Friday, April 29, 2011

Series Book Selling Trends

Last spring, I wrote about what I had learned during the previous year while selling books.  Some of my observations still hold true, such as the one about cheap reading copies being very easy to sell.  I continue to find that $1.00 to $2.00 books in rough shape are easy to sell.  People like cheap books.

Some of my other observations have not necessarily held true.  Here, I will explain which books have been easy to sell during the last year.

The easiest books to sell are Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls.  In particular, I find it very easy to sell Dana Girls books.  I can hardly keep a nice selection of Dana Girls in stock.  My inventory turns over fairly quickly, except for a few books that are priced higher.

The beige spine picture cover editions of the Dana Girls are the most in demand.    Some titles sell right after I list them.  I can easily sell nice copies of #7 through around #26 for approximately $20 each.  Some titles sell for around $25, such as #12 which seems to be one of the more scarce titles.

I tend to sell more Nancy Drew books than any other books.  As before, the books with dust jackets continue to sell slowly.  I am able to sell cheap tweed and blue Nancy Drew books as well as older picture cover editions more easily than books with dust jackets, even when the books with jackets are priced for less than $10. 

Certain original text picture cover books sell very quickly, such as #5.  I find that I can price #5 slightly higher, within reason, and that title continues to sell quickly.  I used not to realize that the original text picture cover of #5 is a bit scarce.  Even though #5 had six original text printings, I cannot acquire extras to sell very easily, and when I do list them, they sell fast.  In fact, a #5 original text PC priced at $10 sells much faster than a #11 original text PC priced at $10.

Sometimes what we think is most in demand is not what is most in demand.  Forget about that "man with pipe" #11 original text picture cover.  Collectors are having more trouble finding #5 in an original text picture cover book.

Furthermore, #25 and #26 also had very few original text picture cover printings, just like #5.  I also sell those books very fast, so the demand is similar.  #18 had quite a few original text picture cover printings, but for some reason it also tends to sell quickly.

#56 always sells rather fast for me.  I had two copies with double oval endpapers that had significant flaws.  I had those books priced at no more than $10 due to the flaws, and they did not last long!  Once again, many people are more interested in getting cheap books than in getting perfect books.

I also find that the Beverly Gray Clover picture cover books tend to sell fairly quickly.  These books seem to be more in demand than the books with dust jackets, just like with the Nancy Drew books.

I have been asked sometimes how I price books when I will list a bunch of like books, with a few priced higher or lower.  The difference in price is often due to my assessment of the book and how I feel about the book as a collector.  I might have a book that should be priced at $7.00, yet I don't like the fact that a name written inside is in red ink.  I might price the book at $5.00 due to that assessment.  I dislike red ink in books.

I might also price a book lower if it has some other flaw that I do not like.  Perhaps the front free endpaper has been ripped out of the book, or the book has a deep scuff on the back cover.  Those are reasons why I might price a book lower.

Another reason I might price a book higher or lower is how quickly I tend to sell certain titles or how I perceive the book's scarcity.  I tend to price the first several titles in a series lower because those books tend to be more abundant, and therefore easier to find.  Other books, such as the Nancy Drew picture cover editions mentioned above might be priced a bit higher because of how quickly they sell.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nancy Drew Original and Revised Text Books

The comments to "Will the Real Nancy Drew Step Forward?" prompted me to think about why I like either the original or revised text version of each Nancy Drew book.  I read the revised text books as a child and first read the original text books as an adult.

Generally, my opinion of the original text books is that they are quaint, old fashioned versions of the familiar stories.  I tend to laugh during some parts of the books when I encounter a passage that is particularly old fashioned or backwards.

The original text books are much more descriptive and are written better, but many of my favorite parts from the revised text books are missing, which means that I tend to prefer the revised text books.

For those who prefer the original text books, my comments here are solely my opinion, and I hope I give them in a fashion that is not offensive.  The original text books are good, but I prefer the familiar ones from my childhood.  It is just a matter of perception.

I have not read any of these books in around 10 years, so I have to keep my comments general.

#1 The Secret of the Old Clock

I like the added interaction that Nancy has with the relatives in the revised text.

In the original text, the dialect of the "colored" caretaker, Jeff Tucker, is jarring.  Racial issues aside, the dialect is obnoxious.  Except for a few rare instances in scattered books from other series, I cannot stand the misspelled and difficult to read words that I have to sound out in order to know what was intended by the author.  Sometimes, I can't figure it out.

For those reasons, I prefer the revised text. 

#2 The Hidden Staircase

Nancy stays at the mansion without Helen Corning in the original text.  In the revised text, she is accompanied by Helen.  I like Helen Corning, so I prefer the revised text.

#3 The Bungalow  Mystery

Both texts are very similar and about equally enjoyable.  I tend to prefer the revised text because it has extra events that I remember from reading it as a child.

#4 The Mystery at Lilac Inn

The theft of the diamonds in the original text annoys me.  I much prefer the revised text in which Nancy and Helen stay at Lilac Inn in order to help Emily. 

#5 The Secret at/of Shadow Ranch

I do not like the original text book at all.  The whole business with Martha Frank and Lucy is not interesting to me.  I much prefer the revised text book with the mystery of the treasure that was hidden by Dirk Valentine on Shadow Ranch.

#6 The Secret of Red Gate Farm

Both texts are good and tell exactly the same story.  I like them both about the same.

#7 The Clue in the Diary

I can't remember the specific differences in the texts, but my feelings on this one are the same as Red Gate Farm.

#8 Nancy's Mysterious Letter

Both versions are very similar.  I lean towards the revised text in my preference. 

#9 The Sign of the Twisted Candles

I like the original text a lot, but the trouble is that the revised text has Nancy searching for the secret compartments at great length.  I have always enjoyed that part, so I prefer the revised text.

#10 The Password to Larkspur Lane

Both versions are excellent.

#11 The Clue of the Broken Locket

I cannot stand the utter stupidity of allowing two shallow people who like to party to adopt two young children.  It makes no sense whatsoever.  Therefore, I cannot stand the original text.

The revised text is full of coincidences, but at least it does not annoy me.

#12 The Message in the Hollow Oak

The original text seems like a trip into the Wild Wild West with Nancy Drew.  I remember laughing at one passage in which the criminal stops to admire Nancy's spunk.  Um, okay.

I like the revised text version that features the archaeological dig.

#13 The Mystery of the Ivory Charm

Both versions have some crazy stuff in them, but I recall that the original text book is far crazier.  Therefore, I prefer the revised text.

#14 The Whispering Statue

The ending of the original text book is surreal.  The revised text book is kind of stupid, especially when Nancy and her friends pose behind empty picture frames and the criminals can't tell that what they are seeing are not portraits.  Seriously?  It seems to me that Nancy and her friends would appear to be people sitting behind empty frames.  Do the criminals lack three-dimensional perception?

Despite the flaws, I like the revised text a little better.

#15 The Haunted Bridge

Both texts are good and tell the same story.  I like them about the same.

#16 The Clue of the Tapping Heels

As I recall, parts of the original text are a bit weird.  I prefer the revised text.

#17 The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk

I like the revised text much better.  I love the part where Nancy and her friends search the mysterious trunk and find what is hidden inside.

#18 The Mystery of the Moss-Covered Mansion

These two stories are completely different.  Even though the revised text is kind of stupid, I prefer it.

#19 The Quest of the Missing Map

Both versions are about the same.  I like both of them. 

#20 The Clue in the Jewel Box

As with Missing Map, I like both versions about the same. 

#21 The Secret in the Old Attic

I dislike both versions, due to not having read this one as a child.

#22 The Clue in the Crumbling Wall

This book is one of my favorites.  I prefer the revised text.

#23 The Mystery of the Tolling Bell

I dislike both versions due to a reason similar to the one for Old Attic

#24 Old Album through #34 Hidden Window

Beginning with #24, the differences in the original and revised texts are minimal enough that it makes little difference which version is read.  For the majority of these books, I prefer the original text because just about all of the text is exactly the same, yet the original text is fleshed out better.

There you have it.  What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Will the Real Nancy Drew Step Forward?

The topic of which Nancy Drew books are canon, or as I like to say, feature the real Nancy Drew comes up occasionally among readers and collectors.  Not only do fans argue about which books feature the real Nancy Drew, but Nancy Drew's hair color is the subject of much debate.  The discussion can often become contentious.

The most emotionally charged discussion that I recall was one that began about which actress was the best Nancy Drew that then devolved into an argument about Nancy's hair color.  One group of fans insisted that Nancy is blonde and that all other hair colors for Nancy are unacceptable.  Other fans insisted that Nancy's hair is either titian or brown.  Others, like me, do not care at all and could not understand why everyone else was so agitated.  I picture Nancy Drew in different ways depending upon which books I am reading.  Note that my avatar features four different Nancy Drews.  They are all equal in my mind.

The fans who feel that Nancy must be blonde get upset when fans support other colors of hair.  Those of us who either prefer a darker shade or do not care about the hair color tend to get upset at others' insistence that blonde is the only color.  In the end, we have to agree to disagree.

This all goes back to which books we read as children.  Enthusiasts who read Nancy Drew books during the 1950s and before heavily favor the original text books.  In fact, many of these readers strongly insist that none of the Nancy Drew books past #34 are worth reading.  These people feel that Nancy's hair color is blonde.

People who read Nancy Drew books in the 1960s also tend to strongly favor the original texts but will often state that all of the Nancy Drew books up to #40 or so feature the real Nancy Drew.

I read Nancy Drew books from around 1979 to 1985.  People in my group tend to like most all of the original 56 Nancy Drew books, since all of them had been published by that time.  Furthermore, we tend to like the revised text books as well as the original text books.

My preferences were also influenced by which books were available to me.  Early in my collecting, I had a strong aversion to the softcover Nancy Drew books.  The reason is simple: most of those books came after I quit reading Nancy Drew books.  It had nothing to do with whether the books are good.

A lot of people may not realize how strongly they are affected by what was available when they were children.  My least favorite of ND #1-56 are #21, 23, and 56.  It is odd that I do not like #21 and #23, since quite a few people seem to love those two titles.  I hate them.  Exactly why is that?

I hate #21 and #23 because those two Nancy Drew books are the only two I did not own as a child.  I recall that I did read #23 one time when I checked it out from the library.  The only reason I know I read it is because I did one of those shoebox book reports on it, and I remember using white paint to paint the ghost.  I have no other memories of that book except for painting the ghost.  Since I did not own #23, I only read it once as a child.

I also did not own or read #21 as a child, and I hate that book as well.

#56 was bought in around 1985 when I was losing interest, and I only read a few chapters.  That would be part of the reason I don't like it, although upon reading the book as an adult I have concluded that #56 is not a good book.

Except for #21, 23, and 56, I read all of the original 56 Nancy Drew books multiple times as a child.  I love all of them except for those three titles.  I love all of the revised text books, except of course for #21 and #23.

We were strongly influenced by which books were available to us as children.  I do not believe that most people realize that the primary reason they prefer certain books is based solely on what they read as children.

People who are my age consider #1-56 to be the real Nancy Drew.  I at first resisted collecting the softcover books simply because they are softcover and I did not read them when young. Once I took that leap, I found that the softcover books, #57-175, are very worthwhile.  That is, I can only comment for up to around #165, since I have not read the final volumes.  Up to where I left off, the books are enjoyable and worth reading.  People who do not care for them likely did not have the softcover books available as children.

Nancy Drew's realness is up to debate outside of #1-175.  It also goes back to which ones people read as children.  I never read the Files as a child, so I have no attachment to them.  I have read all of the Nancy Drew Files, but the books blend together due to generic titles and stories.  The Nancy Drew of the Files comes close to being the real Nancy Drew in some ways, but she falls a bit short at times, in particular with respect to her dysfunctional relationship with Ned.

I don't know what I think about the Girl Detective books.  I have only read around the first eight, and I have read many criticisms of the rest.  All I can say is that Simon and Schuster needs to pay closer attention to detail, because the series apparently has some problems.  Click here to view Nancy's wardrobe problems.  Nancy must not have enough money to buy clothing.

In closing, I understand exactly how the people who prefer the original text Nancy Drew books feel, because I read the Sweet Valley High books when they were first published.  I want nothing to do with most of the Sweet Valley High books that have been published to this day. The only real ones for me are the first 30 or so.  That said, I also know that many people have enjoyed the rest of the Sweet Valley series, and I am glad for them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interesting Seller Commentary Part 2

Nancy Drew Number 1-54 FIRST EDITION Collection

The starting bid was $50, and the Buy It Now price was $450. 

Question:  Hi im a owner of a major retail store i wanted to save you some lose in money those books you have in the condition there in are well worth a few $100 right around $2000 to be exact all you need is the right buyer if i were you i wouldnt sell them on ebay, lol sorry, but to take them some where else.

Answer:  wow i had no idea im not sure where i would sell it to i mean right now im willing to take my buy it now price and let some one else make some money to i guess unless you could hook me up
My first reaction...  How would anyone look at those particular books and think some of them are worth $2,000?  I spotted some original text books, but unless they are first picture covers, they are worth no more than $10 each.  I also noticed one of the books with all black print on the back cover in the second photo, but that book is also worth no more than around $10.

My second reaction...  I realized that the writing style of the person who asked the question and the writing style of the seller are identical.  Perhaps the seller used another ID to act as the informant and then posted the question and answer in his description. I favor this explanation.

The seller also wrote this in the description.
there is no reserve but remember i have the right not to sell but as long as the price is good im good im looking to get a few hundred which it what they are worth these are and can be very collect-able and to the right person are very valuable these book separately are sold  between 10-30 buck per book times that by 55 cuz i have two extra books thats 550 at the low and 1650 at the high so its your deal thanks and please feel free to look at my store and the other items i have  thanks
Did you follow that?  My concern is that the seller did not place a reserve on the lot and outright stated that the winning bid would not be honored if not high enough. 

Furthermore, the seller left a loophole so that he could charge whatever he wanted for postage.
shipping as is posted rates will be added as they are from your location it shouldnt be more that $25 but im not saying it is or is not going to be less than $25
The auction had a stated postage of $53.60.  The seller might be suggesting that approximately $25 will be added to that amount, but honestly, I don't know how to interpret the statement about postage.

All I know is that this particular lot sounded like trouble. I would have bid on the lot just because sometimes I get special printings when I buy lots like this one. I decided not to bother because I don't need any additional stress. I had a feeling this one would not have been an easy transaction. If the seller had just had a straightforward description, the lot would likely have closed at a higher amount than the opening bid price.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Nancy Drew Spanish Editions

The Nancy Drew books that were published in Spanish with dust jackets are extremely hard to find. 

Here are pictures of the dust jackets of the books that I have from Spain.

Spain - The Bungalow Mystery
Spain - The Secret of Shadow Ranch
Spain - The Secret of Red Gate Farm
The following picture is of the spines of the books from Spain.

The books from Argentina mimic the tweed editions and have endpapers that are similar to the blue multi endpapers.  Here are pictures of the dust jackets of the books that I have from Argentina.

Argentina - The Secret of the Old Clock
Argentina - The Hidden Staircase
Argentina - The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Argentina - The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes
 I also have one Hardy Boys book from Argentina.

Argentina - The Tower Treasure

The following picture is of the back panel of the dust jacket of one of the Argentine editions.

Here are the spines of the Argentine books.

Visit Lea Fox's site for more information.

Nancy Drew books from Argentina
Nancy Drew books from Spain

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Interesting Seller Commentary

Sometimes listings appear which have remarkable commentary.  This can take the form of seller rants or major misinformation.  I am sometimes amused by what I read, but other times, I am horrified.

Carolyn Keene Signed Nancy Drew Mysterious Letters Book

Several collectors in the Nancy Drew Sleuths group expressed doubt as to whether the book was actually signed by Mildred Wirt Benson.  The signature does not quite match other known examples.  However, no one can be sure, since we all sign our names differently at different times.

The seller stated that the book was signed in person.  If this is true, then the signature is real.  Buyers have to make a decision and act accordingly.

What is unfortunate is that the seller reacted badly to some communication that was received from prospective buyers.  I get the idea that a few people may have been rude to the seller.  We know this from the rant that the seller added to the description.
CLARIFICATION for ebay ass holes who thing they know it all.

Mildred Wirt Benson was the ghost writer of this book, earning between $150.00 and $250.00 for each version written. She worked at the Toledo Blade until the day she died, while getting ill at work, she was 96 I think, she was a journalist for 58 years. She wrote a weekly column there on the elderly and gettting old. She was a cratchedy old fart, but nice once you got to know her. She signed this book in person, as Carolyne Keene, which was the pen name the books were written under for those of you that I confused, or those of you who feel the need to be know it alls who send email to pontificate on your own self worth.

Its rare to get one signed by her, under the penn name, and harder to get one signed under her real name, which I also posess, but am not selling.

I hope this clears up any misconceptions, I will include aletter of authentication with this item from myself, signed and dated.

Yikes.  First off, as annoying as some people are when they ask questions, sellers should remain professional and keep their true feelings to themselves.  The seller may have had reason to be angry, since I have seen some very rude comments appear in the question and answer section of past auctions.  On the other hand, the seller may have overreacted, as some people do.

Regarding the seller's comments, Mildred Wirt Benson did not write Nancy's Mysterious Letter, so the seller was mistaken. Could Mildred have signed it anyway?  Yes.  I am pretty sure I recall reading about one time when a collector mistakenly had one of the Karig books signed by Mildred.  The collector realized her mistake at some point and felt odd about it, but I do not believe Mildred was ever aware.

This auction was for a Red Gate Farm book with the Tandy dust jacket.

1st ed Nancy Drew SECRET OF THE RED BARN .unread !D/J

Incredable chance to grab an American legend

1st printing of nancy drew with dust jacket that caused an uproar and was pulled off the shelves and the artwork redone..

This book is in unread condition tight pages spine....UNOPENED

dust jacket is hangin' in there but needs a good home.

Original owners name printed on inside

Please ask any questions as i'm a carpenter and don't know that much about books.*^_^*
I have collected Nancy Drew books for 20 years, and I have never heard that the Red Gate Farm jacket was pulled due to the cult members resembling the KKK.  This is because the jacket was never pulled due to controversy.  The jacket was in print for close to 20 years.  The jacket art changed at the same time that Grosset and Dunlap revised the dust jackets for #1-9 and #11.

I wondered where the seller got that information, and soon into the auction, the seller posted a response to a question.  In that response, the seller stated that the information came from the seller's grandmother.