Saturday, November 6, 2010

Helping Out a Seller

Some people feel that it is their duty to tell every seller of a first printing copy of Nancy Drew #1 The Secret of the Old Clock that the book is valued at $1,000—regardless of the condition of the book up for sale. I have never understood this practice and feel that it sets the seller up for bitter disappointment.

I seem to recall that a 1930A-1 Old Clock without a jacket sold in the summer of 2008 for around $1,000, but that was to the woman who was spending around $30,000 per month on series books that summer. She worked for a bank and had stolen $300,000 from her bank's vault. She later went to federal prison. That sale does not count because that buyer tended to pay around 10 times the actual value of books during that buying frenzy. People bid against her just to drive the prices up, and I know of at least one instance in which a seller shilled an auction in order to make her pay an extreme amount.

Every other time that I have seen the 1930A-1 bare Old Clock book up for sale, it has sold for anywhere from $5 to $500. I do know of one that sold for around $5 in an eBay auction that ran for seven days. Most examples sell for $50 to $250. The book is not worth anywhere near $1,000, regardless of what Farah's Guide states.

Nancy Drew The Secret of the Old Clock

This auction was for a 1930A-1 Old Clock book, and the above was the title of the listing.



As usual, someone helpfully told the seller, "This is a 1st edition valued at $1,000 in good cond. Thought you'd like to know! Good Luck!" Did that really help? The auction closed at $94.66. If I had been the seller, I would have been disappointed after being told of the supposed $1,000 value.

Even if an excellent condition example were worth $1,000, this book does not look to be in very good shape. Why tell the seller that it is worth $1,000?

I have a feeling I'm going to regret this, but...

It would be more helpful to inform the seller of the mistakes that have been made which will cause most people not to notice the listing. The seller could have been informed that stating that the book is the 1930A-1 printing in the title of the auction would draw more attention to it. If that suggestion had been made in this particular instance, the seller might have gotten around $200 to $250 for the book, which would have been much better than $94.66.

6 comments:

Jenn said...

I totally get what you're saying. If I was a seller who didn't really know what I had and someone told me it was worth 1000.00, I'd be ecstatic and might even start planning what I'd be spending my spoils on. And then if it closed for only 94 dollars I'd be crushed! The best thing people can do is just inform a seller they have a first printing if it is indeed a first printing. I've seen cases where something wasn't a first and someone said it was. ;) Giving values from a guide--especially when values are horrid on eBay these days--isn't realistic. When I ID books for people I do give the FG value, but I always explain that those are for books in great shape and any flaws will devalue, not to mention the fact that you might not even realize that price for it if you're selling.

Jenn:)

Jennifer said...

I am glad you get what I mean. As usual, I am expecting to get flamed over this.

There is a seller who has been trying to sell the first Penny Parker book for an extreme amount. He first tried for either $1,500 or $2,000. It was not a typo, since he gradually lowered the price. He tried for around $1,000 several times. He tried for $150 several times. The current listing is $125.

I do not know why he would think that the first book is worth so much. If a seller were to try to sell a Penny Parker book for $125 or more without a jacket, the only two titles that would make any sense would be Swamp Island and Cry at Midnight due to the scarcity. However, those books are not even worth over $100 without a jacket.

It is that type of seller who would be told that Old Clock is worth $1,000 and then might not follow through when the book closes for less. People who exaggerate values are hurting the integrity of the auction process, because uninformed sellers might not realize that the book is not really worth that much.

keeline said...

It is all a question of expectations. Last night I was reading a book about book proposals by Susan Page and she wrote:

"If you expect $5 and you are paid $50, you will be elated. But if you expect $500 and you get $50, you will be crushed. It's the same $50; the difference in how you felt was because of your expectations."

In the recent case where a seller was trumpeting an Old Clock with DJ that it was a first edition, first printing A-1, several of us could don our detective hats and determine that it was later without even having the benefit of Farah's Guide in hand. In this case there was a May 1931 Blythe Girls on the DJ and who knows what else in the other photos that didn't quite help with the printing determination but did illustrate the jacket's many flaws.

In this case I did write to the seller. From her reply, it seems that she was sold this as a first printing from someone, a bookseller?, she trusted. With the evidence I (and possibly others) provided, she is communicating with that person.

People who put up books on eBay, whether pros or rank amateurs, tend more towards hyperbole than other sale venues I routinely examine. Perhaps it is a hope to attract sufficient attention to the book. Many live in abject fear of selling a book for $1 less than its maximum value, regardless the condition, their knowledge or presentation of the relevant details, or the state of the economy.

I do get annoyed a bit when people list cheap 1930s reprints of titles like the Golf Course Mystery by "Chester K. Steele" from International Fiction Library (World Syndicate) as a first printing. The original was issued by Sully and had good paper and illustrations on glossy paper. It was an expensive and heavy book. The reprint (which mentions Sully on the copyright page!) has pulp paper and no illustrations inside.

A common response is "I didn't know" as if ignorance excused making overreaching claims about a book. If you don't know, state what you do know or qualify the listing by saying "appears to be a first printing because no later printings are stated". Then the bidders who know what they are looking for can make a determination. Preying on the equally ignorant is highly risky depending on how far things go.

Pro sellers make these mistakes all the time on the "Chester K. Steele" titles, including Mansion of Mystery which was originally issued in 1909 by Cupples & Leon (red cloth, white lettering, glossy illustrations, heavy book) compared with the International Fiction Library reprint on pulp paper. The sellers marvel about their bright and clean 1909 jacket -- except almost no jackets from 1909 used as much color as seen on this copy.

Despite the phrase on the listings, sellers often don't take responsibility for their listings. What if I were to take some clear rough stones and offer them as diamonds, whether I knew it to be true or not, wouldn't I be committing fraud to present them as diamonds if I could show they scratched glass (i.e. harder than 7.5 on Moh's scale)? It's far more likely that I'd be brought up on charges with a diamond claim though a first printing claim can be on the same monetary level at times.

James

keeline said...

Part 1

It is all a question of expectations. Last night I was reading a book about book proposals by Susan Page and she wrote:

"If you expect $5 and you are paid $50, you will be elated. But if you expect $500 and you get $50, you will be crushed. It's the same $50; the difference in how you felt was because of your expectations."

In the recent case where a seller was trumpeting an Old Clock with DJ that it was a first edition, first printing A-1, several of us could don our detective hats and determine that it was later without even having the benefit of Farah's Guide in hand. In this case there was a May 1931 Blythe Girls on the DJ and who knows what else in the other photos that didn't quite help with the printing determination but did illustrate the jacket's many flaws.

In this case I did write to the seller. From her reply, it seems that she was sold this as a first printing from someone, a bookseller?, she trusted. With the evidence I (and possibly others) provided, she is communicating with that person.

...

keeline said...

part 2

People who put up books on eBay, whether pros or rank amateurs, tend more towards hyperbole than other sale venues I routinely examine. Perhaps it is a hope to attract sufficient attention to the book. Many live in abject fear of selling a book for $1 less than its maximum value, regardless the condition, their knowledge or presentation of the relevant details, or the state of the economy.

I do get annoyed a bit when people list cheap 1930s reprints of titles like the Golf Course Mystery by "Chester K. Steele" from International Fiction Library (World Syndicate) as a first printing. The original was issued by Sully and had good paper and illustrations on glossy paper. It was an expensive and heavy book. The reprint (which mentions Sully on the copyright page!) has pulp paper and no illustrations inside.

A common response is "I didn't know" as if ignorance excused making overreaching claims about a book. If you don't know, state what you do know or qualify the listing by saying "appears to be a first printing because no later printings are stated". Then the bidders who know what they are looking for can make a determination. Preying on the equally ignorant is highly risky depending on how far things go.

Pro sellers make these mistakes all the time on the "Chester K. Steele" titles, including Mansion of Mystery which was originally issued in 1909 by Cupples & Leon (red cloth, white lettering, glossy illustrations, heavy book) compared with the International Fiction Library reprint on pulp paper. The sellers marvel about their bright and clean 1909 jacket -- except almost no jackets from 1909 used as much color as seen on this copy.

Despite the phrase on the listings, sellers often don't take responsibility for their listings. What if I were to take some clear rough stones and offer them as diamonds, whether I knew it to be true or not, wouldn't I be committing fraud to present them as diamonds if I could show they scratched glass (i.e. harder than 7.5 on Moh's scale)? It's far more likely that I'd be brought up on charges with a diamond claim though a first printing claim can be on the same monetary level at times.

James

Jennifer said...

Nancy Drew Old Clock

I find it odd that the seller photographed just about every part of the jacket except the front flap, which is the part that is of most importance for an actual 1930A-1 dust jacket. The front flap is supposed to list 3 Nancy Drew books, and the seller did not bother to photograph that part. It seems strange.

Of course we know from the back panel list going to #5 that the front flap has to list to #5 as well. Therefore the jacket is not the first printing jacket, but the omission of the front flap from the photos is still strange.

The seller seems to think that the copyright page listing three titles proves that the book is the first printing. The copyright page has three titles for around the first 10 printings. so that means nothing.

Even if the book and jacket were the 1930A-1 printing, the price is too high for the poor condition of the jacket. The seller is trying to get around the same amount that was realized for two much better condition dust jackets.