Thursday, September 27, 2012

People Who Want to Sell Me Books

I often receive messages from people who want to sell me books.  What frustrates me is that they typically give me no information other than the series title, such as Nancy Drew or Cherry Ames.  As readers of this blog know, I do not enjoy asking sellers questions.  When people contact me wanting to sell me books, I am faced with having to ask a bunch of questions in order to figure out what they have.  This is undesirable.  The result is that I normally advise them to list their books on eBay so that I do not have to engage in an extended question and answer session for books that I most likely do not want.

This is what I told someone from several weeks ago.
You have several options. A good many collectors use eBay to find books, so if you are willing to use eBay, that is the easiest and fastest option. You would list the books in an auction, and if your starting bid is reasonable, the books will sell and will go to a good home.

If you do not want to use eBay, then you could sell your books to a local book store. They might pay less than eBay, and it also depends upon how desirable your books are to them.

Another option is to donate them to your local library. In this case, the library would probably not shelve them but would instead sell them at their library book sale. In that case, the books would eventually find a good home.
I could tell by the response I received that she did not like my answer.  She did not want the library to sell them for $0.25 each as she thought that the books are worth more than that.   Why would the library's selling price matter?  The fact that she was concerned about the price tells me that she was not going to want to sell the books cheap.  I do not need the books for my collection, so I am the last person to approach if someone wants good money for their books.

She also made the comment that she did not want to risk the books ending up in a six-year-old's hands.  Why worry about that?  We cannot control who buys our books or what they do with them.  In fact, if you sell me books, they may very well end up in a six-year-old's hands.  I do not worry about what people do with the books I sell or how old the recipient is.  I know that I have sold vintage Nancy Drew picture cover editions to people who have bought them for their grandchildren.  I doubt that those grandchildren are adults.  The children might abuse the books, but that is not my problem.  I cannot police the world.

I also do not think she was very enthused about eBay.  Well?  It is the best option.  If the books do have value, then I did her a favor.  She will get more for the books than from selling them to me.

Since that exchange, I have decided that I could simply ask for a photograph while advising that a high chance exists that I would not want the books.  If I do that, then I will not miss out on any good books but will not have to spend time seeking information about books I do not want. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Series Book Questions Late Summer 2012

These are questions that I have received recently.  I have rewritten the questions in my own words so as not to include direct quotes from private communication.

Which Penny Parker books were printed with the glossy frontispiece illustration?

The thick books with good quality paper and a glossy frontispiece go up to Ghost Beyond the Gate. Hoofbeats on the Turnpike and Voice from the Cave can be found in thin books which have good quality paper and a glossy frontispiece. The last five books, Guilt of the Brass Thieves up to The Cry at Midnight, can only be found in thin books with poor quality paper and a plain paper frontispiece.

I found a Beverly Gray A. L. Burt book that was paired with a Grosset and Dunlap jacket.  Do you think that the books came this way, or were they mismatched years later?  Also, I have a Beverly Gray Grosset and Dunlap book that seems to have the insides of a Burt book. 

I have an Orient Burt book that is matched with a Grosset and Dunlap jacket. I have seen and heard of other Burt books that have Grosset and Dunlap jackets. I have read that when Burt went bankrupt and sold the rights to Beverly Gray to Grosset and Dunlap, the Burt books that had already been printed were also sold to Grosset and Dunlap. Grosset and Dunlap then printed its own jackets and put on the books. This means that likely quite a few Burt books have Grosset and Dunlap jackets.

Since Grosset and Dunlap bought the Burt books and printed dust jackets for them, the Grosset and Dunlap jackets were likely paired with the Burt books from the very beginning.

I have also heard that Grosset and Dunlap often bought unbound books from other publishers from their discontinued stock. They probably also ended up with some unbound Beverly Gray books that they bound in their own binding. That would explain any Grosset and Dunlap books that look like a Burt book on the inside.

I found an Outdoor Girls book that has green boards similar to some of the Bobbsey Twins books.  It has a silhouette image of three girls on the cover.  When was this book issued?  I am trying to figure out whether it is matched with the correct dust jacket.

The Outdoor Girls books did switch to solid green boards with the silhouette you described. This happened at about the time that The Outdoor Girls at Cedar Ridge, The Outdoor Girls in the Air, and The Outdoor Girls in Desert Valley were published. I am pretty sure that the last two titles are only available in those boards, but I am not certain about Cedar Ridge.

I have seen many of the other titles with the green boards.  Most likely, all of the other titles went through at least one printing with those boards. The jackets are a match if they list to either one of the last two books or perhaps even the one before. As long as the jackets list to a title near the end of the series, then they should be matches for the books.

Is there a way I can run a search to figure out which of your Nancy Drew books have the 25 chapter texts without having to click on every single listing?

Yes. I am pretty sure that I have a statement in every one of my original text Nancy Drew listings stating that the book has the original text, meaning the 25 chapter version. If you go to the main page of my booth,

(link removed since no longer valid)

and look right above the first line of photos of items that are for sale, you will see a search box towards the right side of the screen. Put the following in the search box:

nancy drew original text

Do not put quotations around it. Enter exactly what you see on the line above. The results page will pull up all of my Nancy Drew books that have the original text.

You will notice from this and previous questions that I am often asked how to find the original text books.  Buyers seem to be overwhelmed trying to figure it out, and this is why they often pay high prices for the Applewood editions.

These buyers know that the original text books have 25 chapters rather than 20 chapters.  Their problem is that they have absolutely no idea how to figure out which listings online have the 25 chapters.  The buyer who asked me this most recent question was clicking on every single one of my listings trying to figure it out.  I'd get frustrated and give up if I were trying to do it that way.

Figuring out whether a Nancy Drew book has the original text is actually quite simple.  If the copyright date is anywhere from 1930 to 1956, the book has the original text with 25 chapters.  It really is that simple.

Sure, some sellers might give the wrong copyright date for a later revised book, but buyers are going to be doomed regardless when encountering one of those sellers, who are usually the ones who do not answer questions correctly.  Most sellers will give the copyright date that actually appears in the book.  So, if the copyright given by the seller is 1930 to 1956, the book has the original text.

This is why I place the original copyright date in the title of each of my listings so that buyers can see by the title that the book has the original text.  I could solve the problem by adding "original text" to the title of each listing, but that would cause the titles to be truncated for being too long.  I would rather keep my titles shorter with the series name, key title words, and copyright date.  It is my great wish that buyers who seek the original text books would figure out that the copyright date gives some very useful information. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Nancy Drew Clue in the Diary Library Edition

The Nancy Drew library editions that I have named the "1940s-Style Library Binding" are the most difficult to find of the Nancy Drew library editions.  Fortunately, the rest of you do not seem to want them, so I have had little trouble winning auctions whenever one comes up for sale, which is not very often.  I have been fortunate this year, because I found one early this year and a second in August.  The one I just acquired is The Clue in the Diary

This book has a spine symbol just like all of the others.  The spine symbol always represents some important part of the mystery.  This book has a diary on the spine.

I always look to see who bound the book, if that information is present.  This book has endpapers upon which "College Bindery, College Place Washington" and "Better Bound Books" are printed in several locations in a rough pattern.  The last book of this style that I purchased came from Geo. A. Flohr Co. Library Binders in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Books that seem to be from the same "set" as to the style, like these that have the 1940s style binding, come from a variety of binderies around the country.  I have no idea where the binderies came up with the images used on the covers.  Did the binderies share the images with each other or did they have some kind of partnership with Grosset and Dunlap or someone else? 

Keep in mind that library bindings were not issued as sets, which is why I put the word in quotations in the above paragraph.  I used to be under that mistaken assumption.  Rather, the binderies rebound whichever random books were sent to them by libraries.   They had certain bindings that they used which made the different random books end up having the appearance of sets.  Just because I am building a "set" of this style of library binding does not mean that an actual "set" ever existed.  Even though I know of the existence of #15 Haunted Bridge does not mean that all of #1-15 exist.  I may never be able to find all of them.

Take the books that I call the "Cameo Binding."  I have scores of Nancy Drew books in this binding, and I have most titles in quite a few different colors.  In spite of the large quantities of books that I have acquired, I have yet to see even one example of #12 Hollow Oak.  Refer to this page to see how I have no image of that book and note how many I have of the others pictured on that page.   While I have built a "set" of the books, a complete set may not exist.

Monday, September 17, 2012

More Early Nancy Drew First Printing Auctions Part 2


Hidden Staircase closed at $1,535.10.  As with Old Clock, the closing price was a little low.  I would have expected this one to have sold for $3,000 to $5,000.  If this were several years ago, the price might have ended up somewhere above $5,000.


Bungalow Mystery book closed at $1,045.10.  Since the chipping to the front panel is bad, it is not surprising that the book closed at barely above $1,000.  What is surprising is that the buyer purchased the book to resell and has the book as part of a lot which has a starting price of $3,497.96 and a Buy It Now of $4,897.00.  You can view the listing here.    Here is a picture of those books.

The lot has already been listed multiple times, and I expect that the seller will have trouble selling the lot.  The problem is that most people already own some of the first printings and are not going to want to pay a huge price just to get one book.  Lilac Inn is the 1930A-1 first printing and looks like it might be in nice shape.  I cannot tell for sure, since the seller does not show enough detail in the pictures.  If the book is in excellent condition, I could use it as an upgrade.  However, I do not need any of the other books, so the lot is far too expensive for me.


Red Gate Farm closed at $526.00.  I feel like the closing price was right on target for this one.  The Red Gate Farm first printing jacket is the easiest one to find for the early titles.  The first five printings all had the same jacket, so quite a few of them exist.  On the other hand, the first printing book is quite scarce.  The second post-text ad features the Riddle Club series and is the easy way to tell if the book is the first printing.  The seller gave the information necessary to determine that the book has the Riddle Club ad.

I had a lot of trouble finding an acceptable first printing book for Red Gate Farm.  If I did not already have one, I would have been willing to buy this book just to get the book alone.  Forget about the dust jacket.  Now, if I did not have the dust jacket either, this one was very worthy of purchase for $526.00.  I would not have paid more than that.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Early Nancy Drew First Printing Auctions Part 1

The eleventh 1930A-1 dust jacket for Nancy Drew, The Secret of the Old Clock, surfaced on eBay in August.  For people who are not well-versed in Nancy Drew books, the 1930A-1 Old Clock dust jacket has a front flap that lists just three Nancy Drew books ending with The Bungalow Mystery.


Click on the images to see larger versions.

The book closed at $2,142.17, which is the lowest price yet for the 1930A-1 Old Clock book with dust jacket.   The book was purchased by a book dealer, so it will come back up for sale at a higher price.

I was quite surprised at the closing price, although I did initially predict that the book would sell for under $5,000.

I am certain that nearly all of us who need the first printing jacket for Old Clock already own the first printing book.  While Farah's Guide values the first printing book at $1,000, it is not that hard to acquire, relative to some of the other first printing books, and can be had for $200 to $300.  The book alone is not worth the $1,000 value given in Farah's Guide.

For that reason, the book itself is not a large factor into the final selling price of any of these Old Clock books that come with the 1930A-1 dust jacket.

Farah's Guide values the 1930A-1 Old Clock dust jacket at $10,000.  One example sold in 2008 on eBay for $11,700.  Since that time, the prices realized for the 1930A-1 Old Clock book with dust jacket have steadily declined.

In 2010, a dust jacket in nice shape paired with a nice book sold for $7,257.98.  Just a few days later, a dust jacket in nice shape paired with a book with extensive mildew damage sold for $7,633.88.  The first auction likely closed lower than the second auction since prospective bidders knew about the second auction.  Also of importance is that the mildew damage did not hold back the second book, since the book is not the part that is hugely valuable.

In 2011, a dust jacket that was ripped in two pieces and paired with a nice book sold for $4,494.00.  That jacket would still have the appearance of a jacket in nice shape once installed in a mylar cover.

Also in 2011, a book with a dust jacket in two pieces that would also look nice in a mylar cover was paired with a mildewed book.  It sold for $3,028.88.

And finally, this recent auction for a jacket with a large piece out of the bottom spine which was paired with a nice book sold for $2,142.17.  If the book itself were of great importance, then this recent listing would have closed higher.  Most likely, prospective bidders did not like the large chip out of the bottom spine of the jacket.  None of the previous books mentioned in this post had jackets with any large pieces missing.  This book had the worst dust jacket.

Speaking for myself, the chip to the bottom spine kept me from bidding higher.  I was initially thinking of placing a bid of $3,000 or higher, but I decided that I did not want to spend that much on a chipped jacket.  I also was not in the mood to spend $3,000, just because.  I had spent around $1,000 during the previous week on various needed household items.  I could have afforded to purchase this book, because I do have enough money in savings.  However, when I have just spent a large amount, I have an internal brake that prevents me from continuing to spend.

In hindsight, perhaps I should have tried for the book.  I do know that I would not have been happy to have spent $3,000 or more for a chipped jacket, even for the 1930A-1 Old Clock dust jacket.  If I could have had the book for $500 to $750, I would have jumped at the chance and would have been very happy.  I made the right decision for myself.

I have to think that the chip to the dust jacket probably held back a few other collectors who need the dust jacket.  There may also be some other factors, since the seller had some other first printing Nancy Drew dust jackets from the same era, and the closing prices for them were also unusual.  Those results will be covered in Part 2.

Nancy Drew First Printing Auctions Part 2

Monday, September 10, 2012

Answers to Library Edition Questions

One of the editors from Country Living Magazine asked me a series of questions about the Judy Bolton library editions in order to prepare for the article in which the Judy Bolton library editions were to be included.

I gave a large amount of information, since I wanted to make certain that they understood.  My biggest concern was whether they would grasp the actual values of the library editions.  They asked me about both the regular and library editions, which have completely different sets of values.  I was worried that they would apply the regular edition values or the values of the scarce titles to all library editions.  Fortunately, the article gave a flat value of $5 to $10 for the Judy Bolton library editions.

As I have done with other private communications, I have rewritten the questions that were asked of me in my own words.  My answers follow each question.

I assume that all 38 Judy Bolton books can be found in the patterned binding library edition but want to make certain that is correct.  I also assume that Grosset and Dunlap is responsible for printing the library editions.

I am pretty sure that all 38 titles are available, although I do not have all of them.

Grosset and Dunlap printed the books that were rebound into the library editions but was not responsible for the library bindings.  You will notice that no publisher name appears on the library binding itself, which is a sure sign that the publishing company was not responsible for the library bindings.

Regular editions that were printed by Grosset and Dunlap were at various times donated to libraries.  The regular editions do not hold up well under the constant use to which library books are subjected.  Therefore, many libraries chose to have the books rebound in special reinforced library bindings.

[The italicized words appeared in the article as "Many libraries rebound acquisitions in more durable boards."]

The library sent the donated books to one of the binderies, which then rebound the book for the library.  Most binderies used generic bindings, such as these types of patterns.  Sometimes, the binderies used plain bindings, which are less interesting.

Some of my library bindings have a sticker on the inside back front giving the name of the bindery which rebound the book.  These are some of the names:

The Heckman Bindery, Inc. from N. Manchester, Indiana
American Bindery from Topeka, Kansas
Houchen Bindery LTD from Utica/Omaha, Nebraska
Hoag & Sons' Book Bindery, Inc. from Springport, Michigan

All of the patterned library editions share the same aesthetic even though the series was published from 1932 through 1967.  Were the bindings done during the same time period?  If so, when?  Were the library bindings done by the publisher or another company?

The last comment you made is addressed in my previous answer.  Since the books were rebound and by different binderies, various patterns were used.  Often, the binderies used plain bindings, such as red, blue, or yellow, with no pattern.  I have never collected those since they are not interesting.

The books could have been rebound at any time from when they were fairly new up to the present time.  I have never seen Judy Bolton library editions from before 1950, but I have for other series, so it is possible that some might exist from before 1950.  However, nearly all of the Judy Bolton library editions that I have seen date from the 1950s and 1960s.

It can be very difficult to date a library edition, since libraries have the habit of removing every single notation once the decision has been made to discard the book.  Sometimes, the library leaves some of the markings, and those markings have given me some dates.

The patterned binding Judy Bolton books that I have are mostly all from the middle part of the 1960s.  This is because the Judy Bolton series went out of print in 1967, and sales of the books declined rapidly in the last few years that the books were available.  Many books were remaindered by the publisher.  I speculate that many of the remaindered books were sold directly to binderies or to libraries and were immediately rebound as library editions.

Your website makes mention of the pattern seeming to go along with the title of the book.  I was not able to tell which ones you meant.  Are these books worth any more than the others? 

The patterned bindings are all worth about the same amount.  Some more attractive ones might be worth more, but it would be difficult to assign a value since most collectors of the Judy Bolton books prefer the regular editions.

Sometimes I fancy that a particular pattern might have been selected for a certain book, but that is purely speculation on my part.  If you go to my patterned binding page, I see the pattern on Clue in the Patchwork Quilt as looking similar to a quilt.  Or, for the Mystic Ball with the star inside a circle pattern (one of the books sent to you), I fancy the circle and star as seeming to indicate something "mystical."

I see library bindings as a work of art.  The person who was responsible for rebinding a book might have decided that a certain pattern fit the title rather than another pattern.

Are the library editions more scarce than other Judy Bolton editions?  Does the scarcity affect the value?  I have heard that library editions are not particularly desirable. 

The library editions are much scarcer than the regular editions.  In some cases, a particular library binding may be one-of-a-kind with only one example in existence.  A collector who sets out to acquire a certain Judy Bolton book in a patterned binding might have to look for a long time before finding one.

The scarcity of the library editions does not affect the value.  A small group of collectors are very interested in these bindings, but most of them want the books not to be library discards, which is highly unrealistic.  If a binding surfaces that is in excellent condition with no library markings, then the value would be higher.  For the average library edition that is a library discard, the value remains low.

I normally am able to acquire most any library bindings that come up for sale at less than $10.00 each due to lack of interest from other collectors.  While I wish that more collectors would find them interesting, I do benefit from the low prices.  I would like for others to become interested in the library bindings, and perhaps your article will cause a few more people to take a second look at library bindings.

Do you know who designed these patterned bindings?  Do the patterns somehow represent the time period or genre?

I do not know who designed these patterns.  There are a few companies that currently rebind books, and you might be able to find some information from one of them.  The current companies tend to incorporate a copy of the book's original artwork into the library binding.  The major companies do not use patterns, but some of the small, independent companies may still do so.

Are the library editions always found with call numbers on the spines?  Does that add or subtract from the value?

Library editions normally do have the call numbers on the spine, although sometimes the numbers are on a sticker that can be removed.  I have removed the stickers from the outside of many of my library editions, which does add to the aesthetic appeal of the books as seen on the shelf.  The presence or absence of the numbers has no effect on value, except in the instance of collectors who do not want library discards.  Since most collectors who desire the library editions know that the books will be library discards, the numbers have no impact on value.

A few scattered collectors are willing to pay high prices for library editions, because some of these people borrowed library editions from libraries as children and hope to build a set of the books just like what they remember from the library. To them, the books hold a special sentimental value.

How do the patterned binding values compare to the values of the other Judy Bolton library editions and the Judy Bolton regular editions?  I am aware of the great variance in value from regular editions, signed editions, first printings, etc., and that condition is also a factor. 

This is a complex question to answer, as you already know.

Regarding the regular editions, the Judy Bolton books from #1 up to around #20 tend to sell for low prices when the books are lacking the dust jackets.  For #21 and up, the values climb with the highest values for the books numbered around #30 and up.

The patterned bindings are worth around $5 to $10 each for most titles.  For around #25-31, the value of the patterned bindings is around $10-20 each.  For #32 and up, which are the scarcest titles in the series, the value of the patterned bindings is $25 to $50 each.

The regular editions with nice dust jackets sell for around twice as much as the patterned bindings.

Regarding other library bindings, the Cameo Library bindings are much harder to find than the patterned bindings.  Unfortunately, the illustration is rubbed off of the cover of many of them, which reduces the value.  If the books are in rough shape like most surviving copies, then the value is about the same as with the patterned bindings.

If the Cameo Library bindings are in excellent condition, then their value would probably be around twice as much as the patterned bindings.

I want to bring up a point that does not fit in with any of the questions.  Patterned library bindings are available for a wide variety of books, not just Judy Bolton, but for most all other series books, and all sorts of other books.  Think of any popular fiction title from the last 50 years.  Someone, somewhere, probably has a patterned binding of that book.

The patterned bindings are great to use as part of a decorating scheme.  For people who want to possess some of the books just for decorating, which title is contained by the binding is not relevant.  A great source for patterned bindings is library book sales.  They also sometimes show up in thrift stores, garage sales, and antique shops.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Judy Bolton in Country Living Magazine

In June, one of the editors of Country Living Magazine contacted me about loaning some of my books for a photo shoot.  It turned out that they were interested in photographing some of the Judy Bolton books that can seen seen on my patterned bindings page for the Judy Bolton series.

Before I knew which books they wanted, I balked because I am very possessive of my dust-jacketed books, since most of my books are in excellent condition and are first printings.  After I learned that they wanted to photograph patterned bindings, I had no problem.  I was okay with loaning out some of those.  You have to actually try in order to succeed in damaging a library edition.  I figured that they would come through the mail okay.

Country Living paid for overnight shipping of the books from me to them, since they needed them immediately.  The books were returned to me in less than one week and arrived in the same condition as I sent them.

Next, I answered a bunch of questions about library editions.  At the time, I knew that I was giving far, far more information than they needed but I wanted to make certain that they understood what the true origin is of a library edition and that they clearly understood that the values tend to be quite low.  As I expected, they used almost none of the information I provided, but I was quite pleased when I saw what did appear in the magazine.  The information they gave was completely factual.  Whew!

The Judy Bolton books were featured as part of a short article in the September 2012 issue called "Judge a Book by Its Cover."  The subtitle of the article is "A purposefully superficial guide to superb-looking vintage series."  The article features an eclectic mix of books selected for having interesting bindings.  My Judy Bolton books were the only ones featured that fall into our area of interest.  Here is a picture of the Judy Bolton section of the article.

Click on the image so that you can read the text.

I am going to place my answers to the questions that I was asked in a separate blog post.  I always love discussing library bindings, so I want to share that information.

Answers to Library Edition Questions