Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Book Collecting Year in Review

One year ago, I wrote up a summary of my collecting finds from 2011.  I wrote that "2011 brought me down to needing just one first printing Nancy Drew dust jacket and one first printing Nancy Drew book for the original 56 books."

In 2012, I finally acquired the first printing book for the Nancy Drew book, The Mystery at Lilac Inn, so I now have all 56 first printing books.  I still need the first printing dust jacket for The Secret of the Old Clock.  I do not expect that to change anytime soon.

Early in the year, I purchased a signed photo of Harriet Adams along with a letter from the Stratemeyer Syndicate to a fan.

I was thrilled when I found two different examples of the Nancy Drew 1940s Style Library Binding.

Nancy Drew #1 Old Clock Library Binding
Nancy Drew Clue in the Diary Library Edition

I was just as thrilled when someone contacted me to share photos of the 1940s Style Library Binding that she owns.  More of them are out there waiting for me to find them!  Perhaps I can find some of them in 2013.

I read a very special book, Mystery of the Witch's Bridge, in June.  I highly recommend it to all series book fans.  It's that good.

Also in June, one of the editors of Country Living Magazine contacted me, wanting to borrow a few of my Judy Bolton library editions.  I was pleased that someone other than me was able to see the patterned bindings as being neat decorative pieces.  My books were photographed and made an appearance in the magazine.

In October, I upgraded almost all of my Beverly Gray and Adventure Girls Burt editions.  I bought a Connie Blair boxed set.

Also in October, I purchased a large number of Three Investigators hardcover editions.  The plan was to sell them, since I have never been interested in the Three Investigators series.  However, I knew that I had never had this many Three Investigators books all at once and that I would be foolish to sell them without reading at least one of them.  My plan was to make a decision by January. 

It occurred to me this weekend that I needed to make that decision immediately, so I took the time to read the first book, The Secret of Terror Castle.  I must say that I did enjoy it.  I am already reading the second book, and then I will decide whether to continue or to read something else.  I have decided that I simply cannot sell the Three Investigators books at this time.  I plan to read at least a number of them and maybe all of them.

Nagging in the back of my mind is the fact that I never finished reading the original and revised texts Nancy Drew books again.  I published my reviews up to The Secret of the Wooden Lady.  I read The Clue of the Black Keys, but I did not have enough thoughts about it to write up much of anything.  That was where I stopped.

I cannot force myself to write up a review of a book when the thoughts do not come easily.  That's when writing for this blog seems like writing a required book report for school.  That's no fun and why sometimes my blog posts become infrequent.  I can only write something when I am in the mood and it comes easily to me.  Otherwise, I cannot do it. 

A possible solution to my Nancy Drew problem is to resume reading them and then perhaps write combined reviews that cover several books when I lack enough thoughts for one post to cover an entire book.  If I were to do that, then I would be able to keep going.

In 2012, I purchased 21 books to read with the Kindle App on my iPad.  Including the books I purchased in 2011, I have a total of 55 books on my iPad.  Depending upon the size of the actual books, those 55 books would have taken up a least four to five feet of shelf space and possibly a good bit more than that.

Prior to my purchase of an iPad, I only bought a few modern books occasionally, and this was because I did not care to waste shelf space on modern books that will not have any value for several decades.  I am always short on shelf space for the 4,000+ vintage books that I own, so I do not wish to take up space with bulky modern hardcover books.  Until I purchased an iPad, I was extremely selective about purchasing any modern books since I did not want them cluttering up the house. I am now less selective and have enjoyed many good books in the last two years that I would not otherwise have read.

Tomorrow will be my fourth anniversary on Bonanza.  I have now been on Bonanza 25% as long as I have been on eBay.  It's kind of amazing to me that four years have passed.

In 2013, I hope to sell on eBay somewhat more consistently than I did in 2012 so that I will not endanger my top-rated seller status every few months.  I will continue to maintain my Bonanza booth and add new and interesting books whenever I can.

I will maintain this blog with at least one new post per week and two per week whenever I can.  Several years ago, my goal was two to three posts per week, but for the last year I have found that pace to be quite difficult.  Much more time and effort goes into the average post than most people realize.  The most informative blog posts can take several hours to create.  And this is why I simply must be interested in writing about a subject, or the motivation disappears.

I appreciate each and every single person who reads this blog.  I have no idea how many of you are out there.  I know that I have 80 public followers here, around 150 people following my Facebook, and 101 people following through Google Reader.  I'm sure there is overlap between those numbers, and I'm sure that some people instead follow through bookmarks. 

I especially want to thank those of you who "like" my posts on Facebook, make comments on Facebook, make comments here, or communicate with me privately.  I know that the vast majority of readers will never communicate with me in any fashion, and I am fine with that.  But the few people who take the time to provide some feedback are the ones who keep me motivated and let me know that people enjoy what I write.  It means a lot to me!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Values for Tweed Nancy Drew Books

Note: This post does not in any way criticize Farah's Guide. Prices have changed since the 12th edition of Farah's Guide was published, and this post covers that topic.

Nearly all Nancy Drew books with dust jackets have fallen in value during the last four years.  For most books, the Farah's Guide values are greatly inflated from what the books now actually bring.  Here, I want to focus on the Nancy Drew tweed books from 1951 to 1961.

I chose these books since I have had quite a few pass through my hands in the last few years.  I have a very good idea of the current value of the tweed books, both with and without jackets.

Farah values the first printing tweed books and jackets, #29-38, at around $100 and up for books and jackets in excellent condition.  In the current market, most first printings with dust jackets from 1951 to 1961 are worth roughly $50 each in excellent condition.   If the jackets have flaws, then the first printing books usually sell for well under $50 and sometimes for as little as $10 to $20.

For readers not well-versed in the specifics of collecting Nancy Drew books, first printing dust jackets usually have a list of Nancy Drew books in which the very last title listed is the same as the title of the book.  For instance, the first printing of The Ringmaster's Secret has a list ending in The Ringmaster's Secret on the front flap of the dust jacket.  This is not the only point; the other lists on the jacket and inside the book matter, and sometimes price codes matter as well.  The Ringmaster's Secret actually has two printings that end with The Ringmaster's Secret on the front flap, which means that a copy of The Ringmaster's Secret that lists to The Ringmaster's Secret is not necessarily the first printing.

Two titles, The Mystery at Lilac Inn and The Message in the Hollow Oak, have scarce wraparound dust jackets which are pictured below.

The Mystery at Lilac Inn went through two printings with this dust jacket art.  The Message in the Hollow Oak went through one printing with this dust jacket art.  Both of these dust jackets are quite desirable since the picture cover books that came immediately after eliminated the spine portion of the art.  Farah values this Lilac Inn dust jacket at $250 and this Hollow Oak dust jacket at $180.

While both jackets are hard to find, Lilac Inn shows up much more often than Hollow Oak.  Lilac Inn went through two printings, so it should show up twice as often.  Since Lilac Inn shows up more often, it is worth less than Hollow Oak.  I have never understood why Farah has always valued Lilac Inn higher since it is much more common.  Perhaps 20 years ago, Lilac Inn came up for sale less often and seemed to be much more scarce.  If so, this is no longer true.

In the current market, the Lilac Inn book with the above dust jacket sells for $75 to $100 in excellent condition.  I have seen far fewer copies of Hollow Oak with the above dust jacket sold in the last few years, so it is harder to determine.  My reasoning is that if Lilac Inn is worth $75 to $100, then Hollow Oak should be worth $100 to $125 and possibly as much as $150. 

Farah values all bare books for #1-38, printed in the tweed format from 1951 through 1961, at $6 each.  He values the dust jackets for #1-38 from this time period at $25 to $40 depending upon the title and year printed. The $25 to $40 dust jacket value in Farah's Guide is for dust jackets that are not first printings and not special printings of any type.

Many sellers continue to price the tweed books with dust jackets at $30 to $50 each, even when the jackets have flaws.  Occasionally, the books do sell, but not typically.  They are overpriced.

My range is around $20 to $30 for tweed books with dust jackets if the jackets are in nice shape.  If the jackets have chipping, then I go for $10 to $15.  And the books with chipped dust jackets do not sell fast, which means that they are not underpriced.  If anything, my $10 to $15 tweed books with chipped dust jackets are overpriced.

In fact, I have concluded that people who desire the tweed books would rather have a bare book without a jacket than a book with a chipped dust jacket.  This is why the chipped jackets are hard to sell.

Farah's value of $6 for all bare tweed books from 1951 through 1961 in excellent condition is too low.  While the tweed books with jackets have fallen in value, the tweed books without jackets have risen in value. 

I price all bare tweed books at around $10 if in very nice shape.  My worn tweed books are priced at around $5 to $6.

Over a year ago, I had a tweed Dana Girls book with a jacket that was completely missing the spine.  The jacket looked awful in a mylar cover, since the spine area only showed the white paper from the mylar cover.  The jacket had no value, and I priced the book at around $6, hoping someone would take the book as a reading copy.  I could have printed a copy of another dust jacket and placed underneath to make the spine look better, but I decided not to take the time for such a low value book.  Even though the book was priced low, the jacket kept it from selling.

I removed the jacket from the book and placed the book back up for sale at the same price.  It sold fast.  This proved my point that people would rather have a bare book than a book with a flawed dust jacket.

Since you no doubt will wonder what I did with the jacket, I sold it with two other jackets that I removed from other books.  If you look at all three jackets and think about how they would have displayed in mylar covers, you can see that they had significant flaws that would have made selling the books difficult.  The books were much easier to sell without the jackets.  In some cases, I find it better to let someone who wants worn jackets have the jackets, while I sell the books without the jackets.

Tweed Nancy Drew books with jackets have fallen sharply in value because the supply now far exceeds the demand.  During the 1990s, far more people were buying Nancy Drew books for their collections, so the values were always high.  Now, more books are available than people who want them, so the books are much harder to sell.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Nancy Drew Readers' Club Books

The Nancy Drew Readers' Club was the name used by Grosset and Dunlap for a book club that was active in 1959 and 1960.  Collectors refer to these books as Cameo editions.  The set consists of 12 books with dust jackets.  The following pictures show the promotional materials for the set.  Remember that you can always click on a photo to see a larger version.

As usual with book clubs, the books were not numbered and were not issued in sequential order.  

The Clue of the Velvet Mask was the introductory volume.  Six of the books were issued in 1959, and the remaining six were issued in 1960.  The books issued in 1959 were The Clue of the Velvet Mask, The Ringmaster's Secret, The Scarlet Slipper Mystery, The Witch Tree Symbol, The Hidden Window Mystery, and The Haunted Showboat.  The books issued in 1960 were The Secret of the Wooden Lady, The Clue of the Black Keys, The Mystery at the Ski Jump, The Secret of the Golden Pavilion, The Secret of the Old Clock, and The Hidden Staircase.

Since The Clue of the Velvet Mask was the introductory volume, it is the easiest one to find.  The books from the 1959 set are easier to find than the ones from the 1960 set.  The Secret of the Old Clock and The Hidden Staircase are consistently the hardest ones to find, so they were likely issued last.

Each book has a colored ribbon on the front endpapers.  These are the colors used on each book.

Velvet Mask - turquoise
Ringmaster's Secret - purple
Scarlet Slipper - red
Witch Tree - green
Hidden Window - turquoise
Haunted Showboat - purple
Old Clock - turquoise
Ski Jump - red
Golden Pavilion - purple
Hidden Staircase - orange
Black Keys - green
Wooden Lady - purple or turquoise

The Secret of the Wooden Lady has two variants.  One version has a purple ribbon on the endpapers, and the other version has a turquoise ribbon on the endpapers.  If I remember correctly, the turquoise ribbon version is much harder to find than the purple ribbon.  Both Wooden Lady books have a purple ribbon on the front cover.  This means that it is impossible to tell which ribbon is featured inside by looking at the outside of a Wooden Lady Cameo book.

The books feature artwork by Polly Bolian.  She illustrated the dust jackets and drew the internal illustrations.  The dust jacket art also appears inside each book as the frontispiece illustration.

The Cameo editions are rather hard to find, especially with dust jackets in nice shape.  Farah's 12th edition values the bare books from both sets at $15 to $20.  He values the dust jackets from the first set at $50 each and the dust jackets from the second set at $75 each.  In the last 15 years, I have seen the prices all over the place, from very low up to $200 or more.  The primary factors are condition and how many people are seeking the books at any given time.

When I first began collecting, I had no interest in these editions.  The Cameo edition jackets pick up dirt very easily since the jackets do not have a shiny finish that repels dirt.  The jackets are usually soiled, worn, and torn.  I do not remember the exact details, but at some point I acquired a Cameo edition with a jacket in nice shape.  From that time on, I saw the books as desirable and began seeking ones with nice jackets.

It was difficult.  I purchased my books in 1999 through 2003 when bidding on eBay was always brisk.  I recall that prices were often up towards $100.  I recall buying a lot that contained most of them, which is the only reason why most of mine only cost me around $30 each.  For the remaining titles, I paid $53.22 for #35, $62.22 for #27, and $66.00 for #28.  Those were the books that were the toughest for me to acquire with nice dust jackets.

By around 2005, several people who collect Nancy Drew books and who also sell them on eBay decided to focus on these books.  Between them, they managed to buy up just about all Cameo editions that surfaced on eBay.  These sellers then relisted the books at much higher prices, calling them "RARE."  In fact, the books were rare to everyone else, since these sellers were buying up all of them.  The prices became artificially inflated.

The prices peaked in the summer of 2008 when a certain buyer purchased $20,000 in series books per month for several months straight.  This buyer had laundered approximately $300,000 from her bank and used much of it on books.  Since she was not spending her own money, she was willing to pay extreme prices.  During that summer, Cameo editions were selling for $200 to $300.

Also from around 2005 to 2008, one of the sellers who bought up all of the Cameo editions especially liked to buy up all of the ones that did not have jackets.  That seller then created reproduction dust jackets and resold the books at much higher prices, always emphasizing how impossible it was to find the books with original jackets.  This was true, but only because this seller and several others were buying up all of them.

Since 2008, series book prices have fallen, so the Cameo editions now sell for relatively low prices.  The Farah's Guide estimates are probably about right for these books, if the jackets are truly in excellent condition.  I see many books with jackets that have some wear but are still in pretty good shape selling for only around $10 to $20 in current eBay auctions.

Another problem that could be contributing to the current lower prices is the fact that dozens and possibly hundreds of Cameo editions are in circulation with the reproduction dust jackets that were created by the one seller.  I have seen a few resold at times on eBay.  Whenever I see a Cameo edition with a dust jacket that looks to be in as nice of condition as the books I photographed for this post, I am always concerned that the jacket might be a reproduction.  If the jacket is in a mylar cover, I am extremely concerned, since the reproduction jackets are always placed in mylar covers to make them look better.  If the jacket is in nice shape but not in mylar, then I figure that the jacket is more likely to be a "new find" from an estate and therefore more likely to be real.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Nancy Drew Picture Cover Edition Values

Note: This post does not in any way criticize Farah's Guide. Prices have changed since the 12th edition of Farah's Guide was published, and this post covers that topic.

Many sellers value some revised text Nancy Drew books at far too low of prices due to using Farah's Guide to value the books. Some revised text Nancy Drew books, including #17, 24, and 34 in the final cover art versions, are worth significantly more than what Farah's Guide indicates.

Let's start with #24, The Clue in the Old Album, in the 1977 cover art.

Farah assigns the first printing of this art a value of $15.  The second and third printings of this art are valued at $5 each.

Back in the summer, an auction for what was either the first or second printing of the 1977 cover art closed at $17.49, which is slightly above the value of the first printing and far above the value of the second printing. I do not know which book was offered.

I sold this book for $19.99. It does not quite match any of the printings in Farah's Guide, so possibly four printings exist with this cover art. Be aware that a book not being listed in Farah's Guide does not make it rare and valuable; rather, the book is simply not yet listed in Farah's Guide.

Regardless, the book I sold for $19.99 would align with one of Farah's $5 printings. It took around one month for the book to sell which is short, considering that I still have some unsold books on Bonanza that have been listed for three years. This tells me that my price of $19.99 could not have been too high.

Farah values the double oval endpapers printings of Old Album at $3 each. I sold this one for $14.99. This book also took only one month to sell.

Quite often, the final cover art of Old Album sells for very low prices on eBay, but this is usually because the sellers place very low Buy It Now prices on the book.  Many of these sellers are collectors who use Farah's Guide, so I believe that they are pricing the book too low based on Farah's Guide.

Based on my observations, the $5 Farah's Guide printings for the final cover art of Old Album are actually worth $15 to $20 each.  The first printing of this art, in excellent condition, is worth $25 or more.

The 1975 revised text of #34, The Hidden Window Mystery, is another book that is often valued too low.

It is valued at $9 for the first printing of this art, $5 for the other printings with black and white multi endpapers, and $4 for the printings with double oval endpapers.

I sold this book for $6.99, and it took only two weeks to sell. This is one of the $5 Farah's Guide printings, except that the Farah's Guide value is for books in excellent condition. This book is not, yet it sold for above the Farah's Guide value.

Here is another book like the first one, but in better condition. It sold for $9.99 in only 12 days. 

Here is a book with double oval endpapers that sold on eBay for $8.99.

Since the books that are not the first printing are selling up towards $10, we can assume that the actual first printing of this cover art is worth more towards $15 to $20.

The 1976 cover art of #17, Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk, is valued too low in Farah's Guide.

I sold this book for $9.99, and it is valued at $5 in Farah's Guide.  Most any printing of this cover art is worth at least $10, and Farah values them at $5.

The first printing of this cover art, which lists to Sky Phantom on the back cover, is valued at $15, but it does not seem to exist.  In any case, we can get no credible report of anyone owning one.  Anonymous reports do not count.  If the Sky Phantom printing does actually exist, the rarity would warrant a value far above $15.

Almost all revised text picture cover printings for most other titles are generally assigned a value of $5 in Farah's Guide for books in excellent condition.  Revised text books in excellent condition are selling up towards $10 each, while books that sell for around $5 are ones that have flaws.  The possible exceptions are Nancy Drew #1 up to around #10 in the revised text picture cover editions.  These books tend to be harder to sell due to how common they are and often have to be priced lower.

Now let's cover the original text Nancy Drew picture cover editions.  These books are in high demand currently and are easier to sell than any other type of Nancy Drew book.  Most of the original text picture covers were printed during the 1960s, while volumes that were revised later also have many printings from the 1970s.  Farah assigns the printings from the 1960s a value of $6.00 and the printings from the 1970s a value of $5.  This does not include the first printing picture covers which are assigned higher values, and I am excluding those special printings from this discussion.

I have a lot of trouble keeping a full selection of the original text Nancy Drew picture cover books in stock.  Just last week, I replenished my stock, and someone bought most of them the very next day.  I have now restocked them again, knowing that many will soon sell once again.

I find that buyers of the original text picture covers are willing to spend at least $10 per book, sometimes $15 per book.  Most long-time collectors probably do not value those books that highly, especially since Farah values them at $5 to $6.  However, new collectors are clearly willing to pay far more than $5 to $6.

Some of the mid-range original text picture covers are particularly in demand.  #24-28 are very hard to keep in supply.  I am now pricing average printings of those titles at around $10 even if they are not in high-grade condition.  I am moving towards $15 for those titles if in excellent condition, and keep in mind that I am not referring to first printing picture cover editions.  This is for the average original text printing of those titles.

#16 with the first Nappi cover art is quite in demand.

I now price it a little above $10 if in excellent condition.

In conclusion, all Nancy Drew picture cover edition books are worth more than the values given in Farah's Guide.  Some printings may be just slightly higher while others are much higher. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Tapestry Series: The Maelstrom

I reviewed the Tapestry series by Henry H. Neff last summer.

The Tapestry Series Part 1
The Tapestry Series Part 2

At that time, the first three books in the series had been published, and one remaining title had yet to be published.  The fourth book was published this fall, but now the series is set to consist of a total of five books.  Thus far, the following books have been published.

1.  The Hound of Rowan:  Book One of the Tapestry, 2007
2.  The Second Siege:  Book Two of the Tapestry, 2008
3.  The Fiend and the Forge:  Book Three of the Tapestry, 2010
4.  The Maelstrom:  Book Four of the Tapestry, 2012

In preparation for reading The Maelstrom, I read the first three books again.  This time, I found the first few chapters of the first book to be somewhat uninteresting, but then I quickly became interested again in the story.  I enjoyed the second and third books even more so than I did the first time, primarily because I better understood the events.

I just finished reading The Maelstrom, and I cannot overstate how good these books are.  The series gets better and better with each book.  The characters are described so vividly, and the plot is riveting.

The series begins as a blatant copy of the Harry Potter series.  While the remaining books have obvious Harry Potter parallels, the series is actually quite different from Harry Potter.  In this series, the demons take full control of the modern world.  The Harry Potter series never goes that far. 

In fact, this series is a mixture of fantasy, mythology, and dystopia.  Dystopian novels are usually set sometime in the future after a world calamity transforms the world.  In this series, the calamity occurs within the plots of these books, and we see the world redrawn with all new nations formed.  The journey is quite fascinating.

As with Harry Potter and other related series, the books are steeped in mythology.  The many geographical, historical, and literary references enhance the reader's experience.  The author is a former history teacher, and it shows.

Another nice touch is that the illustrator of the books is the author himself.  Henry H. Neff drew all of the internal illustrations.  How amazing to view illustrations that are not another person's interpretation of the author's words but rather the actual author's depiction of the book's events!

This series has avoided finding a large audience, which surprises me.  Most people do not know about it, which is a shame.  On the other hand, I rather like getting to enjoy a series that is a hidden gem without having to endure all of the unnecessary hype.  If you like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or Fablehaven, then I strongly recommend that you give this series a try.  I eagerly anticipate the release of the final book in this series.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Series Book Questions Fall 2012

I have rewritten the questions in order not to quote directly from private messages.

I am interested in these first printing Nancy Drew books.

Nancy Drew #34 The Hidden Window Mystery 1957A-1 DJ
Nancy Drew #35 The Haunted Showboat Tweed 1958A-1 DJ

Hidden Window is copyright 1956 but has 1957A as the number.  Haunted Showboat is copyright 1957 but has 1958A as the number.  If the first printing was a year earlier as the copyright indicates, then shouldn't the numbers be 1957B and 1958B indicating second printings?

The people who wrote the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew guides give dates that correspond to the earliest known printing of each book. Some of the books had copyrights that were registered towards the end of the year, but the books may not have actually been published until the start of the next year. In those cases, the guide writers chose the next year to date the first printing since they have no evidence that the book was printed during the same year as the copyright. The books you asked about are examples of this situation.

If you see a reference to Farah’s 12th edition in any of my listings with an accompanying code that ends in the number "1," the book is guaranteed to be the first printing, since that is the code that Farah used to denote the first printing. The final number is the printing, so "1" corresponds to the first printing.

Haunted Showboat’s first printing is 1958A-1, rather than 1957, since Farah has found no evidence that the first printing was issued before early 1958, even though the copyright is 1957. The same is true for Hidden Window in which the copyright is 1956 but the first printing is coded as 1957A-1.

So, this is a technicality on how the guide writers coded the books. We do know for sure that those books are the very first printings; we just do not know if they were actually printed in December or January of their corresponding years, which is why you see the discrepancy on the listed year.

The last flashlight edition Nancy Drew book, #64 Captive Witness, mentions The Gondolier's Secret as the next book in the series.  However, all websites mention Mystery of the Winged Lion as the next book in the series.  Why is this?  Did Carolyn Keene pass on before the book was written and other people took over writing the books?

What happened frequently with series books is that the publisher would have a title in mind and then change it later. At the time that Captive Witness went to print, the next title was called The Gondolier’s Secret. The title was changed from The Gondolier’s Secret to Mystery of the Winged Lion by the time the book went into print. Even though the next book, Mystery of the Winged Lion, had been retitled, the previous book, Captive Witness, still had the wrong title listed in the back. You’ll see that same kind of error occasionally with some of the other books.

When I answered this question, I did not address the issue of when Carolyn Keene passed on.  Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym for a group of writers.  Carolyn Keene never existed in the first place, so she never passed on.  We do not know the names of all writers who have written Nancy Drew books over the years, such as for the newest books, but we do know that Mildred Wirt Benson wrote the earliest Nancy Drew books.  Harriet Stratemeyer Adams later wrote a large number of the original 56 Nancy Drew books.  Neither woman is still living, but this has nothing to do with errors in titles printed inside books.

I am looking for Nancy Drew books #1-56 from the original series for my wife.  Do you have the entire set for sale, or do you have all of the books available individually?

I should have nearly all of them individually, except for any stray titles that may have sold recently.

If you go to this link, you will see my Nancy Drew books. You are probably looking for the picture cover books, which you will find in the following subcategories.

> PCs Blue Multi
> PCs B&W Multi I
> PCs B&W Multi II

If you want all 56 books, then it will be less expensive to purchase them together in a lot. Several sellers on eBay have complete sets. 

Note:  I provided the prospective buyer a link to one set that was currently on eBay at that time.  The buyer did not purchase any books from me, so I assume that he found what he needed on eBay.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chasing After eBay's Top-Rated Seller Part 2

A little over one week ago, I listed a large number of items on eBay during one of its free auction listing promotions.  Those items close in the next one to three days.  My goal is to maintain my top-rated seller status.

The problem is caused by sales that continuously roll off of my record from one year ago.

The above screen capture shows the sales that will roll off in the next seven months.  Since I am right at 100 items sold in the last year, I cannot afford to slack on getting items listed on eBay.  I need to sell these numbers of items in the coming months.

My biggest obstacle in the near future is the 21 sales needed by January 20.  I have been scrambling for several months to try to get ahead of 100 sales, but I have only been able to keep my total at just slightly over 100 items sold in the last year.  I gave some details in Part 1 of this discussion.

My task is made much more difficult by the fact that auctions are once again suppressed in "best match."  While all of us who have been collecting for a while know to avoid "best match," people new to eBay are not aware.  They do not know that "best match" presents the items in a jumbled order.  This is a huge problem for Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, due to the large number of items seen in those search results.  A newbie buyer using "best match" is not likely to see any of my Nancy Drew books.

Also consider that newbie buyers are the ones who need everything and tend to be the most enthusiastic of buyers.  They are the ones who will place multiple bids on auctions.  If a significant number of those buyers are seeing the "best match" sort, then auctions will close for lower prices and fewer auction listings will sell.  

I decided to look at a few longtime eBay sellers of series books to see how they are doing.  The last time I checked on several sellers, their sell-through rate had dropped to around 10%.  

One seller who sells series books plus a good many other items has sold 162 items out of 1,522 items, which gives this seller a sell-through rate of 10.6%.  I should note that this seller has sold more items that are not books than ones that are books.  I did not want to try to separate the sales due to the high number of listings.

I checked two other sellers who almost exclusively sell series books.  Of these sellers, one has sold 5 out of 82 items with a sell-through rate of 6.1%.  The other has sold 12 out of 304 items with a sell-through rate of 3.9%.  This last one might be the most telling, since this particular seller has been extremely successful over the years on eBay.  3.9% is a horrible sell-through rate, especially for someone who has always had great traction on eBay and has never left eBay.

These low sell-through rates show how much eBay has slid in recent years.  Do not misunderstand and think that I am blaming the sellers.  Not at all.  These sellers are doing what they have always done, and their sell-through rates continue to fall.

When I first began listing on Bonanza in my Jennifer's Series Books booth, I had to figure out a way to promote my listings.  I created a Facebook page and placed links in this blog and on my website.  This was in early 2009, and only on the alternative sites did people get told that they had to promote their listings.  Now in 2012, this same advice is given on eBay's message boards.  eBay users are now telling other users that they cannot just list their items.  They need a Facebook page, and they need to promote outside eBay.

eBay has changed.  In order to have a chance on eBay, one must promote one's items.  Furthermore, Buy It Now is almost necessary, and one's items need to be inexpensive.

During last week's eBay promotion, I decided to list as much as I could and as cheaply as I could.  Since that promotion offered 10-day listings for free, I listed every auction for 10 days to maximize my exposure.  I added Buy It Now to all listings in hopes of either getting an immediate sale or forcing someone to deactivate the Buy It Now.  I aimed for each Buy It Now to be approximately 10% above the opening bid, which is the minimum amount above the starting bid price that is allowed by eBay.  Essentially, I wanted these items to serve as fixed-price items but without the listing fee associated with such listings.

I have sold several items via Buy It Now, and several items have had the Buy It Now deactivated.  Either way, I am happy since I need every single sale to maintain 100 items sold during the last year.  Counting all of the items that have sold and the current items with bids, I have met my December requirement and now have 16 out of the 21 items required for January 20.  As soon as these items close, I am immediately going to relist 26 of them to use up my remaining November free listings.  I am hoping that at least few of those will sell and that I will then be right at the 21 required items for January 20.  If I can get those items plus a few extra, then I will be okay well into the spring.

The main reason I want to keep top-rated seller is because I get a 20% discount on fees.  This really does add up to a significant savings.  If I fall below 100 items, then I lose my discount.

I want to keep my discount because I want to use eBay to help promote my Bonanza booth.  Inside each package, I send a flyer that includes a link to my Bonanza booth.  I have had a few people purchase from me on eBay in the last few months, and then make a purchase from me on Bonanza at about the item their packages arrived.  These are people who had not previously purchased from me, so the flyer is helping.

I also had one person send me a message upon receiving the package thanking me for the links.  That person was thrilled to have discovered this blog as a result of the flyer. 

Quite a few people buy on eBay who have no knowledge of where collectors gather.  They do not know about this blog, my website, my Bonanza booth, or any of the Yahoo! Groups.  Selling on eBay is an excellent way to gain exposure to a group of collectors who is outside the main circle.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Reached by Ally Condie

Reached by Ally Condie was recently published.  Reached is the final installment in the Matched Trilogy.  I decided to reread Matched and Crossed before reading Reached, and I'm so glad I did.

I reviewed Matched and Crossed in this blog post, and my opinion about Crossed has changed somewhat.  I still believe that Crossed has way too much filler material, and when I reread it, I skimmed through much of it.  I no longer believe that Condie made a mistake about Xander and his secret.  I also liked Crossed better this time, but that may perhaps be because I skimmed through much of it.

Crossed has a lot of very important information, some of which the reader does not realize is important until well into the third book.  The importance of some of the information is another reason why I like Crossed better now.

Before I begin my review of Reached, I want to recap the main plot points of Matched and Crossed.

Matched is set in the Society, which controls every aspect of every person's life.  Cassia Maria Reyes is Matched with Xander Thomas Carrow.  Cassia is thrilled about her Match, since she has known Xander her entire life and is friends with him.  After the Match banquet, Cassia views Xander's microcard, which will tell her everything she needs to know about Xander.  The trouble is that another boy's face flashes on the screen, that of Ky Markham.

Cassia also knows Ky.  Cassia is drawn to Ky because of the microchip mistake and falls in love with him.  The rest of Matched deals with Cassia's feelings and her growing awareness of the flaws in the Society's ways.

Crossed tells the story of Cassia's escape from the Society and her search for Ky.  Cassia and Ky learn about the Enemy and the Rising.  The Rising is a rebellion led by the Pilot.  Nobody knows who the Pilot is.  Crossed switches between two points of view—Cassia and Ky.

In Reached, the Rising has begun, and all three of Cassia, Ky, and Xander are fully involved in some way or another.  Reached switches between the viewpoints of all three characters, with much greater success than in Crossed.  I always knew which character was the voice while reading Reached.  Each character has a unique role to play, which makes it easy to know which character is the voice.

I did not like Xander very much in either Matched or Crossed.  Xander has no personality or reason for existence in either book, so he does not matter.  I felt no connection to Xander and found him to be pointless.

This changes in Reached.  Xander has a very important role to play, and his personality comes alive.

In Reached, the arrival of the Rising wreaks havoc on the Society, just as the Rising intended.  However, the Rising's plan has unintended consequences which throws both the Society and the Rising into chaos.  The Rising scrambles to right what has gone wrong.  I dislike giving too specific of information, so I will leave it at that.

As already stated, some seemingly insignificant conversations from Crossed are discovered to be extremely important and intriguing.  Xander is finally interesting.  The ending is quite satisfying, although some of it is left open-ended.  The plot takes quite a few unexpected twists and turns.

I have read the reviews for Reached, and the reviews are quite split between people who loved Reached and others who found Reached to be boring.  The disparity is caused by how different all three books are from each other.

The first book, Matched, is more of a romance than anything else.  People who enjoy romance ended up disappointed when the trilogy took a different direction.  Crossed is an adventure story.  Some people like Crossed the best of the three books.  Reached is like neither of the preceding stories, and that is why some readers do not like it.  Reached is compelling because we see how Cassia, Ky, and Xander are changed by the Rising and we get a glimpse into what the future holds for them.

With many trilogies, and most all series books for that matter, each book has a repetitive storyline that is very similar to the previous book.  This trilogy breaks out of the mold, giving us three very different stories that are pieces of the overall story arc.

I greatly enjoyed Reached.  I found every chapter to be interesting, and to me, Reached is the best book in the trilogy.  I had no idea while reading Matched what kind of journey I would take, and that journey was fantastic.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

eBay's Best Match Placement

Experienced eBay buyers know that they should always change the sort in eBay's search from "best match" to "ending soonest."  Since eBay has had "best match" as the default for years, a good many buyers use it to search and do not see most of the results.  eBay will soon restrict the number of results that appear in "best match," which will mean that items that are suppressed will never be seen at all by any of those buyers.

Last year, eBay gave the auction listings a boost in "best match."  I was able to use the auction listings to sell items.  It was nice, and I was able to become a top-rated seller in June.  eBay is always changing its policies back and forth, and now eBay has suppressed the auction results in best match.

Originally, auction listings were given a boost, then they were suppressed.  Next, auction listings were given a boost again, now they are suppressed again.  Could eBay make a decision and stick with it?  That's why so many of us now sell elsewhere.  We can't deal with stupid changes for no clear reason.

The result is that I am struggling to maintain the top-rated seller.  I may have to let it go in January, since I will have great trouble meeting my January sales requirement of 21 items.  In theory, I should be able to meet the requirement, but since my eBay sell-through rate on auctions is around 5%, the outlook is grim.  And I thought I had it bad four years ago when my sell-through rate dropped to 25%.  I had no idea.

eBay is running another of those "by invitation only" seller promotions for unlimited free auction listings.  As usual, I was invited.  I'm not sure why eBay bothers since nothing sells.  More to the point, I'm not sure why I bother since nothing sells.  Nevertheless, I have listed a bunch of items in hopes of meeting my January sales requirement.

Since I have listed some Connie Blair and Vicki Barr books and since those searches return a small number of items, I thought I should check to see exactly where I rank in "best match."  I know my items are suppressed, but actual data would be helpful.

I ran a Vicki Barr search for "title only" and in "best match."  The search returned 121 items.  My items are #50, 58, 66, 74, 82, 90, and 98.  The situation could be worse, but it is still bad.

I next ran a search for Connie Blair for "title only" and in "best match."  The search returned 84 items.  "Best match" is supposed to favor items that have been relisted that have sold in previous listings.  It is supposed to suppress items that do not get viewed or that have been viewed many times without selling.  Therefore, I fail to understand why an overpriced $620 Connie Blair lot is #1, and it has been listed for months without selling. 

In the Connie Blair search of 84 items, my items are #43, 52, 57, 61, 66, and 71.  This is pretty bad.

I am not going to try to find my Nancy Drew items, since a "title only" search returns 9,570 results.  Applying what I just discovered with my Vicki Barr and Connie Blair searches, my highest Nancy Drew book is probably between #4,000 and #5,000.  Consider when eBay begins limiting results in its new searches.  eBay is expected to show only the first 200 items.  When that occurs, buyers will never see my items.

And that is why items don't sell on eBay.  Perhaps I should reconsider trying to keep top-rated seller and just let it go.  Once the search begins limiting results, my items will be completely invisible.  They are already halfway to invisible, so the situation will only get worse. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Nancy Drew Game: The Deadly Device

I never did a writeup of Tomb of the Lost Queen, mainly because I didn't have much to say about it.  I enjoyed it, but not as much as the earlier games.  This has been a trend with recent games.  Shadow at the Water's Edge is the exception; it is one of the very best games Her Interactive has ever produced.

I just finished playing The Deadly Device.  I have to give Her Interactive kudos for coming up with different game ideas that keep the franchise going.  Each of the recent games has been very different from earlier games.  This is good, but unfortunately, I did not enjoy most of the recent games as much as the earlier games.

Gone are the annoying chores, but some chores are fun.  I hated the mundane chores that made no sense in The Secret of Shadow Ranch, but I have missed other types of chores that are important to each game.  For instance, many of the earlier games require Nancy to find certain items in order to earn money to buy necessary supplies.  In one game, Nancy has to find shells.  Those types of chores serve a real purpose, and the search for hidden objects is fun.

The recent games have had very little searching for hidden objects.  The Deadly Device does have two instances of hidden objects, but the objects are placed in such a way that they are extremely easy to find.  Only one of the two searches is vital to the game, and that one is the one that is too easy.  In that case, every single one of the objects is in plain sight all in one small room.  What is the fun in that?

The culprit is extremely obvious in The Deadly Device.  The culprit is not obvious at the very beginning, but some statements are made which clue the player in very quickly as to the culprit's identity.  By three-fourths of the way through the game, I was 100% certain, and usually, Her Interactive keeps me guessing until the final reveal.  Not this time.

Both Tomb of the Lost Queen and The Deadly Device use the plot device of Nancy getting stranded, yet it has no effect on either game whatsoever.  What is the point of having Nancy stranded when it has no effect on the game play?  I recall an early game in which a blizzard occurs.  In that game, Nancy is able to go outside until the blizzard begins, and then she is confined to the indoors.

In Tomb of the Lost Queen, a sandstorm hits.  We do hear the sandstorm, but it occurs at a stage in which Nancy is finishing up the mystery.  The sandstorm serves no purpose.

Around halfway through The Deadly Device, we learn that Nancy is stranded due to a snowstorm.  Nancy never goes outside during this game, so what is the point?  The storm is hidden from view completely and has no impact on the game play.

In conclusion, I continue to enjoy the Nancy Drew games but not as much as the earlier ones.  Her Interactive has now released 27 games since 1997.  I looked over the list, and the games changed at around #22.  I have not enjoyed #22-27 in the same way as the earlier games, with the exception of #23 Shadow at the Water's Edge, which is absolutely outstanding.

Monday, November 5, 2012

2012 Series Book Selling Trends

I have very clear memories of 2008, for many reasons, and I have been comparing 2008 to 2012 in my mind for several months.  2008 was a presidential election year and a leap year, and so is 2012. 

2008 was the year we had a series book buying frenzy on eBay, and at about that time, eBay changed to the DSR system.  I was unaffected at first, since the buying frenzy kept prices elevated and demand high.  Once the buyer who created the buying frenzy was arrested for stealing several hundred thousand dollars from her bank's vault, sales fell sharply.

In the months after buying frenzy ended, I was targeted by another eBay seller and also had a few buyers who gave me low DSRs, and my problems began.  My sales effectively stopped on eBay due to my low DSRs.

At around this time in 2008, I began a search for a new venue.  I looked at eBid, eCRATER, Wensy, and Bonanzle, as Bonanza was known at that time.  I chose Bonanzle on January 1, 2009, and I had no idea whether my choice was right.  The choice was made purely on intuition.  I would say that I went with Bonanzle mainly because the site had more appeal to me than the other three.  Now, four years later, Bonanza has worked out quite well.

My eBay sales have been up and down over the last four years.  Except for part of 2011, my eBay sales have been down. Comparing late 2008 to late 2012, my eBay sales are in the exact same position.  My sales were bad in late 2008, and once again, they are bad in late 2012.  The irony is that I now have top-rated seller status, which would have saved me in late 2008.  Now, that is not even enough.

Series book prices fell sharply after the buying frenzy and have stayed low for four years.  I wrote about the low prices in this blog post.

I have observed that Nancy Drew books with dust jackets are now selling somewhat better than they have in the four years since 2008.  I still see the prices for the ones from the 1930s as greatly reduced from what they were in 2008, but they seem to have picked up slightly, so that is a good sign.

The Nancy Drew books with jackets from the middle part of the 1940s and on sell fairly easily so long as they are in excellent condition and priced somewhere around $20 to $40.

The Nancy Drew picture cover editions from the 1960s are very strong sellers, and some titles are quite hard to keep in stock. #16 and #22 are examples of titles that tend to be good sellers in the first Nappi art.

The Nancy Drew double oval endpaper books are undesirable, but some titles are strong sellers, such as #24, #55, and #56.  I avoid listing the rest, but those three can be priced at $10 or higher and sell easily and usually fairly quickly.

I had a huge quantity of Nancy Drew books in dust jackets that I purchased in 2008, and it has taken me four years to run down that inventory, due to poor sales.  Since the sales have picked up in recent months, I have finally had to purchase more of them, although the amount I am willing to pay is considerably less than what it was four years ago.  I won't get into specific amounts for obvious reasons, but the amounts are 33% to 50% of what I would have paid four years ago.  And I can easily get them for those lower amounts.

Four years ago, a certain eBay seller was willing to pay higher prices than I was for Nancy Drew books with dust jackets.  It now appears that this seller is willing to pay less than what I am.  I was surprised at how easily I won some lots recently for well within what they can be resold.  Four years ago, I lost most large lot auctions of that type to one of around five people.

Much has changed with the prices realized for my own books for sale when comparing 2008 to 2012.  I have observed that while I tend not to price my books as high as several eBay sellers, I seem to be able to consistently get more for many of my books than what they are.  That statement sounds contradictory on the surface, but allow me to explain.

Those sellers price some books way too high, and sometimes do get those prices.  For many other books, such as most all Dana Girls books and Nancy Drew picture cover editions from the 1960s and 1970s, I tend to price my books higher and get those prices.  The eBay market has become very soft in that many sellers make the mistake of pricing desirable books at a few dollars in an auction, and the competitive bidding is no longer there.  I can price the book at double the amount in my Bonanza booth and easily get that price.  Sometimes the book sells within days, and sometimes it takes a couple of months.  Regardless, I get that higher price.

From 2008 to 2012, I increased my digital footprint significantly within the series book collecting community.  In 2008, I already had a successful website and blog, but I did not use either to market my eBay items.  I did not use them because I did not need to use them.  Paying eBay's listing fees was sufficient marketing, and the items sold with little difficulty until late 2008.

When I created my Bonanza booth on January 1, 2009, I needed to give it a name.  I thought about it for perhaps 30 seconds and used the first name that came to me, Jennifer's Series Books.  Next, I had to figure out how to make people aware of my booth.  I turned to my website and blog and used both to make people aware.  I was quite uncomfortable with promoting my books in both places.  In other words, I was uncomfortable with promoting my books to you, but I had no choice.  Happily, I have been over that discomfort for around 3 1/2 years.  The key is to make people aware but not to annoy them with the cross-promotion.

That done, I proceeded from there.  The journey has taken some unexpected twists and turns, and I have had some setbacks.  I have had to deal with eBay's ever-changing rules as I have off and on used eBay to try to promote my Bonanza items.  Some recent and upcoming eBay changes may finally end any chance of using eBay to sell books, but that is a topic for another post.

In late 2008, I only sold books on eBay and tended to get less for my books than other sellers.  Four years later, I almost exclusively sell my books on Bonanza, and in many cases, I get more for my books that do those same eBay sellers.  Bonanza is now known among the series book collecting community as a destination for series books, and my booth is fairly well known.

In four years, eBay's quality series book inventory has weakened significantly, mostly due to people like me who no longer sell on eBay.  As a seller, I am in better shape than I was four years ago.  As a buyer, I am in a worse position, since eBay's inventory has weakened considerably during the last four years.  As I look to the future, I am optimistic about my future success on Bonanza and deeply concerned that I could someday lose eBay as a place to purchase books.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Another Interesting Package Situation

I sometimes have trouble with sellers making mistakes throughout every step of the transaction.  I have these problems because I often buy cheap lots of books on eBay that are not described well.  Those types of lots are often sold by sellers who are careless and do not package well.* 

One such package arrived recently.  I guess I should consider myself very lucky that the package arrived at all.  The problem is that the seller wrote the wrong house number on the address label.

At first, I thought that the package was delivered to the neighbor, who opened it and then gave it back to the carrier.  The package was opened, at least partially, from the right edge.  Apparently, what actually happened is that the carrier recognized my name and determined that the package had the wrong house number on it.  He verified that the package was mine and left it at my house instead.  At least the carrier was paying attention and noticed that the name did not match the house number.

Since the box was smashed, I knew before opening this package that I should document it with photos.

Also make note that the seller was careful to make certain that everyone who saw the box knew that it contained Nancy Drew books. I think that was a nice touch.

I opened the package and was not surprised at what I discovered.

The package contained nothing to pad the books, which is why the box ended up smashed.  Also interesting is how often I open these types of packages and the books are upside down with respect to the direction of the address label.  I flipped the remaining photos over to make your viewing of them easier.

The Hidden Staircase dust jacket was folded under at one corner and loose in the box.  Why wasn't it on the book?  Why do I even ask?

I hope you enjoyed reading about this package situation.

*Note to my sensitive readers:  I am not stating that all sellers of cheap books are careless, just that some of them are.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nancy Drew 1940s Style Library Binding

The Nancy Drew 1940s Style Library Binding is the most difficult to find of the different Nancy Drew library editions.  I have been searching for them for ten years and have only managed to acquire #1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11.  I once lost an auction for #15.

When Megan Washburn contacted me wanting to know if I wished to see pictures of her books that I do not have in the 1940s Style Library Binding, I was extremely excited.

All books seen here were photographed by Megan Washburn and are owned by Megan Washburn.  Megan granted permission for me to share her photographs.

First, I want to show you Megan's photograph of all of her Nancy Drew books.  This is quite a handsome set of library editions.  Remember that you can always click on a photo to see a larger version.

Now, here are Megan's 1940s Style Nancy Drew library editions.

When I wrote about Nancy's Mysterious Letter, I commented that the books do not show Nancy on the spine.  The Hidden Staircase does show Nancy on the spine, so that statement is false.  The Clue of the Tapping Heels might show Nancy on the spine, but the image is more likely young Gussie Woonton.  The rest of the books stick to the theme of showing an important symbol from the mystery on the spine of the book. 

The Sign of the Twisted Candles has a twisted candle.  The Password to Larkspur Lane has larkspur.  The Mystery of the Ivory Charm has an ivory charm.  The Haunted Bridge has a ghost.  I love the unique spine symbols that each book uses.

Thanks for Megan, we now know that the 1940s Style Library Binding exists for Nancy Drew #1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, and 16.  At this point, I consider it likely that #4, 12, and 14 probably exist as well, although I cannot be certain.  The binderies rebound whichever random books were sent to them, so we have no guarantee that every consecutive title was rebound in this particular binding.  Furthermore, we do not know if any titles past #16 were rebound in this binding.

I am excited to know for certain that more books exist in this binding than the ones I have managed to acquire so far.  I am also encouraged by the knowledge that Megan has duplicates of some titles, which gives me hope that more of these books exist out there and that I may someday find them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Geometric Design Library Binding

Recently, I was contacted by Megan Washburn, who owns her grandmother's Nancy Drew books.  Almost all of Megan's books are library editions, and she went online to research them.  This led her to my site, where she discovered that I do not have examples of most of her books.  When I learned what Megan has, I was eager to see pictures. 

All photos seen here were taken by Megan Washburn and are of books owned by Megan Washburn.  Megan granted me permission to share the photos of her wonderful books.

Remember that you can click on any photo to see a larger version.

The following photos are of Nancy Drew books that have been rebound in geometric design library bindings.

The above book is The Clue of the Velvet Mask, but the spine has the title as The Glue of the Velvet Mask.  The binderies sometimes misspelled titles on the bindings, and the above book is an amusing example.

Megan also has some Dana Girls books in the geometric design library binding.

My favorites are The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion, The Clue in the Old Album, and both versions of The Clue of the Leaning Chimney.  I love the swirls.

Megan also has a number of the Nancy Drew 1940s Style Library Binding that I do not have, and I will showcase those books in my next post.