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.

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