Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Judging People Who Sell Books

Some collectors view sellers differently depending upon whether they see the seller as a dealer who collects or as a collector who sells.  It's apparently okay if somebody avidly collects series books and happens to sell their extras that have been upgraded, but it's not considered okay to be a dealer of books who happens to collect series books. 

Other collectors worry about whether somebody is making a profit on the books they sell.  I hope most people are making a profit.  It doesn't matter to me whether somebody bought the books to resell in order to make a profit or whether they just happen to be selling books that they upgraded.  Of course, it's never fun to continually lose auctions for nice books to someone who is buying to resell.  Unfortunately, we all have to deal with that at times, and most of the resentment towards people who buy to resell undoubtedly comes from this experience.

In particular, collectors tend to be very judgmental of sellers who sell series books on eBay, especially the ones who do not actively participate in discussions in the different forums.  Some of these people were once very active participants.  One seller used to write articles around 20 years ago for the different fanzines.  That person has sold on eBay for many years, and about the time this person started on eBay, she quit writing articles for fanzines.

For whatever reason, this person's interests—or perhaps priorities—shifted.  I can't speculate on what happened, but for whatever reason, she ended up selling books and not writing articles.  But because she doesn't write articles anymore, some collectors think that she is only out to make money.  It's possible that she is just trying to make money, but that is her right.  The first piece of advice given to people who want to sell online is that they should sell what they know and like.  That's what this seller does.

I can think of another series book seller on eBay who does not participate in the forums and to any casual observer does not appear to collect series books.  However, I know for a fact that this person does.

Yet another seller offers obscure books at high prices.  Most collectors believe that this person is only in it for the money since this person has purchased books from them to resell.  Many of the books this person offers were purchased years ago for high amounts.  I believe that this person has tired of the books and is trying to recoup the funds by offering them at steep prices.  The books are not overpriced by what this person must have paid, but they are overpriced for the current market.  This seller is often criticized as someone that collectors do not want to have purchase their books.  True, this person also purchases books to resell, but any profit made from the recent purchases may be used to offset the losses on books that were purchased years ago.

Most people who have consistently sold series books for many years online—people who always have an excellent selection and are very knowledgeable—are collectors.  These people may not be actively buying new books for their collections right now, but they have collections and are interested in collecting.

Consider thinking more kindly of the different people who sell series books.  In fact, regardless of their situation and regardless of whether they blatantly buy books to resell, the fact that they have these books for sale brings more books into the market and helps all of us find the books that we seek.

The only sellers I judge are the ones who are doing things that are shady and unscrupulous that could hurt others.  One seller is always saying that his books have no library markings, but he doesn't come out and say that the books are not library discards.  In many of this seller's photos, you can see telltale signs that stickers have been removed from the spines.  This person probably has a technique that allows names of libraries to be removed from the inside of the books; so as a result, the books can be said to have no library markings.  Buyers then assume that the books are not library discards when they most likely are.

In fact, one of these books unfortunately ended up in my possession from another seller who also said that the book had no library markings.  When I received the book, it had those obvious signs of heavy usage, and signs that something had been removed from the spine. While there were no library markings inside, the inside front cover was scarred like something had been removed.  I felt certain that this book was a library discard that originally came from the unscrupulous seller.  I was quite disappointed.  The unscrupulous seller misled the person who then misled me by doing the same thing.  Those are the people I judge.

Anyone who sells specialized books from a series must have interest in that series or in series books.  Even general book sellers have an interest in books.  People don't typically decide to sell something without previously having had at least some interest in those items.  Granted, Jeff Bezos decided to sell books on the internet in 1995 before anyone else thought about it and solely to build a company, but he is an exception.

Anyone who sells Nancy Drew books, owns a Farah's Guide, and consistently has sold special printings over the years must have some type of interest in Nancy Drew.  The interest could be somewhat casual, but there is an interest.  Just because the seller does not interact with other collectors does not mean that the seller is selling the books just to make a profit.

We often don't realize how tenuous our hold is on collecting.  It doesn't take much to cause a person to lose interest in a hobby.  I had two major interests 20 years ago that I no longer actively pursue.  I can see where I could also lose interest in series books.  I don't think that will happen anytime soon, but it could happen.  That's why it's important that I do continue selling books.  In fact, around 2008 to 2010, I was reading very little.  The only thread connecting me to series books was selling series books.  The majority of my blog posts were about eBay and Bonanza.  Fortunately, I am reading again, but that could always change.

Each of these people who offer us books online is a part of the collecting community, and each is important.  Several advanced collectors who made significant contributions are now deceased.  A collector who had an important Rick Brant site is no longer in contact with other collectors, and he is missed.  Another collector who wrote a detailed Dana Girls guide lost interest before it was published.  Quite a few people who were longtime eBay sellers of series books have moved on to other endeavors.  We are less for their departures, and I challenge you to think kindly of each other, even those who are annoying at times.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Phyllis Whitney Samurai Sword and Haunted Pool

In Secret of the Samurai Sword, Celia and Stephen Bronson spend the summer in Japan with their grandmother.  The ghost of a samurai walks in their garden.  The samurai is said to be the ghost of an ancestor of their neighbors.  Celia soon learns that a samurai sword is missing, and she sets out to find it.

This book caught my interest from the very first page.

I learned several things about the culture of Japan.  Some of the content was too much for me, but I overall greatly enjoyed the book.

In Mystery of the Haunted Pool, Susan Price stays with Aunt Edith, who is trying to finalize a deal that will allow Susan's family to purchase Captain Dan's house.  Captain Dan's grandson, Gene, does not want to lose his home, and he is determined to do whatever he can to block the sale.

Gene wants to keep his home, yet Susan wants to live in his home.  Both sides are compelling, which makes this book interesting.  However, I found the premise slightly distasteful.  Normally I am on the side of the protagonists, but this time, I felt more for Captain Dan and Gene and how Gene feels about the prospect of losing his home.  To me, Aunt Edith and Susan come across as opportunists.  They must get a home near where Susan's father grew up, so they move in on Captain Dan and his home.

Gene and his grandfather move out of the house so that Aunt Edith and Susan can rent it.  Susan takes Gene's room and immediately makes changes, which I found disrespectful.  I was relieved, however, when it becomes apparent later that Susan does feel bad about taking his room.  But even at that, Susan changes things in Gene's room like it is given that she will be staying in the house for a long time.

I've been in a position where people have tried to pressure me into selling them books that I own.  It's not pleasant.  Some people are bullies who try to wear others down into doing what they want.  That's how I feel about Aunt Edith and Susan trying to buy the house without caring that the family does not really want to sell the house.

This is an excellent book, and I greatly enjoyed it.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nancy Drew Diaries #10 A Script for Danger

In Nancy Drew Diaries #10, A Script for Danger, a movie is being filmed in River Heights.  As usual, Bess gushes over the star, Brian Newsome, while George grouches and eats a lot.  Firecrackers explode inside a coffee pot on the set, and someone pours a messy goo over one of the costumes.  Someone is sabotaging the film!  This is so shocking!

I would never have guessed that yet another book would be about sabotage.  It's like Simon and Schuster is playing Nancy Drew Mad Libs.  Each book must center around sabotage, and they switch around names and places, making up another generic sabotage story.

I was mildly annoyed on page 10 when both Bess and George "smirked" because Nancy likes to solve mysteries.  It's like Nancy's own best friends laugh at her at every opportunity.

As with several other recent titles, too many characters are introduced too quickly.  I had trouble keeping them straight, which caused me to be less interested in the story.

Halfway through the book, I felt that nothing interesting had happened.  I was reminded of the dreadful Model Mystery Trilogy of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series.

I enjoyed the second half of the book pretty well.  First, I appreciated that the book mostly quit introducing new characters.  More importantly, I liked the location of the old house in the middle of the woods, so that was the primary reason I liked the second half of the book better.

The story is not particularly satisfying, since I felt like I had read it before.  The primary story was borrowed from a few of the Nancy Drew Girl Detective books, and the tired-out premise of sabotage has been overused to the point that it is now a joke.

I overall enjoyed the Nancy Drew Girl Detective series, and I believe I am in the minority on that.  While I have greatly enjoyed several of the Nancy Drew Diaries books, I overall like the Nancy Drew Diaries series distinctly less than the Girl Detective series.  That's not good.  I feel like the Nancy Drew franchise is being allowed to deteriorate in quality and value.  How long will Nancy Drew remain in print with new stories before Simon and Schuster finally manages to destroy any interest in the books?

I would be fine with the Nancy Drew Diaries series continuing.  I really like the presentation of the hardcover books with dust jackets.

However, the stories must be improved.  The plots need to move away from blatant sabotage and get back to more varied plots.  A return to the premise of the Nancy Drew Digest series would be ideal, and the editors should forget all this nonsense of Nancy being a joke, Bess being a silly girl, and George being an annoying grump who loves to eat.  I like the girls' abilities in the Girl Detective books.  I don't like them in these books. 

All that said, I will continue to purchase the hardcover books, since I love the way they look.  Unfortunately, I will not purchase the books for what is inside.  I will continue to read the books in case the series improves, but I am losing hope.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Phyllis Whitney Isle of Skye and Green Cat

In Mystery on the Isle of Skye, Cathy MacLeod visits the Isle of Skye with her relatives, the Corbins.  Where Cathy will live in the future is uncertain, since her grandmother is quite ill.  On the trip, Cathy learns much about the isle and her family.

This book is a travelogue, and I found it boring.  I didn't care about Cathy or anything about the Isle of Skye.  I felt that the story was presented in a way that was not compelling nor very interesting.  If I wanted to learn everything there is to know about the MacLeods and Scotland, then the book would have been highly fascinating.  Since I didn't care, I found the book dull.

I began skimming the text fairly early in the book and completely quit reading by halfway through the book. I did read the last page or two to see where Cathy would end up living, but quite frankly, I did not care.

In Mystery of the Green Cat, two boys and two girls are brought together into the same family when their parents marry.  The boys are quite hostile to the girls.  Soon, a distraction is provided when a rock is thrown through a window from the neighboring property.  Jill and Andy join forces to investigate the mysterious events.

This book starts out very slowly, and I didn't find it interesting.  Once the plot gets started, the book is interesting.  From around halfway through the book to the end, the book is excellent.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Large Number of Foreign Editions Listed on eBay

As many of you know, a series book collector's collection has been split up and sold on eBay in recent months by several different sellers.  In a future post, I will provide information on what sold and for how much.

I was able to purchase many of the foreign editions.  One seller was good about separating out the lots so that the first lot sold consisted of all titles, then future lots had the duplicates.  This meant that I only needed to purchase the first lot to get what I needed, so fortunately, other collectors were able to purchase the later subsequent lots.

Unfortunately, another seller listed the books in unsorted lots, so each subsequent lot had at least one or two books I needed with lots of duplicates from the previous lot or lots.  As a result, I was forced to buy many duplicate books.

All told, I have purchased around 300 foreign edition series books in the last three months.  This has been a very time-consuming process of sorting the books and comparing them up against what I already had.  I then had to make sure that I kept the right book and didn't accidentally put a book I didn't have in the pile to sell.  I next had to catalog what I kept on LibraryThing or update the listing if I upgraded the book.

I don't know how many hours I have spent on this.  I know it's at least around 20 hours, and it very well could be more than that.  I'm still not done.  I have stacked the new additions on top of books on my shelves.  I'm probably going to have to shift approximately 1,000 to 2,000 books around in order to fit in the new books.

In the meantime, I have now listed the majority of the extras, and that in itself took up a lot of time.  These books have temporarily taken over my life, and I'm glad to finally have most of the extras listed.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Some books are listed at higher prices than what I paid, but others are listed at lower prices.  In the end, it balances out.  I actually averaged out the total amount I paid for the books when I figured my cost per book.

Also don't forget the books I have listed in my Bonanza booth.

Jennifer's Series Books on Bonanza

The Teen Witch Series by Megan Barnes

The Teen Witch series by Megan Barnes consists of four titles that were published in 1988 and 1989.  I saw an eBay listing for three of the four titles which appeared in a Nancy Drew search, since the seller had used a Nancy Drew ISBN on the listing.  Normally, I ignore such listings, but for some reason that I cannot explain, I was intrigued.

I thought about it for five or ten minutes, really not sure that I wanted to make such an impulsive purchase.  I was feeling the same way I felt when I saw the Lovecraft Middle School books in a local store. As with those books, I was certain that I would somehow like the Teen Witch books, even though it was counterintuitive.  After all, reading about a teen witch seems stupid.

I purchased the books, since I couldn't let go of the thought of acquiring them.  After the books arrived, I read the beginning of the first book and knew that I would like it, so I purchased the remaining title that I needed.

In Teen Witch #1, Lucky 13, Sarah Connell turns 13 and learns that she is a witch.  Aunt Pam tells Sarah that she is also a witch and explains to Sarah that in time she will learn more about her powers.  Sarah decides to use her powers to make the cutest guy in school fall in love with her.  Unfortunately, Sarah's plan doesn't work out the way she expects.

Sarah is 12 years old at the beginning of the story and then turns 13 shortly into the story.  She is already a student at Waterview High School.  This is so weird, since students are typically 14 before they enter high school.  No explanation is made for the young age, and this is one of many things about these books that make no sense.

Did I care?  Nope.  The book is light reading and great fun.  I loved it.

In Teen Witch #2, Be Careful What You Wish For, Sarah decides to get a boyfriend for her best friend, Micki.  Unfortunately, Micki's personality changes with the new boyfriend.  Then the situation takes a huge turn for the worse when Sarah accidentally wishes away Waterview High School.  Oops.

On page 15, Sarah and Micki mention differential equations.  Later on pages 144-145, Sarah doesn't know what quadrants are, except that they make her think of geometry.  Right, quadrants are learned by Sarah's age, but she doesn't know about them.  Instead, she knows about differential equations, which is a college course requiring calculus.  Lots about these books make absolutely no sense.

The cover art is not accurate.  It makes it look like the school is still there, just closed.  The school vanished, leaving an empty lot with bare dirt.  That wouldn't have looked as interesting on the cover.

Obviously, an entire high school vanishing is not logical, but who cares?  This book is even more fun than the first book in the series.

In Teen Witch #3, Gone with the Witch, Sarah accidentally wishes herself and Micki back in time to Georgia just before the Civil War.  Sarah ends up enjoying herself, but Micki wants to go back home.  In time, Sarah realizes that they need to return, but she can't get her powers to work!

The cover art for this book is also not accurate.  Micki is shown wearing her modern clothing, but the girls' modern clothing did not travel to the past with them.

On page 112, I was interested in the use of the term "spit and image," which, as far as I know, I have always seen as "spitting image."  I had to look it up, and apparently, "spit and image" is the original idiom that some people still use.  There is also some dispute on the origin of the phrase, where some people claim that it was once "spirit and image."  However, it apparently was originally "spit and image." 

This third book is the one that most people like the best because of the historical content.  I have loved all the books, but this one has a greater impact, since most of the story is set in the past.

In Teen Witch #4, Witch Switch, Sarah is jealous of her sister, Nicole.  Sarah feels that Nicole's life is perfect.   When Nicole goes away for the weekend, Sarah decides to take her place and falls in love with Nicole's boyfriend!

This is another solid entry in the series and is unfortunately the final book.

These books remind me of Sweet Valley High.  The premise is not the same, obviously, but the style, devotion to fashion, references to pop culture of the 1980s, and the humor are all strongly reminiscent of Sweet Valley High and other books that I read in the late 1980s.  I felt like I had stepped back into my teen years as I read these books.  I loved reading these books and couldn't read them fast enough.

I loved all four books enough that I decided that I should try to get some more books from the same time period.  I recall that I enjoyed reading some of the Sweet Dreams books.  I decided to purchase some of those to see if they still hold up.  I hope they do.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Phyllis Whitney Strange Traveler and Black Diamonds

In Mystery of the Strange Traveler, Laurie and her sister visit their Aunt Serena on Staten Island.  Aunt Serena opens a book store on her property, and Laurie notices a prowler at night.  The prowler may be connected to Aunt Serena's mysterious neighbors.  After Laurie learns about a legend that links her family with the neighbors, Laurie finds a way to solve a mystery that ends up helping both families.

This book contains several quotes about reading and books that all readers will understand and enjoy. 

This book was slow to gain my interest, and I did not enjoy it very much. 

In Black Diamonds, Angie and Mark stay with their family in a ghost town.  While in the ghost town, Angie and Mark come into possession of a map that supposedly leads to a treasure.  Soon, the young people realize that others wish to prevent them from finding the treasure.

Black Diamonds is set in a ghost town in Colorado.  The setting and atmosphere of the book remind me of the Troy Nesbit books and the Secret Circle book, The Legend of the Devil's Lode.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ted Wilford #13 Abandoned Mine, #14 Shamrock, and #15 Greenhouse Mystery

In Ted Wilford #13, The Abandoned Mine Mystery, the mine in East Walton has been closed for years after an explosion.  Mr. Dobson wants Ted to investigate after he receives a letter that suggests that the explosion was not an accident.

Exploring an old mine at night is always exciting. 

I don't have any specific comments about this book, but I greatly enjoyed it.  The story is excellent.

In Ted Wilford #14, The S.S. Shamrock Mystery, Ted and Nelson take jobs on a freighter in the Great Lakes.  The boys are to investigate strange happenings on the ship.

This was the very first Ted Wilford book that I read when I was trying to figure out whether I should build a set.  I enjoyed the book but not enough to know whether I should commit to buying the other books in the set.  The story was nothing special.

When I later read the Sandy Steele books, I found that having already read this book was most helpful as I read Stormy VoyageThe S. S. Shamrock Mystery describes a long boat in great detail, really in too much detail for my taste.  Because of that great detail, I knew everything I needed to know about a long boat while reading Stormy Voyage and was able to visualize it well. Stormy Voyage does not describe much about the long boat.

After I read the other Ted Wilford books approximately six months after I read this book, I decided to read The S.S. Shamrock Mystery again to see whether I would like it better.  There was way too much historical and technical information, which I skipped.  By page 45, I decided that I wasn't interested in reading the book again.  The S.S. Shamrock Mystery is my least favorite book in the series, and it is interesting that I read it first.

In Ted Wilford #15, The Greenhouse Mystery, Ted and Nelson investigate a theft from a nursery that breeds roses.  Soon, the boys learn that someone may be trying to steal the rights to a special rose.

I decided not to read this book again in order to review it, but I greatly enjoyed it when I read it a couple of months ago.  It was the second Ted Wilford book that I read.  I enjoyed it so much that I acquired all of the books that I was able to find, thus resulting in a partial set of 10 out of the 15 books.

Like other Ted Wilford books, the plots moves slowly but is very engaging.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Phyllis Whitney Spotted Shell and Mystery of the Gulls

With this post, I will begin reviewing the Phyllis Whitney mysteries for young people.  I noticed as I read the books that several titles that are mentioned as others' favorites are titles that I did not enjoy.  The same happened with Cherry Ames.

While I did not enjoy all of Phyllis Whitney's books, I also avoided the same strong negative reaction that I had to Cherry Ames.  I did greatly enjoy a number of Whitney's books. 

I purchased The Secret of the Spotted Shell last year in a local store.  It was purchased so that I could try a book by Phyllis Whitney, since I have read such positive reviews of her work.  I will review it first, then I will proceed in the order that the rest of the books were published.

In The Secret of the Spotted Shell, Wendy Williams arrives in the Virgin Islands to live with her cousins.  Wendy's reception is not what she expected.  Her cousin, Gordon Cole, is missing and feared dead in Vietnam.  His wife, Marion, is in shock and in no condition to welcome a newcomer to the family. 

Wendy soon becomes aware that another newcomer, Mr. Helgerson, is interested in a spotted shell from Gordon's collection.  The spotted shell holds a secret message that could ruin Gordon's reputation if it gets into the wrong hands.

Wendy scowls all the time.  This annoyed me.

I enjoyed this book enough that I decided to purchase as many of Phyllis Whitney's juvenile mysteries as I could find.

In The Mystery of the Gulls, Tally Saunders and her mother arrive on Mackinac Island.  The Saunders will inherit a hotel provided that Mrs. Saunders can successfully run it for the duration of the summer.  If everything works out, the Saunders will sell the hotel so that they can purchase a house, which is what Tally wants more than anything.  Tally and her mother quickly discover that they are unwanted at the hotel and that someone is trying to keep Mrs. Saunders from being successful.

I enjoyed the setting of this book.  The tone of the book is just right, and I greatly enjoyed it.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Ted Wilford #11 Baseball Mystery and #12 Rainbow Gulch

In Ted Wilford #11, The Baseball Mystery, Forestdale hosts a baseball tournament.  Ted helps run the tournament.  Soon, Ted suspects that some of the players are fixing the results under someone's orders.

The information about baseball was too much for me.  I didn't understand all the descriptions, since I only have rudimentary knowledge of baseball.  The baseball games were not interesting to me, since I am not interested in baseball at all.

This is why I didn't choose to read this book as one of my first few Ted Wilfords.  I purchased Shamrock first, read it, but was not able to determine if I wished to continue.  I was able to purchase this book and Greenhouse Mystery at the same time.  When I chose the second book to read to make a final decision, I chose Greenhouse Mystery because I suspected that a book about baseball would not accurately tell me whether to purchase additional books in the series.

I did enjoy Ted walking from one part of the two to another.  My favorite series books are almost always stories that feature the characters walking and exploring very close to their home or wherever they are staying.

I got a little confused telling the teams and coaches apart.  It would have helped if the name of the city would have been used more often with the name of the team.  I was partway through the book and had forgotten which team was the Forestdale team, which caused my confusion.

The story ends quite abruptly, and I was surprised to turn the page and realize that I was finished.  I felt like at least one more part of the plot could have been resolved a bit more, but I know why it was left loose.  The reader can't get bored with a book when the story ends quickly without excessive explanation.

Even though much of the baseball discussion was over my head, I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Ted Wilford #12, The Mystery of Rainbow Gulch, Ted and Nelson stay at Bob Fontaine's ranch.  As the boys arrive, a plane crashes, and one occupant vanishes.  Meanwhile, a mystery surrounds an old hermit, and footprints indicate that someone has been watching the ranch.

A fire that spreads through the woods towards the end of the book is quite thrilling.  I couldn't be sure how it would work out, since a fire in another book didn't work out well at all.

This is a very good book.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Secret Circle Mysteries #9 Disappearing Dogs, #10 Spaniards Rock, and #11 Wildcat Well

In Secret Circle Mysteries #9, The Mystery of the Disappearing Dogs, dogs are disappearing all around Toronto.  Two rival gangs, Annex and Spadina, put aside their differences in order to find out who is taking the dogs.

This book was written in order to expose the cruel experiments that were being done on animals in the early 1960s.  There are some graphic descriptions of what was done to dogs and cats under experimentation, and I could have done without reading those descriptions.

Since this book was published in 1963, I was curious as to when regulations about animal testing went into effect.  President Johnson signed the Animal Welfare Act of 1966 into law in the United States, and the Canadian Council on Animal Care was formed in 1968. 

This book doesn't have an obvious single protagonist.  It's a group of children, so the reader doesn't get attached to any of the characters, which lessens the impact of the story.  I found that I didn't really care.  I did not enjoy this book very much.

In Secret Circle Mysteries #10, The Secret of Spaniards Rock, Bob and Sue Channing vacation near Spaniards Rock.  A couple of men who are staying there act suspiciously, and the children soon suspect that they are criminals who might be holding the residents of the lighthouse captive.

This is another story where the mystery is obvious from the beginning.  A large roll of five-dollar bills washes ashore, and the serial numbers are in order.  One of the men claims the roll of bills.  The men do some type of work in a building which has loud machinery.  Gee, what could the men be doing?

I began skimming towards the end, not because the text was uninteresting, but because I knew what the mystery was and how it would be resolved.  I saw no point in reading every detail.

In the final Secret Circle Mystery, The Mystery at the Wildcat Well, Rory must go to live with his father, who works on an isolated oil rig.  Rory overhears a conversation which indicates that a spy works on one of the rigs.  Later, Rory learns that his father's rig is the one with the spy, but his father won't believe him.

Some parts of this book dragged for me, especially the lengthy description of the drilling process.  The description is not as long and tedious as in the first Sandy Steele book, but it's still a bit excessive.  It seems that I'm learning a great detail about drilling for oil as I read various books this year, and I'm learning far more than I want to learn.

I enjoyed this story.