Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cleaning Library Editions

Library editions can be cleaned much easier than regular editions, since the bindings can more easily withstand exposure to moisture. I decided to use some library editions that I just acquired as an example.

These books were absolutely filthy. They felt grimy when I removed them from the package, and the books have a musty odor. The text blocks are quite foxed, and I suspect that the books were kept in some type of outbuilding by their general appearance.

I knew that these books would not clean up very well, since the dirt looked to be embedded in the covers. However, I wanted the books not to feel nasty, so they were still worth cleaning.

Soap and water would probably work just fine, but years ago, I purchased some Demco book cleaner, which is what I use.

I have to be very careful with the printed parts of the covers. The print tends to come off of library editions fairly easily, so those parts cannot be cleaned as well. I first start with the unprinted areas where I know that I can rub very hard. Last, I go over the printed areas with a much lighter stroke and for a short amount of time. I wipe each area dry before I go to another part of the cover. Last, I take a dry cloth and buff the cover back as shiny as I can get it.

This is what the books looked like after my first attempt.

I thought I could do a little better, so I tried again with the following result.

I could probably get a little more dirt off, but I decided to quit. As stated, I knew that the books would not clean well, and I will not be able to get all of the dirt off no matter how long I try. If I were to go much further, I would end up taking off too much of the print.

These library editions were not the best examples since I could not clean them well. I have had filthy library editions clean up quite nicely, to the point that the books ended up a completely different color in the end. In those cases, the cleaning process is very satisfactory.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hardy Boys First Picture Cover Books

I decided to check out the local book stores on Saturday. I hit the jackpot at my first stop. I bought many first or early picture cover printing Hardy Boys books. I cannot be certain as how many of the books are actually first PCs, since I have an old version of Hardy and Hardy Investigations.

These books appear to be all first picture cover books since they list to Desert Giant on the back cover and to Screeching Owl on the inside, if an interior list is present.

The Hardy Boys picture cover books in the next two pictures are early picture cover printings. I also purchased one Hardy Boys and three Nancy Drew books with dust jackets as well as the first picture cover printing of Nancy Drew #18.

Later after I arrived home, I started worrying about whether I had missed any of the desirable Hardy Boys books. My main concern was that I knew that I had seen Aztec Warrior. I thought that Aztec Warrior listed to itself, and I had not checked for the tri-fold. I decided to drive back over to the book store, even though it is on the other side of the city.

Aztec Warrior turned out to be the second printing without the tri-fold, so I did not purchase it. I did pick up one more probable first picture cover and a few more of the early picture cover books.

This turned out to be a very nice book find.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seeking the Crossword Cipher First Printing

The most frustrating aspect of buying Nancy Drew books on eBay is having to ask sellers questions, and the questions are often answered incorrectly. I have had to return books for refunds because sellers gave the wrong information.

Several collectors have been asking eBay sellers about The Clue in the Crossword Cipher in order to find the elusive first printing. According to Farah's 12th edition, the first printing of Crossword Cipher lists to The Phantom of Pine Hill on the back cover. The second and third printings list to The Clue of the Crossword Cipher on the back cover. The first printing is very scarce, while the second and third printings are not at all difficult to find.

The first printing does not have an interior list, but at least three examples have surfaced which have an interior list. Farah has not yet determined which variant is the true first printing. Regardless, it is important to note that some have a list and some do not. The interior list ends with The Mystery of the 99 Steps.

Buyers who have questioned sellers about Crossword Cipher have received incorrect answers in several cases. In two cases, buyers asked about the last title listed on the back cover and received the answer as Pine Hill, which would indicate a first printing. Both buyers received books that listed to Crossword Cipher, which is two titles past Pine Hill. How did both sellers make that mistake?

Recently, I asked a seller about the last title listed on the back cover of Crossword Cipher. I was mystified when the seller replied that the last title was The Mystery of the 99 Steps. No printing of Crossword Cipher lists to 99 Steps on the back cover. Either the seller had a rare anomaly or had made a mistake.

I wondered whether the seller could have looked at the interior list, if one was present, and come up with 99 Steps. I asked for clarification and explained that the book could not list to 99 Steps on the back cover. I received this answer:
The very last title listed on the back of book #44 - other than the books [sic] own title - is The Mystery of the 99 Steps. You are the 6th person that has asked me that. What is the significance of the last title on the back of this book?
This seller made the same mistake that I have seen other sellers make when the last title listed is the same as the title of the book. For some reason, many sellers think that when the very last title listed is the same as the title of the book that what we really want is the next-to-last title listed. This is frustrating. If we wanted the next-to-last title, then we would have asked for it. If we state that we want the last title, then we want the last title, regardless of what that title is.

The seller told me that I was the sixth person who had asked about the last title. She could have saved herself from having to answer the question five additional times by selecting the box that allows the question and answer to appear on the auction page. If a seller ends up with multiple buyers asking the same question, then that seller should figure out that this information is important and needs to be in the description.

I still haven't figured out how two different sellers mistakenly stated that the last title was Pine Hill when it was in fact Crossword Cipher. I have wondered whether they could have looked at the interior list and given the next-to-last title, which would have been Pine Hill. The problem is that both sellers would had to have looked in the wrong place for the list and then made the mistake of not giving the last title in the list. This seems improbable.

Clearly, many collectors will have a hard time acquiring a first printing of Crossword Cipher, not only because of the scarcity, but because many sellers fail to answer questions correctly.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Using eBay Effectively

I spent some time trying to figure out what I need to do in order to have a chance of selling my extra books in bulk on eBay. I know that I can guarantee a sale by having a starting bid of $0.99 and free shipping. I am not willing to take that risk, since with my luck, the lot would sell at the opening bid.

I decided to view completed Nancy Drew listings, sorted by recent first, in order to see exactly what is selling. I checked through the first 800 results. 256 out of 800 items sold.

The following statements refer to the items that sold.

96 items were offered by top-rated sellers. This comprises 38% of the total. That tells me that I do not necessarily need to be a top-rated seller in order to be successful. I have been concerned as to whether I have any chance of selling my lots due to not having the top-rated seller status.

87 items were Buy It Now, and 169 were not. The Buy It Now listings comprise 34% of sold items, while auctions account for 66%.

Just 26 items had free shipping. 230 items did not have free shipping. The listings with free shipping account for only 10% of sold listings.

eBay would have us believe that buyers hate auctions and love free shipping. Strangely enough, most of the sold items were auctions, and most of them did not have free shipping.

I checked the statistics because I wanted to know if offering free shipping would give me an edge. Apparently not. Buyers purchase lots that they want at a price that they are willing to pay. They do not care if the item has free shipping or whether the item is offered in an auction.

Next, I had to decide how to proceed. Clearly, offering 30 to 40 books in a lot for a price of $50 to $100 no longer works. At least, it has not worked for me in recent months. I had a lot of 47 Nancy Drew picture cover books. The lot was originally priced at $99 and then $88 on the first relist and $95 on the second relist. The lot did not sell.

After considering the observations that I reported above and noting the content of the items that sold, I took my large lot of Nancy Drew picture cover editions and broke it apart into smaller lots. Four more books were added in when I broke up the lot.

I listed all of the lots as auctions with a Buy It Now price of just a few dollars higher than the starting bid price. I had to list some of the lots more than once, but I managed to sell all of them.

Nancy Drew Vintage Matte #1-7 Nice Starter Set at $5.99
7 Vintage Matte Nancy Drew Books #8, 9, 11-13, 15, 17 at $19.99
8 Vintage Matte Nancy Drew Books #18-25 at $14.99
6 Vintage Nancy Drew Books #29-34 All Original Text at $19.99
8 Vintage Matte Nancy Drew Books #26-28, 37-39, 41, 52 at $16.99
7 Vintage Matte Nancy Drew Books #35-39 and #42-43 at $14.99
6 Vintage Matte Nancy Drew Books #44-47 and #50-51 at $19.99

I ended up getting $112.93 for 51 books which included the 47 books I tried to sell for $88 to $99 plus four additional books. The small lots seem to work quite well. At this point, my strategy will be to list in small groups in order to dispose of my extra picture cover books.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Series Book Collecting and Prices

Back in June, I mentioned the problems that occurred online in the late 1990s between several collectors. I believe those conflicts started years before at least in part due to a disagreement over the pricing of series books.

This controversy goes back at least as far as 1980. One group of collectors believed that series books should never be sold for more than $10. Others felt that scarce titles should command high prices due to the great demand. Keep in mind that in the 1980s, books were much harder to find than now. Collectors had to travel to book stores, call dealers on the phone, or send requests by mail. Collecting was very different in those days.

The topic of price gouging was covered in the very first issue of the series book publication, The Mystery and Adventure Series Review, to which I will refer as MASR in this writing. In MASR #1 from 1980 in the column "Hunting for Hidden Books," Kent Winslow wrote, "For the person who collects items because of their personal interest or nostalgia value, paying high prices that pave the way for even higher prices, is in the long run disastrous. Eventually the real collectors for whom the items are meaningful or beautiful abandon their collecting hobby to the professional collectors—speculators who may not have the faintest interest in the items for their own sake, but who see them as abstract investments." Winslow went on to state that this had already happened with comic books, in which the Overstreet price guide had dictated future prices.

In MASR #24 from 1991, one reader complained about the last Ken Holt title being priced at $300 to $400. Another reader complained about a Rick Brant book selling for $950.

MASR #26 from 1993 is full of rants from various readers about "series book profiteers" in the letters column.

In MASR #28 from 1996, Fred Woodworth expressed a belief that certain dealers had hoarded away stacks of scarce titles, selling them one at a time at outrageous prices. He went on to warn readers never to pay high prices for books, because "you're not only being cheated, you're participating in a nasty abuse that will inevitably result in the destruction of series-book fandom, leaving in its place a sad spectacle of profit-driven non-reading speculators."

In the letters to the editor in MASR #28, one reader was annoyed that a dealer priced the first printing of Hardy Boys #1 in dust jacket at $2,000. This reader also reported other high prices, such as Tom Swift Jr. Cosmotron Express at $85 and a Rick Brant (title not identified) at $125. These prices were considered exorbitant.

MASR #29 from 1996 includes many complaints from various readers about "money-hungry dealers" and "profiteering swine." A reader lamented that he would never be able to read the last five Judy Bolton books or the last Ken Holt book. People felt that the end of collecting was near.

I've only mentioned a small sample of what these issues contain, in part because much of the content is too hostile and marked with inappropriate language to reprint here. Even though some collectors were a bit too upset about the situation, they had a genuine concern about the inability to afford certain titles. Each of us has been in that position with regards to one book or another.

People felt that collectors should avoid pricing scarce books at high prices in order to combat profiteering. For instance, let's say that a collector found the last Tom Swift, Jr., Galaxy Ghosts, which in 2011 sells for $150 and up. The feeling was that the collector should sell the book at a low price in order to keep the price down. Some people felt that the book should not be priced at more than $10, while others could see a collector pricing the book at $50 in order to partially share the good find but to still profit at the same time. All agreed that to price such a book at a couple hundred dollars would be greedy and unacceptable.

The readers were not only upset with the people who charged high prices, but also the people who were willing to pay high prices. Both parties were considered equally guilty.

Here are my thoughts. We cannot control the prices of scarce books. It is honorable for someone to sell scarce books at low prices, but the seller cannot control what the buyer does with the book. What happened to some of these collectors who wrote to MASR is that they sold scarce books at low prices and then were upset when the buyers marked the books up higher and resold them. This is what happens in a free market.

What strikes me the most from reading the letters in MASR is that collectors were certain that the hobby would be destroyed by profiteers. No one would ever be able to read the scarce books that they want to read so badly. Have prices continued to rise, never to go back down? No.

While even today, some books are out of reach for most people, many of the books that collectors felt were too high during the 1990s have come down considerably. Some collectors may have since passed on and were never able to purchase these books. However, the collectors who are still around have seen the prices fall dramatically.

We now have the internet, and this has made most prices go down. Back in the early 1990s, the last Judy Bolton book tended to sell for at least $300 to $500 due to the small supply. When eBay came around, the supply increased, although the demand was still far greater. In the late 1990s, Sand Castle sold on eBay for around $200 or so. Now, Sand Castle can sell for under $50 in an eBay auction. Some sellers continue to ask higher prices, but the book can be acquired for far less.

When 500 people want a book that perhaps comes up for sale only once or twice per year, the price will not stay low. The free market does not work that way. Some books remain expensive today, but some people are able to get bargains. Sometimes those people keep the books, and sometimes they resell them at a large profit. That has not changed.

Even today, collectors sometimes get angry when certain other collectors "hog all the books." If collectors who are not buying to resell are not willing to bid higher in eBay auctions, then that is exactly what will happen. In fact, if some collectors were not buying to resell, the prices would be even lower than they are now.

The tweed Nancy Drew books with jackets kept some of their value for a long time due to people buying them to resell. We have finally reached a point where the tweed Nancy Drew books in dust jacket have saturated the market to the point that the books appear to be worthless. Even buying to resell did not keep the value of the tweeds up high.

A certain saying states that the more things change, the more they stay the same. This saying applies to collecting series books. The same concerns that collectors had years ago still apply today. Some books can be found inexpensively, while others will be sold at high prices. Collectors wonder if they will ever be able to read that certain book. With the advent of electronic texts, many old books going into the public domain, and reprints, collectors have a much greater chance of getting to read the scarce books than they did years ago.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Getting Auctions Closed Early

Recently, a copy of the Nancy Drew book, The Bungalow Mystery, with a first printing dust jacket was listed in an eBay auction. This dust jacket is the one that lists to Bungalow Mystery on the front flap and is very scarce. Refer to this old blog post for more information.


I immediately bid on the auction as soon as I saw it. Someone else bid on the auction the next morning. I did not warn the seller about the possibility of buyers tricking him or her into closing the auction early. I thought that the early bids might be enough to give the seller a clue that people were interested in the auction. I was wrong.

The auction was ended and relisted with a Buy It Now of $300.

The book was purchased within just of few minutes of the relist by a new user ID, thus making it impossible to identify the buyer by the feedback number.

Several of us have been communicating back and forth about this book. Apparently, the seller thought that the book wouldn't sell for much, which is why the offer was accepted. The seller suggested that people bid early if they are interested. Well...

I thought that was what two of us did. In my experience, most eBay auctions currently get very few or no early bids. Any auction that immediately gets two bids must be of interest to buyers. It makes no difference whether the bid stays low; at least two people are already interested.

Many of us have had bad experiences when bidding early. I used to bid my maximum early in cases when I was unable to be home to snipe, before I began using eSnipe. One time a knowledgeable collector spent an hour picking at my bid and finally gave up at just under my maximum. I would have saved a lot on that book by not bidding until the end. I never understood why he spent an hour bidding on the auction.

Back years ago when IDs were not hidden and before I sniped, I had a stalker who would bid on items I had found. That person would "grudge bid" by bidding an outrageous amount just to make me pay a high price for the item. I got tired of it and decided to bid lower than usual on purpose to catch him at it. He won the auction. I received a second chance offer from the seller, since apparently my stalker was unwilling to pay what he had bid. I refused the second chance offer, even though the price was within what I was willing to pay.

For those reasons and others, I always bid my maximum at the very end of an auction. I usually do not place early bids, except for books like the first printing of Bungalow Mystery. In those cases, sellers need to know that the people who make private offers are not the only interested buyers.

eBay hides the user IDs of winning bidders on the bidding history page, but the user IDs do display when feedback is left. If you take a look at the feedback of the seller of the Bungalow Mystery book and view the feedback left for others, you will be able to find the buyer's user ID.

Coincidentally, this person also bought the first printing Old Clock that a seller was trying to sell for $8,500. The seller accepted the buyer's offer of $4,000. For reference, the book was the one mentioned here, and the seller was the person who bought the book for just under $4,500. He sold it at a loss.

Whoever the buyer is, this person knows what these books are worth, since he or she paid $4,000 for Old Clock. The buyer purchased this first printing of Bungalow Mystery at a huge bargain and at the seller's expense. Even though the dust jacket is in bad condition, the auction probably would have closed at $1,000 or higher.

This is why sellers should always refuse a private offer and should instead tell the buyer to bid that amount. After all, if the private offer were such a good offer, then surely it would be enough to win the auction. The reason people make private offers is to get the seller to sell the item for less than what the auction will bring.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Star Ratings, Comments, and Package Situations

Bonanza added star ratings awhile back, except that the stars are not punitive, can only be seen by the seller, and are not anonymous. The main benefit of this feature for me is that I can easily see why my DSRs are sometimes so low on eBay.

I have had ten Bonanza buyers leave me the star ratings. Nine of those buyers left me five out of five stars on all ratings. One buyer left me one out of five stars on all ratings. Since that buyer faved me the day she left feedback and since her feedback was very positive, I have no doubt that the buyer meant to leave higher ratings.

Averaging out my Bonanza stars, I have 4.6 stars on all of them. Did you know that 4.6 is the level at which eBay begins to impose restrictions on sellers? For instance, a seller who has a DSR of 4.6 might have his or her payments withheld by PayPal for 20 days. Just a few buyers leaving low DSRs can cause an eBay seller to be sanctioned.

I always wrap books in stretch wrap before placing them in the package. You never know when a package will get wet. I recently had a buyer thank me for protecting the books I sent her. Her postal carrier left the box setting out in the rain instead of walking just a few steps to leave it under the overhang. She said that the entire package including the newspaper I used for padding was wet. The books were fine because they were wrapped in plastic.

The greatest irony, perhaps, is that the books that my packaging saved were the unwanted ones mentioned in this blog post. I pack all books the same regardless of whether they are in excellent condition or horrible condition. After all, if a buyer has purchased a book from me, then I need to make sure that the book does not arrive damaged.

I was going through some old posts in order to find ones on a certain topic. I found an old post in which someone chose to post a comment anonymously and supposedly was trying to be funny. At least, after another reader took offense, the commenter claimed that he or she was trying to be funny.

The humor fell flat, and the comment was obnoxious. Never try to be funny on the internet unless you are on Facebook with your buddies, or unless you really just want to offend everyone. As I recall, that anonymous comment was the one which made me disallow the anonymous comments. Of course it hasn't stopped the people who wish to be rude, but at least they have to register a Google ID before doing so.

On the subject of rude comments, I had stated here that I would delete rude comments without a response. I have now decided that when someone makes a rude comment directed at me and has chosen not to do it using a fake name, I will leave the comment so that others can see what that person is like. I still intend to delete rude comments directed at others, since I do not wish for people to fear being attacked.

I received a package in which I could feel the books banging around inside. That was not why I decided to mention this package here. It was what I saw when I opened the package.

The first photo shows what I saw when I opened the package. I was sure that what I saw was a priority mail envelope and turning the envelope over confirmed my suspicion.

The only reason I care about the priority mail envelope is that the package could have arrived postage due. If this particular media mail package had been opened for routine media mail inspection, then it would have arrived postage due. Nothing, aside from receiving damaged or destroyed books, annoys me more than receiving a package postage due.

In several past instances, I have had to go to the post office to pick up postage due packages. I often have to wait in line at my post office for 20 to 30 minutes. You can see that a postage due package turns out to be a great inconvenience to me.

Sellers, please do not use priority mail supplies for other services. The USPS does not like that practice, and if caught, the package arrives postage due. Buyers tend to get upset when that happens.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Another Damaged Package

I received a package that was stamped "received in damaged condition." This is never good.

The bottom edge of the top of the box, as seen in the above photo, is completely split from left to right. In the below photo, you can see the books inside the package along the left side of the split.

The following photo shows the bottom of the package. Three of the four corners have holes, although only the worst one can be seen in the photo.

This particular lot was offered by a seller with not-so-great feedback. The seller's photo did not show all of the books, and the description listed not all of the books in the lot. I could tell by the seller's photo that the books were most likely in rough shape. I bid low and got the books at a low price, which is good since I did not want more than half of them.

I opened the package, and as expected, the books are in rough shape. At least one book was damaged during shipment, since the spine had come off. Most all of the books are library discards, so you can imagine the condition. I suppose if a lot of old books is going to get abused during shipping, then thankfully it was this particular lot of books.

It was difficult trying to figure out if all of the books arrived. What I received was one fewer book than the number of books the seller stated were in the lot, but the seller's description mentioned two fewer books than that same amount.

The seller gave the weight of the lot in the listing, and the package weighed two pounds less than what he stated. I checked the titles of what I received up against what he listed in the lot. I received two books that were not mentioned in his list, but I also did not receive one book that was in the list.

It seems that I am missing at least one book. I realized that I could find out for sure by checking the postage paid up against the weight of the package. I weighed the box before I opened it, and it weighed 24 pounds. The parcel post postage for a 24 pound package from the seller's zip code to mine is $16.72. The seller paid $17.07 in postage, which is the rate for a 25 pound package.

I weighed one of the books, and it weighs around 12 ounces. It appears that one book is missing. The good news is that I don't care about the missing book one way or the other. Remember that I did not want most of the books. The missing book is one of the books I did not want, which means that I will not mention the missing book to the seller.

The box used for these books has thin cardboard, which is not acceptable for heavy packages. The box split because of the thin cardboard and the fact that the seller did not use any packaging material to fill up the empty space inside the box.

I use Uline's 12 X 12 X 12" cube box for heavier lots of books. The boxes are quite sturdy. Sellers should always use sturdy cardboard boxes for heavier lots. It is also a good idea to reinforce the edges with tape if the box is not very sturdy. If the seller had used more tape on the box, probably all of the books would have remained inside the package.

I want to make one final point. Sellers often state that they have never had a package arrive damaged. Actually, those sellers have never had a buyer report that a package arrived damaged. In this case, I chose not to contact the seller since I received the books that I wanted. The package was damaged.

I have had only one buyer tell me that a book was damaged during shipment. I have mailed out thousands of packages, and I have probably had more than one book arrive damaged. All I know is that one buyer told me about it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Some Blog and Website Tips

Many people who have blogs do not use the tags feature correctly, and this causes problems for people who want to read the blog. Many blogs attach three or more different tags to every single post. The problem with using lots of different phrases as tags is that it creates a huge list of tags which is impossible for blog readers to navigate. That is, if the blog owner even has the list of tags displayed in the blog.

This brings me to a second problem. Many blog owners use lots of tags but the blog does not have the list of tags displayed in the sidebar. How can blog readers use the tags if they are not displayed anywhere?

I followed a link today to a blog which is used to promote the seller's online store. The blog owner used three tags at the end of a post. The blog does not have a list of tags, so the tags mean nothing. I assume that the blog owner is using the tags as keywords. Fine, but how does that help readers of the blog? The keywords should be part of the text of the blog post, not in the tags.

Even worse, the blog I visited does not have links to posts by date, year, or anything else. The only way to navigate the blog is to randomly click on the tags at the bottom of blog posts that appear on the main page in order to get to the other posts with that tag, and then proceed in the same fashion.

I was interested enough in the one blog post to want to see what else is in the blog, but the blog owner has created no easy means to navigate the blog. Therefore, I will not visit the blog again.

Since many people do not understand what tags actually are and how to use them, their blogs are difficult or impossible to navigate. Tags are actually categories for sorting the blog posts, like the names written on file folders in a file cabinet. On Blogger, tags are called "labels," and the list of labels needs to be added to the sidebar of the blog.

While I don't have my blog posts categorized in the most optimal fashion, readers generally know what to expect when they click on the tags (or labels) that appear in the right sidebar of this blog.

My tags are:

* Barbara Ann Series (3)
* Betty Gordon (14)
* Beverly Gray (17)
* Billie Bradley (15)
* Blythe Girls (1)
* Bonanza (31)
* Bonanzle (111)
* Book Buying Information (23)
* Book Hunting (15)
* Book Selling Information (4)
* Brownie Scouts (5)
* Ceramic Christmas Trees (4)
* Chalet School (8)
* Closed Polls (3)
* Clues to Collecting Q/A (7)
* Connie Blair (3)
* CPSIA (5)
* Dana Girls (9)
* eBay Buying Problems (25)
* eBay Commentary (121)
* eBay Prices (40)
* eBay Selling Problems (9)
* eBay Selling Tips (5)
* eBay's Star Ratings (21)
* eCrater (1)
* Fablehaven (2)
* Girl Scouts Lavell (11)
* Grace Harlowe (10)
* Grosset and Dunlap (6)
* Harriet Pyne Grove (14)
* Judy Bolton (16)
* Kay Tracey (1)
* Kit Hunter (3)
* Library Editions (3)
* Linda Carlton (9)
* Mildred Wirt Benson (13)
* Miscellaneous (18)
* Miscellaneous Series (16)
* Nancy Drew (65)
* Nancy Drew Anomalies (19)
* Nancy Drew Buying Tips (41)
* Nancy Drew Games (6)
* Nicholas Flamel (2)
* Outdoor Girls (4)
* Penny Parker (3)
* Percy Jackson (6)
* Riddle Club Series (2)
* Ruth Fielding (9)
* Series Book Websites (4)
* Site Statistics (4)
* Sweet Valley High (2)
* Tapestry Series (2)
* Trixie Belden (5)
* Twilight Saga (7)
* Twitter (5)

I have tried to minimize the instances in which I use more than one tag for a single blog post. I want the categories not to have a lot of repetition. I want readers to be able to click on a category and know exactly what topics will be found within.

This blog has nearly 750 posts. Adding the numbers given in the tag categories together, it appears that I have 808 posts. This means that I have used more than one tag on possibly as many as 60 posts. I have kept double tagging to a minimum. With around 750 posts, it is vitally important that my posts be properly categorized, or readers would never be able to find anything.

The bottom line is that tags are an organizational tool and should be used to file information into categories.

I also have problems navigating many websites. I often have to use Google to quickly find a page on a website because I can't remember how the site's hierarchy leads to that page. I hope that people can find information easily from the main page of my website, Vintage Series Books for Girls. I tried to be obvious and tried to avoid mistakes other sites have made.

A big mistake is using pictures instead of text. Some sites use images instead of words. Not everyone is going to see a couple of links in a chain as meaning "Links page." If a site owner really wants to use an image, then please place the meaning of the image in words next to the image so we don't have to try to figure it out.
For instance, consider if the main page of my site were set up as a bunch of images like what you see on the left with embedded links and no visible text.

Would most visitors know that the images represent Betty Gordon and Beverly Gray? Some people would, but many others would not. Text is better than symbolic or visual representation of text, and Google likes text.

Concise presentation is also important in online stores. I seldom browse booths on Bonanza, because many of the booths either have too few categories, too many categories that overlap, or too many empty categories. It is frustrating to click on one category after another and find nothing in it or see the same group of items from the previous category.

When I created my Jennifer's Series Books booth on Bonanza, I first tried automatic categories since that was recommended. I figured out within a couple of days that I did not want Nancy Drew books showing up in the Dana Girls category because the phrase "Dana Girls" was mentioned in the Nancy Drew listings. I changed to manual category insertion, and I place each book in one specific category, similar to what I have done in this blog. 

Organization is important no matter what kind of website you have.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Popular Blog Topics Poll Results

I ran a poll asking you which blog topics you enjoy the most. 30 people answered the poll, although I have far more than 30 people who follow this blog. I am assuming that the 30 people who answered the poll represent the core group of readers who check the blog more regularly than others. For this core group of readers, the results came out about the way I expected.

Ceramic Christmas trees is the least popular topic followed by reviews of modern series, reviews of Nancy Drew games, Bonanza, and library editions. I am encouraged to know that none of the topics are boring everyone.

The most popular topic is reviews of old girls' series, which is not surprising considering the title of this blog. Other favorite topics are scarcity of series books, popularity of different series, unusual collectible items, and the various Nancy Drew topics. It is also not surprising that the Nancy Drew topics are favored; after all, I write more about Nancy Drew than any other series.

Let's take the bigger picture. Some blog posts which are of little interest to the core readers of this blog bring the most traffic to this blog. The following image shows which posts received the most traffic over the last six months. Remember that you can click on an image to see a larger version.

Notice that the posts about Percy Jackson and Rick Riordan are heavily viewed. These fall under modern series, which are of little interest to core readers of this blog. One of my most popular posts is the one I wrote on the System Tool 2011 rogue antivirus program, and that post is only of interest if you become a victim. I made sure to link to it here so that all of the people trying to find information on System Tool 2011 will find the right post.

My reviews of the Nancy Drew games are also heavily viewed. My post on Shadow at the Water's Edge is in particular heavily viewed because I mentioned a glitch. Many people find that post because they are trying to figure out how to get past the glitch.

Many of my posts on various eBay topics are heavily viewed, usually because of people trying to find out what to do when something goes wrong in a transaction.

You can look on the right side of this blog to see a list of popular blog posts. I believe that list is for the last 30 days. I often see Percy Jackson and Rick Riordan at the top of the list.

I have several blog readers who are people trying to build a following for their off-eBay business. I want to make a few points on that topic. A wide variety of topics brings traffic to a blog. A core topic is important, but at the same time, posts about transaction problems can bring many people to the blog.

Some people dislike eBay so much that they misspell the name on purpose (FeeBay, GreedBay, etc.) so that Google has fewer results that mention eBay. Not me. By spelling the name correctly, I bring more people to this blog, and those people might learn about Bonanza and my Jennifer's Series Books booth. And of course, I added the links to Bonanza on purpose.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Tapestry Series Part 2

The first book in the Tapestry series comes across as a Harry Potter wannabe, with many parts of the Harry Potter premise present. This includes the village near the school where the children go on outings. The author was clearly trying to create his own series based on the Harry Potter series.

With the second and third books, the author takes the series in a different direction. Unlike other series in which good battles evil and wins, in this series, evil wins and gains complete control.

I found the journey fascinating. The modern world regresses back into a more primitive world, and a new world order governed by demons emerges. The content of this series is very dark.

While the reading level is for ages 9 through 12, the content is more appropriate for young adults. The Harry Potter series is very dark at times, which made it unsuitable for more sensitive children. This series is darker than Harry Potter. For instance, one of the primary characters summons demons in order to gain information from them.

The series will consist of four volumes, three of which have already been published. The final volume will be published sometime in 2012. In my previous entry, I remarked that I was bored during parts of the first book. The first book primarily sets the stage for the story that unfolds during the second and third books. The second and third books are quite good. I have greatly enjoyed the Tapestry series, and I hope that the final book lives up to my expectations.