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.


Jennifer White said...

Even though you removed your comment, I was able to read it since comments get emailed to me. I'll just say this.

It's only certain people who get criticized, and the point of this post was to try to get collectors to realize that they should think before judging. It's like awhile back when I saw a woman throwing stuff out her car window and smiling. I thought she was throwing trash out, and I thought her behavior was disgusting. As I drove off, I saw the birds eating the seed she was throwing out her window. I felt bad that I had made a quick judgment that was wrong. I hope other collectors will begin thinking before judging.

Amanda from Seattle said...

I have recently sold my "discards" at the recent Nancy Drew conventions in Toronto and Savannah. As a collector, I know the "value" of the books that I have to offer. I also want to lure in new collectors by offering "starter books" at a good value. Part of selling at the conventions is often educating the buyer about the different versions of the books. The difference between OT and RT...the different artwork. I want new collectors to get great books at a reasonable price. Most of my books are my discards when I have upgraded my collection and I would tell people about that at these conventions. I have not thought about doing that when I sell on Ebay, but perhaps I should mention it. "I am selling this book because I found a better one!!" LOL Also when I am at library sales etc. I often look for books that I know other collectors want. I have friends who want Judy Bolton even though I am not a huge fan of Judy Bolton, so if I see a nice one with DJ in the wild I will buy it, then if my friend already has it, I am stuck with it, unless I try to sell it at a convention or on ebay.