Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Tapestry Series Part 1

After I finished the Fablehaven series, I decided to see if I could find another series which was recommended to readers of Fablehaven. I found this page.

Battle for the Harry Potter Throne: Fablehaven vs. Tapestry

I was intrigued, since I had never heard of the Tapestry series, which was written by Henry H. Neff. I rather like trying out series which are not particularly well known, since I have far less chance of getting spoiled.

I was someone who resisted Harry Potter until close to the release of the fourth book. I disliked all the hype. Once I read the books, I loved them, but I found the continued hype to be a bit detrimental to my enjoyment. With each new book release, reporters, who had probably never read Harry Potter, prattled on about possible plot details. I found it all quite obnoxious.

After reading the comments about the Tapestry series, I decided to learn more about it. The Tapestry series will ultimately consist of four volumes, three of which have already been published. The first three books are The Hound of Rowan (2007), The Second Siege (2008), and The Fiend and the Forge (2010).

After carefully checking just a few reviews, which is always a risk due to spoilers, I decided to try the first book in the series. Most all of these fantasy series are said to be inspired by Harry Potter. The first book seems a bit more like Harry Potter than the other series I have read, like Percy Jackson, Nicholas Flamel, and Fablehaven.

Here is a review taken from the Amazon site.
In a hidden alcove within Chicago's Art Institute, Max McDaniels discovers a faded tapestry. As he watches, the tapestry begins to glow; soon after, he receives an invitation to attend a private boarding school in New England. When he arrives at Rowan Academy, where young people with Potential are trained to fight an unnamed enemy, he and the other apprentices are housed in magically morphing rooms and assigned animal charges. Max is paired with the last lymrill in the world, a nocturnal creature with metallic quills. They train on the Course, where they experience different scenarios as they try to achieve a goal and move up levels as they progress. Meanwhile, apprentices and even some full-fledged agents are disappearing all over the world. This novel's sprawling, quirky boarding school has obvious parallels to Hogwarts, but Neff's storytelling boasts charms of its own, and U.S. readers may appreciate that this magical adventure, the first installment in the planned Tapestry series, takes place here rather than abroad. Tixier Herald, Diana
During a good part of this book, I was trying to figure out where the plot was heading and kept skimming ahead a chapter or so to see if I could get a clue. It was not until well into the book that the situation became clear. The series is titled the Tapestry series, not just because of the glowing tapestry, but for another reason. I dislike giving too many details, so I will not elaborate.

I always like to read the critical reviews on Amazon once I have finished a book. The favorable reviews are never very interesting since they gush about the book and how wonderful it is. The more critical reviews bring up the actual flaws that a book has, so those are the ones I read. The critical reviews brought up some really good points concerning the flaws in this book.

While I found some parts of the book not to be particularly interesting, I enjoyed this book enough to want to read the next installment.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Yellow Spine Nancy Drew Aladdin Books

Recently, I was getting some books that were in storage back into some semblance of organization. At one point, I was working on my yellow spine Aladdin Nancy Drew books. I decided to take a couple of pictures to show the design variations that exist for those who wish to get all of them. The yellow spine was the final format before the books went out of print.

Click on the photos to view larger versions.

In the first picture, the books with the red rectangle at the bottom spine are Scholastic book club editions. They are unnumbered, like all book club editions, and I didn't bother to put the books in order. I'm not sure if I have all of the Scholastic editions, but I should have most of them.

Not all of the softcover Nancy Drewbooks were still in print at the time of the Aladdin imprint, which is why not all titles are shown. Some books have the pound sign in front of the volume number, while most do not. Some books were printed both with and without the pound sign.

#127 and #128 were printed with the old Minstrel design but with gold placed on the top and bottom of the spine. I always wonder about that type of oddity. Could someone have been lazy and decided just to put a little gold on those books and call it a day?

#112 has the full yellow spine but also has the gold at the top and bottom of the spine.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nancy Drew Game: The Captive Curse

Her Interactive's 24th Nancy Drew game, The Captive Curse, was released in June.  In this game, Nancy Drew travels to Germany, where a castle is terrorized by a monster.  As Nancy, the player is able to explore the castle, the dungeon, the courtyard, and the woods outside the castle.

I always play the games as a senior detective, since I am rather good at certain types of puzzles such as the sliding ones. Since I play as a senior detective, I always use spoilers to get through the puzzles that are not to my liking.

In this game, I only had to use spoilers a couple of times. This game is significantly easier than most of the Nancy Drew games, and for this reason, it is a good game to try for someone who has never played one of these games. For me, the game was too short and a bit disappointing. While many of the puzzles in the typical game can be quite annoying, I like to have at least a bit of a challenge.

I also did not like that Nancy is not able to explore some of the businesses and residences that open off of the courtyard. I hate having a doorway present with something behind it, and I never get to see what is there.

On the plus side, Nancy does not explore in third person. All of the action, such as exploring the woods, is in first person. The first person game play is a throwback to the older games and is preferred by many game players.

As always, I enjoyed the game but do not consider it one of my favorites.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Nancy Drew Picture Cover Anomalies

Last month, I bought a large lot of Nancy Drew picture cover editions and found four books that caught my attention.

I found a revised text picture cover of Hollow Oak with blue multi endpapers.

The book meets the points for the 1972B-68 printing according to Farah's 12th edition.


This printing is the introduction of the 1972 text and third cover art. It matches all points in Farah's Guide, including the two blank pages at the end (bl/bl) just before the endpapers. The book has blue multi endpapers, which is what got my attention. Normally, the books switched to the black and white multi endpapers when the text was revised.

I already have the same printing in my collection—or so I thought. This book has the black and white multi endpapers, unlike the above book.

The book does not have the extra blank pages at the front and the back, which means its points would be listed like this in Farah's Guide.


The above points match the 1972A-67 printing, except that the book should have the original text and second cover art. Since this book has the revised text and third cover art, it should be the 1972B-68 printing, but the missing blank pages make it a mismatch.

I found another book that is identical to the one mentioned in "A Nancy Drew Revised Text PC with Blue Multi Endpapers." The book I just found is identical to the one pictured in that post down to every point.

I found a Haunted Bridge PC listing to Mirror Bay with reversed black and white multi endpapers.

The left and right endpapers are each on the wrong side. The rear endpapers are also reversed.

I found a Bungalow Mystery listing to Crooked Banister that has the black and white multi endpapers. This would not seem odd, except that I'm pretty sure that I normally see blue multi endpapers on all of the revised text Bungalow Mystery books up to 1973 printings. I checked several books in my possession, and I found blue multi endpapers.

Farah's Guide has never noted which endpapers are present for each specific printing, except for earlier formats. I am discovering that much is unknown about the endpapers for the revised text picture cover books.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Nancy Drew Wanderer Hardcover Editions with Dust Jackets

The format of the Nancy Drew series switched to softcover with the publication of #57. A small number of the Wanderer editions, #57-78, were printed in hardcover with dust jacket. The hardcover books were sold through mail order, mostly to libraries. Probably 80-90% of the books were sold to libraries, so most examples that surface are library discards. As collectors know, most library discards tend to be in rough shape.

I have been working on a set of these books since the late 1990s. The goal is to have all of #57-78 in hardcover with dust jacket and for the books not to be library discards. This is nearly an impossible goal.

I have upgraded my books many times. The first goal was to get any copy with a dust jacket. I recall one book that had a severe spine slant, so severe that it was more like the severe spine roll of a softcover book. That book had very heavy wear. The dust jacket was present, but tattered. I upgraded it to a more respectable copy with at least moderate wear, and then probably upgraded it again one or two times. I have upgraded these books so many times that I have lost track of how many copies have passed through my hands.

The Wanderer hardcover editions are not equally scarce. The lower-numbered titles are not that difficult to acquire. #57 to around #63 are fairly easy to acquire. #64 through #75 are moderately difficult to acquire. #76 and #77 are quite scarce, and #78 can be considered rare.

The Hardy Boys Wanderer books were also published in hardcover with dust jacket, although I do not collect those. I have collected the two Nancy Drew Ghost Stories titles as well as the two Super Sleuths! titles. The Ghost Stories and Super Sleuths books have about the same scarcity as #76 and #77.

I believe that the Camp Fire Stories book also exists in hardcover with dust jacket, as I seem to recall seeing it on eBay once, and it has the approximate scarcity of #78.

I have had #57-77 for years, but #78 continued to elude me. I decided long ago how much I would bid if #78 were to appear on eBay. To me the book as a library discard in decent condition is worth $100 to $200. In excellent condition, I would bid $300 or more.

Recently, another collector directed my attention to a pricey listing for what appeared to be a hardcover edition of #78 with a dust jacket. The book was priced at $275, which is within what the book is worth to me. My main concern was the lack of a picture and the possibility of the book not being what the seller stated.

The seller did not have the book identified as a Nancy Drew book. Only the title, Phantom of Venice, was given.

I could have inquired, but I decided that the book had to be what it appeared to be. I checked the ISBN, and sure enough, that is the ISBN for Nancy Drew #78 in the hardcover edition.

I found the same listing on the Advanced Book Exchange. I purchased the book there, since I have an account on ABE. I was encouraged by the seller's low rate of returns and canceled orders. I selected priority mail, because I wanted to see the book fast. I received the book, and it was what I expected.

The book is not a library discard. The pages are white, and the book is in excellent condition. The dust jacket has some wear at the spine ends, but it is in excellent condition as well.

I noticed that the jacket has a sticker over the ISBN.

The ISBN that is covered by the sticker is the ISBN for #77. I checked my jacket for #77, and it also has a sticker covering the ISBN. The ISBN underneath the sticker on #77 is the ISBN for #78.

A collector who ordered all of the hardcover editions as they were released stated that he had trouble acquiring the last two titles due to a change in the ISBNs. I wonder whether the change in the ISBNs is part of the reason for the scarcity of these final titles. Of course we all know that the final titles in any format tend to be the scarcest, but #78 is far beyond the scarcity of the other titles. #76 and #77 are also far more scarce than the other titles, although not as scarce as #78.

This is my set of Wanderer hardcover editions with dust jackets.

#57, 58, 61, 62, 63, 65, 68, 69, 71, 72, 73, 74, 77, 78, Ghost Stories, Super Sleuths!, and Super Sleuths! 2 are not library discards. #59, 60, 64, 66, 67, 70, 75, 76, and Ghost Stories 2 are library discards. Despite the number of upgrades, I still have quite a few books that are library discards.

The books that are library discards have light wear and are in above average condition for library discards. Just one jacket, #66, has an obvious sign of having had a library sticker on it. It is unfaded where the library sticker was positioned. Otherwise, the jackets are in nice shape.

In quite a few cases, I have switched books and jackets when I have found a library discard with a jacket for which I was able to remove the library sticker. Often, the newly acquired book was in worse condition, but since I could get the sticker off the jacket, I would keep the new jacket with my old book. 

It is of greatest importance that I have jackets that do not have library stickers on them. I am less concerned with whether the books are library discards, just as long as the jackets do not look like they are from library discards.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Where It All Began

Sometime this summer, I will reach the 20th anniversary of when I began collecting series books. First, some background to the tale is necessary.

During the summer that I turned seven years old, my mother pulled six Nancy Drew books out of the living room closet. She told me that the books were the first six Nancy Drew books and that she had purchased them for me when I was a baby, which was in 1972.

She told me which one was the first book, and I began reading it. I recall that I spent a good amount of time that day reading The Secret of the Old Clock. I do not recall any other details, but I must have liked the book.

My mother began buying Nancy Drew books for me. The books that she bought were a mixture of black and white multi endpapers, double oval endpapers, and quite a few of the Twin Thriller lavender double editions that she found in a local closeout store.

I later progressed from Nancy Drew to Trixie Belden. During the sixth grade, I checked out the first sixteen Trixie Belden books from my elementary school library, one at a time. I remember how thrilling it was reading about Trixie, Honey, and Jim getting caught in that horrible flood during The Happy Valley Mystery. I remember how much I loved reading those Trixie Belden books, which were the thin hardcover editions from the 1970s. How I wish I had those exact copies from the elementary school in my possession.

At some point after I read Trixie Belden, my mother brought some books home for me that she found at a garage sale. There were perhaps around six or so Trixie Belden books, covering all formats from the first format up to the books from the 1970s. She also had found an interesting old copy of The Clue of the Velvet Mask which was a picture cover edition with blue multi endpapers and the original text. I was utterly fascinated with that book. It had an old-fashioned illustration on the front cover, and I carefully compared the text to my copy and noticed the interesting differences.

I gradually lost interest in Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. I began reading miscellaneous teen novels including Sweet Valley High very shortly after its launch when only around a dozen SVH titles had been released. After that I read Christopher Pike and later went through a phase in which I read most of Charles Dickens' works along with works by several classic English authors.

My Nancy Drew books never left my bedroom even after I lost interest in them. I did, unfortunately, use a bunch of them to prop up a broken leg on my bed, so the covers of some books have deep gouges in them.

I have now set the background. Sometime during the summer of 1991, I was watching the Oprah Winfrey show. During that time, I did not often watch Oprah, but on that one fateful day I was watching her show. That particular episode was one of her shows featuring items that people had found in their attics. Audience members had brought a variety of antiques and collectibles and were finding out what the items were worth, kind of like what happens on Antiques Roadshow.

As I watched that show, I thought of those books that my mother had bought at the garage sale when I was a child. I thought of those neat older Trixie Belden books and that odd copy of Velvet Mask with the original text. I went to my room and found the books. I then thought about how I could try to find more of them.

All it took was one hour of watching Oprah and remembering those old books from that garage sale. That summer, I began visiting garage sales every weekend. I went to used book stores. I traveled to local antique shops. And here I am 20 years later. What is your story?

Friday, July 8, 2011

1922 Illustrated Catalogue of Books

A few months ago, I purchased the 1922 Illustrated Catalogue of Books put out by The Book Supply Company of Chicago. The catalog is in excellent condition and even has the original order form.

Remember that you can click on any image to view a larger version.

The catalog appears to contain all books that were available for sale by all publishers during the year 1922. The catalog is 352 pages long. I took a few photographs of some of the pages for the juvenile series books.

Most of the series books are available at $0.54 each from the book company. Since only the series books that were available in 1922 are offered in the catalog, you will notice that not all titles in each series are listed. The remaining titles had not yet been published as of 1922.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Popular Blog Topics

A number of you have contacted me privately during the last week, and some of you have told me your favorite topics in this blog. I thought it would be interesting to create a poll as to which topics are liked the most. I already have a good idea of which topics are liked the most, but having more definite information would be useful.

I sometimes write a blog post that I happen to like a lot, and then nobody comments. Other times, I write something that does not strike me as particularly profound or interesting, and then that post ends up with 20 comments. The comments may or may not indicate how much most people enjoy a particular topic.

This is your chance to tell me what you think. Most of you do not wish to comment, so you can vote in the poll that is now in the right sidebar. If any of you wish to comment as well, that would be great. I tried to mention most everything from this blog, stopping short of mentioning specific series like Beverly Gray. If I left out what you like the most, tell me in a comment!

Also of note, I have two distinct groups of people who read this blog. The first group consists of people who collect series books. The second group of people have met me through Bonanza or elsewhere and follow the blog due to interest in the topics related to buying and selling online.

Just so you know, I don't plan to change what I write, but I do appreciate knowing what is liked the most. By that I mean, I will write about the same topics, but I might be more motivated to write about certain topics which I know are of more interest to readers.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Do You Remember This Book?

Here is another old post. This one is from August 17, 2010. I didn't publish this one because I wasn't sure if I should out the person who bought the book and resold it. I almost published it and then decided to wait. I then forgot about the post, and here we are. Instead of deleting it, I present it to you to read. The post makes more sense if you now read the title and then begin reading the next part.


It closed at $150.00.

I do, because I wrote about it the first time it sold. I even saved a photo for my blog.

Why Didn't It Close Higher?

I'm sure you'll agree that the recent listing is indeed the same book.

Additional comments added July 2011: The seller paid $56.00 for the book and sold it for $150.00.