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.


JackWayne said...

Now my previous observation makes sense. You and other reputable sellers take the high road, explaining the necessary details to buyers are accurately informed. Others remain cryptic, giving only generic information in order to make a sale. I bet it's extremely frustrating for those of you trying to make a livng this way. I sell a little on the side, and find that the more information and pictures I provide, the narrower my buyer audience becomes, as I only typically resell books I have upgraded in my collection.

keeline said...

This is all pretty strange on the surface. I didn't notice that you said how many feedbacks the bidder had which can be an indication their experience in working with eBay. Regardless, asking first and then bidding is far better than bidding and withdrawing them.

However, if there was a logic to it, I could imagine one thing. If the person was buying copies like a Baby Boomer would remember, the tweed copy is more of the vintage someone born between 1946 and 1952 would see at age 10 between 1956 and 1961.

In my years managing the bookstore, I often had questions like this and, feeling that honesty was the best policy, I would state things about books we offered that probably talked us out of a sale.

In the same way, when describing books on eBay I have probably listed too much detail. The sellers who tell the buyers what they want to hear get the sale.

Q: "Is it a first edition?"
A: "Yes."

Regardless of whether it is a later printing two decades later. Some sellers don't know. Others probably do and say what it takes to make the sale.

The question is: is it best to say something like "Copyright 1934, original text (not revised), desirable 1952 printing."

Jennifer White said...

If you go to an old post on the first printing of Lilac Inn, you will find a link in one of the comments to a book I recently sold and another link to the current listing where the buyer has it up for sale at a much higher price. I was asked about the book in a comment to that post, and then I made the connection to the book I had sold.

The buyer/seller has not been on eBay very long at all.

The question is: is it best to say something like "Copyright 1934, original text (not revised), desirable 1952 printing."

That would be a good solution which could help the situation.