Friday, March 17, 2017

20 Years Ago Today

I registered on eBay on March 17, 1997, which was 20 years ago today.  As now, it was spring break, although that day was a Monday.  I wrote in detail about how I was introduced to eBay eight years ago in the post "12 Years Ago Today."  
I had discovered eBay! eBay was called "Auction Web" or "eBay's Auction Web" in those days. I was so amazed that there were actually - gasp! - 50 Nancy Drew books up for sale at a time! And they were collectible ones with dust jackets and any type you could want! I remember how the search results were in random order and you could not order the search results by date or price or anything. And the searches would often take around 2 minutes or longer because eBay was growing fast and could not keep up with the rate that it was gaining new users. People would joke on the message boards that one could hit "search" and then go take out the trash or fix a sandwich and come back to view the results!

While I discovered eBay in around January 1997, it took me two months to get around to registering and bidding. I wasn't used to paying more than $5.00 for a book, so it took that long for me to change my mind about what I was willing to pay.

I remember that the very first book I bid on was on the afternoon of March 17, 1997, and it was a tweed copy of Larkspur Lane that had a chipped dust jacket. I'm not sure what I bid, but it was around $8-10. Of course I lost, since I was not willing to pay very much.

It was not until April 1997 that I was successfully able to win an auction, actually two of them. During the first four to five years that I bought online, I always made printed copies of the item pages. I'm now glad that I did, because I still have those copies, and they are very interesting.
Go to the above link to see a scan of one of my printed copies of an eBay listing from 1997.

I started collecting series books in the summer of 1991.  From then until early 1997, my books were all purchased locally.  From 1997 on, most of my books were purchased on eBay.  While I don't have any data on how many of my books were purchased on eBay or elsewhere, I have no doubt that the vast majority of the books now in my collection were purchased on eBay.

eBay does not have anywhere near the quality of inventory that it had from 1997 through around 2002 or so.  The decline has been steady since that time and continues to worsen.  However, eBay is still the first place I look for books.  On one browser, eBay's main page is my home page.  On another browser, eBay's advanced search page is my home page.  eBay remains very important to me, although I now must also use other sites to find books that I need.

The beauty of eBay is that anything can be listed at any time.  It doesn't matter if you have checked eBay everyday for two months and found nothing, the most fabulous item imaginable could suddenly be listed, like the one mentioned in my post "Grosset and Dunlap Series Book Advertising Sign."  Amazing items show up unexpectedly. When the items are Buy It Now, the first person who sees the item gets it.  That's why I check eBay all the time and never get discouraged.  I usually make at least one purchase per week on eBay.  I am always able to spot something.

Recently, I wrote a description of how to use eBay properly in a post on Facebook.
You should save searches for all series books that interest you. This is done by first running the desired search. On the results page at the top, you will see a link to follow the search. If you click on that link, you will then see a box that says:  
"Yay! You're now following _____ in your eBay Feed. You will receive email alerts for new listings. 
Don't send me email alerts."  
In most cases, I don't want to receive emails, so I deselect the alerts by clicking on that last sentence. For extremely scarce books that seldom appear, I do receive emails. Since I currently follow 78 searches, I don't wish to receive potentially 78 messages per day about new listings. 
Whether you choose to receive the emails or not, the search results always show up in your eBay feed. I love my eBay feed.  
Go to the main page, You will find a tab labeled "following." Click on that tab to see the most recently listed items in your saved searches.  
Even better, saved sellers' listings show up as well. If you like the books offered by certain sellers, then you should follow them. The link to follow a seller can be found on the right side of any of that seller's eBay listings right underneath the seller's user ID.
Very often on Facebook, members ask where they can find vintage Nancy Drew books. They are usually told that eBay has a great selection.  Strangely, the person often responds with a statement like "I don't do eBay."  It's a shame that people aren't willing to try something new.

For some, eBay is overwhelming.  If that is the case, I suggest using the saved searches and eBay feed as described above.  Don't run the searches yourself; go to your eBay feed.  That way, you'll only see the most recently listed items and won't be overwhelmed.  You can just see the new items listed each day and gradually get used to eBay and how it works.  Take it slowly, just like I did in early 1997.

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