Monday, May 30, 2016

An Update on Etsy

I opened my Etsy shop on May 6 and closed my Bonanza booth on May 7.  Here's what I have noticed.

Etsy has internal site traffic.  It doesn't have the amount that eBay does, but it's an improvement over Bonanza.

Etsy lets all sellers see their traffic stats and lets them add categories to their shop without forcing them to pay a membership fee like Bonanza or a store fee like eBay.  

Etsy allows sellers to print shipping labels on its site at no extra charge just like eBay does.  Bonanza makes sellers pay extra to print shipping labels on its site, which is why I always went directly to PayPal to print my Bonanza labels.

Etsy does not send the buyer the shipment notice until the day the seller indicates that the item will ship.  If I print a label Saturday evening and set the label date as shipping on Monday, then Etsy does not send the email to the buyer until Monday.  This is an improvement over both eBay and Bonanza and is how it should be. 

The downside to Etsy is that I do have to pay $0.20 to list each item, although the listing does last for four months.  With the two items I have sold, I have about broken even on fees and revenue.  If I can sell a reasonable number of items in the next four months, then it should be worthwhile.

The upside to Etsy charging to list each item is that it keeps junk off the site.  Sellers are more careful about what is listed since all items incur a fee, so the site has good items showing up in the search results.

My two sales on Etsy are no more than I would have had on Bonanza, since I was still getting one to two Bonanza sales per month.  I do have slightly more traffic on Etsy than on Bonanza, and at least the traffic is not to completed listings.

That's the little secret that many people don't know about Bonanza.  Most traffic is to completed listings rather than to current listings.  The completed listings from 2009 to around 2013 get great Google exposure and more views than the items that are currently for sale on Bonanza.  It makes no sense, but it has been that way for several years, probably since 2013.

One week ago, I took a screen cap of my Bonanza traffic.  In the following image, I had my cursor placed on May 7, which is the day I closed the booth.  Notice that I still had traffic after May 7, all of it to the completed listings.

Also one week ago, I took a screen cap of my items that had the most recent views. 

Only three of the items shown were still for sale on the weekend I closed the booth.  Those are the items I highlighted.  The rest had been sold between three and seven years ago and should not have been my most popular items this month.

As I stated previously, this type of traffic pattern has been the case on Bonanza for several years.  Sold items have been much more popular than items currently for sale.  This data reveals that Bonanza has no site traffic and that any traffic comes out of Google search.  Unfortunately, most of the traffic coming from Google search is to the completed listings, which does no good.

That's why I wanted a fresh start on Etsy.  While I don't have higher sales, at least not yet, I do have slightly better traffic.  Of that traffic, I can tell that some of it is internal site traffic, which is something Bonanza lost by 2010.  I figure I'm at least slightly better off.  Also, I can tell that Etsy gets good placement in Google's shopping results, and one of my two sales has come from that.

I have two reasons for wanting to keep a store open on a site other than eBay.  First, I can accommodate the buyers who wish to pay by money order.  Second, I can list certain books that I refuse to list on eBay, such as early Nancy Drew books with internals and dust jackets.  I will never again list those books on eBay, because if I do, one certain seller will find a way to circumvent a buyer block and will be the one to purchase the books.  I have that person blocked because I feel it is too risky to allow him ever to purchase from me again.  So books he would want cannot go on eBay since he doesn't let anything stop him.  I will even sell those kinds of books at a loss before I ever list them on eBay again. 

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hardy Boys #110 Sigma Seven, #111 Three-Ring Terror, and #112 Demolition Mission

In Hardy Boys #110, The Secret of Sigma Seven, Frank, Joe, and Chet attend a science fiction convention.  A special screening of a new movie is scheduled, but the movie disappears!  Frank and Joe search for clues.

I overall enjoyed the first half of the book, although even the first part isn't that great.  The book began to wear on me after the halfway mark, and I lost interest more and more the further I read.  I skimmed towards the end.  The second half is okay, but I just wanted it to be over.

Overall, I did not like this book very much.

In Hardy Boys #111, Three-Ring Terror, Chet has decided to become a clown and is a student at Circus University.  A juggler passes Chet a coded message, which sets Frank and Joe on a new investigation.  The boys don't know what kind of crime is being committed, but they search for clues.

The story has a few too many characters.  The plot is the standard sabotage plot, and it is not an interesting sabotage book.  The word "sabotage" is used a number of times in the text.

While I overall enjoyed the book, the story is just okay and nothing special.  I skimmed the last few chapters since I didn't really care by that point.

In Hardy Boys #112, The Demolition Mission, Frank and Joe are asked to test-drive the prototype of a new sports car.  They learn that someone has tampered with the vehicle.  The boys look for the saboteur as they face grave danger.

In the beginning of the story, Chet has arrived in a banged-up jeep that is a prototype.  At the top of page 3, Frank comments that "it makes sense to drive one prototype over to the speedway to see another prototype."  I was quite confused, since the text had not yet mentioned anything about the boys looking at a prototype sports car.  If I had read the back cover summary, I would have known.  Since I hadn't, the text made no sense.  A reader's understanding of a book should not be dependent upon the reader reading the book's synopsis before beginning the book.

I was expecting a typical tired-out sabotage book.  After all, the word "sabotage" even appears on the front cover.  While the book is the typical sabotage book, it is much better than I expected.  Since Frank and Joe are in grave danger and in the middle of the action, the book is quite thrilling.  Callie is abducted and is also in grave danger.

The first half of the book is very good.  The second half is excellent and very suspenseful.  I greatly enjoyed this book.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Hardy Boys #107 Gull Island, #108 Fear on Wheels, and #109 Prime-Time Crime

In Hardy Boys #107, Panic on Gull Island, Iola has disappeared while vacationing on an island off the gulf coast of Florida.  The Hardys and Chet travel to the island to find Iola, where they discover that no one on the island is willing to help.  The boys suspect that Iola has fallen victim to a sinister plot.

This book has the feel of the higher-numbered original books.  What stood out is the usage of the word "goon" to describe the villains and the word "quipped" when one boy makes a remark in jest.  And of course, the boys and Fenton are on two separate cases that turn out to be the same case, and this does not happen as often in the Hardy Boys Digest books as it does in the original series.

I expected this book to be quite good since the title mentions a place with an interesting name, Gull Island.  I tend to like books set in picturesque locations.  Unfortunately, the book disappointed me, and I liked it less than many other Hardy Boys Digest books that I have read recently.

I enjoyed around two-thirds of the book.  The book began to bore me around 40 to 50 pages from the end.  I began skimming and finally quit reading the book by 20 pages from the end.  The culprits are obvious from the beginning.  It is also obvious from the start that the two cases are connected.  I didn't need to know the ending details since there was never much suspense.

While I enjoyed the first part of the book, I doubt I will ever want to read this book again.

In Hardy Boys #108, Fear on Wheels, Frank and Joe are hired to find out who is sabotaging a monster truck show.

This is the typical boring sabotage book.  There are too many characters who all blend together.  The text gives the reader no reason to care.  If one of the Hardys had actually been participating in the monster truck show, I would have had a reason to care.  They are merely observers who go around and question people who are of little interest to the reader. 

This book is so boring!  Everything about the book bored me.  I began skimming the book by page 40.  I quit halfway through.  I did turn to the end to see the villain's name, but I didn't care.

I did not like this book at all.

In Hardy Boys #109, The Prime-Time Crime, Frank is a contestant in a local teen quiz show that airs on WBPT.  The show's host disappears.  The boys investigation is difficult, because two other teen quiz show contestants decide that they are better detectives and can solve the case before the boys.

This book is better than the previous book because the Hardys are involved in the plot.  They are in danger.

The two other teens who decide to work on the case are rather annoying.  At the same time, this plot twist is interesting, since Frank and Joe do not usually have to deal with others making their work difficult. 

I enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hardy Boys #104 Tricks of the Trade, #105 Smoke Screen Mystery, and #106 Video Villains

In Hardy Boys #104, Tricks of the Trade, Frank and Joe attend a magic seminar in New York hosted by Lorenzo the Magnificent.  Valuable jewelry disappears during each magic act, and the boys suspect Lorenzo's assistant of being the culprit.

On page 120 after a theft, everyone is to be searched.  One person leaves to call the police, and that person is not searched.  The boys ought to know that everyone is a suspect, yet that person is overlooked.  I wasn't surprised when this person turns out to be one of the villains, although I was quite surprised by the identity of the other villain.

The book has a premise that appears to be just like other books with magicians and magic acts which involve thefts that occur during performances.  At first I thought I would not find this book interesting, but the fresh take on an old story idea makes the book quite engaging.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #105, The Smoke Screen Mystery, Frank and Joe become volunteer firefighters.  Every fire is attributed to faulty wiring, but the boys soon realize that an arsonist is loose.

On page 37, the boys are searching the scene of one of the fires as it gets dark outside.  Frank comments that the boys need to hurry since the light is diminishing.  The boy's van is outside, and it is stocked with everything the boys could possibly need in an investigation.  And the boys are searching in the late evening without flashlights because...?

As I read this book, I realized that there is a gender bias among children's books.  Nancy Drew would never work as a volunteer firefighter.  The Hardys are able to do more exciting activities since they are boys.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #106, Attack of the Video Villains, Joe is a lead contestant in Videomundo's Hack Attack competition in New York.  But soon, the boys find themselves in the middle of danger and intrigue.  Chet purchases a Hack Attack cartridge, and gangsters keep trying to steal it.  The men will stop at nothing, and the boys must discover what is so special about the cartridge.

On page 42, the reader learns that ROM is "ready-only-memory."  No, ROM is actually "read-only memory."  "Ready-only-memory" makes no sense!

On page 100, a Videomundo representative has no idea what a backdoor to the game is.  This is a huge red flag, since the book had already explained that the video magazines give backdoors in each issue.  There's no way the rep wouldn't know, so I knew that this person was one of the villains from that passage.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hardy Boys #101 Money Hunt, #102 Terminal Shock, and #103 Million-Dollar Nightmare

In Hardy Boys #101, The Money Hunt, Frank and Joe travel to Maine to help their father's friend who owns a hunting lodge.  Accidents have occurred at the lodge, and guests have seen a ghost!  Years ago, bank robbers hid their loot somewhere near the lodge, and the boys wonder if there is a connection.

I really like the setting in the woods of Maine.

I enjoyed this book, although it partially lost me towards the end, since it went into some length explanations of exactly what the villains did.  When the boys are imprisoned on the helicopter, the two villains immediately begin discussing at great length their entire story from start to finish.  Later after the villains are captured, we get the boring play-by-play on who-did-what.

In Hardy Boys #102, Terminal Shock, Frank has been visiting bulletin boards online, while Joe knows nothing about computers and is uninterested.  Frank's friend Jim, who runs a bulletin board, suddenly is taken ill.  He has been poisoned.  Frank and Joe must find the culprit—and the antidote—before Jim dies!

The old computer jargon is fun and interesting.  I tend to enjoy books like this one, because they make the computers sound so fascinating and mysterious.

Joe acts very stupid about computers.  He knows absolutely nothing!  At the time this book was first published in 1990, I was Frank's age.  Joe is just one year younger than I was at that time.  Teenagers did know about computers!  I recall having a computer in my elementary school classroom in 1983.  It's ridiculous that Joe is so oblivious to them.  I get the idea that the adult writing the book knew nothing about computers and was self-educating himself or herself while writing the book.  After all, I know less about current technology than today's teenagers.  That's the way it always is.  The adults know less than the youth.

It's odd that Joe is the one depicted to hate computers.  It would have been more logical to have Chet take that role and tag along with the boys on the case.  It's strange for Joe to act so clueless and complain about computers for the entire book.

I enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #103, The Million-Dollar Nightmare, Frank and Joe are traveling in San Francisco.  While walking down the street, they just happen to see a wanted criminal who was featured on a recent television show.  The criminal is wanted for stealing a valuable horse several years before.  The boys are certain that the brief sighting will give them the insight they need to crack a case that has puzzled authorities for years.

This book didn't interest me, for the reason that I didn't care.  Since I didn't like the book, I read it very quickly to get it over with quickly.  The book might be okay, but I did not care for it.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hardy Boys #98 Spark of Suspicion, #99 Dungeon of Doom, and #100 Island Treasure

In Hardy Boys #98, Spark of Suspicion, someone is threatening to sabotage the Founder's Day fireworks display.  Frank and Joe use their jobs at the television station, WBPT, to investigate the fireworks company, where they suspect that the saboteur works.

One employee of the fireworks company goes out of his way to cooperate with Frank and Joe.  He makes copies of some of the private files of the company and gives the boys information that incriminates certain employees.  I was suspicious of him from the beginning because he is too helpful.

On page 122, Frank and Joe finally figure it out.  They realize that the culprit is the one person who was feeding them misleading information.  Right, guys. You should have been suspicious of that person much sooner.

The action ends on the penultimate page with no time for boring questions and answers.  That's good, because I don't get bored when that happens.

Even though the villain is quite predictable, I enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #99, Dungeon of Doom, Frank and Joe sit in on a meeting of the Greater Bayport Area Wizards and Warriors Club.  The members learn that another member has been threatened, so Frank and Joe go with them to an abandoned mine that the group uses for its role-playing games.

The entrance to the mine is blasted shut soon after the group enters the mine.  They are trapped and find themselves in a dangerous role-playing game that their enemy has set up for them.  There appears to be no exit from the mine, and deadly traps have been placed everywhere.

The book is good, and I enjoyed it.  However, I do feel that the story could have been written better.  The events in the mine are told in a perfunctory fashion that leaves them less thrilling than they could have been. 

In Hardy Boys #100, The Secret of the Island Treasure, Frank and Joe revisit the scene of their very first case.  Hurd Applegate's mansion is being turned into condominiums.  The boys find a secret workroom in the tower, and in the workroom, they find a map that shows the location of a treasure on a nearby island. 

I had trouble figuring out how a workroom could be hidden in the tower.  Applegate knew about the workroom but could never find it.  Wouldn't someone have noticed that the inside of the tower is smaller than the outside of the tower?  Couldn't they have used that information to figure out the location of the hidden workroom?

On page 63, the boys are in a pit that they have dug on the island.  Water begins coming into the pit.  Frank wonders where the water is coming from.  Let's think about this.  The boys are on an island in the ocean.  Where do you think the source of the water is?  Joe notices that the water is salty, and the boys are further puzzled.  They wonder why saltwater would seep into a pit on the island!  And these boys are famous detectives?

The ending of this book does not drag.  There is more than one villain, and they are not working together, so the reader is left guessing.

This is a very good book. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hardy Boys #95 Danger on the Air, #96 Wipeout, and #97 Cast of Criminals

In Hardy Boys #95, Danger on the Air, Frank and Joe are invited to appear on a talk show at a Bayport television station.  The boys learn that someone calling himself the Masked Marauder has been threatening the television station, warning that the station will go off the air unless his demands are met.  Frank and Joe wonder if the threats are connected to a company that is trying to purchase the station.

This is an exciting book.  I greatly enjoyed it.

In Hardy Boys #96, Wipeout, Frank and Joe travel to France to find out who is sabotaging the Almanarre Cup windsurfing competition.  Champion Doug Newman keeps having accidents that could remove him from the competition.  Meanwhile, Doug's girlfriend runs a nearby inn, which has been hit by acts of sabotage.

I had recently read Hardy Boys #168, The Castle Conundrum, which is also set in France.  One specific event in both books is basically the same.  In both books, a heavy object is caused to fall.  Something is placed under the object to make it uneven, then ice is used to balance it.  When the ice melts, the object falls.

Furthermore, both books have more than one culprit, and the culprits have different motives, so the reader cannot guess what is happening and who is responsible.

I enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #97, Cast of Criminals, Callie is starring in a play at Bayport's Grand Theater.  Callie plans to wear a tiara in the play, but the tiara vanishes.  The boys learn that the tiara is valuable.  Meanwhile, dangerous accidents plague the production, and it appears that someone is sabotaging the play.

Chet is a star in the play, but he is awful.  Nothing he does is right, and of course he gets fired.  I can't understand why he was cast.  He is so awful in his delivery that it makes no sense.  It's good comic relief, but it isn't logical.

I like how Callie and Iola are actively involved in the mystery for the duration of the book.  The mystery centers around Callie, who is being threatened.  I always enjoy series books more when members of both genders are actively involved in the plot.

The book has more than one culprit, each after something different.  This book has lots of humor.

The story is brilliant.  This book is excellent, and I loved it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hardy Boys #92 Shadow Killers, #93 Serpent's Tooth Mystery, and #94 Breakdown in Axelblade

In Hardy Boys #92, The Shadow Killers, every city that is hosting a competition in the karate tournament circuit has had an armory robbed.  Frank and Joe believe that ninjas are involved!

This book never really had my interest.  In the beginning, the boys discuss how difficult a certain opponent will be and how he plays dirty.  The reader hasn't met this person yet, so the discussion is boring.  It's always better for an author to show the reader than explain to the reader.  I didn't care.

The text spends a lot of time with information that isn't that interesting.

The book is okay but nothing special.  I did not care for it.

In Hardy Boys #93, The Serpent's Tooth Mystery, Phil Cohen is working at the zoo in the snake exhibit.  When valuable snakes are stolen, Phil becomes the primary suspect.  Frank and Joe must clear him of the charges.

When the story involves danger to someone important to the protagonists, the story is much more interesting.  It's very important that the Hardys find out who is responsible for the theft so that Phil can be cleared.

This book is pretty exciting, and I read it quickly.  I was a little bored at the end, like I often am when the obligatory question-and-answer session occurs.  Aside from that part, this is an excellent book.

In Hardy Boys #94, Breakdown in Axelblade, Frank and Joe drive to Wyoming to go on a camping trip in a national park.  The boys' van breaks down in Axelblade, which is close to their destination.  Oddly, everyone in town is hostile to the boys.  They are threatened and warned away.  When the boys go camping as planned, they are harassed and abducted.  Soon, the boys discover the deadly secret behind the townspeople's hostility.

This book is interesting from the very start.  The residents of this town are quite hostile.  The boys finally find one ally, but otherwise, everyone seems to hate them.  Their van is set on fire.  The boys are beat up.  They are even framed for a crime they did not commit.

This is an excellent book with no boring parts.  I loved it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

An Update on Listings at eBay and Etsy

A week ago, I removed all of my items from my Bonanza booth and moved them to eBay and Etsy.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

My Bonanza sales were awful.  It was frustrating, since I knew that books that stayed on Bonanza for months would have sold quickly on eBay.  A total of 56 books were moved from Bonanza to eBay one week ago.  I did not lower any prices when I moved the books to eBay, and in a few cases, I raised the prices.  11 of those 56 books have already sold on eBay, which proves that Bonanza was a waste of effort.

eBay is the very best place to buy and sell vintage books.  It always has been, and it always will be.  I have never quit buying on eBay.  In early 2009 when I moved my listings to Bonanza, I continued to purchase lots of books on eBay.  I never left.  My items for sale left, not me.

I have now been back on eBay as a seller for nearly three years.  Yes, the fees can be high, but the items actually sell and without a lot of effort.  That's really important. 

I wrote of eBay's horrible changes in 2008 and 2009.  eBay has now undone nearly all of the changes that were awful for sellers.  It's not a horrible place.  Even better, eBay just recently announced that they are simplifying their listing form to make it easier to list.  It's about time!  From what was mentioned, I believe that eBay will be changing to a listing form that mimics Etsy and Bonanza.  Good.

I also moved 63 books to Etsy.  It's not surprising that none of them have sold in the last week.  It's the same story as Bonanza.  However, I can already tell that I have more traffic on Etsy than I did on Bonanza.  I have a better chance of success on Etsy since it actually has traffic.  I also know that since I have had no sales and since I have no feedback that it might take awhile to get sales. 

I figured out how to allow money order transactions on Etsy, so I changed that setting a few days ago.  If you are a buyer who likes to pay via money order, I can still accommodate you on Etsy just as I did on Bonanza.  On my payment options page, Etsy gives me a warning about how money order transactions have no seller protection.  I get why they give buyers that kind of warning, but warning the seller makes no sense.  I won't mail the item until I receive the money order, so I am not going to be defrauded. 

This weekend I added 20 books to my Etsy shop.  I selected some very hard to find books, since I already can tell that I have Google exposure for my Etsy listings.  I am using the same approach as I did with Bonanza.  I offer books on Etsy that I do not offer on eBay, which means that buyers have to check both sites to see what I have.

My summer vacation starts on the afternoon of May 25.  At that time, I will get caught up on many projects.  I will more thoroughly get caught up with listing books on both eBay and Etsy.  And I will tear through the rest of the Hardy Boys Digests, the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers, and the Hardy Boys Adventures.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hardy Boys #89 Sky Blue Frame, #90 Danger on the Diamond, and #91 Shield of Fear

In Hardy Boys #89, The Sky Blue Frame, Mark Maxwell, owner of the Sky Blue Inn, hires Frank and Joe to stage a fake crime at the inn for a mystery weekend, which he has advertised for his guests.  Soon after the boys arrive several crimes are committed... or are the crimes fake?

On page 55, one guest does not socialize during dinner and instead reads a book.  Frank comments, "He's either very rude or a nut about mysteries."  How about he likes to read? 

This book is very interesting.  The reader is kept guessing as to what is really going on.  This story is better than Hardy Boys #154, The Caribbean Cruise Caper, which I had recently read.  The Caribbean Cruise Caper has the same premise, but in that book, everyone knows that the Hardys are staging a mystery.  In this book, none of the guests know that the Hardy Boys are at the inn to plant clues, which makes the story much better and more suspenseful.  Also, other items get stolen, and the reader begins wondering whether someone else is there to set up a fake mystery or whether real crimes are being committed.

This is an excellent story from beginning to end.

In Hardy Boys #90, Danger on the Diamond, Frank and Joe participate in a baseball camp run by a famous former baseball player.  Accidents begin to occur, and it soon becomes apparent that someone is sabotaging the baseball camp.

This story is nonstop action.  Around halfway through, it began to get to me and became annoying.  Once the exact details of the reason for the sabotage are revealed, the book becomes more interesting.

I overall greatly enjoyed the book.

In Hardy Boys #91, Shield of Fear, Frank and Joe are asked to go undercover as police cadets at the police academy in Philadelphia.  The police commissioner's grandson is getting into trouble at the academy, and the commissioner thinks that someone is setting him up.

At first, I greatly enjoyed the story.  As I read further, more characters are introduced, and I began having trouble remembering them.  Whenever that happens, I end up not enjoying the story as much.

I ended not enjoying the second half of the book very much and skimmed the book some towards the end.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hardy Boys #86 Silver Star, #87 Program for Destruction, and #88 Tricky Business

In Hardy Boys #86, The Mystery of the Silver Star, Frank and Joe have been hired to investigate who is sabotaging Keith Holland's cross-country race.  The situation becomes grim when Keith disappears!

On page 97, Frank and Joe are asked to find Keith after his abduction.  Frank replies, "Kidnapping is a little out of our league.  I think you ought to contact the FBI."  Huh?  Frank and Joe have handled abductions before, and besides, they were on the Space Shuttle in the previous book.  This should be a piece of cake.

The comment about kidnapping being out of the boys' league is an inconsistency caused by having different writers.

This book starts out as the typical sabotage book.  However, partway through the story it becomes apparent that much more is at play, which makes the book very interesting.

This is a very good book.

In Hardy Boys #87, Program for Destruction, someone is sabotaging the CompuCar assembly line.  Frank and Joe are loaned one of the company's cars, and too late, the boys discover that the car's computer has been sabotaged, putting them in grave danger.

I wasn't impressed when I saw the cover, which has archaic computer equipment.  I'm sure the computer looked modern in 1987, but it doesn't now.

On page 6, Frank and Joe introduce themselves to their new client, Arnold Stockard.  Joe asks Stockard what the problem is, and Stockard replies, "Sabotage."  I had to laugh.  This is the second book written by writers from Mega-Books for Simon and Schuster, and the sabotage theme is immediately prevalent. 
This is an example of a book that keeps the number of characters down to a bare minimum with adequate characterization of each.  I could keep track of everyone, and the plot is very interesting.

This is an excellent book.  I read it very fast and loved it.

In  Hardy Boys #88, Tricky Business, Chet becomes one of the Trusty Teens, going door-to-door to sell merchandise for Trusty Home Products.  Later, Frank and Joe witness an explosion at the Trusty complex, and a teenager, Jimmy Quayle, is accused of causing the explosion.  Soon, Frank and Joe suspect a conspiracy and investigate the company and its workers.

This book has a twist that is unexpected.  Additionally, the criminals don't like each other, and several of them have turned on each other.  Some of them are blackmailing the others.  For much of the book, the reader isn't sure who all is guilty and who is innocent.  This makes the story very interesting.

This is a very good book.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Comparing the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Wanderer Books

One of the main reasons I decided to read all of the Hardy Boys Digest books is because I am interested in the treatment of the Hardy Boys as compared to Nancy Drew.  I am also interested in how both series changed alongside each other as compared to the earlier books in each series.

I had originally thought that because I do not like many of the Nancy Drew Wanderer books that I would not like the Hardy Boys Wanderer books.  Before I made my decision to compare the development of the two series, I had no intention of reading the Hardy Boys Wanderer books.  I decided to read a few just in case, and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them.  I was intrigued.

Why did I like the Hardy Boys Wanderer books when I did not like many of the Nancy Drew Wanderer books?  Nancy Drew is my favorite series.  While I am very much enjoying my journey through the Hardy Boys series, I wouldn't place it as a favorite series.  Why do I like the Hardy Boys Wanderer books more than the corresponding books from my very favorite series?  What is different?

Before I get to that, we must journey back to 1930.  The Hardy Boys series had been in print for three years and a total of nine books.  The Nancy Drew series had just launched with the release of the first three books.  And then Edward Stratemeyer died.  Both series changed after Stratemeyer died.

The Hardy Boys series is more uneven than Nancy Drew in the years after Stratemeyer died.  My conjecture is that Harriet Adams took a greater interest in the Syndicate's girls' series offerings.  In fact, two new girls' series, Dana Girls and Kay Tracey, were created soon after Adams took over running the Syndicate.  We do know that years later that Harriet Adams was very protective of Nancy Drew and had taken sole responsibility of the series.  Not only that, Harriet Adams fancied herself as Nancy Drew.

For that reason, I feel that more effort was made to keep the Nancy Drew series even and that the Hardy Boys series floundered a bit in the years after Stratemeyer died.  Nancy Drew seems more consistent.

Let's go to the Wanderer years where the reverse is true.  Harriet Adams had total control over Nancy Drew through the second Wanderer book, #58 The Flying Saucer Mystery.  She wrote the third Wanderer book, but the manuscript was so awful that it was rewritten by Nancy Axelrad.  After that, various authors other than Harriet were responsible for the series, and Harriet soon passed away.  This left Nancy Drew without the one person who had been watching after her for over 50 years.

The Nancy Drew series was the one that floundered in the years after Harriet Adams died.  The Hardy Boys series kept going strong with pretty good consistency in quality and tone.  The Nancy Drew books are uneven and at times bizarre.

I believe that the Stratemeyer Syndicate had to scramble to try to keep up with the Nancy Drew series after Harriet's death.  Some Nancy Drew Wanderer books were apparently rewritten from what would have been Hardy Boys books.  Nancy Drew #64 Captive Witness reads like a Hardy Boys book, and Nancy actually acts like a boy and not like herself.

Nancy Drew #67 The Sinister Omen also reads like a Hardy Boys book, and Nancy even rescues her father from imprisonment just like the Hardys would have done with Fenton.  Not only that, but in the first Wanderer printing of The Sinister Omen, Carson is actually called "Fenton" on page 79 and "Mr. Hardy" on page 84.  Last, Nancy Drew #75 The Emerald-Eyed Cat Mystery mentions Bayport!  It looks like three Hardy Boys books were changed into Nancy Drew books during the Wanderer era!

For #62 and up in the Nancy Drew Wanderer series, the books were written by authors who had nothing to do with the original 56 titles.  Six Wanderer books were written by James Lawrence, who wrote Hardy Boys books.  What gets me is that he purposely wrote the Nancy Drew books differently than the Hardy Boys books, which is not surprising, but what he wrote is not as good as his Hardy Boys output.  I do not like Lawrence's Nancy Drew books as much as I like his Hardy Boys books. 

For the Hardy Boys series, Andrew Svenson's involvement ended with #54 Mysterious Caravan.  Vincent Buranelli and James Lawrence wrote the last four books of the original 58.  For the Wanderer Hardy Boys books, James Lawrence and Vincent Buranelli wrote all titles up through #65.  Altogether Lawrence and Buranelli wrote 12 of the Hardy Boys Wanderer books, which made those books just like the higher-numbered of the original 58.  Even though the remaining Hardy Boys Wanderer books were written by other authors, the books were written in a style that closely matches the original premise and are equally good as the higher-numbered titles in the original set.

The reason I enjoy the Hardy Boys Wanderer books much more than the Nancy Drew Wanderer books is because the Hardy Boys Wanderer books are consistent with each other and mesh well with the original set.  In contrast, the Nancy Drew Wanderer books were written in an inconsistent fashion and frequently have extremely convoluted plots.  Nancy Drew's characterization is also inconsistent, and the Nancy Drew Wanderer books do not mesh with the original set. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Closing a Door and Opening Another One

Having a booth on Bonanza has felt pointless for around two years.  The site appears to have little internal traffic.  I was extremely successful on Bonanza for several years.  I was successful when many other sellers were not getting traffic or sales.  This blog has a lot of traffic, and I had links to Bonanza.  I also was spared 90% of the glitches that drove other sellers away.  I do know that there was a lingering checkout glitch that affected international users, and that glitch surfaced every few months during the years that I had good sales.  I had international buyers angry with me, thinking it was my fault.  I know of a few lost sales.  There must have been others.

For the last two years, my Bonanza sales were very low regardless of how I advertised here and on Facebook.  I had a link at the top of my website from 2009 until yesterday.  That link no longer brought any traffic to Bonanza!  Why was that?

I assume that there was still a checkout glitch and that I lost many sales from it.  If I tried to buy from someone on a site previously unknown to me and had a glitch, I'd abandon the purchase and not tell the seller.  I suspect that might be a factor.

However, the bottom line is that some people just don't want to buy outside eBay.  I've mentioned this before.  It's not something I understand, but I have a group of repeat buyers on eBay going back 15 years who never interact with me outside eBay.  They don't join the Facebook groups.  They don't follow this blog.  They don't buy from me outside eBay.  They don't communicate other than on eBay.  This was verified again this weekend, but that comes later in this post.

I am placing a record of my Bonanza fees paid each month here since this gives an idea of how good my sales once were and how much worse they were the last couple of years.  A $3.00 fee means that I sold around $85 in books, and a $60 fee means that I sold around $1,700 in books.  December 2015 and July 2015 are exceptions to that because I was trying out a higher fee rate to see if I would get more sales.  It helped slightly but was not worth it.

I remember some important events in the chronology.  2009 does not have particularly high sales, but Bonanza had outstanding Google placement.  Whenever I listed a hard to find book, it sold quickly.  From 2010 on, I was always disappointed that I didn't have the Google placement I had at the beginning.

Bonanzle changed its name to Bonanza in September 2010.  This was a big mistake, at least for the small sellers.  Bonanzle was a unique name and was great for marketing.  The reason the name changed is because Bonanza was the name the owners originally wanted, but David Dortort owned the domain.  He died, freeing up the name.  The name change might have been good for the site's revenue, but it was not for mine.

In early 2013, Bonanza placed the Amazon links all over the site, further decreasing sales.  That's why I opened my store on eBay in July 2013.

I have known for two years that I would eventually close my Bonanza booth.  I kept my booth open as long as I did for two reasons.  First, it wasn't hurting anything.  Second, I have a few money order buyers and others who don't use eBay.  Just as some people only use eBay, other people refuse to use eBay.  I wanted to keep the booth open for those few buyers who won't use eBay or can't because they can't use money orders on eBay.

I had decided sometime in the last year that I had no emotional connection left to Bonanza and that it was a complete waste of time.  I decided that I would close the booth this year whenever I felt like getting around to it. 

Last week, my credit card had expired and was declined when Bonanza tried to bill me for my April fees.  I paid my fees through PayPal, and Bonanza tried to get me to enter a new card number since all sellers are required to have a valid credit card on file.

Hmm.  I realized that I had a golden opportunity that could not be passed up.  What better time to close my booth than at the time I had no credit card on file and owed no fees to Bonanza?  Friday evening, I finished setting up my Etsy store, which I had actually started setting up in December 2014.  I just never felt motivated to follow through. 

Early Friday evening, I began moving my Bonanza items to Etsy and eBay.  One item had been on Bonanza for many months.  I raised the price on eBay, and it sold to a repeat eBay buyer in less than one hour.  This is someone who does not interact with me outside eBay.  That's what I mean about people who will not go outside eBay for any reason.

It took 24 hours for me to move every Bonanza listing either to eBay or to Etsy.  I had to do every listing manually since I wasn't going to pay Bonanza to export the listings to eBay.  I around half the listings to eBay since I had enough free listings and had not replaced books that had sold in the last two months.  The books that would have duplicated existing eBay listings went to Etsy.

I had to pay $0.20 for each Etsy listing, and each listing is good for four months.  If I sell enough items to justify what I have incurred in fees, I will keep the shop open.  If not, I will close the Etsy shop in four months and sell only on eBay.

Saturday evening, I finished copying the last listings to Etsy and put my Bonanza booth on vacation.  I sold books on Bonanza for exactly seven years, four months, and one week.   The first five years were great, and I loved selling on Bonanza during that time.

I do like Etsy's interface, but the sales will be the sole deciding factor on whether I keep listings there.  That aside, Etsy's interface is as easy as Bonanza's was in 2009.  Bonanza's listing form had some glitches that developed after 2009 and was never as easy to use as it was in 2009.  Etsy's listing form is as easy as Bonanza's original listing form.

Since sellers do have to pay fees to list, Etsy has Google Analytics available and nice site stats for sellers who don't use Google Analytics.  So far, I like Etsy, but the final verdict will be determined by the sales.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

In around three weeks when my summer break starts, I'll get caught up listing new books.  I do have some nice new acquisitions that are extras.  I have been busy and exhausted and completely unmotivated to list anything.  The only reason I spent this weekend closing the Bonanza booth is because the credit card situation lit a fire under me.

In closing, I have some advice.  Unless you have a large following, be careful about listing items on a marginally known site that has perpetual free listings.  It most likely won't be worth it, and you'll not do well.  Stick with sites that charge a fee, or else just use eBay.  Etsy is a site that charges fees, but I can't say right now if it is a good place to sell vintage books.  I will just have to wait and see.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Hardy Boys #83 Swamp Monster, #84 Desert Phantom, and #85 Skyfire Puzzle

In Hardy Boys #83, The Swamp Monster, death threats have been made against naturalist Martin Pierce.  The boys travel to southeast Texas to investigate.

The setting is great with the Spanish moss and swamp, but the author's description falls short, leaving it flat.

The book has too many characters that I couldn't keep straight.  If the author had written the story better, I could have kept them straight.  The number was really not too many, but the author should have made it easier for the reader to remember which man was which.  I had to keep flipping back to earlier pages to try to remember.

The word "tightly" is overused.  The author should have used a few other words like "tensely" and "grimly."

The climax where the fake alligator is discovered goes too fast, is uninteresting, and is anticlimactic.

In the beginning of the story, something called the "Lost Column" is mentioned.  Near the end of the book, everyone concludes that someone is looking for something in the swamp.  They spend hours brainstorming and finally figure out the villains are searching for the Lost Column.  Duh... I could have told them that.  I knew ever since the Lost Column was mentioned that it was at the heart of the story.  How stupid.

This book has a great setting that was not described anywhere near as well as it should have been.  It also has a great story that was not written well enough.  I enjoyed this book, but I wish it had been written better.

In Hardy Boys #84, Revenge of the Desert Phantom, Frank and Joe are tasked with finding Niki Jerusa, who is hiding after a revolution in her African nation.  Frank and Joe must find her and take her back home so that she can help overthrow the government. 

We learn on page 21 that Joe and Iola have relationship troubles, which is a first in the Hardy Boys Digest series.  This book and the next one are the last two Hardy Boys Wanderer books and were the pilots for the Hardy Boys Casefiles series.  The last two Nancy Drew Wanderer books also served the same function for the Nancy Drew Files series.

I don't like the last two Nancy Drew Wanderer books very much, since Nancy's character is changed too much.  She is smitten with every man she meets and even is attracted to a villain when the reader can tell that he is a creep.

While this book does have a different tone and is much more exciting than the other Hardy Boys books, the story remains true to the boys' personalities.  What's different in this book is the outrageous adventure where the boys drive a tank and use machine guns.

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected.  I didn't like the premise at first, but the author added the right emotions and made the plot so interesting that I greatly enjoyed the story.  I read it very quickly.

This is an excellent book.

In Hardy Boys #85, The Skyfire Puzzle, Frank and Joe go to NASA to help prevent someone from sabotaging the next space shuttle mission. 

This book is as action-packed as the previous one.  This time there is a hint of attraction between Frank and Suzanne, but it goes no further than that.

On page 34, Frank and Joe learn that civilians such as teachers and students are now allowed to go on shuttle missions, therefore Frank and Joe will go on the shuttle flight.  I cringed, since this book was published in 1985, and Challenger blew up in 1986 with teacher Christa McAuliffe on board. 

This book was written by the same author as The Swamp Monster.  Fortunately, "tightly" was used less often.

This book is very exciting.  I enjoyed it very much and read it very quickly.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hardy Boys #80 Roaring River, #81 Demon's Den, and #82 Blackwing Puzzle

In Hardy Boys #80, The Roaring River Mystery, Frank and Joe work on solving a bank robbery in which a large amount of money and a valuable diamond ring were stolen.  The boys also assist their new friend, Ollie Fernandez, as he hopes to lead the first expedition through the rapids of Roaring River.  Ollie believes someone is trying to stop him.  Almost all of Ollie's life jackets have been stolen, and Ollie has had several other acts of sabotage.

It should be noted that the stolen life jackets were purchased from a store very close to the bank and that the bank robbers had been in the store.  By page 40, I had already guessed the significance of the stolen life jackets and was annoyed that the Hardys have no idea.

On page 77, the boys realize that someone is after the life jacket that Ollie still has, a life jacket that had already been noted to have a mended tear.  Hmm.  Clueless Frank and Joe don't inspect the life jacket.

So there's a missing diamond ring.  Hmm.  I wonder where the diamond ring could possibly be?  On page 117, Frank remarks, referring to the life jackets, "I still can't figure out what the crooks want with them."  Well, gosh, I wonder.

On page 140, the numbskulls finally open the mended tear in the life jacket to find what I knew was there all along.  Idiots!

While I enjoyed this book, it has no suspense.  The solution is obvious all along, and the only reason the story has a mystery is because Frank and Joe act like fools.

In Hardy Boys #81, The Demon's Den, Frank and Joe vacation in Vermont with Chet and Biff.  A boy goes missing from a nearby camp, and Frank and Joe look for him.  Meanwhile, Fenton Hardy is looking for a missing scientist who may be working for a foreign power.  The scientist is believed to be in Vermont, and the boys look for him as well.

This book captured my interest quickly.  I did lose interest at times, since I found the story of the missing boy to be more interesting than the story of the missing scientist.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #82, The Blackwing Puzzle, an old house is said to be haunted by the ghost of a slave trader.  A strange black shadow hovers in the sky over the house.  Frank and Joe suspect some kind of aircraft holds the solution, but they cannot figure out why no motor can be heard. 

The story has slightly too many characters, which always decreases my enjoyment.  I had trouble keeping all of them straight. 

The book also has too many subplots.  One subplot, which has to do with a jeweled butterfly found by the boys, is not necessary to the case.   Focusing more on the old house would have been better.  The boys spend very little time in the house.

While I enjoyed this story, it could have been better.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Hardy Boys #77 Crimson Flame, #78 Cave-In, and #79 Sky Sabotage

In Hardy Boys #77, The Crimson Flame, Frank and Joe travel to Arizona to assist Alfred McVay, a rancher who fears that his valuable ruby will be stolen.  Once in Arizona, the boys notice that several of the McVay's employees are behaving suspiciously, although McVay refuses to believe that any of them could be in on the plot.

As soon as I began reading this book, I felt that this is more like it.  This is the type of plot I enjoy.  While I have read many stories set on ranches with suspicious employees, I never tire of that type of story when it is written well.

I enjoyed this book.

In Hardy Boys #78, Cave-In, Frank and Joe are asked to find a missing Hollywood actor, Richard Chase.  Their search takes them to the an old hotel near Lake Tahoe.  The hotel is the set of Chase's latest movie.  Frank and Joe also find themselves in the middle of a conflict between rival teen gangs and soon suspect that the villains are pitting the teens against each other.

I greatly enjoyed this book from the very first page.  I don't know what it is, but the book had me from the opening paragraphs.  Some books are easier and more fun to read, and this is one of them.

I really like the setting at and near the ski lodge.  I enjoyed the setting with the two rival gangs of boys.

The boys end up staying with Tim because Phil Cohen mentioned him, thinking he works on the set of the movie.  Tim didn't tell the truth and used Phil so that he could get the Hardys to help him fight the rival gang.  The Hardys refuse, and in fact, end up spending time around the rival gang.  Soon, the boys learn that someone is pitting the two gangs together.  It has something to do with the mine, and this is an intriguing mystery. 

Stories like this are so much more engaging to me than reading about Pentagon spies, terrorist organizations, and gambling on football games.  It's a throwback to a simpler type of book that is much more interesting.

I greatly enjoyed this book from start to finish.  Nothing was boring, and nothing dragged.

In Hardy Boys #79, Sky Sabotage, Fenton Hardy believes that a sabotage attempt will be made to prevent the launch of an important satellite from Cape Canaveral.  Frank and Joe go to Florida to investigate.  Meanwhile, the boys also search for some missing pet porpoises. 

One scene in this book is ridiculous.  A loan shark steals an electric eel so that he can use it to torture someone who owes him money.  A metal plate is inside the aquarium and wires run from the metal plate to a chair where the victim is strapped.  Each time the eel comes into contact with the metal plate, the victim is shocked.  This is crazy!  It sounds like the sort of thing that would happen in a Kay Tracey book.

On page 124, Chet has been abducted by the criminals.  Fenton Hardy tells his sons, "Chet's been in tight spots before.  He'll be all right."  Sure Fenton, whatever you say.

The book lost me a little bit in the last several chapters, and I skimmed some parts.  There were a few too many characters, which always causes me to lose interest.  Overall, I enjoyed this book, even though the number of characters took away from my enjoyment.