Monday, July 30, 2018

Secret of Tate's Beach and Adventure of the Seven Keyholes by Augusta Seaman

In The Secret of Tate's Beach, Merwin is recovering from a bad illness, so she and her father stay at Tate's Beach in Mr. Tate's inn.  Mr. Tate's granddaughter is about the same age as Merwin, but at first, Peggy hides from her.  Peggy has had little education, and the one time she attended school, the other girls made fun of her.

Gradually, Merwin and Peggy become friendly, and Peggy shares her secret.  Peggy has a small cache of treasures she has found on the beach, and she keeps them hidden under an old figurehead.  The girls soon realize that Peggy's treasures may hold the key to finding out the truth about Peggy's past.

This is an excellent book with a really good mystery.  The book is just like some of the very best vintage series books.  Unfortunately, this is one of the more scarce of Augusta Seaman's books.

In The Adventure of the Seven Keyholes, Barbara's grandfather has died, and he left her an old brass key.  The will states that the key fits the first of seven keyholes.  To find all of the remaining keyholes, Barbara will need to follow clues that will be revealed behind each keyhole.  The clues are not easy to decode, but Barbara perseveres and finds that her grandfather willed her something more than just a brass key.

This book is aimed at a slightly younger audience than the rest of Augusta Seaman's books.  The book is a bit shorter than Seaman's other books, with just 150 pages and less text printed on each page.  The book is good, but I did not enjoy it as much as the average Seaman book.

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Edge of Raven Pool and Bluebonnet Bend by Augusta Seaman

In The Edge of Raven Pool, Antoinette's father has died, and she is penniless.  Antoinette is sent to live with her aunt in Savannah, Georgia.  Tony is miserable at first, since Miss Spencer is cold and distant.  Tony soon visits her cousin, Theo, on the family's island plantation, and the two become close friends.

Tony finds a paper hidden behind a picture in one of the bedrooms of her aunt's house, and Theo tells Tony about the strange behavior of Marm Debbie, who goes to Raven Pool in the middle of the night.  The cousins discover that the two mysteries are likely intertwined and hold the key to a missing treasure.  Finding the treasure would help Miss Spencer avoid losing her colonial home to foreclosure.

The story is very interesting from the very first page.  This is an excellent book.  I was enthralled and read it very quickly.

In Bluebonnet Bend, Katharine and her mother go to San Antonio to stay on Uncle Ezra's ranch, which is partly owned by Katharine's mother.  Uncle Ezra has some kind of scheme in mind, and he needs Katharine's mother to grant permission.

Katharine becomes friendly with her cousins, Elizabeth and Don.  She also becomes acquainted with Felipe, an elderly man who squats on the property.  Katharine soon senses that Felipe is involved in some kind of mystery and that Don knows about it.  The two girls search for clues.

In this story, a Mexican ancestor of Felipe's is named Alessandro.  The name is Italian, not Spanish.  This bothered me.

This is a very good book.

Thoughts on eBay, Etsy, and Facebook

My Etsy sales have outpaced my eBay sales in the last month.  It's because I have put a lot of effort into my Etsy shop in the last month and have listed a better variety of books.

The following graph shows that my eBay sales have fallen greatly in the last month.  Remember that you can always click on any image to see a larger version.

Now here are my Etsy stats for the last 30 days.

I removed the revenue amount from the image, but my Etsy revenue from the last month is twice that of my eBay revenue.  That's pretty impressive.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to list on Etsy.  You might recall that I came on pretty strong in 2009 when I started listing on Bonanza, and during that time, I was very successful on Bonanza.  I truly did feel at that time that Bonanza had the momentum to be a very successful sales venue, but the site later made some huge mistakes that ultimately destroyed the momentum.

My main motivation in focusing on Etsy is that the overall fees are much lower than eBay's.  Even though I have to pay $0.20 to list each item, I pay lower fees since the final value fee is much lower.

eBay is still the best choice for anyone who sells series books.  Etsy is a good secondary choice since the site is established, but sellers have to work at it in order to have success.  For that matter, sellers even have to work hard to have success on eBay.  It's not as easy as it once was to sell books.

Etsy does have some advertising options, but I am not comfortable with using any of them.  I know of three people who dislike me, and there are likely a few others out there.  One advertising option on Etsy is for sellers to pay to have ads show at the top of search results.  If members click on those ads, the sellers are charged.  I worry that someone who doesn't like me would click on an ad a bunch of times.  That's why I don't use them.

Another advertising option on Etsy is to pay to have Etsy send coupons to people who fave an item or leave items in their shopping cart.  I tried that one for just a few days, then I turned it off.  Without getting into a detailed explanation, I felt that the targeted offers were not ultimately going to effectively raise my sales.

I finally tried the promotion that I currently have active on Etsy, which is free shipping on orders of $35 or more.  I am still getting quite a few sales for under $35, but I do feel that a number of buyers are taking advantage of the shipping promotion and that it is helping to raise sales.

The primary reason I quit selling on Bonanza was that my listings were no longer getting any interest.  On Etsy, I can tell that people are interested in my listings.  Etsy has a "recent activity" section in Shop Manager that shows when members have faved my items or my shop.  I see at least one fave each day, which tells me that people are reacting positively to my listings.

Finally, I do not want to sell on Facebook.  I tried it some last summer, but members want books to be extremely cheap.  Furthermore, I went to a lot of trouble to offer really nice books on Facebook and saw very little interest.  Since Facebook's primary purpose is not sales, members are way too easily distracted by everything else.  Selling on Facebook was not worth my time.  I would rather list my books on eBay and Etsy.  At least eBay and Etsy members are on those sites to buy, so they aren't distracted.

I also found that Facebook members ignore any notes about items that have already sold, ask to buy those items, and then have a strong reaction about that item being unavailable.  I would rather sell on eBay or Etsy where I don't have to send a message explaining that an item has sold.

Another problem with Facebook is that some members reserve a book and then do not follow through.  This happened to me twice, and I only offered books for sale a few times.  Buyers almost always follow through on eBay, and on Etsy, buyers cannot end a listing without paying.

I have listed many excellent books on Etsy recently.  I broke up several of my bulk lots from eBay.  Some of the books were moved to Etsy individual listings.  I have also listed some of the books from the bulk lots on eBay in individual listings.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tranquility House and Sally Simms Adventures It by Augusta Seaman

In Tranquility House, Mr. Benham lives next door to Connie and Elspeth.  The girls regard Mr. Benham as an honorary uncle and spend lots of time in his home.  One day Connie falls down the stairs, breaking her ankle and damaging a bit of the woodwork near a window seat.

Elspeth finds an old box under the window seat and takes it to Uncle Benham, who seems disturbed by the contents.  Uncle Benham becomes ill, and meanwhile, his secretary, Mr. Cookson, appears to be searching for the box.  Elspeth and Connie hide the box while they wait for Uncle Benham to get well.

This book starts out slow and uninteresting.  The story finally captured my interest around pages 70 to 80.  The rest of the story is quite suspenseful.

In Sally Simms Adventures It, Sally travels to Bermuda as the paid companion of Miss Miranda, who is a crotchety old woman.  Miss Miranda prevents Sally from having any fun and makes certain that Sally must wait on her constantly with few breaks.  Miss Miranda also complains endlessly about how awful Sally is.

Sally becomes friends with a lively boy named Andy, who finds a hidden cave and clues to a possible treasure.  Later, Mr. and Mrs. Amory are brought into the secret, and they run interference with Miss Miranda so that Sally can have time to help Andy find the treasure.

This story reminds me of Charlotte Cross and Aunt Deb.

The very best and funniest parts of the story are the letters that Miss Miranda writes to her friend, who is apparently Miss Miranda's only friend.  Miss Miranda has a completely twisted view of everything, and her version of events is hilarious.

The book has lots of limericks in it, composed by Andy.  They are actually pretty good and enjoyable to read!

This is a very good book.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Dragon's Secret and The Mystery at Number Six by Augusta Seaman

In The Dragon's Secret, Leslie and her aunt are staying in a bungalow on a secluded beach.  Another bungalow is near theirs and is vacant.  Leslie is shocked to see a glimmer of light from behind the shutters of the vacant bungalow.  Who is the prowler?

Meanwhile, Leslie's dog discovers a buried burlap sack on the beach.  Leslie and her new friend, Phyllis, open the sack, finding a strange locked chest with a dragon carved around all sides.  As more odd events unfold, the girls realize that someone is hunting for the chest.  The girls keep the chest hidden as they search for clues to the chest's owner.

This is a very good to excellent story.

In The Mystery at Number Six, Bernice has recently come to live in Florida.  Bernice and her cousin, Sydney, visit abandoned phosphate mines while Sydney fishes.  The young people discover a farmhouse near phosphate mine Number Six, and a strange young girl lives there.  Bernice and Sydney learn that the girl's name is Delight, and her past is a mystery.  Delight seems quite frightened of Jerry and his wife, who are the people who take care of her.  Strangely, Delight likes Jerry even though she is afraid of him.  Mystified, Bernice and Sydney hope that they can help Delight.

The word "cracker" is a pejorative term for white people.  Seaman uses "cracker" to describe Jerry's wife.  I was puzzled about Seaman's use of the term, since I doubted that she was using it in a pejorative way.  I looked it up to try to figure out exactly what it means in this book.

At first, I thought that the word is used to mean "redneck," which is what makes the most sense to me.  However, that cannot be right.  I discovered that Floridians who are descended from colonial Florida settlers are "Florida crackers."  The word is not pejorative in that context, and I believe that is the intended meaning in this book.  However, Jerry's wife is a bad person, so I like interpreting the meaning as derogatory.

The book does have other obvious racial stereotypes.  On page 49, Indians are referred to as an "ignorant lot."

I did not find this book as interesting as Seaman's other books.  I skimmed the last few chapters.

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Slipper Point Mystery and The Crimson Patch by Augusta Seaman

In The Slipper Point Mystery, Sally is bored and without friends until Doris arrives at Carter's Landing.  Sally is a bit of a tomboy, while Doris is very much a lady.  Sally is so taken with Doris that she begins to care more about her appearance.

Sally has a secret, which is a small room hidden in a nearby hillside.  Sally wants to share her secret with Doris, but she is afraid that Doris will abandon her for the other wealthy girls.  When Doris declines to leave Sally to go with the others, Sally realizes that Doris is a true friend and shares her secret, including a cryptogram that she found in the hidden structure.  The girls puzzle over the cryptogram and stumble upon a mystery that concerns an elderly woman who lives nearby.

From page 43:
Like many girls of her age, and like many older folks too, if the truth were known, Doris loved above all things, a mystery.
This is an excellent book.  The story is simple but entertaining.  The mystery is very interesting as it unfolds.

In The Crimson Patch, Patricia's father is home after being held a prisoner of war in Europe.  During the Captain's imprisonment, he learned about a German secret that is of great value to the United States.  Patricia and the Captain are staying at a hotel while the Captain works on a project involving the German secret.  The Captain has warned Patricia not to trust anyone and to tell no one about his story.

Patricia soon becomes friendly with Virginie, a girl who is staying across the hall with her aunt.  One day while Virginie visits, the Crimson Patch disappears from the Captain's room.  Two other people had also been in the room, so any of them could have taken it.  Patricia is heartsick about what happened and worries about whether Virginie could have been the culprit.  Chet, the bellboy, helps Patricia get to the bottom of the mystery.

This story is set up very much like the series books of the late 1920s and later, like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.  The story is improbable, just like in the typical series book.  Patricia and Chet take matters into their own hands against the Captain's wishes.  They go off on what sounds like an ill-advised expedition to retrieve the Crimson Patch.  On pages 217 and 218, the Captain realizes that he should have told Patricia everything in the first place, especially since she did a better job of solving the mystery than he did.

This is a very good to excellent story.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Girl Next Door and Three Sides of Paradise Green by Augusta Seaman

In The Girl Next Door, Janet has come to visit Marcia, who is staying in New York City with her Aunt Minerva.  Marcia has become fascinated with Benedict's Folly, an old mansion that is next to the high rise apartment building.  Miss Benedict still lives in the family home, but she keeps all windows shuttered and seldom leaves the house  When Miss Benedict does leave, her face is completely covered with a veil.

Marcia and Janet watch the house and are shocked to see a girl her own age looking out of a window.  Later, the girls realize that this girl is confined to the old mansion, possibly against her will.  Marcia and Janet persist in their investigation and finally make the acquaintance of the girl, learning her strange story.

On pages 180 and 181, Marcia talks about how gossip can ruin other people's lives.  "It just goes to show how unhappy we can make people by talking about them and their affairs."  And later, Marcia adds, "What an awful thing—that two people's lives should be spoiled just by unkind gossip!"

Parts of this story have a lot of racist comments directed towards the Chinese.  On page 193, a man writes that "the Chinese language is the most confusing and idiotic jargon ever invented by the mind of man."  I cringed.

There is some speculation about an Englishman who might have married a Chinese girl and had a child.  This is said to be "horrid" on page 205.  Quite a few other remarks are made that are quite derogatory towards a person who is a mixture of Caucasian and Chinese.  I usually read racist commentary in old series books in a detached fashion, since I view it through the context of history.  In this case, I found it quite distressing.

This is an excellent book.  The story is very absorbing, and this is such a good mystery.

In Three Sides of Paradise Green, Sue, Carol, and Louis each live on a different side of Paradise Green.  Two roads meet at an angle, making up two sides of a triangle.  Another short road connects the other two sides, making a triangle.  An old man comes to visit Louis, and he treats Louis like royalty.  Louis considers himself an American through and through, and he does not understand why his guest wants him to be like a French nobleman.  Sue and Carol try to solve the mystery, but Sue's younger sister, the Imp, knows more and will not tell them.

Most of this book is written as a diary.  I overall enjoyed the book until two-thirds of the way through, then I completely lost interest and skimmed the rest of the story.  This book is not very interesting and is my least favorite Augusta Seaman book so far.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Boarded-Up House and The Sapphire Signet by Augusta Seaman

In The Boarded-Up House, Joyce and Cynthia are neighbors, separated only by an old boarded-up house.  The girls frequently play on the property.  When a neighbor's cat gets inside the basement, the girls follow it and explore the house.  They keep their exploration a secret and try to piece together the story of who the former occupants were and why they left.

The girls discover that the dining room table is set with dishes, and the chairs are awry.  A dinner party must have broken up abruptly, and the girls find partially packed trunks in an upstairs room.  Joyce and Cynthia speculate about what might have happened, and finally, they come up with an idea of how they might find out.

This book was published in 1915 and is set in 1905.

The story is quite simple but plausible and interesting to read.

In The Sapphire Signet, twins Bess and Jess have a sister, Margaret, who is stuck at home in her invalid chair due to a bad back.  Bess and Jess bring home a new girl from school, Corinne, who quickly becomes friends with Margaret.

Corinne loves antiques, so the twins take her up to the attic, where she discovers a journal hidden under the false bottom of a trunk.  The journal is written in code.  Margaret suggests that the girls form a secret society that is dedicated to uncovering the mystery.  Corinne cracks the code, and the girls spend hours deciphering the meaning of the journal.  After some research, the girls follow clues found in their own neighborhood as they search for the sapphire signet.

This book is fascinating because it seems impossible that the girls could track down the sapphire signet or the Bermuda family to which it belonged.  They only have the diary, which was found in two parts in different locations.  The original house no longer exists.  Nobody knows what happened to the girl.  I read quickly, wondering how this would all get pieced together.

The backstory has to do with the plot to kill George Washington.  So this story is kind of historical fiction.  I enjoyed this book.

Wide Variety of Series Books Listed on Etsy

I broke up more of my bulk lots on eBay and moved the books to individual listings on Etsy.  The price per book ends up a little higher, but the buyer is not forced to purchase all of the books. 

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I have some May Hollis Barton books listed.  When I purchased my books a year ago, few good copies were available.  I had to purchase some books in really rough shape.  Since then, several collectors have let go of their sets, so I have been able to get better books.  Some of the books I purchased last year are now on Etsy.  The books are rough, but they are the copies I read, so I can confirm their readability.  The May Hollis Barton books are quite good and will appeal to readers who enjoy the Blythe Girls series.

I broke up my bulk lot of Hardy Boys Digest books in hardcover library bindings and now have the books listed on Etsy.  This is a great chance to acquire some of the books in hardcover bindings.  They are not easy to find.

I am allowed only 20 categories in my Etsy shop, so I have to combine some books together into more general categories.  Be sure to check the Old Boys' Series, Old Children's Series, and Old Girls' Series categories to see those books.

In addition to what I have already mentioned, I have listed vintage Scholastic editions, Tom Swift, Jr., Carolyn Wells, Lone Ranger, Hunniwell Boys, Golden Boys, Ranger Boys, and Capwell Wyckoff.

On Etsy, I have an active promotion effective during July 2018 for free shipping on orders of $35 or more. 

I also have books listed on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Friday, July 13, 2018

Introduction to Augusta Huiell Seaman

Most of us have probably seen the Scholastic Book Club editions of books by Augusta Huiell Seaman, including The Mystery of the Old Violin and The Riddle of the Lonely House.  I never gave them much thought, since I am not very interested in Scholastic editions.  In the last five years, several series book enthusiasts have mentioned the books of Augusta Huiell Seaman.  The books have been universally praised.

Many of Augusta Huiell Seaman's books do not look like the typical series book, so I ignored the praise at first.  By outward appearance, many of the books look like the average old fiction book written for adults.  By 2016, after reading more commentary, I realized that I should look into Augusta Seaman's books, but I still wasn't that motivated.

In June 2017, I finally read The Riddle of the Lonely House, which is one of the Scholastic reprints.  I enjoyed it and decided to begin purchasing Seaman's books.  I kept quiet about my plan, since I did not want anybody else to get started at the same time.

Here is a list of Augusta Seaman's mystery books for girls.

The Boarded-Up House, 1915*
The Sapphire Signet, 1916*
The Girl Next Door, 1917*
Three Sides of Paradise Green, 1918*
The Slipper Point Mystery, 1919*
The Crimson Patch, 1920*
The Dragon's Secret, 1921*
The Mystery at Number Six, 1922*
Tranquility House, 1923
Sally Simms Adventures It, 1924
The Edge of Raven Pool, 1924
Bluebonnet Bend, 1924
The Secret of Tate's Beach, 1926
The Adventure of the Seven Keyholes, 1926
The Shadow on the Dial, 1927
The Disappearance of Anne Shaw, 1928
A Book of Mysteries: Three Baffling Tales, 1929
The Charlemonte Crest: A Mystery of Modern Haiti, 1930
The Brass Keys of Kenwick, 1931
The House in Hidden Lane: Two Mysteries for Younger Girls, 1931
The Stars of Sabra, 1932
The Mystery of the Empty Room, 1933
Bitsy Finds the Clue: A Mystery of Williamsburg, Old and New, 1934
The Riddle at Live Oaks, 1934
The Figurehead of the 'Folly', 1935
The Strange Pettingill Puzzle: Two Mysteries for Boys and Girls, 1936
Voice in the Dark, 1937*
The Pine Barrens Mystery, 1937
The Vanderlyn Silhouette, 1938*
The Mystery at Linden Hall, 1939*
The Curious Affair at Heron Shoals, 1940*
The Missing Half, 1941*
The Case of the Calico Crab, 1942
The Mystery of the Folding Key, 1943*
The Half-Penny Adventure, 1945
The Mystery of the Other House, 1947
The Vanishing Octant Mystery, 1949

*These books, and possibly others, are in the public domain.  Many of them can be found online in free digital downloads.  Some of them are not on Project Gutenberg but can be found elsewhere.

Unfortunately, most of Augusta Seaman's books are extremely scarce and difficult to find.  Most books are expensive.  I started purchasing the more common books of the ones that are not in the public domain.  I held off on the books in the public domain, simply because most of those books are available for free online.  I also held off on the more scarce and expensive titles.

I read The Disappearance of Anne Shaw and The Charlemonte Crest: A Mystery of Modern Haiti, which were the first two books I purchased.  I enjoyed them as well.  Around the same time, I found Christine M. Volk's articles about Augusta Seaman.  These articles contain a wealth of information and are well worth reading.

Nancy Drew for Smart Kids: Mysteries by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Creating an Augusta Huiell Seaman Collection
Augusta Huiell Seaman Checklist

The articles took away my final reservations.  I decided to go for it, purchasing all books that I could find, whether in the public domain or not.  This endeavor required much careful searching, a good bit of luck, and a lot of money.  The scarcity of these books cannot be overstated.

Most amazing is that some of these books read just like the early Nancy Drew books, yet many were published in the 15 years before Nancy Drew debuted.  Think about what that means.  The typical girls' book of the 1910s only has the slightest hint of mystery, with the books detailing average life.  The publication of the first Nancy Drew book in 1930 is considered the beginning of the juvenile girls' mystery book genre.  However, girls' books had already been gradually changing towards mysteries during the previous two decades, and Augusta Huiell Seaman led the way.

In Augusta Seaman's books, teenage girls find hidden compartments in trunks, discover secret passageways, explore abandoned houses, find and decipher cryptograms, outsmart spies, find lost inheritances, and do everything that Nancy Drew would later do.

Augusta Seaman's books usually involve a mystery from the past that needs to be solved.  Sometimes the mystery is completely fictional, while other times the mystery is based on actual historical figures.  I typically did not enjoy the books that use historical figures quite as much, since I prefer for my fiction to be completely fictional.

Since the books tend to be expensive, I suggest sampling some of the books that are available online to see if they are appealing.  I recommend The Girl Next Door as a good one to try.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Ranger Boys #3 Border Smugglers, #4, Timber Thieves, and #5 Their Reward

In The Ranger Boys #3, The Ranger Boys and the Border Smugglers, Garry, Dick, and Phil are sent to the town of Hobart on the Canadian border to work undercover in search of smugglers.  The boys soon learn that their nemesis, Jean LeBlanc, is working with the smugglers, so the boys have a dangerous task ahead of them.

In this book, La Belle teaches readers how to make a lean-to and how to make stew.  La Belle also includes a complete biscuit recipe!

I enjoyed the inclusion of Ruth in the story, who is a strong female who likes adventure.

This is a very good to excellent story.

In the Ranger Boys #4, The Ranger Boys Outwit the Timber Thieves, Mr. Boone is having trouble with his timber business.  Equipment keeps breaking, and work is moving much slower than it should.  Garry, Dick, and Phil are sent to the lumber camp to try to figure out who is working against Mr. Boone.

I really like the setting of this story where the mystery and action occurs in and around a lumber camp.  I always enjoy books the most when the characters have adventures in a localized setting.

This is an excellent book.

In the Ranger Boys #5, The Ranger Boys and Their Reward, the boys return to Hobart to investigate who keeps stealing checks out of the mail.  Meanwhile, Ruth and her father receive threatening messages, and the boys soon realize that both cases are connected.  Before the case is solved, the boys will have one last showdown against their arch enemy, Jean LeBlanc.

On page 63, a man insults the boys by calling them a "parcel o' dime novel reading boys."

I enjoyed the inclusion of Ruth in a couple of the books in the series.  Unfortunately, the author makes a sexist statement on page 176.  "Ruth let him free her, and then stood erect for a moment, and being only a girl, dropped over in a dead faint."  Ugh.

This book ties up a few loose ends from the beginning of the first story.  One of those loose ends was something mentioned at the very start of the first book that I had forgotten and didn't think about as I read through the series.

This is an excellent story.

The entire Ranger Boys series is set in the state of Maine.  The boys are in Maine for the entire duration of the series except for when they briefly cross the border into Canada.

This is an excellent series, and I greatly enjoyed reading the books.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Books Listed on Etsy and eBay Observations

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

My enthusiasm for Etsy is increasing.  I have risked listing some scarce books and books that have not typically been known to do well on Etsy.  Enough have sold that I feel comfortable further increasing the number of listings that I have on Etsy.  I now have more listings on Etsy than on eBay.

I do believe that something is wrong on eBay.  I feel like my eBay listings are mostly stagnant.  I continue to lower the prices of bulk lots, and it's like they are invisible.  I have ended two more bulk lots and moved many of those books to Etsy.  When I do this, the price per book goes up, but buyers are able to purchase the books individually at what is still a reasonable price.

I have written recently of some irritating eBay changes.  Another one is how eBay has changed the manner in which feedback is left.  The new process takes more time than the old process.  I have to submit every feedback individually and wait for it to save instead of filling out all of them before submitting.  Even worse, on the new page the transactions are listed in a somewhat random order.  I prefer for my transactions to be listed chronologically instead of randomly.  Exactly who has eBay set loose in programming and design?

Since the eBay interface has become significantly harder to use in the last few months, I suspect that eBay has also tampered with Best Match search and has probably made items harder to find.  This does not affect me as a buyer since I always change the sort to newest first or ending first.  However, buyers who are not aware of eBay's many problems are likely missing out on great purchases.  This is why I believe my eBay sales have plummeted.

My sales on Etsy have been higher in the last two weeks than my eBay sales.  I have a promotion for free shipping on Etsy orders of $35 or more.  I am getting some good results from that promotion.  It's also helping tremendously that I have increased my Etsy listings and have listed many harder to find books on Etsy.  I will continue to do so.  I expect to list additional books on Etsy in the next few days.

One drawback on Etsy is that I am allowed only 20 categories in my shop.  Since this is too limiting, I am having to place some books in general categories.  I have created three categories for general children's, girls', and boys' books.  Make sure you check those categories since I cannot give an individual category to every series.

I have recently listed some books by Capwell Wyckoff and L. P. Wyman.  I have also listed many Hardy Boys picture covers and Hardy Boys Digest library editions.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ranger Boys #1 Rescue and #2 Find the Hermit

The Ranger Boys series was written by Claude A. La Belle and was published by A. L. Burt.

1.  The Ranger Boys to the Rescue, 1922
2.  The Ranger Boys Find the Hermit, 1922
3.  The Ranger Boys and the Border Smugglers, 1922
4.  The Ranger Boys Outwit the Timber Thieves, 1922
5.  The Ranger Boys and Their Reward, 1922

These books are scarce but not anywhere near as scarce as the Bailey Twins series.  These books were printed years before the Bailey Twins books, so these books went through more printings.

In the Ranger Boys #1, The Ranger Boys to the Rescue, Garry Boone and Dick Wallace plan to attend a military academy in the fall.  Their friend, Phil Durant, cannot afford military school, so the chums will be separated.  In the meantime, Mr. Boone hires the three boys as rangers to watch over his vast property in the woods of Maine.  The boys' job is to watch for wildfires, but they soon have to watch for Jean LeBlanc, who is a criminal.

This book sets the stage for the rest of the series.  It is a good to very good book, but the rest of the set is even better.

In the Ranger Boys #2, The Ranger Boys Find the Hermit, Garry, Dick, and Phil must again watch for Jean LeBlanc, who has escaped from jail and now seeks revenge against the boys.  The boys also look for their hermit friend who continues to leave them cryptic notes.

Over the years, people who have disapproved of series books have always stated that series books are not worth reading and have little of substance in them.  Those people never read any of the Ranger Boys books.  La Belle made these books educational and in a way that is very interesting.  In this book, La Belle teaches readers how to build a log cabin, how to make a fireplace out of a barrel, and how to climb a tree with the use of a wire loop.

This is a very good book.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Declining Interest in Nancy Drew and Collector Negativity

Our series book collecting hobby is in a decline, and unfortunately, Nancy Drew is leading the way.  Within five to 10 years, the hobby will be in deep decline unless a rejuvenation of interest occurs.

Significant drop in traffic to Nancy Drew website page

I am more aware of the decline than others because I sell series books.  Series books have become harder and harder to sell.  In my current inventory, the only series that are not hard to sell are Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, the Dana Girls, the Three Investigators, and possibly Trixie Belden.  Of those five series, the Three Investigators series is the only one where values have held fairly steady.  The other four have decreased in value and continue to decrease.  Almost all series outside of these five have decreased sharply in value, and some series are now impossible to sell.

The popularity of the major series is what guides people into collecting the minor series.  The reason that minor series no longer sell is because fewer people are collecting the major series.  I did not realize how interest in Nancy Drew has declined until I viewed the website traffic.  Since interest in Nancy Drew has decreased, interest in all other series will also decrease.

This concerns and saddens me.  We need something to revitalize interest in series books, something that will bring new collectors into our hobby.  We need something like... a movie.

And amazingly, unbelievably, a Nancy Drew movie is currently being filmed.

The movie came out of nowhere.  When I first heard about it, I didn't give it much thought because most projects don't come to fruition.  Then confirmation came that the movie was in production and being filmed.  Say what?!  So you would think that fans would be thrilled, right?  After all, this is what we need.  

But no, fans are criticizing the movie based solely on the actress' physical traits and manner of dress.  This bothers me.  We have what we need in the works, because a new Nancy Drew movie will advertise our hobby for us.  However, fans do not appreciate what the movie will do for Nancy Drew.  Instead, they complain that this Nancy Drew is not their Nancy Drew, but nobody has read the script!  For all we know, this might end up being an accurate portrayal of Nancy Drew with an excellent story.

Collectors got riled up over Sophia Lillis' publicity photo, which appears in the news releases about the movie.  Her hair isn't blonde, and her hair is short.  First off, the photo is the actress herself, so fans criticize the actress for how she looks in real life.  That has nothing to do with the movie and is also a bit rude.  It has been confirmed that Nancy Drew's hair will be short in the movie, but even so, we should not judge an entire movie that we have not yet seen on such a superficial feature.

A photo was seen of Nancy Drew skateboarding in the movie.  This was also declared inappropriate by fans.  I'm not sure how it would be wrong for a movie set in the present day to depict Nancy Drew on a skateboard.  Nancy Drew has been pictured in similar activities on the covers of some books, like The Door-to-Door Deception, which was way back in 1997.

The movie is based on The Hidden Staircase, which is one of the excellent early Nancy Drew books.  Sophia Lillis is sixteen, the exact age that Nancy was in 1930 in that same book.  This is a win right here and much better than the bizarre idea that CBS had for a Nancy Drew television series.  In that series, Nancy would have been in her thirties and struggling because Bess was either murdered or committed suicide.

Nancy Drew must have only the following traits.
  • She must be young.
  • She must be strong and determined.
  • She must be interested in solving mysteries.
  • She must be good at solving mysteries.
Nothing else matters.  I did not like the idea of the CBS series because Nancy was not going to be young.  That was the deal-breaker for me.  I don't want an older Nancy Drew who has problems.  So long as Nancy is young, strong, and good at solving mysteries, I'll take her.  I do not care what race she or her friends are, what color her hair is, how she dresses, or what kind of activities she enjoys.

In one of the threads where the movie was being criticized, a couple of us began defending it.  I wrote the following statement.
No matter how Nancy is portrayed, she won't match anyone's mental picture of her.  This is because we are Nancy when we read the books.  A movie cannot do that.  The Nancy Drew games do, which is why they have been so successful.

I see this production as positive.  It will get Nancy Drew's name out in front of people again. It will keep Nancy Drew from being forgotten for just a little longer.  Nancy Drew is in danger of being forgotten, in case you haven't realized that.  In order for Nancy Drew to remain viable, the franchise needs publicity.  This movie will do just that.  We might even get some cool collectibles.  Wouldn't that be grand?

Let's not pick this apart.  We haven't seen it yet!  This movie will remind people of how much they loved Nancy Drew as a child.  People will join this group.  We will make new friends!  This is going to be good.  I'm kind of excited.
I noted that of the 13 people who reacted positively to my comment, none of them were the complainers.  It disappoints me that many Nancy Drew fans would rather have nothing than have a project that will breathe new life into the franchise.

Of course, the problem is that fans want a movie set in 1930 where Nancy Drew looks exactly like Russell Tandy's cover art and acts exactly like the Nancy Drew written by Mildred Wirt Benson.  Anything other than that is never going to be good enough.  The problem is that a modern movie will be aimed at current children and teenagers, since the movie studios will not make enough money on a movie aimed at older Nancy Drew collectors.

Here is a statement I wrote on another thread that was full of negativity about the movie.
Nancy Drew has always been a contemporary series, and for that reason, any movie will be contemporary.  It is only the collectors, like us, who don't see Nancy Drew as contemporary.  Today's girls, even if reading the Grosset and Dunlap books, probably picture Nancy as modern.  Even when I read books from 100 years ago, I don't picture the characters in the way the author intended.  My mental picture has modern characteristics, because that's my point of reference.
That comment was ignored.

Let's fast-forward to next year and consider what will happen after the movie is released.  The Nancy Drew fans will be busy in the Facebook groups complaining endlessly about how horrible everything about the movie is.  Meanwhile, some (hopefully many!) young people will love the movie and will decide to join the Nancy Drew Book Fans group on Facebook.  What will they think when they join the group and read endless negative comments about the movie?  I wouldn't be surprised if they leave the group.

We could be driving away future Nancy Drew collectors with the negativity, and we desperately need young people to join the hobby.

In light of how important the upcoming Nancy Drew movie is to Nancy Drew's continuing longevity, I hope that collectors will consider making fewer negative comments about the project in the Facebook groups.  Certainly, many collectors will not be interested in the movie or will not like it, which is fine.  However, consider softening some of those comments, or perhaps not make the complaints in the groups.  A person's own Facebook profile page is the perfect place to air complaints about a project.

Members of Facebook groups exhibit crowd behavior.  When one member makes a strong statement, especially a strong negative statement, other members immediately agree with the statement and take it even further.  The negativity then builds, becoming worse and worse.  I fear that this will happen when the movie is released next summer, and the result will be disastrous.  We will cause the movie not to bring in the new fans that are sorely needed in our hobby.

We have exactly what we need in the works to keep our hobby going just a little longer.  Nancy Drew is contemporary, and that will never change.  The year is 2018, and Nancy Drew is 16 years old.  She's hip and modern, and she's not going to be driving an old roadster.

When young people watch Nancy Drew in theaters, they'll think about how much they enjoyed reading the books when they were young.  Some of them will start collecting the books.  Those books might be the modern softcover books or might be the Grosset and Dunlap editions.  Regardless, we will make new friends, so long as we don't let negativity take control.  Let's not blow this great opportunity.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Bailey Twins #3 Summer Camp, #4 Philippines, and #5 Secret Code

In the Bailey Twins #3, The Bailey Twins at Summer Camp, the Farnham Hall cadets attend summer camp on an island in the middle of a lake.  The Bailey Twins pull a man out of quicksand, and he gives them a password, "Potomac."  The boys are never to help anyone unless given the password.  Later, the boys learn about a group of men who are hiding out nearby.  Seeley and his cronies continue to cause trouble for the Baileys, and when the boys learn more about the plot of the men hiding nearby, Seeley thwarts their plans.

I skimmed the swimming competition since I never find lengthy descriptions of sporting events to be interesting.

Page 50 has an appalling scene where Ted greets an Indian with "How?" and the Indian replies, "Ugh."  The two continue to speak to each other in guttural tones as Ted takes the Indian to Captain Brooks' tent.  The author redeems himself later when the Indian comes out of the tent and states, "Ah, Captain, indubitably these young gentlemen have assiduously perused numerous paperbound volumes purporting to describe Indian life and customs in the old wild and woolly west.  Their greeting was quite in the best tradition of Young Bill, the Terror of the Western Plains."

Ouch.  During the rest of the book, the Indian continues to greet Ted with "Ugh" in order to make fun of him.  Ted is said to be embarrassed each time this happens, so Ted ends up getting what he deserves.

This is a very good book.

In the Bailey Twins #4, The Bailey Twins in the Philippines, Fred's uncle in Manila has passed away.  Fred needs a guardian, so Mr. Bailey and the lawyer agree to share the duty.  The Bailey family travels to Manila with Fred.  Tom Fernald joins the Baileys during their trip.  Fernald plans to dive for a ship that was wrecked in the Philippines.

The Bailey Twins made an enemy of Ah Quon during their adventure at summer camp, and Ah Quon follows them to the Philippines.  The boys must use all of their wits to avoid being captured by Ah Quon.

This book is very interesting at first, but gradually the travelogue aspect takes over too much of the story.  By two-thirds of the way through the book, I felt that the book consisted almost entirely of explanation and information.  I felt the story had slowed almost to a stop, and I was quite bored.  I skimmed and skipped over the last one-third of the story.

In the Bailey Twins #5, The Bailey Twins and the Secret Code, the Bailey Twins prepare to sail home from the Philippines.  They plan to tour Japan, but they soon find trouble.

This book starts out okay, then I encountered a lengthy legend.  I was already bored from the slow pace of the previous volume, so I had little patience.  This book contains a very detailed description of shooting the rapids in a canoe and a detailed explanation of jiu jitsu in addition to detailed explanations of other topics.  I ended up skimming or skipping over a large portion of the story.

This is a good book for people who love travelogues and lengthy explanations, but it did not do much for me.

The first three books in the Bailey Twins series are quite good and stand up well against most other series books.  I do not care for the last two books in the set, although some series book enthusiasts might find the travelogues to be quite interesting.