Friday, March 29, 2019

Judy Bolton #32 The Whispered Watchword and #33 The Secret Quest

In Judy Bolton #32, The Whispered Watchword, Judy visits Washington, D.C., with Peter.  They stay in a motel with Blackberry, who disappears shortly after their arrival.  Judy learns that Blackberry was taken to a restaurant by somebody.  Meanwhile, several people who are staying at the motel act strange, and Peter, as usual, knows something about the situation.

I found Judy to be less worried about Blackberry than she should have been.  Judy is concerned, but I would have been completely freaked out if possible gangsters had taken my beloved cat away from me.

I quit reading this book halfway through.  The book is yet another travelogue, and I found it quite boring.

Page 60 of A Guide to Judy Bolton Country contains part of a letter to Margaret Sutton from her editor, Alice Thorne.  Thorne mentions many problems with The Whispered Watchword, among them that the book focuses too much on the sights in Washington.  The book "sounds guide-booky, not a strong Judy Bolton mystery."  I concur.

I do not like this book. 

In Judy Bolton #33, The Secret Quest, Judy and Peter are still in Washington, D.C., and are joined by Honey.  Mercifully, Honey's suitcase gets switched with someone else's, so Judy and Honey leave to find the owners.  No more Washington, D.C.!  Judy discovers quite a mystery at the home of Dorcas and Violetta Jewell.

On page 22, Judy and Honey see the President and his wife.  Honey remarks about how beautiful the First Lady is.  Since this book was published in 1962, the First Lady would have been Jacqueline Kennedy.

A Guide to Judy Bolton Country has a letter on page 62 from Alice Thorne to Margaret Sutton which includes criticism of The Secret Quest.  Thorne concedes, "If you want to start the story in Washington, that's fine, because it will make the readers want to read the previous book."  Since I had already attempted to read the previous book, I was horrified that Judy is still in Washington.  I wanted to escape!

The first one-third of the book is a travelogue, and it bored me.  The story improves greatly once the girls leave Washington.  The last two-thirds of the story is very good.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Judy Bolton #30 The Phantom Friend and #31 The Discovery at the Dragon's Mouth

In Judy Bolton #30, The Phantom Friend, Judy's new friend, Clarissa, claims that she cannot see her reflection in a mirror, so she isn't real.  Judy and her friends tour a television studio.  The girls take turns being shown briefly on one of the studio's televisions.  The screen goes to static during Clarissa's turn, and she goes into hysterics.  Later, Clarissa disappears, and Judy cannot figure out what has happened to her phantom friend.

This book is a travelogue, and I can no longer stand travelogues.  The story also makes a mystery out of nothing and is never very interesting.  I stopped reading the book halfway through.  I do not like this book.

In Judy Bolton #31, The Discovery at the Dragon's Mouth, Judy purchases a corsage made from snapdragons to match one worn by another girl.  Later, Judy is mistaken for that girl and is given a package to deliver at Yellowstone Park.  Judy and Honey decide to drive across the country to Yellowstone so that they can get the package to the proper recipient.

On page 19 at the top, Judy thinks about how Peter doesn't understand how she feels.  "He just didn't seem to realize how much she wanted to be with him and share in his work the way she used to when they worked together in the little law office in Roulsville."  This is exactly why Peter should have remained a lawyer instead of becoming an FBI agent.

This book is also a travelogue, and too much of the story is centered on the travelogue aspect.  The part where the girls drive to Yellowstone bored me.  The story improves once the girls arrive at Yellowstone.

The story is overall good, but I consider it below average for the series.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Judy Bolton #28 The Haunted Fountain and #29 The Clue of the Broken Wing

In Judy Bolton #28, The Haunted Fountain, Judy remembers an old haunted fountain on the Brandt estate.  When Judy was young, the fountain seemingly spoke to her.  Judy and her friends go to the Brandt estate to visit the fountain, and they discover unfriendly tenants who warn them away.  Undaunted, Judy vows to find out who these people are and what they are doing in the Brandts' home.

I like the setting and pretty much everything about this book.  This is a very good book.

In Judy Bolton #29, The Clue of the Broken Wing, Blackberry discovers an broken china wing in Judy's garden.  Thinking little about the broken wing but taking it with her, Judy drives with Peter to New York City to visit Irene, Dale, and little Judy.

Judy is shocked to find that Tower House has been torn down and replaced by apartments.  When Judy inquires in the Lakes' home across the street, she spots a china angel that is missing a wing.  Dumbfounded, Judy discovers that the broken wing matches the angel!  When Mrs. Lake sees the broken wing, Judy is accused of abduction and murder!  Terrified, Judy runs from the Lakes' house.

Page 59 of A Guide to Judy Bolton Country quotes part of a letter to Margaret from her editor, Alice Thorne.  The guide notes that the letter likely refers to The Clue of the Broken Wing.  "You'll think I'm taking pot shots at Peter, but what bothers me is that he seems so cocksure and overbearing with Judy in this story that he isn't as likable as usual; also he tends to take the spotlight away from her."

Peter seems a bit quiet in this book, so I believe that Margaret took out what Alice Thorne didn't like.  There is one scene where Judy is talking to Irene and Dale, and Peter is present but very quiet.  It's almost like he isn't even there.

Even though Peter isn't overbearing in the published book, he is a bit annoying because he knows the solution to the mystery and does not tell Judy.  I wish that Margaret had kept Peter as a lawyer for the duration of the series instead of making him an FBI agent.  I liked the books better when Peter was more open with Judy.

The story is overall very good.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The 13th Known 1930A-1 Nancy Drew Old Clock Dust Jacket

The first printing of the first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock, is quite scarce, especially in dust jacket.  The first printing dust jacket lists just three Nancy Drew titles on the front flap.  It seldom comes up for sale.  The last one auctioned off on eBay was in the summer of 2014, nearly five years ago.

Several copies have sold in the last five years, but these have been copies that were previously known to us.  The first printing of Old Clock in dust jacket frequently sells to book dealers who are buying to resell, so the book often goes right back up for sale.

I have been thinking a lot about the 1930A-1 Old Clock dust jacket in the last year.  I reflected on how no new known copies had come up for sale since 2014 and wondered whether I should consider paying a higher price so that I could finally acquire one.  The dust jacket is not getting any easier to find.  A few copies are probably still in the wild unknown to us, but even the existence of just a few more copies has little effect on the scarcity and value.  Hundreds of people would love to own the first printing dust jacket, and fewer than 15 are known to exist.  Most people will never have one.

A first printing Old Clock book with dust jacket was recently listed on eBay in a fixed-price listing. 

Secret of the Old Clock Carolyn Keene a signed 1st Ed in DJ 1930A-1 Nancy Drew

The book was first listed at a fixed-price of $9,300 and is currently listed at $8,500.  The book was signed by Mildred Wirt Benson during her later years.  

I am not sure whether the above copy is one of the 12 known copies or whether it is the 13th known copy.  It could be one of the copies previously known to us, back up for sale.  (Note:  This copy was later confirmed to be one of the 12 known copies.)

I took a good look at the above listing and briefly considered whether it was worth purchasing.  I decided that I would never pay that much for a book that has a chipped dust jacket.  For me, the chipped dust jacket makes it quite undesirable unless the book were priced at a much lower amount.  Additionally, I am not that enamored with autographs.  I realize that sounds strange, but I can't help that I feel that way.

I kept an eye on the listing to see if someone else would purchase it.  So far, no one has.

I continue to advocate checking eBay every single day no matter what, because you never know what might show up.  I checked eBay in the late evening of February 23 and spotted an auction for the first printing of Old Clock with the first printing dust jacket.  It had been listed only around 10 minutes before.  The book had a starting bid of $24.99 and had been listed by a reputable bookseller who knew what it was.

1930 1st Printing NANCY DREW #1: THE SECRET OF THE OLD CLOCK by Carolyn Keene

This 1930A-1 Old Clock dust jacket is not one of the 12 known copies, so it is definitely at least the 13th known example.

I actually didn't get excited when I saw the auction.  I thought it was really interesting that a new one was up for sale, but I stayed quite calm and detached, unlike how I was years ago when one came up for sale.  I did place an initial low bid as I have always done on these first printing auctions.  I do it just to show that someone is interested, hoping that the seller will keep the auction open.  I did not contact the seller like I used to do.  In the past, I contacted sellers to tell them that they shouldn't close the auction early to private offers, since those people would offer less than the true value.  I felt confident that this seller was knowledgeable enough to let the auction run.

I placed a bid on eSnipe on that first evening, just like I always do when I plan to try to win an auction.  eSnipe is a service that bids on my behalf at the very end of eBay auctions.  I checked on the listing several times per day each day that week.  I waited for someone to let everyone know about the listing in one of the Facebook groups, but no one ever did.  I kept my fingers crossed that no one would advertise it.

The Hollywood dealer who buys to resell to wealthy clients finally bid on the fourth day.  Darn.  I was hoping that he wouldn't notice it.  He is very hard to beat in auctions, because he has very deep pockets.  Check out his many high-priced listings.  I felt that he would be willing to pay $5,000 or more for the book.  Did I want to bid that high?

I spent the last three days of the auction trying to reason out what the Hollywood dealer would be willing to pay and whether I wanted to try to beat him.  This was a dilemma.  I didn't want to get stuck paying some huge amount, but I didn't want to lose and regret not bidding higher.  Hmm.  

I edited my eSnipe bid several times, and I actually lowered my bid on the last day due to some concerns I had about the condition of the reverse side of the dust jacket.

The Hollywood dealer was outbid just before the auction closed.  I was so calm that I sat back in my chair and impassively watched the time click down in the final minute of the auction.  Usually, my heart would be pounding, and I would be bidding manually right at the very end just in case eSnipe failed.  I have always submitted manual bids in addition to the eSnipe bids for important auctions.  I didn't feel the need this time.  It's like I just knew that this would work out for the best and that I didn't need to be concerned.  I couldn't believe how calm I was.

And so I won the auction.  Can you believe that?  

The auction closed at $2,550 for a total cost of $2,553.99. 

The piece that is missing from the back panel of the dust jacket is stuck to the book, and I am confident that I can pull the part free that forms the hole.  The print is fine on the reverse side of the piece stuck to the jacket.  Right now, I'm not going to worry about it.

The price paid for this book is a good price.  The jacket and book do have flaws, but other copies that have sold for more also had flaws.  Some of the other copies have had more significant flaws.  One book that sold for above $7,000 was moldy.  The book typically sells for $4,000 or more and has sold for as high as $11,700.  Last year, one was listed for sale at a fixed-price of $16,000.  The book apparently sold, but I do not know if it sold for the full $16,000.

I expected this book to sell for at least $4,000 to $5,000.  I fully expected that I would be at least the second-highest bidder.  I expected the Hollywood dealer to be the highest or second-highest bidder, but neither was the case.

Some of you are probably thinking that I'm rich or have way too much spending money.  Not at all.  I sell books in order to afford books.  I sold an unusually high dollar amount in books during February.  This happened partly because I lowered eBay prices in order to move some books.  My cash flow in books from February actually covered the cost of this book.  That cash flow was not profit, but still, the money spent on this book had already been spent in the past and covered the cost of this book.

My number one collecting goal for over 20 years has been to acquire all of the first 38 Nancy Drew books in first printing dust jackets.  This was the only one I needed.  I now have all of the first printing books and all of the first printing dust jackets.  A few could stand to be upgraded, but I have managed to acquire all of them.  It wasn't easy.

For more information about the scarcity and value of this book, please read these past posts about sales of the first printing Old Clock book and dust jacket.

Scarcity of Early First Printing Nancy Drew Books
Nancy Drew 1st Printing Auctions Part 2
Nancy Drew 1st Printing Auctions Part 3
The Ninth Nancy Drew 1930A-1 Old Clock Dust Jacket
More on the Tenth Nancy Drew 1930A-1 Old Clock DJ
More Early Nancy Drew First Printing Auctions Part 1
Noteworthy Nancy Drew First Printing Auctions

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Judy Bolton #26 Clue in the Ruined Castle and #27 Trail of the Green Doll

In Judy Bolton #26, The Clue in the Ruined Castle, Judy and Peter go on a picnic near an old, ruined castle.  The castle is owned by John Dent, who is in a feud with Granny Joerg over some missing money.  John Dent hasn't been seen in some time, and rumors abound that he might be deceased.  The Joerg grandchildren disappear, and Judy helps search for them.

All of the story except for the last 18 pages occurs in just one day.  The story is paced well and is quite interesting.  This is a very good to excellent book.

In Judy Bolton #27, The Trail of the Green Doll, Judy decides to take in boarders, which leads to her becoming acquainted with the Riker family.

Judy learns that some type of green doll was stolen from Mrs. Riker and that the Rikers were planning to visit old Uncle Paul Riker.  Uncle Paul has disappeared, and his house has burned down.  Judy is puzzled by the seemingly disconnected events.

I found it odd that Judy decides to open her home to tourists without asking Peter's opinion.  He lives in the home as well, and he should have input into such an important decision.

This book would not have been a mystery at all if the characters had actually revealed what they knew.  I had read the book before, so I knew the big secret.  The magician is constantly called the "magician" throughout the text, and Margaret did that to hide the truth from the reader.  Also, Peter knows the secret and keeps it from Judy.  I find the whole thing to be obnoxious.  The story is also boring.

I do not like this book.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Judy Bolton #24 The Forbidden Chest and #25 The Haunted Road

In Judy Bolton #24, The Forbidden Chest, Judy goes with Holly to get her belongings from Cousin Cleo's house.  Holly insists on taking a chest that she calls the "forbidden" chest.  The next day, Cousin Cleo accuses Holly of theft, since her antiques have been stolen.  Judy knows that Holly is innocent, since Judy was present.  Holly can prove her innocence by opening the chest, but Holly refuses.  Judy tries to find the thief so that Holly can be cleared.

This is another one of those strange coincidences where Peter's FBI case and Judy's mystery turn out to be the same.

I always liked this cover art until other collectors pointed out the flaws.  I won't point out the problems, but this cover is one that should not be examined too closely if you wish to enjoy it.

I really like that Judy goes west on a train with Hal.  I enjoy her independent adventures.  She is worried, and that makes the story compelling.

This is a very good book.

In Judy Bolton #25, The Haunted Road, Peter learns that Frank Caffero's father, a truck driver, has been threatened.  Peter and Frank unsuccessfully try to prevent Mr. Caffero from being hijacked, and Peter disappears.  The only clues are ghosts—people dressed in sheets—seen on the haunted road where the truck was hijacked.  Judy desperately tries to determine what happened to Peter.

On page 20, the reader learns that the Roulsville dam broke five years ago.  This puts Judy's age at about 20.

This story moves too slowly.  Everything about it creeps along.  The text is full of excessive reminiscing about Judy's past cases.  The reminiscing continues through the entire book.

I began skimming by the last one-third of the book.  The plot moves way too slowly with way too much discussion about what happened on Halloween night.  The discussions are quite realistic to what any of us would do when trying to figure something out, but they are way too boring for a book.

I do not like this book.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

New Bulk Lots on eBay + eBay Sale

I am still working on clearing out stagnant inventory.  Approximately half of my books on eBay are 15% off for the next week.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I also created some new bulk lots today.  Some of the bulk lots are not new listings, since I changed some of the previous bulk lots.  All of my bulk lots can be seen in my bulk lots category.

Bulk Lots on eBay

The ones created or edited today are priced low just to cover my eBay fees and shipping costs. 

I have also recently listed many books on Etsy.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

On both sites, orders of $35 or more will receive free shipping to United States addresses. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Judy Bolton #23 The Black Cat's Clue

In Judy Bolton #23, The Black Cat's Clue, Holly Potter has returned to Roulsville to see her Uncle David Potter during a family reunion, to which she was not invited.  Judy must tell Holly the bad news, that her Uncle David has passed away.  Holly decides to attend the reunion anyway along with Judy masquerading as her sister, Doris.

The girls soon learn that Uncle David's will is missing, and strange sounds come from a locked room inside the house.  Is the house haunted?  And why does Holly keep thinking that she sees Uncle David?

The plot of this book is rather similar to the plot of Penny Nichols and the Mystery of the Lost Key by Mildred Wirt Benson.  Benson wrote the Penny Nichols book under the pseudonym of Joan Clark.  I have read both books.  The main plot points are the same, and anyone who has read either book knows the solution to the other book.

Several years back, a collector stated in a discussion that Sutton copied entire passages from the Penny Nichols book and that The Black Cat's Clue is a "carbon copy" of the Penny Nichols book.  I found no evidence of copied passages.

This time when I read The Black Cat's Clue, I also skimmed through Penny Nichols and the Mystery of the Lost Key.  I read two or three chapters of The Black Cat's Clue, then I skimmed through a few chapters of the Penny Nichols book.  I did not find any passages that are the same.  I also did not find any sentences or phrases that are the same.  I could have missed something minor, but I do not believe any of the text was copied.  Margaret Sutton had to have read the Penny Nichols book and was inspired by it.  She used a number of plot points, but she did not copy the text.  Let's put that to rest.

Page 243 of A Guide to Judy Bolton Country states, "Inspiration unknown, Sutton freely admitted using the basic plot of Penny Nichols and the Mystery of the Lost Key by Joan Clark (Mildred Wirt) as the basis of this story."  That's all it is, no more and no less.

On this reading, I found that this story starts out way too slow.  The banter between Judy and Horace at the beginning of the story is excruciating.  I couldn't stand it.  Once Holly enters the story, the book is excellent.  I still love it, and it has always been one of my favorite Judy Bolton books.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Judy Bolton #22 The Spirit of Fog Island

In Judy Bolton #22, The Spirit of Fog Island, Judy receives a note from Peter while waiting for him on the pier in Chicago.  The note tells Judy that Peter will be waiting for her on the beach of Fog Island on Friday evening.  Judy is mystified, especially since she has never heard of Fog Island.  Judy learns that the island is on an Indian reservation.  She makes the journey and is immediately plunged into a strange mystery.

Margaret Sutton teaches about Indians in this book.  She sets the stage with Judy's thoughts on page 19.
She knew nothing about Indians, really.  What she had learned in school had not greatly impressed her.  Neither had the few Indians she had seen in shows and rodeos.  They were not people to her, but vague shadows out of America's past. 
On page 44, Judy begins to learn that Indians are in fact people just like everyone else.
"They don't teach us much about modern Indians either," Judy said.  "I didn't expect to find you so very much like everyone else," she added rather shyly.

"Do you mean in the way we talk and dress?" Winona inquired.

"I mean in every way," declared Judy.
Judy learns how rude the tourists are to the Indians.  Some of the other girls remark that the Indians were rude to them when they were looking in their windows.  Another girl replies that they were actually trespassing while looking in the windows.  Indeed.  They were also invading the Indians' privacy.

By page 93, Judy understands.
As she walked back toward the government building a feeling of sadness overwhelmed her.

"We took this whole beautiful country away from them and left them so little, so very little," she thought.
After spending hours on Fog Island, Judy is finally back at the inn.  On page 192, Judy reflects, "Somehow, I felt safer with the Indians."

This book is remarkable for how well it teaches about Indians and their culture.  The book is also very spooky, especially when the reader is unaware of what is really happening.  This used to be my favorite Judy Bolton book, but it isn't my favorite now, simply because it has lost the mystique that it once had.  Even so, I still find the book to be excellent.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Vintage Japanese Judy Bolton Books Part 2

Here are two editions of The Yellow Phantom.

Front of 1968 and 1971 slipcases

Back of 1968 and 1971 slipcases

Here are various editions of The Riddle of the Double Ring.

Front of 1965 and 1972 slipcases

Back of 1965 and 1972 slipcases

1980 dust jacket
Here are various editions of The Clue in the Patchwork Quilt.

Front of 1964 and 1971 slipcases

Back of 1964 and 1971 slipcases

1981 dust jacket

Here are two editions of The Secret of the Barred Window.

1969 slipcase

1988 dust jacket

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Vintage Japanese Judy Bolton Books Part 1

Judy Bolton was published in Japanese in hardcover with either slipcases or dust jackets during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  The bare books have generic covers, seen in the photo below.

The following books are various editions of The Haunted Attic.

Front of 1966 and 1972 slipcases

Back of 1966 and 1972 slipcases

1983 dust jacket

Here are various editions of The Invisible Chimes.

Front of 1966 and 1972 slipcases

Back of 1966 and 1972 slipcases

1976 dust jacket

Here are various editions of Seven Strange Clues.

Front of 1965 and 1969 slipcases

Back of 1965 and 1969 slipcases

1983 dust jacket

Here are two editions of The Voice in the Suitcase.

Front of 1966 slipcase
Back of 1966 slipcase

1982 dust jacket

Monday, March 4, 2019

eBay Forces All Fixed-Price Listings to Good 'Til Cancelled

Rumors began last year that eBay was planning to force all fixed-price listings to Good 'Til Cancelled (GTC).  The rumors began when eBay's mobile app quit allowing sellers to select any fixed-price duration other than GTC.  No word came from eBay on what was up, but sellers knew that they had just cause to be concerned.  eBay has a nasty history of abruptly forcing unwanted changes on sellers.

Late last week, eBay gave sellers about two-weeks' notice that all fixed-price listings will have to use GTC beginning in the middle of March.  How nice of them to give us just two weeks to try to figure out what to do.

This change is a big problem for many of us, and I have not seen such a large seller backlash about an eBay announcement in many years.  Sellers are upset and furious with some talking about closing their stores or leaving eBay.  In my case, I am dismayed and quite at a loss as to what to do.  I really do not know, and I do not have much time to figure it out.

Why is this change a problem?  

The change is a problem because many sellers float more than their allotted monthly free listings.  I tend to have between 250 and 300 listings that I float on my 250 free listings.  I do this by not renewing some ended listings until after my free listings reset at the beginning of each month.  I end up with extra listings when I take advantage of the occasional eBay free listings promotion, which gives me extra listings.  I guess I will never be able to take advantage of one of those promotions ever again.

The reason why is because GTC listings will auto-renew, taking away my control of when the items get relisted.  If the listings auto-renew, I will no longer have the float.  I will be forced to pay listing fees on all listings above 250 items.

Forcing sellers to use GTC is also problematic because listings go stale due to the auto-renewal.  The GTC listing will never show as a new item in search except for when it is initially listed, and it will never show as an item that is about to end.  Most of us who understand how eBay search works sort by "newly listed" and "ending soonest" so that we can make sure we spot everything.  GTC permanently keeps listings out of those results.  The only time a GTC listing will ever show in "newly listed" is when it is first listed.  Each subsequent month will be an auto-renewal which does not reset the start time.  The GTC item will never end, so it will never show up in the "ending soonest" search results. 

I have read anecdotal reports by sellers about how their sales increased when they changed their listings from GTC to 30-day fixed-price.  Other sellers reported that their sales went down when they changed their 30-day fixed-price listings to GTC.  This change is not good, even though eBay is trying hard to spin it as positive.

I have not followed the eBay message boards closely in the last few days, but most threads are about this change.  I read some comments about how eBay employees are shutting down threads and deleting them if they are too negative.  

My hope—which is most certainly in vain—is that somehow eBay management will realize in the next 10 days that this change is a very bad idea.

I am quite glad that I have been working on reducing my stagnant inventory and am now down to around 230 eBay listings.  At least I am not over 250, so this looming change is not an emergency.  However, I cannot abide by my listings being GTC, so I will have to figure out a schedule where I cancel them at day 29 so that I can relist them to keep them from going stale.  This is going to be very tricky and will require me to keep close track of my listings in the coming weeks. 

The easiest way to manage this is to get my listings on a schedule where I cancel and renew all of them in batches, like half of my listings on the 10th and half on the 20th.  In order to get on that kind of schedule, I will have to let ended listings remain ended until I am ready to relist the first batch of listings.  If I take this approach, I will likely have low listing numbers at times in the next month or so.

I have some books that I need to list on eBay, but I am completely unmotivated.  I am glad that I have a shop on Etsy, because it looks like Etsy will have to be the place where I list most of my books.  I need to consider closing my eBay store in the next six months.  I cannot do it immediately without penalty, since I am just halfway through the subscription that auto-renewed on September 1, 2018.  So, eBay has me trapped for now, but I could end the relationship in just under six months.

If eBay would just let sellers run their businesses how they want without trying to micromanage everything, sellers would have better sales and be more productive.

For a look at my online stores, visit these two links.