Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Revisiting The Secret of the Old Clock

It has been around 10 years since I have read any of the original 56 Nancy Drew books. I have been meaning to revisit them, but I have not been motivated to do so. This last week I decided to read The Secret of the Old Clock. I chose to read the revised text version, since that was the one I read as a child. Following are my various observations.

Upon this reading, I found that the revised text book is way too short, and so I decided to read the original text version immediately after reading the revised text. The original text version does take a good bit longer to read, and the story is fleshed out better.

The primary reason given for the revision of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books is that the revisions were done to remove racial stereotypes. While this may indeed have been one of the reasons, more likely the revisions were motivated by the need to renew the copyrights and to replace worn printing plates.

The revised text Old Clock does remove the unfortunate stereotype of the drunk, colored caretaker who allows the thieves to trick him. But at the same time, the revised text book adds other stereotypes which are not present in the original text.

In the original text Old Clock, the Horner girls need money badly in order to run their farm. Allie Horner wants to buy more chickens. I guess that wasn't a worthy enough reason to need an inheritance.

In the revised text Old Clock, Allison Hoover has a fantastic voice, and a voice teacher tells her "that some day we shall know Allison Hoover as an operatic star!" She needs the money for voice lessons since she is destined for greatness. Now that is a much more worthwhile reason, right? We can't have poor girls wanting to have more chickens. We need them to have poise and be brilliant in some fashion.

Little Judy does not exist in the original text version. In the revised text version, the Turners are going to be able to give Judy "the kind of schooling we think she should have!" This is an example of the stereotypical fashion in which the wealthy elite think. A young girl who is better than her economic situation can only thrive with expensive, private schooling.

In the original text, Nancy drives the officer back to the station. In the revised text, the officer drives Nancy's car back to the station with Nancy as a passenger. This is that stereotype of male superiority that was prevalent during the middle part of the 20th century. Interestingly, Nancy is more subservient in the revised text books than she is in the original text books.

Another example of how Nancy is more subservient in the revised text books is how Nancy interacts with the caretaker, Jeff Tucker. She is amused by the drunk, colored Jeff Tucker, and does not treat him very well. In the revised text, Nancy is quite polite to the white, elderly Jeff Tucker. She is not polite to the drunk, colored Jeff Tucker. It appears that Nancy is impolite only because Jeff is drunk; unfortunately, Jeff's race is mentioned all the way through the text, and he speaks in the stereotypical southern dialect. An entire essay could be written about the two Jeff Tuckers, how Nancy treats them, and how even the white Jeff Tucker continues the same racial stereotyping.

I noted that the revised text book needs some revision. The revised text book mentions the photostat machine, which is not mentioned in the original. I read about the photostat machine on Wikipedia, and the company that owned it had already been sold by the time Old Clock was revised and was in the process of being replaced by Xerox. The revised text used a term that was on the way out at the time it was written. Now, the term has been obsolete for more than 50 years.

People who dislike Nancy Drew criticize her for her perfection. They clearly have read the revised text books. I don't have a problem with it, but at moments, even I am given pause.

The revised text Old Clock adds the scene in which the dress is torn by one of the Topham girls in the department store. Nancy just so happens to love the dress and insists upon trying it on. Of course the dress fits perfectly, and Nancy suggests to the clerk that they have it altered to hide the tear. Oh how perfectly perfect it worked out! The clerk was not blamed for the torn dress, and Nancy saves the day! The original text scene of the Topham girl breaking the vase would have sufficed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Big November Run on Series Books

Based on my Bonanza sales for November, upon which I will report in greater detail in a future post, I am wondering whether eBay has finally reached a tipping point in which buyers are now going elsewhere. We already know that eBay has been losing sellers at a large rate, but are the buyers now tired of eBay's changes?

My November sales on Bonanza have been brisk throughout the month, and I have sold a substantially larger number of books than usual. I have not been able to determine the exact reason. My sales have been attributed to a variety of sources including direct traffic, which tells me nothing.

I have noticed that Bonanza's page rank is now at 5, which I believe is the page rank that Bonanzle had right before the name change of September 2010. It took around one year for Bonanza to regain Bonanzle's old page rank. This could be part of the reason why my sales have been very good.

I recall that Country Living Magazine had a small spread on Nancy Drew in the October issue. My November sales have been largely driven by sales of Nancy Drew books, so I have to consider that magazine article as a possible factor.

I also have to look at what is happening with eBay. In just the last month, eBay has changed its search algorithm yet again. They simply will not leave it alone, and that is eBay's primary problem. I am noticing that my search results for Nancy Drew on eBay include items such as car repair manuals. The clutter in eBay's search makes it much harder to find quality items.

Another possibility is that we have a very enthusiastic buyer on eBay who has been buying Nancy Drew books like crazy for several months. This person is buying many duplicates and is having a slight effect on the average prices paid for Nancy Drew books on eBay. This person is, to a degree, "hogging all the books." I am confident that most people who bid regularly on Nancy Drew books on eBay have been outbid by this person on at least some books. I have been outbid by this person a number of times.

So that you will be aware of how enthusiastic this buyer is, they have purchased $3,511.37 in Nancy Drew books in just the last 30 days, and for the previous couple of months, their purchase history showed similar amounts. Therefore, this person may have purchased around $10,000 in Nancy Drew books in the last few months. Actually, they might possibly have purchased as much as $13,000 in Nancy Drew books, since one of their first purchases was a $3,000 book.

What I am wondering is whether some people are getting frustrated about being outbid on so many books and whether this person's actions are causing more people to look outside eBay. What has been strangest about my November sales is that I am suddenly selling my Nancy Drew books with dust jackets.

You know... those books that no one has wanted from my Bonanza booth, that have been collecting virtual dust for a year or so, that I have been trying to gradually sell on eBay at high enough prices to keep certain people from buying them and leaving me low DSRs. Those books. People are actually buying them now—a number of different people, in fact.

Some of my more expensive Nancy Drew books with dust jackets have even sold. I have managed to sell two different copies of the "glowing bracelets" Lilac Inn dust jacket in November, and the first one that sold had been listed for over a year. It sold. I listed another, and it also sold within just a few days to somebody else. It's weird.

In November, I sold the most expensive book in my Bonanza booth. I have also sold a few books and a DVD that I believe I listed on Bonanza back in 2009. I like it, although I don't know why it is happening.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Dana Girls Book with a Different Color of Ink

I bought a large lot of Dana Girls picture cover books, which I received on Wednesday. The books were in very high grade condition, and I upgraded around 18 of the books in my set. In some cases, I chose to keep the book I already had if it was an earlier printing, with the drawback being that I was keeping a book in lesser condition.

In a couple of cases, I ended up keeping both books due to printing anomalies. The Secret at the Gatehouse is unusual because the ink on the top edge appears to be lavender rather than the usual green or uncommon blue that was mentioned in this post.

I wondered if the color would match any of the Judy Bolton or Connie Blair picture cover books.

The ink does not match at all. I then considered whether the ink could have been blue that has faded. Below, I have photographed the book next to a book with the blue ink on the top edge.

The ink does look like it could have been blue originally. The reason why I tend to be skeptical is because of the high grade of the lot in which this book was found. The rest of the books all have the green on the top edge, and the green is not faded like often seen with these books. Since the other books do not have faded ink, I feel like the ink on this book is probably not faded.

I also found a Stone Tiger in this lot which is of interest. In my post about the Stone Tiger I found with the blue on the top edge, I stated that I believed that it was the first printing. Pictured here is the book I just found along with the book with the blue on the top edge that was the subject of that post.

The book with the blue on the top edge lists to Stone Tiger on the back cover. On the inside, it lists Nancy Drew to Moonstone Castle and Dana Girls to Stone Tiger. The book that I just purchased also lists to Stone Tiger on the back cover. However, on the inside, it lists Nancy Drew to Moonstone Castle and Dana Girls to Lost Lake. I now believe that the book that lists to Lost Lake on the inside is the actual first printing.

With a series like the Dana Girls, we do not have a detailed price guide. In fact, we do not have a guide at all. With Nancy Drew, we know about all of the printing variations, but with other series, we have very little idea. I have seen many Stone Tigers that list to Stone Tiger on the back cover and inside. I have always assumed that they were the first printing. It appears that the true first printing lists to Lost Lake on the inside and is quite scarce by comparison.

Also of interest is the great difference in colors of the artwork from my two Stone Tiger books.

I like to find books which have variations in the cover colors and will often keep examples of these different variations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Examining the Cover Art of Library Editions Part 2

One of the major library bindings for the Nancy Drew series was done by the American Publishers Corporation during the 1960s and 1970s. These books have a green binding, and like with all other library editions, were created by rebinding the text block from regular editions that were published by Grosset and Dunlap.

For most of the APC books, the cover art was taken from the first cover art of the regular picture cover edition from the early 1960s.

Just like with the Nancy Drew library editions mentioned in my previous post, these editions feature cover art that appears to have been traced from the cover art of the regular editions. The finished result has less detail than the original illustration. #1-43 and #49 were done in this fashion.

APC became more creative with #44-48 and #50. For these books, one of the internal illustrations from the regular edition was copied for the cover art. In each case, the APC cover art is an exact duplicate of that internal illustration. For The Double Jinx Mystery, the illustration was altered slightly below the placement of the title and at the very bottom where two branches were extended.

My favorite is The Double Jinx Mystery. I like this cover art better than the cover art for the regular edition, in part due to the exciting action depicted. What if Nancy slips and falls? What if the bird gets away? Imagine how attractive this illustration would have been in full color.  Compare to the regular edition of The Double Jinx Mystery.

I also enjoy the other APC editions which feature cover art copied from internal illustrations.

These Nancy Drew APC editions are neat since the cover art differs from the regular editions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Examining the Cover Art of Library Editions

My favorite library editions feature the cover art from the regular editions. A common misconception about these books is that the cover art is exactly the same as the regular editions. Actually, the cover art consists of line drawings that have been redrawn by someone using the original cover art for reference. The result is a new take on the old cover art. For that reason, I consider the library editions to be very interesting collectible editions.

One type of library edition is the Multi Library Binding. These books feature cover art that mimics the blue multi endpapers, except that the illustrations are not from the blue multi endpapers.

Multi Library Binding

When I first began collecting these books, I thought that the cover art was a copy of the blue multi endpapers. Upon closer inspection, I realized that different book covers were used, and some of them were from the Russell Tandy dust jackets.

Blue Multi Endpapers

Even though the images from the Multi library binding are based on the Tandy and Gillies dust jackets, they were not copied directly from those dust jackets. They were copied exactly from the earlier Cameo Library Binding. The drawings appear to be exact duplicates of the line drawings from the covers of the Cameo library editions.

The center image on the Multi library binding is based on Broken Locket. Compare that image to the image on the Broken Locket Cameo binding and to the original Bill Gillies dust jacket.

Notice that the lines from the Multi edition illustration and the Cameo edition illustration appear to be identical. The library edition cover art appears to be identical to that of the Gillies jacket upon casual inspection, but look very closely. The artist probably traced the Gillies jacket to make both versions have the same proportion, and then filled in the rest as a line drawing. The result is a strikingly similar illustration.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My 11/11/11 Book Find

On Friday, I decided to check one of the book stores to see if anything interesting had shown up. I almost reconsidered, since the last three times I have been to that store, I have found nothing. I decided to go anyway.

Upon my arrival, I spotted around seven Nancy Drew picture cover books on the shelf, and I knew that most of them had not been there before. At least I had some books to check. Mystery of Crocodile Island was the one I spotted first, since the cover faced me from my direction of approach. I knew I would likely buy it, simply because I can always use another extra to sell. I pulled Crocodile Island off of the shelf and determined that I would purchase it.

I noticed that the next book to the left of where Crocodile Island had been was a copy of The Clue in the Crossword Cipher which looked like it could have been from the 1960s and was in pretty good shape. As always, I was ever hopeful, but I knew that my wish would almost certainly not come true. I snatched Crossword Cipher off of the shelf and immediately turned it over to the back cover, where I saw that the last title listed was The Phantom of Pine Hill.

I stared at the back cover in disbelief for around five seconds or so. I was thinking something like, "This can't be... seriously? I must be mistaken." I checked the price, which was low like all of the Nancy Drew books always are. I then stared at the back cover again making sure I was thinking straight and that I was holding Crossword Cipher and that it did list to Pine Hill. Yes, I was right.

In the back of my mind, I thought of my knowledge that two variants exist, one with an interior list and the other without. I didn't care at that moment which version I had in my hands. I already own the one with the list, but that book is in horrible shape and is hardly worth having. I have been seeking a Crossword Cipher listing to Pine Hill that is in good shape for the longest time. The presence or absence of an interior list is trivial.

I held onto my Crocodile Island and Crossword Cipher and checked the remaining books. I determined that I would purchase Twisted Candles and Larkspur Lane since they were early picture covers in nice shape. Both books list to Pine Hill.

Clutching my books, I checked the other part of the store where the newer Nancy Drew books are kept. I saw three Applewood editions, #1, 2, and 3, but I was not interested in buying them. I paid for my purchase and left.

Once I was inside the car, I thought to check for the interior list in Crossword Cipher. The book I had just purchased does not have the interior list, which means that it matches the points for the 1967A-1 first printing according to Farah's 12th edition. This is good, since I can now state that I have the first printing of Crossword Cipher.

There is the problem of the books that list to Pine Hill and have an interior list, and Farah has not yet determined whether the book with or the book without the interior list is the true first printing. Since I do have my horrible condition book that has the interior list, I now own the first printing of Crossword Cipher regardless of what Farah decides. I hope to eventually acquire a nice copy with the interior list present, so that I have a nice book either way.

My horrible Crossword Cipher with the interior list

This purchase means that the only first printing Nancy Drew book from the original 56 that I do not own is The Mystery at Lilac Inn. I do have the first and second printing dust jackets for Lilac Inn, but I can't seem to get my hands on that book.

By the way, I am now down to needing only one first printing Nancy Drew dust jacket, which is the 1930A-1 jacket for The Secret of the Old Clock. I am very close.

Also of note, I almost never find books that I greatly desire for my collection while checking local stores. The last time that I found a book locally that was high on my want list was in 2007, when I found the Ruth Grosby book, Mystery Across the Border, in dust jacket in an antique shop.

My book find of November 11 was quite remarkable indeed.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nancy Drew Game: Alibi in Ashes

Her Interactive released its 25th Nancy Drew game, Alibi in Ashes, in October. In this game, Nancy has been arrested for setting fire to the River Heights Town Hall. While Nancy is detained inside the police station, her friends must find clues to help clear her name. The player switches between Nancy, Bess, George, and Ned during the hunt for clues.

I found the early stages of the game to be a bit disjointed with having to switch between characters all of the time. In several cases, I had no idea what to do next and had to use spoilers. Later in the game, Nancy is finally allowed to leave the police station, and I found that portion of the game to be the most satisfying, since the game play reverted to the old familiar methods.

This game has far fewer tasks and puzzles than the older Nancy Drew games. While some puzzles in previous games have been way too difficult, I would have appreciated having just a few more puzzles.

This game also seems shorter than many of the older Nancy Drew games. Her Interactive has shifted a bit with its focus, and the games' composition has changed.

Even though this game is different from earlier games, I still enjoyed playing it and recommend it to people who like the Nancy Drew games.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Which Twisted Candles Book to Keep

I detailed here how I had found a first printing Nancy Drew Twisted Candles book and had to decide whether to keep the book I already had or the book I had just acquired. I stated that the decision would be like making a coin toss.

This is my first printing Twisted Candles dust jacket.

I purchased it as the 1932D-2 printing in 2006. The 1932C-1 and 1932D-2 printings have the same dust jacket, and the only difference is the book. The 1932C-1 book is extremely elusive. Approximately one year after I acquired the dust jacket, I was finally able to buy the 1932C-1 book. I swapped out the books, which unfortunately meant a downgrade in the condition of the book but an upgrade in the book/jacket combination to the 1932C-1 printing.

My first printing book is in rough shape, and I have wanted an upgrade. As of right now, I still want an upgrade, even though I now have another book. I have a difficult decision to make on which book to keep, because both are in rough shape.

In the below photos, the book on the left is the book that I have paired with my first printing dust jacket, and the book on the right is the one that I just acquired.

The book on the left is more worn on the edges of the boards and has a discolored spine. Those are the only two condition details which are worse for that book. Both books have a cracked front hinge. Both books have stains on several pages. Both bindings are weak, and both books have significant spine slant. All four illustrations are present in both books.

My initial reaction was that I would keep the book I already had. After removing the jacket from that book and seeing the discolored spine, I began to consider keeping the book that I just acquired. As of right now, I am leaning in that direction. The condition of the two books is virtually identical, except for the wear to the edges of the boards and the appearance of the spines.

Neither book is worthy of having a jacket placed on it, but one book will hold that honor. Which one would you keep?