Monday, December 30, 2013

The Collapse of Series Book Prices

I have written about the decline in series book prices several times in the last five years.  I was able to locate a couple of key blog posts.

On November 22, 2009, I wrote about the economy causing series book prices to be low in "The Economy and Series Book Prices."  The economy is still a big factor right now.

The following passage is from July 26, 2009 in the post "Follow-Up to Low Prices for First Printings on eBay."
eBay is no longer a good venue for selling high value books unless the seller starts the opening bid at what the books are truly worth. Second, the seller must know what he or she has or the books will not attain their true values. Third, eBay is now the best place on the internet for purchasing valuable books to resell either on eBay or on other venues. Frank also observed that the prices would be even lower if the resellers were not bidding against each other. This is true.

For the three auctions that I mentioned, the second highest bidder was also a reseller in at least two of the three cases. The final bid prices of the books were driven by resellers and not by people who actually wanted them. The books would be selling for next to nothing except that the resellers are buying nearly everything good on eBay and are bidding against each other.
I added emphasis to the final sentence.  Finally, most of the people buying to resell have backed off, and this has happened only in the last few months.  As a result, most series book prices have now collapsed.
It's been difficult to sell series books in recent months.  The government shutdown in October caused internet commerce to slow to a crawl.  Sellers on websites such as eBay and Amazon reported that their sales were extremely low in October.  Since most all sellers have had much trouble moving their inventory, they have had to cut back on making purchases.  Since much less buying to resell is occurring right now, nothing remains to prop up the prices.

This is great for buyers, because the prices are lower than ever.  This is also problematic for new buyers of series books, because they have no idea what the historic values of scarce books are.  They may let some books slip by because they may think the current low prices are high prices.

The last Connie Blair title, The Mystery of the Ruby Queens, sold for only $13.63 on eBay in November, and the book had a dust jacket.  I could see where some new collectors who are used to finding books for $5.00 in local stores might have thought that $13.63 was too high, not realizing that Ruby Queens is normally a $75 to $100 book.

Likewise, a Cherry Ames #27, Ski Nurse Mystery, sold for only $36.54.  That price might seem high to new collectors, but that book is typically a $100 book. It used to be a $250 book.

Prices for the entire Judy Bolton series have fallen sharply.  Buyers can now obtain most any title in the series from #1-38 in a vintage hardcover edition for $35 or less.  If a buyer is careful, most titles can be had for less than $25, even with dust jackets.

The Judy Bolton reprints are the biggest reason why the Judy Bolton prices have fallen.  The Cherry Ames books have also been reprinted.  Many series books have entered the public domain in the last few years, including The Mystery of the Ruby Queens.  The prices have decreased for all books in the public domain because those books are now available in print-on-demand books or as free electronic texts.

The series with prices that have not collapsed are Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the Three Investigators.  Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys prices are rather low, overall, but they have not completely collapsed.  The prices for the Three Investigators books remain strong.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys enjoy greater name recognition than the lesser-known series books.  The Her Interactive games are helping to keep the Nancy Drew name alive.

The Three Investigators series has a large crossover appeal; after all, Alfred Hitchcock's name is attached to the books.  At least one person continues to bid aggressively on Three Investigators books in order to buy to resell, so that person is keeping the prices high.

Most importantly, the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Three Investigators books have not entered the public domain.  When those series begin to enter the public domain in the not-so-distant future, their values will also decrease.

The huge drop in prices is a big concern to those of us who have been collecting for years.  I have always been cautious about what I spend on series books and have always tended to get good deals.  Unfortunately, I paid more for most of my good deals than what the books are currently worth.  I have books up for sale right now that I know have absolutely no chance of selling, because my prices are three to four times the current value.  I am going to leave most of those books priced the same and hope that values climb in the coming months.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nicely Colored Nancy Drew Illustrations

Any type of writing inside a book is a flaw, whether the writing is a price, a name, or an inscription.  Occasionally, I run across books in which one or more illustrations have been colored, and this is considered a significant flaw and would in most cases make a book undesirable.

I have held onto a Nancy Drew book with colored illustrations for ten years because I love how very nice the illustrations look.  The book is an ordinary copy of The Bungalow Mystery in the picture cover edition from the 1960s.  I have no need of the book in my collection except for the fact that I love the coloring. 

I have the book in plastic marked as one with colored illustrations.  I want to make sure I remember why I have this book that is not in the best of shape and is not needed for my collection for any other reason.

Here are the delightfully colored illustrations.

No doubt the original owner loved and enjoyed this book.  I hope that others find this book as neat as I do.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Always Watch for Water Damage

Water damage is a flaw that is often not mentioned by sellers.  I don't understand why so many of the sellers are oblivious that their books are musty and mildewed with wavy pages.  You would think that the flaws would be extremely apparent and that the sellers would mention the flaws.  Perhaps these people know so very little about books that they have no idea that we care about such things.  Even worse, some experienced sellers may choose not to reveal the water damage. 

I have learned always to be watchful for signs of water damage in sellers' photos.  This has saved me from ending up with books that are undesirable.  Recently, I saw what appeared to be very lots of Hardy Boys books with dust jackets on eBay.  Once I viewed the photos inside the listings, I realized that at least some of the books in each lot have water damage.  If even one book in each lot has water damage, then most likely all books have water damage including a musty odor.  I cannot stand books that have a musty odor and try hard to avoid acquiring those books whenever I can.

Vintage Lot of 10 The Hardy Boys Mystery Books

This lot sold for $58.00.

The books look very nice except for the following book which has water damage to the front panel of the dust jacket.

If even one book has water damage, then I have to assume that the other books do. These next two photos show that the books are not particularly clean, and I see some small water stains on the top edges of the books.

I also have to assume that the seller's other lots have water damage as well.  Anything less would be expecting too much.  Here is the second lot offered by the same seller.

Vintage Lot of 16 The Hardy Boys Mystery Story Books

This lot sold for $77.00.

As before, the gallery photo shows what appear to be beautiful books.  But wait...

Yuck.  In my opinion, this lot was not worth purchasing.  

Vintage Lot of 8 The Hardy Boys Mystery Story Books

This lot sold for $34.83.

Again, the gallery photo shows nice books, except for the one on the far right.  Perhaps the books are okay... think again.

The seller also had a Nancy Drew lot.  Would the Nancy Drew books have come from a different place and be okay?

Vintage Lot of 13 Nancy Drew Mystery Story Books

This lot sold for $36.27.

I found one book with a water stain on the cover.  This means that the Nancy Drew books are also water damaged. 

I could be wrong about this seller's lots, and possibly many of the books do not have water damage.  However, I have purchased similar lots where just a few books show signs of water damage, and I was displeased with the condition of all books in the lot.  Usually the damage extends to all of the books to at least some degree.

The final bid price for each lot was not bad.  If the buyers don't care about the moisture exposure, then they would be pleased with their purchases. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Cereal Promotion

In 1978, select boxes of Cookie Crisp cereal had Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys paint books as premiums.  There are six different paint books.

The Cursed Jewels
The Eerie Castle

The Mad Scientist
The Sea Monsters
The Secret Cave
The Visitors from Tomorrow

I have never tried very hard to find the paint books, just because it has never been a priority.  Nevertheless, I do have a couple of them.

The Cookie Crisp cereal boxes with the paint book promotion are extremely scarce and very expensive.  I don't know what the current value is, but I suspect that the cereal boxes are still worth several hundred dollars each in the current market.  They are about impossible to find and would have been a good candidate for my blog post on the "Ten Rarest Nancy Drew Books and Collectibles."

Image from the Nancy Drew Sleuth blog

The above image is of one of the Cookie Crisp boxes and is from Jennifer Fisher's blog.  Please note that I am Jennifer White.

Recently, I spotted a partial cereal box with the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys promotion on eBay.  I almost didn't click on the listing because the seller placed a large white box with "EBAY" inside the image, which made it look not interesting.  Who is interested in something called "EBAY"? 

Someone had cut out the part of the box that contained the promotion, and the seller had that part of the box up for sale.  I immediately decided that I wanted to purchase this item.  I kept expecting other people to bid, but in the end, I was the only bidder on the auction and was able to purchase the partial box at a total cost of $5.74 including shipping.

Partial cereal box on eBay

Even though I only have part of the box, I believe that I got a bargain.

Since the paint books have never been a priority, I would never be someone who would pay hundreds of dollars for an intact cereal box.  It's just not that important to me.  However, getting a partial cereal box for less than $10 is perfect!

You will notice two bids on the auction, but both bids were me.  I bid at the beginning to keep the listing from being closed early.  I bid my true maximum at the very end of the auction.  I kept wondering why nobody else bid on the auction.  I have several ideas.

The seller's big white box placed over the image may have kept people from noticing the cereal box.  I almost scrolled past the image, and then quickly realized that I needed to take a closer look.  I'm glad I did.

Some people may have noticed the auction but chose not to bid because the cereal box was not complete.  I always take the view that I would rather have an imperfect rare collectible than go without having that rare collectible for years in hopes of getting one that is perfect.  Items like this are always worth buying, especially when they are cheap.

The auction closed on Sunday, December 1, which was over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  More than likely, a number of people did not notice the auction due to being distracted by the holiday.

Notice that my partial cereal box has a blue background and that Jennifer Fisher's box has a black background, so variations in the boxes exist.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Circumventing a Buyer Block

I have blocked a certain heavy buyer of series books from purchasing from me.  He purchased many lots from me last year and left a "four" DSR in all four categories.  This shouldn't have been a problem, except that he purchased many items, and my averages took a quick nosedive.  That alone would not have caused me to block him.  At some point, I figured out that he leaves very harsh feedback for any seller who messes up a description at all, delays shipment, or overcharges on postage.  The latter two would never be a problem for me, but I do sometimes mess up descriptions.  I don't need for a buyer to leave me an immediate negative or neutral for a mistake.  Therefore, I blocked this person on both his buying and selling IDs.

After I began selling on eBay in large quantity in June, I knew that eventually the buyer would run up against the buyer block that I placed on him.  I just received a feedback for a recent transaction, and the feedback uses the same odd phrase that the blocked buyer uses for all of his transactions.  The book purchased is exactly the sort of book the blocked buyer would have purchased from me.  I checked the transaction, and the buyer has the same surname but lives in a different state.  I looked at the feedback left for others, and this buyer leaves harsh feedback for exactly the same reasons as the seller I blocked and with similar phrasing.  Furthermore, one feedback followup mentions the state in which the blocked buyer resides.  I can conclude that my buyer block was circumvented by use of a secondary ID.

This is a reportable eBay offense.  Buyers are forbidden from circumventing buyer blocks.  I will wait several days before running a report to see what DSRs I received, since I do not believe that eBay releases the data immediately for recent feedback.  In the meantime, I have now blocked this third ID as a precaution.  I cannot have been left a low DSR in either communication or shipping cost, but I could have in the other two.  If I find that I have been left a low DSR on either one, then I will be filing a complaint against the buyer for circumventing the block.

If the buyer happens to read this, I am sorry but I cannot risk selling to a buyer who is known to leave harsh feedback without trying to resolve with the seller first.  I do understand that you are a large volume buyer with many incoming packages and cannot be bothered with asking for refunds.  However, sellers are real people who sometimes make mistakes, and nearly all sellers will rectify those mistakes if given a chance.  eBay now gives permanent selling suspensions to sellers who have just a few low DSRs and just a few negative and neutral feedback.

Furthermore, eBay suspends all IDs associated with the seller and all IDs for anybody who has ever used eBay in the seller's household.  This means that if a friend logged into eBay on the seller's computer at any point in the past, then that friend would also be suspended.  Some of you will doubt my words, but I have read eBay's message boards for years and have read dozens of reports of this happening.  This is serious, so buyers who have a habit of leaving bad feedback must be blocked.

For the rest of you, if you sell series books on eBay, you have almost certainly sold to this person, and the probability is at least 90%.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

People Buying and Selling with Little Knowledge

Recently, someone asked me if a Dana Girls book was the original edition from 1934.  This type of question bothers me, because while I believe the person wants to know if the book is the original text, I also wonder if the person could be seeking the first printing.  In this case, I made the mistake of answering both possible questions.

My response:
This book does have the original text from 1934 with 25 chapters. The text for Lone Tree Cottage was never revised, so this book has the original and only version. If instead you are asking about the age of this particular book, it was printed during the very early 1950s. Let me know if you need any additional information.
The buyer's response indicated that the buyer wanted the 1934 edition.  A bid had already been placed prior to the buyer asking the question, and the buyer canceled the bid as soon as my message was read.  I sent another message giving additional information.
The 1934 edition is a thick purple book. You want to look for those. It sounds like you are seeking a first printing copy. Even with the thick purple books, you have to ask the sellers about the post-text ads in order to find a first printing copy. Some thick purple books only have one glossy illustration, while the early ones have four glossy illustrations. If you need more information, I have a Dana Girls formats page which has pictures of the different formats along with years and other information. I can't give you a link in this message, but if you click on my "About Me" icon, I have a link on that page. I'm glad you asked about the book before the listing closed. Thanks!
The buyer should now know what to purchase, or at least that's what I thought.  The bid that was canceled was for this book, which you will notice has the green boards that date from 1949 to 1951.

After receiving my messages and canceling the bid, the buyer purchased the following book which lists to Crossroads.

The book purchased instead of mine is from 1954 and is a later printing, making it further from 1934 and supposedly less of an "original edition" from the point of view of the buyer.  I have to admit that I was annoyed and not because I lost a sale.  I was annoyed because I had wasted between 15 and 30 minutes on this person all to no purpose.  They were no better informed after reading my messages. 

During the same hour, the same buyer purchased another Dana Girls book on Bonanza and asked the same question.  I told the buyer that the book was an early printing and not the first printing.  The buyer wanted the order canceled, so I canceled it.  The buyer then purchased the same book from someone else who gave less information, and the buyer had no way of knowing whether that book was the first printing.

I'm sure the buyer asked the other sellers if the books were "original," and I'm sure the uninformed sellers told the buyer that the books were indeed "original."  The next time a buyer asks me if a book is "original," I might just answer "yes" and leave it at that.  Anything else is inviting trouble.  Of course, if the buyer asks if a revised text book is "original," I would tell them that the book does not have the original text.  It did neither me nor the buyer any good for me to try to help, at least not in this particular case.  I felt so discouraged.

I also don't understand why buyers place a bid or make a purchase before asking questions.  It's to the point that every time someone has already bid or purchased and then sends a message, I have a slight feeling of dread before reading the message.  So often, the buyer wants to know more about the book, and as in this case, the answer can result in a canceled transaction.   Why not ask the question before making a purchase?  Wouldn't that be easier for both of us?

In another case, someone new to purchasing Nancy Drew books is enthusiastically buying up many duplicates of Nancy Drew books on eBay.  The person may be collecting, but many of the duplicate books are now getting listed for sale.  Some of the books were purchased cheaply and others at inflated prices.  All of the books that are getting placed up for sale are being priced at five to ten times higher than the price paid for the book.  For example, a book purchased for $45 was listed for $250, and the seller stated in the listing that the book is worth $500.

Another book that I tried to sell for several years at $10 and under was sold for around $5 and has been priced at $40 by the buyer.

The descriptions of the books are minimal and are along the lines of "good vintage condition."  I am perplexed at the selling strategy, but I am even more perplexed that two lots have already sold at the inflated prices.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What I've Learned on eBay This Year

I returned to selling on eBay full-time in June, in addition to maintaining my Bonanza booth.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

With my eBay store subscription, I get 150 free listings per month.  Additionally, I receive at least one "by invitation only" free listing offer per month.  Sometimes the offer is for fixed-price listings, and other times, the offer is for auctions.  I have learned several things.

When using auctions in place of fixed-price, always place the starting bid as what would have been the Buy It Now price.  Never place the starting bid at less than the desired Buy It Now price.  What almost always happens is that the buyers do not take the Buy It Now, and the item sells at the opening bid.  To protect myself, I must have the starting bid at what I really want for the item. 

Never sell cheap items without offering free shipping.  Some buyers see that the shipping price is more than the price of the item and leave a low DSR for the shipping cost.  They fail to understand that the shipping cost is the actual cost and perceive that the seller is gouging.  They feel that if an item costs only $1.00, then the shipping should be free or only cost $0.10.  This isn't logical, but that is how some buyers think.

Never sell cheap items in rough shape on eBay.  This is for the same reason as above.  I have been able to offer this type of item on Bonanza with no problem, but on eBay, cheap items in rough shape bring out a certain type of buyer who wants something for nothing and is quick to complain.

The "My eBay" interface is better for sellers who have stores.  That alone is worth the store subscription, provided that a seller sells enough per month to justify the cost.

The interface makes it extremely easy to see when an item has sold and when an item needs to be shipped.  Printing packing slips is easier, and the packing slips are better than the ones eBay provides to sellers who do not have stores.  Additionally, bulk editing is available, which saves a lot of time.

Free shipping may help sales.  My items have been converted to free shipping for just a short period of time, so I don't know for sure how much free shipping helps with sales.  Within the first couple of days of changing all listings to free shipping, several items that I considered stagnant sold.  My sales have improved since changing over to free shipping.  After a longer period of time, I will know for sure.

A seller's ability to maintain a top-rated seller status is very shaky and is largely outside of a seller's control.  I have one low DSR in the shipping cost category which I received in late October.  I converted all of my items to free shipping immediately after I received the low DSR, but I still have quite a few buyers who have not left feedback yet who can still rate the shipping cost.

Top-rated sellers are allowed a maximum of two low DSRs per DSR category at a maximum percent of 0.50%.  The one low DSR that I have already places me above 0.50%, so if I receive one more in the shipping cost category, I lose my top-rated seller status.  While I have taken action to prevent future buyers from leaving a low shipping cost DSR, I have no control over the buyers who paid for shipping and have not yet left feedback.

eBay has a new feature where an item can be relisted for up to three times for free and not count against a seller's monthly free listings.  I haven't tried this yet, since this feature just went live in the last few days, but it sounds interesting.  I am also wary, because when an item is relisted, it can get suppressed in eBay's search because the item did not sell the previous time it was listed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Series Book Questions Fall 2013

As always, I have rewritten the questions so as not to publish direct quotes from private messages.

Is the outside of the book matte or very glossy?  I need the matte version.

The above question was asked of the book pictured on the left.  I answered with the following.

This is one of the matte picture cover books. The ones that are very glossy have a yellow band across the top of the front cover with a flashlight inside along with the volume number and logo.

The key word here is "flashlight."  If you see a flashlight at the top of the front cover, then the book is not a matte picture cover edition.  Some matte picture cover editions have a yellow band at the top of the front cover, but a flashlight is not present in the yellow band.

The book pictured on the right is one of the flashlight editions.  The flashlight is visible between "Nancy Drew Mystery Stories" and the volume number, 22, in the yellow band at the top of the front cover.  The spine shows the Nancy Drew logo near the top, and the logo is placed in the middle of the shine of a flashlight.  Once prospective buyers know where to look, a flashlight edition can be identified easily.

I have a book that is missing approximately 30 pages.  Of the pages present, approximately 30 of them are duplicated in place of the pages that are missing.  Do you know anything about this kind of error?

Errors like that do occur sometimes but not very often. I haven't ever seen any series books with pages that are duplicated, but I do have a Little Golden Book where the first half of the book is duplicated as the second half of the book. So the LGB has the right number of pages, but the second half of the story is missing. Duplicated pages usually don't increase the value, unless someone desires that particular anomaly.  Typically, any kind of error that causes some of the text to be missing greatly devalues the book.  It is interesting, nevertheless.

Is this book the first printing?  What is listed as the next Nancy Drew title on page 176?

The first printing of The Clue of the Dancing Puppet lists to The Mystery of the Fire Dragon on the back cover.  This book cannot be the first printing because the book lists to The Phantom of Pine Hill on the back cover. The Phantom of Pine Hill was published in 1965, which places this particular book in 1965. This book was printed approximately three years after the first printing from 1962. Since this book is a later printing, the next title is correctly listed as The Moonstone Castle Mystery on page 176.

What do you mean by "foxed"?

I am not certain whether the prospective buyer needed the meaning of the word or what I meant by the word.  Nevertheless, I gave the definition and explained the flaw with respect to the offered book.

"Foxed" is when a chemical reaction has occurred, causing light brown stains to occur inside old books. This book has foxing on a few scattered pages, whereas most of the book does not have foxing. I have attached a photo of two pages that are foxed.

The photo that I attached to my response is seen to the right.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Impact of Low DSRs

eBay tracks the number of one-star and two-star DSR ratings that a seller receives.  A seller is allowed no more than two low DSR ratings within each reporting period and the percentage of low DSRs cannot exceed 0.50%.  I've done pretty well being back on eBay since June, but I knew that I would eventually run into DSR problems again.  An eBay buyer has left me a low shipping cost DSR for a recent order.

Without getting into the specifics due to certain eBay policies, I was able to figure out beyond any doubt which buyer left the low DSR.  A certain buyer purchased two books in one order.  I received three stars for the first book and two stars for the second book purchased by that buyer.  I guess the buyer thought that the postage of $3.95 for the first book and $0.60 for the second book was too high and deserving of two stars for one of the books. 

I was not surprised that this particular transaction was for inexpensive books.  Many sellers report that the most troublesome buyers are often the ones who purchase cheap items.  Since the postage cost was as high as or higher than the item cost, the buyer must have felt that I charged too much.

Since I now have one low DSR rating on my account, I am in a precarious position.  If I receive one more low rating on the shipping DSR, I will fall below what eBay considers acceptable.  In order to protect myself, I have changed all of my listings over to free shipping.  With free shipping, I automatically receive five stars for shipping cost, which means that no future buyer can leave a low DSR in that category. 

I figured out what I paid for postage and packaging on the transaction that resulted in the low DSR, and I broke even on postage.  I did not overcharge at all.  I have now blocked the buyer who left the low DSR in order to prevent that person from making additional purchases and leaving low ratings.

The buyer knew the postage cost before completing the order.  If the amount seemed acceptable before completing the purchase, then the buyer should not have left a low DSR.  I have seen listings where I consider the postage to be too high.  If the postage amount takes the total cost above what I am willing to pay, I do not purchase the item.  If the postage amount keeps the total cost within what I am willing to pay and I decide to purchase the item, I do not ding the seller's shipping cost DSR.  I made the decision to purchase the item, so I take the responsibility.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre

The final book in the Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre was released on October 29.  Last year, I reviewed the first book, Enclave, in this blog.  The Razorland Trilogy consists of the following books.

1.  Enclave, 2011
2.  Outpost, 2012
3.  Horde, 2013

When Horde was released last week, I had just finished reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth, and that did not go well.  Quite frankly, I was scared to read Horde, because I was fearful that another excellent trilogy was about to be ruined by the author.  In reading the reviews for Horde on Amazon, I realized that I was not the only Razorland Trilogy reader who was frightened.  We were all frightened because we were still traumatized from the inexplicably different tone that Allegiant had from the previous two Divergent books, and we found the story to be convoluted and boring.  Ugh.  So much for the Divergent Trilogy.

I am happy to report that Horde has the same tone as Enclave and Outpost and is just as interesting as the previous two books.  Deuce is the same Huntress as before, and she is still a little fireball.  Horde wraps up the trilogy nicely and in a satisfying fashion.  This is not to say that everything is all "unicorns and rainbows," but the reader will be very pleased with the end result.

Several times, I have been very disappointed in the final book in a series or trilogy.  Awhile back, I observed that I tend to be more disappointed when the series received too much hype or has become too popular.  I was disappointed in the ending to Harry Potter and the Hunger Games, both series that became far too popular.  I should have known that the Divergent Trilogy would end up like those two series.  The Divergent Trilogy is wildly popular with the same disappointing result in the final book.  Actually, the final book in the Divergent Trilogy is far worse than what happened with either Harry Potter or the Hunger Games.  Harry Potter just needed better editing in the final half of the series, and the Hunger Games needed better editing in the final book.  Allegiant needs a plot change and total rewrite from start to finish. 

The Razorland Trilogy is not nearly as popular as Divergent, Harry Potter, or the Hunger Games, and now that I have read the entire trilogy, I am most grateful that it is not as popular.  Thank goodness the author did not ruin the trilogy!

If you like young adult dystopian novels, then you will almost certainly love the Razorland Trilogy.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

People Who Want to Buy Sets of Books

I get asked a least a few times per year whether I have a complete set of Nancy Drew books, Trixie Belden books, or some other series that I can sell to whomever asks.  The prospective buyer asks how much the set would cost and what the postage would be.  Depending upon the request, I may not have a complete set of extra books together.  Sometimes I do, but I always reply that I don't.

Most of the books that I sell were purchased in partial or complete sets, which gives me a wholesale price.  These days, complete sets sell for less than the total for which the books will sell individually.  I am not interested in taking a complete set and reselling it for what I paid for it.  I am also not comfortable with marking the set up to a much higher price and selling it to the person who asked.  I also want the books for individual inventory, so the last thing I want is to get rid of a bunch of them all at once.

Sometimes I do sell sets of books, but this is always done to get rid of certain books fast without taking as much of a loss as I would if I were to sell an incomplete set.  I decided recently to clear out all of my Nancy Drew Twin Thriller books that I had for sale.  It was a partial set, and I determined that I would have to sell the books at less than what I paid for them.  Instead, I put together a complete set of Nancy Drew #1-56 so that the Twin Thriller books would be part of a complete set. 

I sold the set for $199.99 with free shipping, and the lot only took a few days to sell.  After subtracting shipping and fees, I got around $150 for the books.  I managed to avoid taking a loss, which was my goal.  If I had decided to be patient with selling the Twin Thriller editions individually and had also chosen to sell the rest of the books individually, I would likely have gotten over $200 for the books.  One does take less when selling books as a complete set. 

Around six years ago, I had a strange request from a prospective buyer.  This person asked me if I would put together a complete set of Motor Boys books in dust jacket for him.  He wanted to pay me in advance and was willing to pay whatever I thought the books would end up costing.  He didn't want to do the work himself; he wanted somebody else to find him the books.  He didn't mind if it took a year or more for me to acquire the books.  Remember, he wanted to pay in advance for this set of books.

I had a problem with this request for a number of reasons.  I didn't want to invest my time and energy into searching for books for somebody else.  I wanted that time to search for my own books.  I was not at all comfortable with taking a large sum  of money one or more years ahead of time for a set of books that I would likely have much trouble building.  I also had no idea how much the books would end up costing and how much to charge.  Last, I knew that if I spent a significant amount of time building this set that I would likely get attached to books and not want to sell them.  Needless to say, I declined this person's request.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

This review does not spoil the ending, unlike many of the reviews that have been written for this book.

I finished reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Allegiant is the third and final book in the Divergent trilogy.  I knew from the bad reviews that I would likely be disappointed.  The entire book was devoid of the magic of the first book. It was empty and actually quite boring for long stretches. 

While I did not like the ending, I believe I would have reacted to it better if the book had been written well.  The book was mostly boring.  During the second book, we had a build up about what exactly was beyond the fence.  We went beyond the fence in the third book, and you know what?  It wasn't that interesting.

Roth described the setting in Chicago so well in the first book.  Her descriptions were lacking in the third book.  I couldn't visualize anything well.  The area beyond the fence was a big "nothing."

The point of view alternates between Tris and Tobias, when the first two books were all Tris.  This could have worked well, but Tobias and Tris were written exactly the same, creating confusion.

Many people said that they cried at the ending.  I had no reaction whatsoever.  I believe my lack of reaction was due to me never connecting with the book.  The second book, Insurgent, set up readers for a thrilling reveal for when Tris journeys outside the fence.   The outside of the fence is not much different from the inside of the fence, so I was a bit bored from the beginning of the book.  I can think of at least one way that the journey outside the fence would have been made more interesting.  

The book has a lot of gaping plot holes.  When I thoroughly enjoy a book, I tend to ignore the plot holes.  This book was not written well, and the plot holes were very obvious.  The conflict involves people who are genetically pure and others who are genetically defective. 

The book mentions multiple times how small their world is and how the Chicago area is but a tiny part of the entire country.  Tris, Tobias, and the others have only been in Chicago, and they see maps of the United States.  They feel like they are insignificant.  Since the book emphasizes how small their world is, I have trouble understanding how solving the conflict in their small area solves the problem for the entire country.  The government could send people in at any time to further its agenda.

When I read the reviews for the first book in the trilogy, Divergent, the critical reviews complained that the world makes no sense.  I didn't have a problem with the world in the first book, because it is so magical and extraordinary.  Guess what?  Those people were right.  The world makes no sense whatsoever, and Roth's attempts in explaining it in this book are woefully insufficient.

Going back to the genetically defective and genetically pure people, Roth uses abbreviations for both liberally throughout the text:  "GD" and "GP."  Each time I saw an abbreviation, I had to stop reading to look at the letters and figure out which was which.  I really think using "defective" and "pure" would have been much easier on the reader.  Besides, I kept wanting to read "GD" as a curse word which didn't help matters any.

If you are planning to read this book, do not read any reviews anywhere, because readers are so enraged about the ending that they are spoiling it in their reviews, often in the first sentence without warning.  I saw one review on Amazon where the reviewer titled their review with the spoiler for the book's ending.  Even reading the titles of reviews is dangerous.

I don't know whether people will find this blog post and make comments, but if you are planning to read this book, I caution you against reading any comments that are posted.  Readers are so very upset that they are spoiling the book everywhere.  I have decided that I will not remove any comments that get posted that spoil the ending, so you have been forewarned.

Lots of people have been spoiled on Facebook on Veronica Roth's page and everywhere else on the internet. People have posted on their Facebook accounts that they are reading the book, and others are so angry about the book that they respond with comments spoiling the ending. I've seen many people upset that the ending was spoiled for them. 

I'm not sure when I've ever seen this much anger over a book that I have read.  In my case, I am not angry or upset; I simply did not find the book to be a worthy conclusion to the Divergent trilogy.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nancy Drew Game: The Silent Spy

Note:  This review does not spoil the culprit or ending of The Silent Spy.  Nancy's phone conversations from the early part of the game are mentioned because some Nancy Drew collectors have been critical of the game.

Months ago when Her Interactive released the preview of The Silent Spy, many Nancy Drew collectors became upset, since the preview appeared to put the death of Nancy's mother in doubt.  Furthermore, Nancy's mother was given a name:  Kate.

Some collectors felt that Her Interactive went too far, especially because they were concerned that Nancy's mother would turn up alive.  I did not believe that Nancy's mother was coming back to life, so I considered it of little importance.  It turns out that the player is quite aware from the very beginning of the game that Nancy's mother is not alive.  The early promo was misinterpreted.

Collectors were upset that Her Interactive gave Nancy's mother a name, since her name has never been mentioned in the books.  In order to build a game around the death of Nancy's mother, she needed a name.  Kate is a nice name, short and to the point.

Other fans became upset after learning that the game shows flashback scenes of Carson and Kate arguing, since Nancy's parents would never argue.  Let's be realistic:  Married couples argue. 

It helps to put the scene into context.  In the flashback, Kate is a spy, and she plans to go back to Scotland to help bring down a terrorist group.  Carson doesn't want her to go because he believes that she will run a high risk of being killed.  Why wouldn't he raise his voice?  He was correct to be concerned.

During the game play, Carson argues with Nancy, because he doesn't want her in Scotland.  The argument is more than anything we see in the Nancy Drew books, but Carson fears for Nancy's life.  Why wouldn't he be upset?

Nancy has Ned break into her house and steal something that belonged to her mother.  Carson catches Ned and is furious with both Ned and Nancy.  This is understandable.  I also found the resulting confrontation quite funny, to be honest.

The Nancy Drew games are not classic Nancy Drew.  They are modern computer games, designed for current young people.  They are quite true to classic Nancy Drew in overall feel and spirit.  The games have always taken liberty with some details.

In fact, the games became more interesting once they strayed from the books.  All of the early games are strictly based on Nancy Drew books, so anyone who has read the corresponding book knows who the culprit is from the beginning.  Since the newer games use original stories, the player never knows for sure who the culprit will be until the final reveal.

We should also not forget that the first two Nancy Drew games were based on Nancy Drew Files books, Secrets Can Kill and Stay Tuned for Danger.  The games were never purely classic Nancy Drew.

When one is a fan of a fictional character, one has to remember that the character will modernize and change as new releases occur.  If any change is unacceptable, then avoid the new product.

While nothing I heard about the game upset or offended me, I admit that I was wary.  I wasn't sure how well the story with Kate Drew would come across and whether I wanted that type of story in a Nancy Drew game.

After my initial discomfort, which only lasted for the first few minutes of the game, I was fully engrossed in the game and found the storyline to be quite interesting.  The flashback scenes with Kate are touching.  Nancy has a personal interest in taking out the terrorist group, which makes this game the most compelling of all the Nancy Drew games.

This game is scarier than the average Nancy Drew game.  The villain is sinister.  The threats against Nancy are scary.

The Nancy Drew games are many times more interesting than anything that has come out of Simon and Schuster in the Nancy Drew line during the past 10 years.  Sadly, the current and recent Nancy Drew books are, for the most part, not very well-written and not very interesting.  I haven't even purchased the most recent Nancy Drew Diaries book.  I most likely will purchase the book within the next week, but I am not eagerly anticipating reading it.  I am not sure that I care.

On the other hand, I look forward to each new Nancy Drew game.  I devour each game as soon as I receive it and then must wait months for the next game.  The two best Nancy Drew releases during each calendar year are the two Her Interactive Nancy Drew games.  The books... meh.

Of the first 28 Nancy Drew games, Shadow at the Water's Edge is my favorite, mainly because of the great storyline and extended dialogue with the different characters.  The Silent Spy is the 29th Nancy Drew game and is easily as good as Shadow at the Water's Edge, if not better.  The Silent Spy is one of the very best Nancy Drew games.  I highly recommend it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nancy Drew #85 Shady Glen, #86 Misty Canyon, and #87 Rising Stars

In Nancy Drew #85, The Secret of Shady Glen, Nancy helps Joanna Williams search for a hidden treasure in gold that was bequeathed to her. Joanna has half of a map that shows underground passages leading from her house to other locations, including a cemetery.  As Nancy works on the case, three teenagers harass her whenever they see her near the Shady Glen cemetery, which they call their turf.

This mystery is a throwback to earlier mysteries, with many of those characteristics.  The girls investigate a locked building in the woods as well as underground secret passageways.  At the end of the story, Nancy, Bess, and George each receive a valuable keepsake from Joanna.

The Secret of Shady Glen is an excellent story.

In Nancy Drew #86, The Mystery of Misty Canyon, Nancy, Bess, and George vacation at Calloway Dude Ranch in Montana.  The ranch is run by Tammy Calloway, who took over after her father died.  Tammy has a large bank loan and is in danger of losing the ranch.  She depends upon the income generated by selling the offspring of Renegade, a black stallion who is impossible to ride.  Renegade's twin, Twister, will be ridden by Tammy in an upcoming rodeo which has a big prize.  Tammy hopes to win the rodeo in order to get herself out of debt.

Renegade disappears soon after Nancy's arrival on the ranch, and Twister begins acting strange.  Nancy suspects that someone is trying to sabotage the ranch.

This book marks the beginning of a sequence of books in which one or more people are hostile towards Nancy, resenting her investigation.  The people who are hostile are not necessarily villains but usually people who see a teenage sleuth as an obnoxious nuisance.

This story is similar to several past Nancy Drew books, most notably The Sky Phantom, since a valuable horse is missing.  The missing horse situation is handled much better than in The Sky Phantom, since the reader is given time to care about the horse before the horse disappears.

The Mystery of Misty Canyon is The Sky Phantom done ten times better.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

In Nancy Drew #87, The Case of the Rising Stars, Nancy, Bess, and George attend a mystery convention in Chicago.  Two stars that are scheduled to appear at the convention, Will Leonard and Sally Belmont, are abducted.  Nancy investigates when the hotel security chief refuses because he believes the abduction is a prank that is part of the convention.

The Danner and Bishop department store from The Joker's Revenge is mentioned in this book.  Also, Nancy meets an author who is friends with Monica Crown from The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds.

I was quite interested at the mention of a "compact computer" which would have to be an early version of a laptop.  This book was published in February 1989, and quite honestly, I have no memory of laptops going back that far.  I checked Google for information on the history of laptops and found that some early compact computers that were very heavy and did not look anything like laptops were created as far as as around 1980.  They did not last long.

The genesis of the modern laptop was in around 1988 and 1989, and the photos I found show very archaic looking laptops.  The mention of a "compact computer" in this book occurred right about the time they first came into existence.  Here are some links to pictures of a couple of them.

1989 NEC UltraLite
1990 Compaq SLT/286

On page 91, Nancy, Bess, and George are taken for a wild cab ride by the villain, who places a concrete block on the accelerator, then jumps out of the vehicle.  The cab accelerates to 90 mph, exits the freeway, and barrels down a main road.  Nancy gets the block removed and brakes the vehicle, throwing it into a skid where it ends up jumping the curb.  What I find odd is that after the girls exit the vehicle, Nancy remarks, "We'll call the police later and tell them about the cab."  She says that they need to focus on who tried to kill them.  The girls walk off, leaving the cab.

I am thinking about how dozens of people witnessed the end of the cab ride and didn't know what happened.  The girls didn't stick around to explain.  What if someone else had decided to call the police, telling them about the crazy teenage girls who stole a cab and went for a wild ride? 

I wanted to roll my eyes at many of the events that occur very early in the book, but as I continued reading, I really got into the story. This is a very enjoyable book.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Nancy Drew #82 Camera, #83 Vanishing Veil, and #84 Joker's Revenge

In Nancy Drew #82, The Clue in the Camera, Nancy, George, and Hannah visit Hannah's old friend, Emily Foxworth, in San Francisco.  Emily is a famous photojournalist.  Very early in the book, Nancy places a roll of film from Emily's camera in her pocket.  From around this point on, the villains search Emily's apartment for something and even abduct Emily.

Perhaps because I had read this book before, I knew that the roll of film was the object of the villains' search.  I was annoyed that nothing more was said of the roll of film until Nancy finds it in her pocket on page 74.  While Nancy could easily forget about the film, I could not enjoy reading the book because I never forgot about it.

On the page when Nancy finally finds the film in the pocket, I ended up quitting the book and reading something else, because the last book in a trilogy had just been released.  That threw me off, and I proceeded to read some other books to refresh my memory in advance of two upcoming releases in late October.

After I read those books, I tried to resume reading The Clue in the Camera, but I found that I did not care at all.  The story in this book reminds me of some of the Wanderer books, and I did not enjoy most of those books.  Since this was a big problem which would cause me not to be able to continue, I abandoned the book on page 74. 

In Nancy Drew #83, The Case of the Vanishing Veil, Nancy, Bess, and George attend a wedding in Boston.  The bride's wedding veil is stolen just before the wedding, and Nancy offers to investigate the theft.

While I enjoyed The Case of the Vanishing Veil, I did not find it to be that memorable of a story and have nothing much to say except that the softcover book that I was reading self-destructed as I read it.  First, the binding split.  As I progressed towards the end of the book, pages began coming loose.  I believe that this was the first time a book fell apart while I was reading it.

In Nancy Drew #84, The Joker's Revenge, Nancy investigates a string of accidents that occur at the Danner and Bishop department store in Chicago.  I really enjoyed this book.  The story reminds me of the Connie Blair story, The Clue in Blue, which is also set in a department store.  The solution to The Joker's Revenge is similar to The Clue in Blue, since in both books, the culprit or culprits work for the department store.

This book makes a point of mentioning that one woman is black.  Simon and Schuster had begun to make the books more racially diverse.

In The Joker's Revenge, many people are suspects, and the reader is kept guessing at who is responsible. The book reminds me of a Nancy Drew game and would make for an excellent game.  The villain leaves behind joker cards at the scene of each accident.  I can imagine finding the cards while playing a game as Nancy Drew.  The store is a small setting, perfect for a game.

I greatly enjoyed this book right up until the climax.  Nancy grabs the skid of a helicopter as it takes off from the top of a building.  As the helicopter climbs higher, Nancy pulls her leg up onto the skid and then finds a place to hold on underneath the helicopter.  The helicopter flies through the city to the river while Nancy hangs on.  As the helicopter lands on a boat in the river, Nancy drops into the cold water, where she treads water, then climbs onto the boat, where she saves the day.  This sequence of events is impossible to believe, and I wish that it had been written differently.  If this part had been different, I would consider The Joker's Revenge to be the perfect book. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Series Book Questions Summer 2013

I was asked how many chapters two different Nancy Drew books have.  The first question was for this book, which is Nancy Drew #19, The Quest of the Missing Map, with a copyright date of 1969.  I find that most buyers haphazardly try to determine whether Nancy Drew books have the original text, not aware that in most cases, the outside of the book reveals which text the book has.  This book must have the revised text, since this particular cover art was only issued on the revised text.

I have put together a page that details which text a Nancy Drew picture cover book must have based on the cover art.

Nancy Drew #1-56 Picture Cover Gallery

The same prospective buyer also asked me how many chapters this book has, which is Nancy Drew #39, The Clue of the Dancing Puppet.  Nancy Drew #35 and up were never issued with 25 chapter texts.  The books had 20 chapter texts in the first printing, so all books have the original 20 chapter text.


Someone told me that they received books from me that they didn't order and that they didn't want.  They asked if it was a scam.  I was given no other information, and the person did not give his name.  I replied with the following:
You are going to have to give me more information.

1. Did you place an order from me?

2. If so, what did you order and when did you order it?

3. Exactly what did you receive? Please give me the titles of the books that were inside the package.

I need this information because I have no idea from your message who you are, where you are, or what you might have received.

Once I receive answers, I can help.
I received a response the next day stating that the problem had been resolved but without explaining.  This time the message was signed.  The name seemed somewhat familiar, so I believe that I did mail this person a package.  I sometimes receive orders for which the buyer has me ship the books to a different person in another state, perhaps as a gift.  I suspect that this person had received one of those packages.  If you ever buy something online for someone else as a present, you might want to let the recipient know that they will be receiving a package.


I usually don't publish direct quotes from private messages, but I must make an exception in this case.  The title of the message was "Like your books very much."  The message read:
Dear Mr or madam
i am Effie from China,we saw your website and found your books are all interesting
we are a printing company ,specilize in printing all kinds of books,if ok,we hope to print books for u and publicize your books in China
So apparently, this person is offering to print copies of all of the books I have in my booth and then publicize them in China.  I guess the Chinese are clamoring for reprints of juvenile series books.  Seriously, the message is ridiculous.  I do not have the rights to the books I sell, so I am the last person to approach to run a scam like this one.  Most likely, if I were to contact this person, she would tell me that I need to advance her a large sum of money for the printing of the books.  I would probably have to send the money via Western Union, and then I would never hear back.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

People Who Want to Sell Me Books #2

Last year, I wrote about how people who want to sell me books are often very concerned about what will happen to the books.  Recently, someone contacted me wanting to sell a complete set of Beverly Gray books including the reprint of Beverly Gray at the World's Fair.  This sounded promising, so I asked for pictures and a price.

The woman told me that the books had belonged to her mother and that she would try to get a picture taken.  She wanted $300 for the books, but she stipulated that I must sell the books as a complete set and that the buyer would then have the right to decide whether to break up the set.  That request was a deal-breaker.

I cannot promise to sell a set of books as a set.  Most buyers already have some of the books and are locked into purchasing them individually.  Complete sets of books are much harder to sell, especially these days.  I am not certain whether I could sell a complete set of Beverly Gray books for as much as $300 and not have the books up for sale for years.  If I were to sell the books individually, I would do fine, but not as a set.  This is all assuming that a decent number of the books had dust jackets and were in pretty good shape.  I never did see a picture of the books, so I have no idea what was offered.

I am not sure why it matters whether I break up a set or whether the person who purchases the books from me breaks up the set.  The set would get broken up either way.  I know from personal experience that most complete sets of series books that are sold on the internet go to people who are buying to resell.  Selling a group of books as a set will most likely result in someone reselling the books individually.  Why does it matter if I do that or if my buyer does that?  The likely answer is because if I keep the books as a set then at least a slight chance exists that my buyer will keep the books as a set.

When a prospective seller of books makes a stipulation about what will happen to the books, it is clear that the seller still has an attachment to the books and should not be selling them.  The only way to make certain that a set of books is not broken up is not to sell them.

Another prospective seller of books contacted me, stating that she had 10 boxes of series books that had been donated to the library.  She stated that they don't normally sell to dealers but that she was making an exception.  This was fine with me, but we had a big problem.  The 10 boxes of books were in Colorado, and I am in Oklahoma.  She wanted me to come look at the books and choose which ones I wanted.  The distance was too far away for me to consider checking the books, especially since I wasn't going to see photos ahead of time.

I am quite puzzled about why a library would contact someone in a different state and offer to sell the books to that person.  Why not just sell the books at the local library sale?  I wouldn't be happy if I lived in that community, collected series books, and my local sale was offering up the good books to people from outside the state.  The whole thing is strange.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Nancy Drew #79 Fenley Place, #80 Disappearing Diamonds, and #81 Mardi Gras Mystery

In Nancy Drew #79, The Double Horror of Fenley Place,a Hollywood director is filming a horror movie in River Heights.  Bess is cast as a "screamer" in the film.  Nancy tags along with Bess and stumbles into a mystery.  Every single scene that is filmed for the movie then occurs right across the street at Fenley Place.  The situation turns grim when Nancy learns that a dog is to be found dead in a movie scene, and later, the movie will depict a house burning.  Nancy must discover the culprit before Fenley Place is destroyed.  Certainly, someone associated with the film is causing the pranks.  But who?  And why?

This is an engaging story, although I feel that the plot lags towards the middle of the book.  For a number of chapters, the plot does not advance, and then finally, the book becomes quite suspenseful towards the end.  Overall, this is a good mystery.

In Nancy Drew #80, The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds, Monica Crown hires Carson Drew to help her discover who framed her daughter in the theft of one million dollars in diamonds.  One of the diamonds was found in the possession of Karen Crown, so she was convicted and sent to prison.  Monica fears that Karen will not survive in prison.

Soon after Nancy begins her investigation, Monica Crown's car plunges over a cliff.  The police are unable to find a body and believe Monica to be dead.  However, Nancy suspects that Monica might have faked her own death. 

This book is very suspenseful and entertaining.  The villain follows Nancy in a white sedan, threatens her, and tries to kill her.

In Nancy Drew #81, The Mardi Gras Mystery, Ned, Nancy, Bess, and George go to New Orleans at the invitation of one of Ned's teammates.  A valuable painting, Danielle's Dream, is stolen from Mr. Tyler's home.  Ned's friend's father is suspected of stealing it.  Later, Nancy thinks she sees Danielle in New Orleans.  Could Danielle be alive?  Or is this all part of a hoax?

I kept thinking of a Beverly Gray book, Beverly Gray's Discovery, as I read this one.  In Beverly Gray's Discovery, Beverly discovers that someone has been copying famous paintings.  This book even has Nancy looking through a window at someone copying a painting, just like Beverly Gray did.

The Mardi Gras Mystery is engaging from the very beginning and engaging throughout the book.

All three of these books are interesting and exciting, and they all follow a specific formula.  The little things that annoyed me about many of the Wanderer books have vanished.  Nancy no longer "swallows sighs," and gone are all the cute little references to past mysteries that make the Wanderer books seem like parodies.  While formula-driven books can be very predictable, when done right, they are consistently entertaining to read.  These books are formula-driven books done right.