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.


Andy said...

Jennifer, it is extremely frustrating that sellers don't list the last titles. What's even more frustrating are sellers who know collectors are seeking specific information about the last title on the back cover but refuse to list that information.
My best guess for why they do this is because they know they don't have a desirable 1st or early printing and hope to sell their book without calling attention to the fact that their book is a more recent one.
Interestingly, the picture cover NDs I'm having trouble finding are the 1st printings of the revised texts of several titles. I really thought they would be easier to find than the 1sts of the original text PCs, but that's not been the case for me.

Mike G said...

Great post, which describes some of the frustrations I have also experienced in searching for this pretty elusive book. As I mentioned to you previously, I had recently purchased a set of Nancy Drew books on eBay because I had communicated with the seller and was assured that the last title on the back cover of Crossword Cipher was Phantom Of Pine Hill. Alas, when the books arrived, the last title was Crossword Cipher. When I communicated my disappointment with the seller, she claimed that she had answered my question to the best of her ability. At least she did refund my monies, and paid for shipping back to her. Still not really sure if she ACTUALLY had the correct book and sold it before the auction ended. Oh well.....

It's good to have an elusive book to keep the hunting spirit strong, right??


stratomiker said...

She probably did have the right book and sold it to someone who made her a fab offer for it. Then she replaced it with another one just to sell the set. This happens all the time. Sadly, you have to do the same thing if you want to get the books you need because someone is going to beat you to it.

Buyers are constantly making me offers they think I can't refuse. I do refuse them and tell them to bid instead. But I know that many others don't.

Mike D

Jennifer White said...

If you aren't aware of the craziness that surrounded some eBay auctions this week, run a completed items search for "Nancy Drew" and sort by "highest price." The auctions will be near the top of the results. Look at the question and answer sections of all four lots. And, a lot more happened than what you can tell from the questions.

Paula said...

Yes, I was watching those auctions and good for the seller who outed an unscrupulous buyer! Are you going to eventually share with us some of the other stuff that happened?

Jennifer White said...

I'll go ahead and say that the winning bidder, who was the person who tried to get the auctions closed, backed out of two of the auctions. All of you are going to be able to conclude that on your own when the books get relisted in the next day or so.

I will write up a blog post on this and will probably share most of what I know. I always have to be careful about how I word what I write for public consumption.

stratomiker said...

Those books don't appear to be what they are stated to be, and not very nice anyway. Why didn't any of the other ones sell - the Bookbid ones?They look really nice but didn't seem to get any bids.

Jennifer White said...

One of the books is the first printing, but the others are not. What is most remarkable about them is the behind-the-scenes drama, and these were hardly the books to warrant such craziness.

Uplandam said...

Mine says The Secret of the Forgotten City
Strange message in the Parchment Mystery of Crocodile Island

guess mines garbeeege