Monday, January 14, 2019

Judy Bolton #8 The Voice in the Suitcase

In Judy Bolton #8, The Voice in the Suitcase, some men are seen near a school picnic.  They are carrying a suitcase, from which comes a voice.  Intrigued, Judy hopes to see the men again.  Later, she has reason to believe that at least one of the men went to an old house owned by Mr. and Mrs. Brady, who are to celebrate their golden wedding.  In order to track down clues, Judy manages to get herself invited to travel with Selma Brady to help clean the house in preparation for the golden wedding.

During one scene, Judy is frightened by something that sounds like it is dragging chains.  This creature walks over her face during the night.  The next morning, Judy is frightened by the tracks that she sees on her face.  Later, Judy learns that the creature was a ferret.

From page 177:
Judy felt ashamed that such a tiny animal could have frightened her so.  The ferret was the least bit like a snake and it did have red eyes and sharp teeth and a wiry tail but Judy would never have been so horrified by those tracks on her face if she had known.
I still would have been horrified.  A ferret running walking over my face at night?  Ugh!

For years, I considered this particular book to be my least favorite Judy Bolton book.  After I finished this book, I decided that my opinion had changed somewhat.  I still do not like the part of the book where Judy and Selma clean the house.  It is too depressing.  The portion of the story that features the entertainment at the golden wedding bores me, so I skipped it.

Aside from the boring entertainment and the depressing housecleaning, I did enjoy the story during this reading.  This book is about average average among the earlier books in the Judy Bolton series.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Judy Bolton #6 The Yellow Phantom and #7 The Mystic Ball

In Judy Bolton #6, The Yellow Phantom, Judy and Irene visit Pauline Faulkner in New York City.  The girls meet Dale Meredith, who is an author, and both Irene and Pauline fall for him.  Judy schemes to get employed by Dale's agent, Miss Grimshaw, and succeeds.  Judy's new job leads to Irene learning a secret from her past—a secret that will forever change her life.

According to a passage on page 36 of A Guide to Judy Bolton Country, this story was originally intended to be a magazine serial or an independent novel called Golden Girl.  Instead, the story was turned into a Judy Bolton mystery.

On page 190, Irene is called a "wench" by Miss Grimshaw.  I was a bit taken aback, since the word is archaic and sometimes means a lewd woman.  Irene is sweet and sensitive and not at all lewd.

This is a very compelling story.  It is excellent.

In Judy Bolton #7, The Mystic Ball, Wanda the Mystic arrives in Farringdon.  Judy, Irene, and the rest of their friends all attend the event together.  Irene is called up on stage and has her fortune told.  Nobody can hear what Irene is told, but Irene is quite upset afterwards.  Irene is convinced that her romance with Dale is doomed and that she will never be happy.  Judy must find a way to prove to Irene that her superstitious beliefs are unfounded.

Some parts of the plot of this book are quite annoying.  For instance, Judy and Irene get this ridiculous idea of changing places.  Judy writes a response to one of Dale's love letters to Irene.  Of course the result is a total disaster.  I wanted to reach into the book and slap Judy around for even thinking that answering another person's love letter was wise.

This is a good book.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Hidden Clues #4 Collecting the Entire Nancy Drew Series

A large number of Nancy Drew collectors prefer only to collect what they consider to be the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories.  On this old post, I listed what I then thought were all the possibilities of what a collector might consider the original Nancy Drew books.

#1-34 original text only, any format
#1-34 original and revised text
#1-38 blue books with or without dust jacket
#1-34 original text only and Applewood #1-21
#1-34 original text only with original dust jacket art

I was unaware at that time that a growing number of Nancy Drew collectors consider #1-64 to be the original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories.  Wait, what?  Ah, these people are going by format.

Nancy Drew #57-64 were briefly issued in the flashlight edition by Penguin under the Grosset and Dunlap imprint.  In this format, #57-64 match #1-56, so quite a few collectors now think that the Nancy Drew series ended with #64.  This is not true at all.  The Nancy Drew series actually ended with #175.  All of Nancy Drew #57-175 were published by Simon and Schuster in softcover.

Apparently the flashlight edition hardcover gave legitimacy to #57-64, so people now collect those as eagerly as #1-56.  I understand the reluctance of collecting a softcover book; I once felt that way.  However, collectors who refuse to go past #64 based solely on format are missing out on some really good stories.  If you enjoy Nancy Drew #57-64, then you are making a mistake in ignoring Nancy Drew #65-175.  If you are not sure whether you want to take the plunge and collect all of them, I suggest purchasing a small sample of the books to see if you like them.  Don't ignore them just because they are softcover books.

Furthermore, do not use a format that ended at an arbitrary number to decide where to leave off in your set.  You might be aware that the Stratemeyer Syndicate created all of Nancy Drew #1-56.  The Stratemeyer Syndicate was responsible for #57-64 as well, but it was also responsible for #65-78.  If you want all books created by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, then you need to collect up through #78.

In "My Thoughts on Nancy Drew #57-175," I list what I think are the very best titles in the softcover Nancy Drew series.

In "An Overview of Nancy Drew #57-175," I assign ratings to each of the books in the set.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Judy Bolton #5 The Ghost Parade

In Judy Bolton #5, The Ghost Parade, the girls go to camp in the Thousand Islands as they await the rebuilding of their burned school.  During the journey, the young people stop at an auction, and Judy purchases some old wooden Indian heads.  The heads are said to be cursed, and Judy soon regrets her purchase.  At camp, the Indian heads disappear, and strange sounds are heard at night.

From page 20:
The museum contained... many fine specimens of American Indian handwork.  There were beads, baskets, pottery, elaborate costumes,  head feathers—things that could be of no possible value unless a person intended to start another museum.
Margaret Sutton was very sensitive to cultural issues, but she did miss the mark here.  The Native American artifacts would have been of immense cultural value to Native Americans.  Aside from that, the artifacts might also have been valued by collectors.

On page 89, the girls are skeptical of Christobel's story that she found the roast beef in a can.  Pauline remarks, "Who ever heard of canned roast beef?"  I had to laugh since canned roast beef can be purchased in most grocery stores these days.

This is a good book.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Vintage Boys' Series Books Purchased in 2018

In 2018, I purchased complete sets of several vintage boys' series books that were published by A. L. Burt.  These books are extremely hard to find.

In a period of just 15 days from start to finish, I acquired the entire set of Mercer Boys books by Capwell Wyckoff.  Both luck and money were involved.

A collector sold her set of Mystery Hunters books by Capwell Wyckoff.  I was able to purchase all four of them.

I purchased the entire set of Golden Boys books from the family of the original owner.  The books were mailed to me from Skowhegan, Maine, where I assume they had been since they were originally purchased.  The Golden Boys series is set in Skowhegan, Maine.  How neat is that?

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Books Read in 2018

I began the year with no reading goal.  I was finishing up the Sweet Valley High series and intended to go back to vintage series books after finishing my Sweet Valley High experience.  I wasn't interested in setting a goal because I proved in 2017 that I can average at least one book per day.  I felt no need to try to read more than that.  I wished to take a more relaxed pace, especially since I was planning to read vintage series books that I could not read as fast as modern teen books.

That is indeed what happened.  By around August, I decided that I was on pace to read around 300 books by the end of the year, so I set that as my goal.  I ended up reading 315 books.

At the end of this post is the list of all the books that I read in the order that I read them.

Those of you who study the list closely might notice some oddities, like how I read Trixie Belden #1-20 and then #22-39.  You might wonder why #21 is missing.  I didn't like it and quit the book at less than halfway through.  If I read less than half a book, I don't count it as a book read since I didn't read enough of it.  If I read at least around two-thirds of a book and skim the rest, I usually count it.

I partially read and abandoned quite a few books in 2018 that are not listed.  I estimate that I abandoned at least 12 to 24 books.  If I don't like the book, then I don't read it.  If I had forced myself to read those books, I probably would have read far fewer books in 2018, since forcing myself to read those books would have slowed me down.

You will also notice that I did not review all books that I read.  Sometimes I do not review a book simply because I do not feel like it.  When I read a single volume by an author, I am less likely to write up a review.  The motivation to write the review is lower when the book is not part of a larger set.

I also balk at writing reviews when I did not enjoy books that were highly recommended to me or that were mentioned as having been someone's childhood favorite.  I read several such books this year.  Those books weren't bad, but they didn't do anything for me, either.  I hardly want to write up a review of one of those books saying that it wasn't very interesting to me.

Books in blue are books that I had read before.

January:  37 books

Rayn Mirago #1-4
Sweet Valley High #112-114, Murder in Paradise, 115,116, Stranger in the House, Killer on Board
Nancy Drew Diaries #16
Sweet Valley High #117, 118
Story Thieves #1-4
Sweet Valley High #119, Return of the Evil Twin, 120-122, Falling for Lucas, 123-128, Jessica Takes Manhattan, 129-133

February:  27 books

Sweet Valley High #134, "R" for Revenge, 135-143, Last Wish, Earthquake, Aftershock
Sweet Valley University #1
The Wave by Todd Strasser
Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mystery #1-3
Kay Tracey #1 original text, #1 revised text, 2-5
Hardy Boys Adventures #16
Kay Tracey #6

March:  18 books

Kay Tracey #7-18
Story Thieves #5
The Mystery of the White Knight by Ruby Radford
Mystery Hunters #1-4

April:  28 books

In the Camp of the Black Rider by Capwell Wyckoff
Pandora by Clare Turlay Newberry
Smudge by Clare Turlay Newberry
Babette by Clare Turlay Newberry
Percy, Polly, and Pete by Clare Turlay Newberry
Ice Cream for Two by Clare Turlay Newberry
Mittens by Clare Turlay Newberry
April's Kittens by Clare Turlay Newberry
The Antique Cat by Bianca Bradbury
The Mystery of the Bradley Pearls by Ruby Radford
Roy Stover #2
The Mystery of Gaither Cove by Capwell Wyckoff
The North Point Cabin Mystery by Capwell Wyckoff
The Sea Runners' Cache by Capwell Wyckoff
Mercer Boys #2-4
Drawing a Cat by Clare Turlay Newberry
Mercer Boys #5
Cats and More Cats by Diana Thorne and Connie Moran
Mercer Boys #6-10
The Secret of the Armor Room by Capwell Wyckoff
Roy Stover #1, 3

May:  22 books

Roy Stover #4
Outboard Boys #1-4
The Haunted House Mystery by L. P. Wyman
Hal Keen #1
Bailey Twins #1, 2-5
Ranger Boys #1, 2-5
Golden Boys #1
Hunniwell Boys #1
The Girls of Hillcrest Farm by Amy Bell Marlowe
Mystery in the Square Tower by Elizabeth Honness
The Secret of the Stone Frog by Dorothea Snow

June:  25 books

The Boarded-Up House by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Sapphire Signet by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Mystery of Ghost Burro Canyon by Dorothea Snow
The Girl Next Door by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Three Sides of Paradise Green by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Golden Boys #2
The Slipper Point Mystery by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Crimson Patch by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Dragon's Secret by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Whistling Mountain Mystery by Dorothea Snow
The Mystery at Number Six by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Tranquility House by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Sally Simms Adventures It by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Edge of Raven Pool by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Bluebonnet Bend by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Secret of Tate's Beach by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Adventure of the Seven Keyholes by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Shadow on the Dial by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Disappearance of Anne Shaw by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Dark Tower Mystery by Mary C. Jane
The River Acres Riddle by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Brass Keys of Kenwick by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The House on Hidden Lane by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Stars of Sabra by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Mystery of the Empty Room by Augusta Huiell Seaman

July:  33 books

Bitsy Finds the Clue by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Riddle at Live Oaks by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Figurehead of the Folly by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Pine Barrens Mystery by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Mystery at Linden Hall by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Curious Affair at Heron Shoals by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Missing Half by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Case of the Calico Crab by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Mystery of the Folding Key by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Half-Penny Adventure by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Mystery of the Other House by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Voice in the Dark by Augusta Huiell Seaman
The Vanishing Octant Mystery by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Trixie Belden #1-20

August:  32 books

Trixie Belden #22-35, 36, 37, 38, 39
Meg Duncan #1-4
The Vanderlyn Silhouette by Augusta Huiell Seaman
Meg Duncan #5, 6
Kim Aldrich #1-4
James Budd #1-3

September:  19 books

The Ski Trail Mystery by Virginia McDonnell
James Budd #4
Golden Boys #4-6, 3, 7-10
Storm Over Garnet by Virginia McDonnell
Hunniwell Boys #2
Nancy Drew Diaries: A Christmas Story
Hunniwell Boys #3-8

October:  24 books

Donald Price's Victory by L. P. Wyman
Mystery of Eagle Lake by L. P. Wyman
Tom Austen #1, 2, 3
Haunted Summer by Hope Dahle Jordan
The Phantom of Walkaway Hill by Edward Fenton
What Happened to Amy? by Jane Edwards
Bob Dexter #1, 2, 4
The House on Hackman's Hill by Joan Lowery Nixon
A Deadly Game of Magic by Joan Lowery Nixon
Blue Treasure by Helen Girvan
When Midnight Comes by Carol Beach York
Beware of This Shop by Carol Beach York
The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts
The Secret in the Old House by Judith St. George
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Escape from Nowhere by Jeannette Eyerly
Mystery at Deer Hill by Virginia Frances Voight
Revenge of the Dolls by Carol Beach York
Mystery of the Unwelcome Visitor by Helen Girvan
The Clue in the Antique Clock by Helen Girvan

November:  26 books

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Messenger by Lois Lowry
Son by Lois Lowry
Megan's Island by Willo Davis Roberts
Once Upon a Dark November by Carol Beach York
Dry by Neal Shusterman
Endless Winter #1-4
Judy Bolton #1 1932, #1 1964, #1 1967, #2 1932, #2 1967, #3 1932, #3 1967, #4 1932, # 4 1967, The Talking Snowman, 5-10

December:  24 books

Judy Bolton #11-13
Hardy Boys Adventures #17
Judy Bolton The Mystery on Judy Lane, #14-28
The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle
Judy  Bolton #29
The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Observations about Series Buyer Behavior

Sales and views have gone down for me on Etsy in the last couple of months, even when I mention my shop in this blog.  This may have more to do with changes that Etsy has made in how its search functions, but that's outside the topic I want to cover.

I have observed that some people who apparently follow this blog and read my posts do not check to see what I have on Etsy.  Some collectors only check eBay and will never look elsewhere for books.  I confess that I am an eBay fanatic, and I don't check Etsy very often.  However, I do run several searches on Etsy at least once or twice per month, just in case.  I purchase something on Etsy at least once every few months.  However, it's apparent that most series book collectors do not check Etsy at all ever.

I had the same experience when I sold on Bonanza.  I'd have books listed on Bonanza for months.  I would finally move them to eBay, and the books would sell immediately to collectors known to me.  They weren't checking my Bonanza listings.

My extra books have been building up for a number of months.  In part this is because I haven't felt like listing many of them.  However, I also chose to list dozens of them on Etsy at reasonable prices thinking that the books would actually sell.  Some of them should have, but collectors are not checking Etsy.

During the last week, I moved 65 books from Etsy to eBay.  I hated doing it, since I paid $0.20 for each of those Etsy listings, but I need to get some of those books out of here.

The books that were moved to eBay were priced low on Etsy, so the lack of interest had nothing to do with inflated prices.  When I moved the books to eBay, I raised the prices, mainly because of the higher fees but also because I knew that the books would be more likely to sell.  15 of the books sold immediately on eBay at the higher prices.

I have concluded that many collectors, some of whom follow this blog, simply are not interested in viewing my Etsy listings and will not look outside of eBay.  The books that I moved had been listed for at least one to five months on Etsy.  I gave the books a good chance on Etsy, but they simply will not sell when the people who want them buy only on eBay.

That's why I pay eBay's appalling fees and continue to sell there.  eBay is currently an excellent place to sell aside from the fees.  eBay has a large customer base that visits eBay solely for the purpose of making purchases.  What more could a seller want?  Most of the eBay problems that I blogged about 10 or more years ago are no longer issues.

In order to help my Etsy sales, I could advertise more in the Facebook groups that allow it.  But you know what?  I'm feeling stubborn.  I have advertised before.  I'm sorry, but that should have been sufficient.  I shouldn't have to wave flags in people's faces to try to get them to notice that books are being sold outside eBay.

For that matter, another group of collectors wishes only to purchase books in person or on Facebook directly from another collector.  Furthermore, the books have to be priced very low.  Those people are going to stay on their island and won't look at my Etsy shop or my eBay store.  Those people are the ones who continue to remark how they can't find books that are actually rather common online.  They won't take action, and we can't help them.

I am also done with mentioning that I have certain books for sale when people ask on Facebook if anyone has those books.  I have answered several queries in the past, and the person who asks never takes any action.  I assume that the reason is because they only want to buy in person or on Facebook.  Following a link to eBay or Etsy is too difficult or undesirable for some reason.  They may also just want the books to be practically free.

Very recently, someone asked about whether anyone has Spanish Trixie Belden books available.  Guess who does on eBay?  I almost answered, but then I didn't.  Why bother?  My books are probably too high, even though they are listed at a slight loss.  It's rather expensive collecting international editions, if you weren't aware.  In most cases, you have to pay a lot for the books.  That's just the way it works with international postage costs and currency conversion fees.

I received a listing promotion on eBay early in December that resulted in me having a lot of extra listings left over at the end of the month.  I listed over 100 books on eBay in the last week.  Not only did I move 65 books from Etsy, but I added several dozen new listings.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

For Etsy, I am currently focusing on Nancy Drew books.  Nancy Drew is the most popular series and sells the easiest on Etsy.  I have sold a total of 807 books on Etsy.  494 of them were Nancy Drew books, and 114 were Dana Girls books.  Those two series account for 75% of my Etsy sales.  I find that the less popular series and the boys' series are very hard to sell on Etsy due to a lack of buyers.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I have listed a couple dozen new books on Etsy in the last week, but they do not show as new items.  I am gradually taking my deactivated Etsy listings that were moved to eBay and reactivating them as something else.  I have a small stack of Nancy Drew books ready to list, but I'm waiting to see if any of the deactivated listings sell on eBay.  If they do, then I will list a few more of the books.