don't have the Betsy-Tacy series listed.

What caught my eye is that someone mentioned my site being on Metafilter, which was an unknown site to me. I then figured out that my site had a staggering number of hits on July 30, due to the mention on Metafilter. In fact, the main page of my site had 1,380 visits from the Metafilter link. Until that day, the main page of my site had never had more than 300 visits in a single day, so this was a very big exposure.

Metafilter discussion about my site

I always enjoy reading these types of discussions, because almost all participants are people from outside our collecting circle. They are people who remember reading the books as children but are not involved in collecting them. Not surprisingly, someone was surprised that Donna Parker is not listed on my site.

Someone else mentioned this hilarious Sweet Valley High blog. I really enjoyed the screen caps with captions from the Sweet Valley High television series. I have never seen any of those shows. I may have to buy the first season on DVD. It should be a riot!

By reading message threads like these, I end up on sites that I have never visited and end up finding some really neat stuff.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Free Auction Listings at Any Price

I see this as a sign of desperation.

This is the third month in a row that eBay has run this promotion. The other two promotions lasted a couple of weeks, as I recall. This promotion is running for one month. I suspect that eBay will continue to do this to try to lure back sellers who have left.

I am taking advantage of the promotion in a limited capacity. I decided to run some quick one-day auctions. Since I do not have to pay a listing fee, I have nothing to lose. I relisted some books that did not sell in the last round. Of the auctions that have already closed, I sold four out of 10 lots.

What is most interesting is that the lots had close to the same number of views that they would have had if they had run for three, five, or seven days. Longer auctions are now a waste of time except for less popular items that need a longer run in order to have a chance of selling.