Saturday, November 26, 2016

Building a Set of Hardcover Nancy Drew Digest Books

I have been working on building a complete set of the Nancy Drew digest books, #57-175, in hardcover since 2001.  It's been 15 years, and the set is still not complete.

I began building the set because at that time I did not like softcover books at all.  I first decided to build a set of the Wanderer books with dust jackets, #57-78, and quickly expanded to library bindings of all of #57 -175.

As the years have passed, the frequency with which I find hardcover digests that I need has decreased significantly.  Hardcover versions of #130 and up are extremely scarce. They exist, but most of them are still in the hands of the original owners.

Earlier this year I tallied what I needed and was shocked that I only needed 29 of the digests in hardcover.  I spent some time during the summer searching for the 29 books I needed in hardcover.  I was able to locate three of them, bringing the number I needed down to 26 books.

I have never felt that I would ever complete the set, but that kind of difficult goal is fun to work towards as a collector.  Finishing the set would still be quite improbable, but I was thrilled to see that I was beginning to get closer.

After a recent unexpected acquisition, I now see completion of the set as distinctively more possible, although still quite difficult.

I saw a near-complete set of Nancy Drew digests for sale for $300 and realized that some of the high-numbered books were hardcover editions.  I wasn't sure how many, and the seller's price was too high for me to purchase without knowing for sure what the lot contained.  Also, the listing had some contradictory information that concerned me.  The seller's picture is seen below.  The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books at the end of the second shelf were not part of the lot, which I knew.  Remember that you can click on any image to see a larger version.

A few Aladdin books on the top shelf are missing the Aladdin icon at the top spine, which reveals them to be rebound hardcover books.  The variance in heights for the books on the second shelf shows that some are rebound hardcover books.  But I couldn't tell how many for sure.  I inquired about which books were hardcover and learned that the lot contained 27 hardcover books including at least 10 of my needed 26 books.

I purchased the lot, even though the price was still too high for me.  15 years ago, I never paid more than $5 per hardcover digest book.  In recent years, I have paid $5 to $10.  When I realized that I needed only 29 hardcover digest books, I decided that I would be willing to pay $10 to $20 each for the remaining books if in very good condition.  That's why I decided to purchase this expensive lot.

I was nervous waiting for the books to arrive, since I knew from past experience that bulk lots are almost always stacked in a box and mailed with no protection.  That was certainly the case with these books, but fortunately, nothing was damaged since the books were not able to shift much inside the box.

I was happy when I removed the books from the box and discovered a total of 32 hardcover books in the lot, which was five more than I was told.

These are the hardcover books that I received.

I was thrilled to discover that nearly all of the hardcover books are not library discards. While building a set of hardcover Nancy Drew digests is very difficult, acquiring those hardcover books in copies that are not from libraries is nearly impossible.

Only six of the books are library discards, and I quickly recognized those six books.  I knew the scuff on the spine of #89, and I recognized the way "discard" was written inside the books.  #89, 90, 92, 96, 120, and 143 used to be my books, and #89 with the scuffed spine is the book scanned years ago for my website.  I upgraded them and sold them, and now I have them back again.  I am a little dismayed that I have them back again while at the same time I am amused.  This is not the first time books have come back to me.

I am keeping all 26 of the books that are not library discards, and I will sell the six books that came back to me.  I will also sell the large number of softcover books that came in the lot.  This purchase was well worth the cost considering what I added to my collection.  Of the 26 books, five books are upgrades of copies in my collection.  Nine books are variants of books already in my collection, and I will keep both versions.  The remaining 12 books are new additions to my hardcover digest set.  Here are the books that I will keep.

This purchase brings the number of hardcover digest books that I need down from 26 to just 14 more books.  The following books are the only books that I still need in hardcover.

109. The Mystery of the Masked Rider, 1992 (read update)
114. The Search for the Silver Persian, 1993
115. The Suspect in the Smoke, 1993
122. The Message in the Haunted Mansion, 1994
123. The Clue on the Silver Screen, 1995
130. The Sign of the Falcon, 1996
145. The Missing Horse Mystery, 1998
148. On the Trail of Trouble, 1999
158. The Curse of the Black Cat, 2001
160. The Clue on the Crystal Dove, 2001
168. The Bike Tour Mystery, 2002
169. The Mistletoe Mystery, 2002
170. No Strings Attached, 2003
175. Werewolf in a Winter Wonderland, 2003

It's interesting that I still need a few that are not particularly high-numbered.  However, some of the mid-range titles are harder to find even in softcover, such as #114 and #122, which is why I have not yet found them in hardcover.  Since all titles from #130 and up are quite hard to find in hardcover, I am actually surprised that I now have as many of those titles as I do.

Here are all of my books together on the shelf.  The back shelf starts with #57 on the left and goes through #84. The front shelf begins with #85 on the left and ends with Ghost Stories on the right.

I was asked earlier this year how to find the Nancy Drew digest books in hardcover.  I have some methods that have helped me locate them, but I am not willing to divulge everything I know until I complete my set.  The primary method, however, is obvious and can be inferred from this post:  Be observant.

Keeping in mind that this recent transaction is an anomaly, my present acquisition rate of just one or two per year means that I cannot expect my set to be complete for at least another seven years.  I am not sure that I will complete the set, but I am ever hopeful and enjoy the process.

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