Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The 2020 Friends of the Library Book Sale

I continue to be frustrated that many collectors who post in the Facebook groups believe that all series books should be priced low or that all series books can be found cheaply.  These people apparently are able to find series books at extremely low prices.  Just recently, someone mentioned a thrift store that sells its series books for $0.10 each.  I am astonished that a store would sell books at that low of a price.

Here in Oklahoma, all thrift stores price the books at $2.00 and up.  Yes, quite unfortunately, even softcover children's books in bad shape are $2.00 each.  I am dumbfounded that others can find books for $0.10 these days.  This must be an extreme anomaly.  I doubt that more than just a handful of thrift stores scattered far and wide would price any books that low.  $0.10 is how a thrift store might have priced a book 40 or more years ago.  I personally have never seen a lower price than $0.25 in a thrift store, and the last time I saw that low of a price was around 30 years ago.

I mentioned a couple years ago in my post "The Expectation of Low Price Regardless of Scarcity" that just about the only people who mention prices in the Facebook groups are those who find books for $0.10 up to $1.00 to $2.00 each.  Since those are almost the only prices mentioned, collectors have unreasonable expectations regarding pricing of series books.

The reality is that books cost most of us a lot more than others think.  I recently wrote the following in a comment on Facebook.
This is how I look at it. If the book is there and at a price that I can afford that is not completely insane, then I will purchase it if I need it.

For example, let's say that a book sells online for $10 to $20 on average.  Keep in mind that postage often must be paid in addition to the selling price, so the $10 to $20 book might be more than that.

Sometimes the book might sell for $5 online, but postage gets added to the total, so that book will end up being around $10.  Tax is now paid by a majority of online buyers, so there's that as well.  Online prices once were not taxed, which made online purchases cheaper.  That's not the case these days for most of us.

Let's say I am in a store and see the book I described above for $25.  The book is in nice condition.  I can examine the book in person and see all flaws.  I am there, and the book is there.  I will purchase the book if I need it.  I don't worry about how I might possibly find the book for $10 to $15 someday.  Someday might never come.  I have the book in hand, so I purchase it.
I mention all of this because I'm going to be more upfront than usual about what I paid for some books this last weekend.  I usually do not disclose prices, because many people have this odd idea that no one should make even a slight profit on anything that they sell online.  They get upset if they think someone might even have made $0.50 on a transaction.  Seriously, they do.

You would be surprised at how much online sellers sometimes pay when they source their items.

I purchased the above books in a couple of stores.  Remember my comment about books not being priced at below $2.00 each in Oklahoma.  You now know by what I stated that I must have paid at least $2.00 per book.  The cheapest ones were the softcover books.  But what about the others?  It would have been great if they had been $2.00 or so each, but they weren't.

The original text Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books are getting very hard to source.  I enjoy selling them and helping others to build their collections.  This gives me great personal satisfaction, but the original text picture covers are now, for the most part, 50 years of age or older.  They are now very scarce in excellent condition and are getting hard to source even in rough shape.

The picture cover books seen in the above photo are a bit rough.  I paid $6.00 each plus tax for the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys picture covers.  That is a bit steep for the condition, but I am really struggling to source the original text picture covers at this time.  I was completely out of extras of several titles.  When I sell the above picture covers, the markup will not be very much due to the condition.

The local Friends of the Library book sale was this weekend.  This year, the sale had around 800,000 books.  It is always a large sale with between 500,000 and 1 million books.  I always go to the sale on the first day, and I was the 12th person in the line for the section I always go to first, which is where the more collectible books are located.

The Nancy Drew and other series books were in three locations in the same part of the building.  I must move quickly and make split-second decisive decisions on what to pick up.  I must avoid selecting books that I would need to put back.  I don't have the luxury of thinking about a purchase with a few thousand people filing into the building behind me and some of them coming for the books I want.  My position in line only gains me just a few minutes.

My mind is frenetic, and I feel like I have ADHD in those few minutes.  I keep my movements controlled, since being rude is unacceptable.  Most of the people are very polite and apologize when they accidentally brush against someone else.  The behavior is by and large quite good at this sale.  There are always a few incidents, but mostly everyone is polite.

I mentioned making split-second decisions.  I don't check prices, except for a few scattered books, probably only a few per 50 books selected.  I know that the hardcover books will be $2.00 to $4.00 each.  Softcover books will tend to be $1.00 to $1.50.  I don't have time to verify prices, so I trust that the prices are the same as always.

I won't get into all of the particulars of my experience this year, but I always scan quickly, looking at the spine designs and selecting what I want.  If I see books that obviously have very heavy wear, I try not to select them.

I visit each location where the books might be located, just looking for patterns in the spines.  After I make my initial selections, I go back to each location, going slower and reading titles.  This is when I notice books that are of interest that are much less noticeable.  These types of books are also ones other people won't get at first glance.  I have to be quick in finding the Nancy Drew books so that I can have first choice, because the Nancy Drew books always go very fast.

Here are pictures and some comments about what I purchased.

The softcover Nancy Drew books seen above are in very nice shape.  These thrill me the most of the books I purchased.  I will be comparing the above books to the ones in my collection, in case some of them are in nicer shape. 

In the below photo, the original text Nancy Drew books are in rough shape, as is typical these days.  Fortunately, I didn't have to pay $6.00 each for these books.

Some of the tweed Nancy Drew books seen below are in rougher shape than I would like.  However, I always end up with some books that I really shouldn't have bought.  As mentioned, I don't have time to think over purchases, so I end up with some books that I wish I hadn't purchased.

The flashlight edition Nancy Drew books seen in the above photo are either high-numbered ones (#58, 60, and 62) or are the textured flashlight editions.

The Weed Walk is a scarce book by Margaret Sutton, who wrote the Judy Bolton books.  The Mystery of the Shaky Staircase is a very scarce book by Margaret Scherf, who was the ghostwriter for the original text of Nancy Drew #27, The Secret of the Wooden Lady.

The Whispering House caught my eye, and I opened it just to see if it might be interesting enough to purchase.  This was after I had already gone over the books more than once and was browsing more leisurely.  As soon as I opened the book, I saw that it was signed by the author.

I still don't know if the book is good, but I wasn't going to leave a signed book behind.  And yes, as you can clearly see, the book was priced at $2.00.

The Oz books are probably not worth much more than what I paid, but at worst, I should be able to get my money back.

A bunch of the Nancy Drew Twin Thriller editions are seen above.  Some of the books have $3.00 written inside, which I truly believe was supposed to be the price for those books.  Other books do not have a price written inside.  At checkout, the volunteers decided that the books were a "set" as defined and sold by the library sale and came up with a rather low total cost for the "set" of books.  They made this decision based on stickers that were on the covers of some books, seen in the next photo.

I cannot be certain, but I don't think the stickers had anything to do with the library sale.  In any case, the set of Twin Thrillers was cheaper than it should have been.  You'll notice that I'm not revealing what they charged me.

In the long run, pricing errors average out.  One time, I was quite overcharged for some books without realizing it until later.  These things balance out over the years.

My favorite part of the sale is the table in the general section where the vintage teen paperback books are located.  I don't get to these books until around 45 minutes into the sale, since I have to complete checkout in the other section with my initial purchases and then get those books loaded into the car.  I doubt that I miss out on too many of the vintage teen books, since those are not nearly as high in demand as the vintage Nancy Drew books are.

Most of the books seen in these pictures will be sold eventually.  The prices will be marked up, but I deserve that.  For those who might think I shouldn't do that, consider my true cost for the books.  I paid for a library membership.  I took the day off work and had to pay for my substitute.  I waited in line for hours for the sale to start.  I shopped at the sale for around three hours.  I went back the next day and spent another hour at the sale.  I drove round trip 25 miles each day when I attended the sale.

My final cost is higher than the sum total of my sales receipts.  Keep that in mind when you peruse the listings of online sellers.  The sellers have to source the books, and much time and effort is involved, in addition to the cost of acquiring the books.  The buyer pays a convenience fee to the seller, who did the legwork in finding the books.  I am eternally grateful to all the sellers over the years who have found good books that I ended up purchasing for my collection.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Sweet Dreams #35 Forbidden Love and #36 Summer Dreams

Sweet Dreams #35 Forbidden Love, Marian Woodruff, 1983

Patti's been hoping Tim will notice her, but it's purely accidental when she backs into his car in the school parking lot.  Boy, is she embarrassed.  But instead of being angry, Tim asks her for a date.

It's the beginning of a wonderful relationship until both of their parents start arguing about the accident.  And the argument turns into an all-out war. 

Tim and Patti continue to see each other, meeting secretly.  But they hate sneaking around.  Their parents are acting like babies.  Why won't they just listen?

This book didn't interest me, so I read very little of it.

Sweet Dreams #36 Summer Dreams, Barbara Conklin, 1983

Katy's summer promises to be the most challenging one of her life.  She'll be taking care of Michael, a little blind boy, helping him get over a recent tragedy.  It won't be easy.  But Steve will be helping her.  Katy's been admiring Steve for a long time.  Together they'll spend golden days building castles in the sand, teaching Michael to laugh again.

But it's not turning out as Katy had hoped.  Michael's almost more than she can handle, and Steve, though friendly, remains distant.  As the summer draws to a close, Katy wonders if her dreams will crumble along with their last sand castle.

This book has a good hook with the blind boy and Katy struggling to take care of him.  After the first few chapters, this book firmly grabbed my attention.

The summary of this book is misleading.  I don't understand why the publisher cannot just tell the truth.  This book does have an interesting story, and a truthful summary would suffice.

Steve isn't distant.  His relationship with Katy just progresses very slowly and naturally.  As for Michael, he's really not more than Katy can handle since she has a little help.

This is a very good book.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sweet Dreams #33 Dear Amanda and #34 Country Girl

Sweet Dreams #33, Dear Amanda, Rosemary Vernon, 1983

Everyone's wondering who is behind "Dear Amanda," the new advice column in the school paper.  Everyone, that is, but Tina.

Tina loves playing Amanda.  She's excited about her mysterious new identity, and thrilled by the success of her column—students really are taking her advice!  But something is still missing from her life—that special feeling for one particular boy.  How can she be so unhappy when things are going so well, Tina wonders.  Is she asking for too much?  Why are other people's problems so much easier to solve than her own?

This story didn't grab me.  I skimmed through the book and was never interested.

Sweet Dreams #34, Country Girl, Melinda Pollowitz, 1983

Edie falls for Sean as soon as she sets eyes on him.  But soon after they begin dating, he suddenly drops her for another girl.  Hurt and angry, Edie thinks she'll never be able to forget him.

Then she meets Jake.  Fun-loving and caring, he makes Edie feel warm and happy inside.  They spend long, happy days laughing together and taking quiet walks in the country.  Part of Edie is sure that Jake is the boy for her, but after losing Sean, she's awfully frightened.  Can Jake's feeling for her really be as strong and true as he claims?  Can she learn to give her heart again?

This summary makes it sound like Edie's relationship with Sean was a really big deal.  They only saw each other a couple of times.  The summary hugely exaggerates the importance of the relationship.

The summary is also misleading about Edie and Jake.  Edie isn't frightened; she wants Jake to feel something for her, but she's worried that Jake is interested in her older sister.  The summary is pure fiction.

Edie wants to feel a "zing" with Jake.  My observation is that I needed to feel a "zing" as well, and I never felt it.  This story is blah.  I read most of the book, but it is not very compelling.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Sweet Dreams #31 Too Close for Comfort and #32 Daydreamer

Sweet Dreams #31, Too Close for Comfort, Debra Spector, 1983

For years Drea and Derek have been best friends.  They've climbed trees together, played baseball together, and gotten in trouble together.  They've always loved each other, but when Derek asks Drea for a date, their feelings grow stronger, until finally they're in love.

Then things start going sour for Drea.  Is it because Derek's becoming so possessive?  Or because Sam Hennessey's getting interested in her?  Suddenly Drea's not quite sure she wants Derek as a boyfriend.  Should they break up?  And if they do, can they ever be friends again?

The summary reveals enough that I knew that the relationship would be doomed.  For that reason, I did not find the book to be that compelling.  I could tell that the relationship did not have the necessary ingredients for a lasting romantic relationship.  However, the book is interesting enough that I read it all the way through.

Sweet Dreams #32, Daydreamer, Janet Quin-Harkin, 1983

When Lisa's parents split up, she has to leave glamorous Hollywood, her father, and her movie-star mother—to live with a grandmother she hardly knows.  How can she ever be happy again?

All too often, Lisa finds herself escaping into daydreams—dreams of fame, friends, and boyfriends galore, Hollywood, her parents, and falling in love.  But when her fantasy bubble bursts, she has to open her eyes to the fact that, in real life, things don't always work out they way they do in dreams.

On page 53, Lisa has embellished the truth about her life in Hollywood.  When Lisa's friend tells her how much she wants to go to Hollywood, Lisa feels bad about the lie.  So often in these books, the girls feel no remorse about lying, which is wrong.  I tend not to like those books.  It is refreshing for a girl to realize that she shouldn't have lied.

I enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Sweet Dreams #29 Never Love a Cowboy and #30 Little White Lies

Sweet Dreams #29, Never Love a Cowboy, Jesse DuKore, 1982

Bitsy is thrilled when she moves from crowded New York City to colorful Austin, Texas, and even more thrilled when she sees handsome Billy Joe riding his horse to school.  For Bitsy, it's love at first sight.

But even when Bitsy's new school radio program grabs everyone else's attention, Billy Joe's eye remains on gorgeous Betty Lou.  Can a city girl like Bitsy ever win the heart of a Texas cowboy like Billy Joe?

I was biased against this book before I ever started reading it...  Wildfire Romance #37 Sing About Us... need I say more?

The book ended up as unbearable as I thought it would be.

Bitsy seems to be intelligent in all scenes except when she is talking to a boy.  She is not presented as nervous by the author.  It's like Bitsy is too involved in her own interests to know anything about really basic information that anyone her age with half a brain would know.  Perhaps the author thought it would be humorous for Bitsy to be dumb around boys, or perhaps the author figured that silly girls with a crush always act that way.  Whatever the purpose, Bitsy's behavior around boys is horribly dumb.

Bitsy doesn't know what a bandanna is.  She calls a football quarterback a "quarter horse."  She calls the football stadium a "ball field."  She has to ask who the cheerleaders are.  How would a high school student not know about cheerleaders?

I read the first part of the book, began skimming, and then skipped over chunks of pages.  The next sentence is a spoiler, so skip it if you think this book might be worth reading.  Bitsy actually gets the cowboy as her boyfriend, which I don't understand.  Why is the book titled Never Love a Cowboy?  It seems like it worked out for dumb Bitsy.

I do not like this book at all.

Sweet Dreams #30, Little White Lies, Lois I. Fisher, 1983

Everyone says Nina has a good imagination, a gift for telling stories.  In fact, it's one of her stories that attracts Scott to her.  He's one of the Daltonites, the most sophisticated clique in the school.  Nina can't believe she's dating him!

But Nina soon finds that the Daltonites don't welcome outsiders.  So she impresses Scott's friends with her stories.  It's so easy: a little exaggeration here, a white lie there.

I'm doing this for Scott, she thinks.  But her lies finally start to catch up with her, and Nina's afraid of losing Scott forever.

The Bobbsey Twins are mentioned on page 4 and again later in the story.  The authors of these teen books from the 1980s really like to compare characters to the Bobbsey Twins for some reason.

Nina's lies are so stupid.  Her behavior is foolish.  I skimmed a lot of the book and overall do not like it.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Sweet Dreams #27 Too Young for Love and #28 Trusting Hearts

Sweet Dreams #27, Too Young for Love, Gailanne Maravel, 1982

It looks like Tom and Killy's friendship is turning into romance... but then Tom finds out she's two years younger than the other kids at school.

Killy is miserable, until she leaves the whole mess behind, for a glamorous vacation in Italy.

When she gets back, she feels sophisticated and grown up.  But will Tom think so, too?

At first I thought that I wouldn't enjoy Killy's trip to Italy, but that is the best part of the book.  Killy meets Fabrio in Italy, and it is not a silly romance.  Killy and Fabrio are just very good friends, and Fabrio helps Killy grow as a person.  When Killy returns home, she is able to handle teasing better.

I enjoyed the fact that the main plot of the book wraps up a few chapters from the end, so the reader gets to enjoy Killy being happy.  So many of these books wait until the last one to three pages of the book for the protagonist to be happy, and I feel like that kind of ending is too abrupt.

This is a very good to excellent book.

Sweet Dreams #28, Trusting Hearts, Jocelyn Saal, 1982

When Kathy lands an after-school job as the assistant to the town's veterinarian, she knows she's found a career she'll always love.  At the same time, her old friend Dean has become more tender and romantic toward her.

Kathy's overjoyed, until Dean starts resenting the long hours she puts in at the animal hospital, and their new love seems about to fall apart.  She'd be lost without Dean, but she loves her new job just as much.  Will she have to make a choice between them?

I like this passage from page 171.  I removed some words so as not to spoil part of the plot.
"He was a fine vet, a good husband and father, a terrific practical joker, and a ------, too.  Just like a diamond, see, with lots and lots of facets.  That's what makes a person precious, Kathy.  That's what makes him interesting."
I thought of Wildfire Romance #38 The Searching Heart as I read this book.  Both books were published in 1982 and have similar titles.  In both books, the protagonist wants to be a veterinarian.  The difference is that the Wildfire book is boring, and even worse, the Wildfire story includes three different scenes featuring animals being put to sleep.  What the heck?!

This book has none of that.  The details about the veterinarian clinic are interesting, and so is everything that Kathy does in her job.

This book is excellent.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Sweet Dreams #25 Her Secret Self and #26 It Must Be Magic

Sweet Dreams #25 Her Secret Self, Rhondi Villot, 1982

Poor Joanne.  She's failing in school, her parents have grounded her and worst of all, Rob has just ditched her for another girl.

But Joanne's got a secret—she's a natural actress.  Who else but Brooke Shields could win Rob back?  And who but Barbara Walters could get an A in journalism class?  Joanne can play them both and lots of other stars as well.  And as long as she's acting, things go great.

Now Joanne thinks she's got her problems licked... all she has to do is play a part.  But then she meets Cliff and he wants to know the real Joanne.  But will she be able to drop her "act" and let Cliff see her secret self?

From page 161:
"I hate you, Joanne."

"Hate me if you have to," Joanne said tiredly.  "I'm sorry.  There are better things to do this spring than hate anybody."
This is a powerful moment, because the other girl is consumed by hatred.  Joanne has done nothing to her, and Joanne's response is perfect.

The first part of the book is overall good.  I never like the first part of many of these books due to the excessively stupid behavior of the girl.  The last half of the book is very good to excellent.

Sweet Dreams #26, It Must Be Magic, Marian Woodruff, 1982

When her high school holds its annual madcap Genie Week, Kerrie becomes the "master" of the boy of her dreams.  Mike Price makes her wishes his commands as shy, studious Kerrie suddenly finds herself one-half of Glenwood High's wildest couple.  But will Mike go back to doing gorgeous Marcy's bidding when Genie Week comes to an end?  Maybe if Kerrie wishes hard enough, Mike will still be hers when the week is over.

I don't like the premise of a book when it involves the protagonist attempting to steal a boyfriend away from another girl.  It's too Jessica Wakefield for my taste, and it's never as much fun in these books.  In fact, it's never fun unless Jessica does it.

The author misdirects the reader so effectively that the ending didn't satisfy me at all.  I was just taken aback, since I expected a different ending.  I didn't like this book very much, but I was able to read most of it

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Sweet Dreams #23 Falling in Love Again and #24 The Trouble with Charlie

Sweet Dreams #23, Falling in Love Again, Barbara Conklin, 1982

Mariah's not one of those girls who's never been kissed.  She had a boyfriend.  Once.  It seems like a thousand years ago.  But Paul died, and Mariah thinks she'll never find anyone as special again. 

She hadn't counted on the school play, though.  Somehow her crazy friend Amy ropes her into working on the props.  Before she knows it, Mariah's the understudy for the female lead!  And she can't help but notice Dan Gordon, the male lead.

When Dan asks her out, Mariah doesn't know what to think.  He's sweet and funny and understanding—but she can't forget Paul.  His memory always seems to be between them.

Then Dan gets tired of being second best, and Mariah knows she must choose—between Dan who loves her now, and Paul who loved her first...

This is the sequel to the first Sweet Dreams book, P.S. I Love You.

Most people really like this book.  I enjoyed the beginning of the story, but then I gradually lost interest.  I found P. S. I Love You to be much more compelling than this book.

Sweet Dreams #24, The Trouble with Charlie, Jaye Ellen, 1982

Here's Charlie.  She has two big brothers so her dating life must be terrific.  Right?  Wrong!

Her brothers act like watch dogs everywhere she goes and all the best guys have been scared off.  Now only the wrong guys ask her out.  Charlie's about to give up altogether.

Then Charlie gets friendly with Andy, the terrific guy who lives next door.  But Andy's always helping her gets dates with other guys.  And what's worse, he's her brothers' pal.  Boy has Charlie got boy trouble!

This book is overall very good, although Charlie's brothers are extremely annoying.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Hidden Clues #7 Judy Bolton Picture Cover Scarcity

Picture cover editions are a favorite format among current series book collectors.  The Judy Bolton picture cover books are particularly difficult to acquire.  It is believed that most of the Judy Bolton picture cover books went through just one printing, which is why they are so exceedingly hard to find.  Also, a bunch of remaindered picture cover copies were turned into library editions, which reduced the number of surviving picture covers.

#30, 31, and 33 were never printed in the picture cover format, so it is impossible to get a complete set of Judy Bolton picture covers.

I rarely ever see Judy Bolton picture covers in stores.  I have seen #1, 2, and 3 multiple times.  I have seen all of #36-38 at least once and some of them at least twice.  I have also seen #11, 18, and 23 one time each.  I have never seen any of the other Judy Bolton picture cover books in any stores ever since I began collecting series books in 1991.

Judy Bolton did not switch to picture cover until 1964, two years after Nancy Drew and the other Grosset and Dunlap series made the change.  The series ended in 1967, so the picture cover format was only in print for around three years.  That is a very short amount of time and is why most all picture covers likely had only one printing.  The Judy Bolton series had low sales during the 1960s, which is what led to the demise of the series.  It is quite unlikely that the majority of the titles had more than one printing in the picture cover format.

Some Judy Bolton titles were printed later during that three year period than other titles.  Grosset and Dunlap would have continued to use existing stock in the dust jacket format before printing any picture cover books.  The picture covers that are the most scarce, which is unfortunately a large number of them, probably were not printed until towards 1965 or 1966.

Grosset and Dunlap must have had sufficient copies of #30, 31, and 33 in the dust jacket format to avoid ever needing to print any picture cover editions of those titles.  That is why those three do not exist.

As I began this post, I wrote the following paragraph going by memory of what I remembered seeing for sale over the years.
#1 had at least two printings, since it has two different cover art and text versions.  #2, 3, and 4 might have gone through more than one printing since they aren't as hard to find as all later titles.  #5-29, #32, and #34 are quite hard to find, so I believe that they all had one printing each.  For some reason, I find that #35 through #38 are just slightly easier to find than most picture covers, but they almost certainly would have had just one printing each since they were printed late in the set.
I then decided to see if I could find evidence of multiple printings of any titles, in particular #1 through 4.

Below, I give the list information for the picture covers.  In red, I indicate the list information given in Clarke's Guide to Margaret Sutton's Judy Bolton Mystery Stories for variants that I do not own.  In blue, I indicate the list information provided by collectors who own the books with those lists.  All lists in black are from books that I have actually seen.  Notice that many of the books list to #36, which means that they were probably not printed in the picture cover format until 1965.

 #1 1932 text - to #34 back cover and no interior list
 #1 1964 text - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
                        to #34 back cover and #37 inside
                        to #34 back cover and #38 inside
 #2 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
        to #34 back cover and #36 inside
        to #34 back cover and #38 inside
 #3 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
        to #36 back cover and #36 inside
        to #36 back cover and #38 inside
 #4 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
        to #34 back cover and #36 inside
 #5 - to #34 back cover and no interior list
 #6 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
 #7 - to #34 back cover and no interior list
         to #36 back cover and #36 inside
         to #34 back cover and #37 inside
 #8 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
 #9 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
#10 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
         to #34 back cover and #37 inside
#11 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
#12 - to #36 back cover and #36 inside
#13 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
#14 - to #36 back cover and #36 inside
#15 - to #36 back cover and #36 inside
#16 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
#17 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
#18 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
#19 - to #34 back cover and no interior list
#20 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
#21 - to #36 back cover and #36 inside
#22 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
#23 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
#24 - to #36 back cover and #36 inside
#25 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
#26 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
#27 - to #34 back cover and #35 inside
#28 - to #36 back cover and #36 inside
#29 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
#30 - does not exist
#31 - does not exist
#32 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
#33 - does not exist
#34 - to #36 back cover and #37 inside
#35 - to #34 back cover and #34 inside
         to #34 back cover and #35 inside
#36 - to #36 back cover and #36 inside
#37 - to #34 back cover and #37 inside
#38 - to #34 back cover and #38 inside

This information reveals that #1 had at least four printings.  #2, 3, and 7 had at least three printings. #4, 10, and 35 had at least two printings each.

This information confirms what I suspected.  I find it especially interesting to confirm two printings of #35.  I have always considered #35 to be more common than the other high-numbered titles and have wondered about it.  Now I know that #35 did have more than one printing.

I completed my set of Judy Bolton picture covers in the early 2000s.  I spent at least $30 each for 19 of the books.  7 of the books cost between $20 and $30.  Most series books have gone down in value since that time.  The Judy Bolton picture cover values have not gone down, for the most part, due to the extreme scarcity of the books.  The value of #34-38 has decreased substantially due to reprints, but the titles that exist from #4 through #32 still retain value that is close to their historical value.  People who want a set of Judy Bolton picture cover books must be willing to pay high prices for some of the books in order to complete the set.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sweet Dreams #21 All's Fair in Love and #22 Secret Identity

Sweet Dreams #21, All's Fair in Love, Jeanne Andrews, 1982

When Anne moves to glamorous New York City, she meets Greg at an exclusive athletic club... and he's pretty special.  But Anne's afraid she won't be able to win Greg's heart.  After all, she's only a beginner and Greg likes winners—just like his sister Sarah, the club's champion gymnast.

Then Anne challenges Sarah for the championship.  She's determined to show Greg that she's a winner too.  But if she fails, will she lose everything—including Greg?

From page 55:
"You're entering a gymnastics competition to prove to Greg that you're better than his sister?  Isn't that just the slightest bit insane?"
That sums up the book.  Anne is an idiot, and I don't like her.  The story is okay, but Anne is too stupid for words.

Sweet Dreams #22, Secret Identity, Joanna Campbell, 1982

When Jena Maxwell meets Eric Bliss, she forgets her disappointment about not going to Europe for the summer, forgets everything that has been upsetting her.  Eric is gentle, handsome, and Jena's falling deeply in love.

But as their fabulous summer passes, Jena begins to wonder about Eric:  why is he so mysterious?  Where's his family, his friends?

Then Jena learns the truth about Eric, and her beautiful summer of happiness and love is shattered.

I like the setting and think that the story is probably good, but it didn't really grab me.  I decided not to read it.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sweet Dreams #19 Love Song and #20 The Popularity Summer

Sweet Dreams #19, Love Song, Anne Park, 1982

When Dennis, a popular senior, asks Elizabeth for a date, she's so surprised and happy, she's practically floating on air.  She's never liked a boy as much as she likes Dennis.

But can their relationship ever work out?  Dennis comes from a wealthy family and Elizabeth's mother can barely make ends meet.  Worse, Dennis refuses to go steady.  He says he likes Elizabeth but he keeps going out with other girls.  Especially perfect Melissa who comes from the "right side of the tracks."

Elizabeth never knows where she stands.  How much does Melissa mean to Dennis and how much does Elizabeth mean to him?  Could Dennis really love a girl who came from the wrong part of town?

I like the first half of the story a lot.  I was a little bored during the second half and partly skimmed it.  Overall, this is a very good book

Sweet Dreams #20, The Popularity Summer, Rosemary Vernon, 1983

When Frannie's friends first told her about the Popularity Plan, she didn't believe them.  How could anything ever help her with her shyness or even get her a boyfriend?  But it worked!

Now, a year later, she's going steady with Ronnie, and even helping her shy cousin Joleen use the Popularity Plan herself.  But watching Joleen's first romance come true, Frannie begins to wonder about her own.  Does Ronnie still love her?  Does she still love him?  Whatever happened to the tingle she used to feel?

And if she does still love him, why is it so hard to say "no" to that handsome lifeguard who keeps asking her out?

I couldn't read the first book, Popularity Plan, so I didn't try to read this one.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Sweet Dreams #17 Ask Annie and #18 Ten-Boy Summer

Sweet Dreams #17 Ask Annie, Suzanne Rand, 1982

Annie's shyness disappeared when she started giving the guys advice about their girlfriends.  Now all the boys talk to her, especially Tim, the boy Annie's crazy about.

At first, Annie's thrilled just to be with Tim—until he asks Annie about how to keep beautiful, stuck-up Marcy in line.  Now Annie needs some advice of her own.  If she helps Tim keep Marcy, she'll never get a chance with him.  But if she doesn't, will Tim stop being her friend?

This is a pretty good book.

Sweet Dreams #18 Ten-Boy Summer, Janet Quin-Harkin, 1982

Jill's vacation gets off to a wild start when her best friend, Toni, thinks up a contest—who can be the first to date ten new boys!  It seems like a great solution to a boring summer until the girls get into a big fight over one of the boys.  Suddenly the friendly competition turns into all-out war.

Then, Jill meets Date Number Three and she knows she's in love.  And Craig likes her too—in fact, he wants her all to himself.  But he doesn't know about the contest, and Jill's afraid to tell him.

If she drops out of the contest, Jill won't be able to face her best friend.  If she doesn't, she'll lose the boy she loves.

This sort of story is too stupid for me.  I read part of it and quit.  I was not interested.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Difficulty of Finding a Good Book to Read

In my summary of my 2019 reading, I explained how I was less interested in reading than I was previously.  This trend has continued and is worsening.

I have actually read seven books so far this month, so I am still reading.  However, I'm not enjoying the books very much.  I broke away from the Sweet Dreams set again at the start of this month.  I tried reading a few vintage series books from the 1930s.  The series books of the 1930s have always been favorites.  Unfortunately, the books aren't doing much for me right now.

The latest Nancy Drew Diaries book, Hidden Pictures, arrived last Sunday.  I can't tell you how I excited I was!  I always enjoy the process of reading and reviewing the Diaries books, even when I don't like the book.  I knew I was in for a fun experience regardless, and I read that book quickly.

As I wrote in my review of Hidden Pictures, I felt a loss when I finished the book.  I want to read a pile of books that are exactly like it.  Where do I find them?  This is so distressing.

I then decided that a book by Mildred Wirt Benson ought to do it, so I read The Hollow Wall Mystery.  I enjoyed it, but honestly, not that much.  The book is good, but it's not what I want to be reading.

So, back to Sweet Dreams.  If I'm not even going to enjoy reading books that I ought to enjoy reading, then I might as well continue attacking my TBR pile.

This weekend I have read or attempted to read these six Sweet Dreams books.  That six books are involved should tell you that I didn't read most of them.

I quit Dial L for Love and Too Much to Lose early in each story.  I actually read Lights, Camera, Love.  It's a good book.  Magic Moments has a strong opening, but then I got bored and quit partway through the story.  Love Notes seems boring from the start, so I couldn't read it.  I tend not to read any of the books that feature girls who are strongly into learning dance or becoming a professional musician.  I am now reading Ghost of a Chance, and it's pretty good so far.

I definitely like the Wildfire Romance series better than Sweet Dreams.  This is still just based on a one-fifth of the Sweet Dreams series as compared to the entire Wildfire Romance set.  My opinion could change, but it's holding steady as I sample additional Sweet Dreams books.

The Wildfire Romance books feature slightly more of a type of book that strongly appeals to me.  I prefer the books where the girl has a more significant problem that must be solved, rather than a bunch of fluff.

I will continue with Sweet Dreams reviews.  Many of them will just consist of the publisher's summary followed by a short statement of whether I enjoyed the book.  Since I have been unable to read many of them, my statement will be short and to the point.

I am putting the Sweet Dreams books up for sale as I progress through the set. 

Sweet Dreams books on eBay

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Nancy Drew Diaries #19 Hidden Pictures

In Nancy Drew Diaries #19, Hidden Pictures, Nancy receives a newspaper article in the mail.  The article tells about an employee who disappeared from the Carlisle Museum—and then reappeared inside a vintage photo displayed in the museum's Christopher DeSantos exhibit!

Nancy, Bess, and George travel to Shady Oaks, where the museum is located.  Upon their arrival, the girls learn that another person has vanished, and this victim has also reappeared inside a vintage photo in the exhibit.  The photos are locked inside their frames via combination locks, which makes tampering highly unlikely.  Nancy feels certain that spirits are not responsible, and she sets out to uncover the culprit.

The entire Nancy Drew Diaries series has been plagued by the constant switching between bad authors and good authors.  Each time we get a good book, we then get a bad book, and the cycle repeats.  Since I did not like the previous book, as it bears too much resemblance to The Haunting on Heliotrope Lane, I fully expected this book to be good, which would fit the constantly changing pattern of the series.  I was correct.  And of course, this means that the next book will probably be awful.

This book has none of the problems of any of the substandard books in this series.  Since I have read the books in this series months apart from each other over the course of the last seven years, it's hard to compare how good the books are to each other.  Looking over my past reviews, I estimate that this book is one of the top five to seven books in the set, which to date contains 20 titles.

The story starts off very strong and is interesting from the very first page.  I was captivated immediately and read through the entire book quickly.

On page 28, the girls end up with an extra plate of eggs at a restaurant, due to the sudden departure of a dining companion.  "Bess happily ate them herself."  Ah, nice.  This fits the continuity of the original Nancy Drew series.  This is also a big clue that this author did not write any of the Diaries books where George eats a large quantity of food for no reason.

From page 102:
Both [Bess] and George looked concerned by the idea that I might be the next target, and I could tell that Bess in particular was remembering being kidnapped herself, not too long ago.
Bess was kidnapped in the previous title, The Stolen Show.  Normally, I would conclude that this author also wrote that book, but The Stolen Show is too much like Heliotrope Lane.  There is no way that the author of Heliotrope Lane wrote this new book, unless the author of Heliotrope Lane suffers from multiple personality disorder.

This book has no mention of the restroom or needing to pee.  Nobody smirks.

The other books in the series make mention of Nancy being forgetful or unaware of basic life details when she is focused on a case.  This often comes across as a cheap shot taken at Nancy, due to how the author conveys this information.

On page 151, Nancy suddenly realizes that it is morning, and that she hadn't noticed that they were at the police station all night long.  The way the information is conveyed is perfect and does not make Nancy look bad at all.  Nancy is just uber-focused on the case.  Well done, ghostwriter!

This story actually is sabotage for the umpteenth time.  However, this is creative sabotage of the type usually seen in the Hardy Boys Adventures series.  This type of sabotage is fascinating.

This book is very good to excellent.  I actually felt a loss when I finished, because I wanted to read another book just like it.  I enjoyed this book more than all of the books I read from October through early January.  Granted, I read many books during this time that didn't much appeal to me, but it is still impressive that this book is stronger than everything I read in late 2019.

I actually greatly enjoy modern Nancy Drew when done right.  This book is that type.

In closing, I want to explain my current perspective on the cause of the problems with the Nancy Drew Diaries series.  I recently realized that the ghostwriters must be given considerable latitude in how the stories are developed and written.  The old days of yore where the book packager exercised complete control over Nancy Drew are long gone.  The publisher is letting the ghostwriters do whatever they want.  That's the problem.

I drew this conclusion after reading Reuben Sack's posts on Instagram.  Reuben Sack is the ghostwriter for A Nancy Drew Christmas and six of the Hardy Boys Adventures books.  Reuben Sack is one of the good writers.

The Mad Man of Black Bear Mountain  Reuben Sack:  "[T]his one's set in a slightly exaggerated version of my own backyard."

A Nancy Drew Christmas  This book has the word "hell" in it, which offended some fans.  A reviewer on Amazon complained about the language as well as "lesbian, gay people" in the book, which weren't even in the book.  Sack was offended by the review and called the reviewer out on her bigotry.

Dungeons and Detectives  Reuben Sack:  "I went on a gleefully nerdy rampage with this one—D&D, comic shops, LARPing, and a Halloween costume bash at a haunted medieval castle."

The post about Dungeons and Detectives made me realize that the ghostwriters must be developing the stories to a significant degree.  The bad writers are the ones responsible for the mediocre Nancy Drew Diaries stories.  Simon and Schuster is negligent in not doing an adequate job of making sure that the series is consistently good and in line with how Nancy Drew ought to be portrayed.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Sweet Dreams #15 Thinking of You and #16 How Do You Say Goodbye

Sweet Dreams #15 Thinking of You, Jeanette Nobile, 1982

Is Fran too smart to fall in love...

Fran's tired of being called a "brain"... and missing all the fun!  She wants to be like everyone else for a change—to go to parties, have dates, and fall in love.

Can she get Paul to notice her... change her image just a little... and still be herself?

I liked this book at first, then I became annoyed.  Fran is way too insecure.  I skimmed most of the book and then read the ending.

Sweet Dreams #16 How Do You Say Goodbye, Margaret Burman, 1982

Lisa knows she should break up with Lawrence.  He's not right for her and she knows it.  But Lisa's got a big problem—she can't say no.  To anyone.  So when Lawrence asks her to go steady, she accepts (sort of) even though she's just met Alex.  He's the boy Lisa really likes and wants to see a lot more of.  Now she has two boyfriends but she's miserable.

Lisa wants to straighten things out, but she's afraid of hurting Lawrence.  So she lives a double life of lies and confusion, trying to keep Lawrence and Alex apart.  And it works—until the night when her lies go too far.

I was okay with the story at the beginning until it becomes clear that Lisa is a complete idiot.  She knows that she doesn't want to go steady with Lawrence, but she won't tell him that.  She says, "Probably—almost definitely—I'll wear your chain.  You hold onto it until then."  She next tells him, "I'm more that ninety-nine percent sure.  I can almost promise you for a fact that I will feel pleased and proud to go steady with you."

A bit later on page 86, Lisa tells Lawrence, "Um, I've almost made up my mind—I mean, I am ninety-nine and forty-four-one-hundredths-percent sure that we can really just go along almost as if I'd told you yes."  To his credit, Lawrence is getting annoyed.  I had completely lost patience with idiot Lisa and quit reading the book.  I wanted to slap her.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

eBay's Packing Slip Inaction

In June 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that states can charge sales tax on purchases made from out-of-state businesses.  Prior to this ruling, most Americans paid very little sales tax online.  The only sales tax paid was on transactions with businesses that had a physical presence in the buyer's home state, such as Walmart.

As of June 2018, very few states had enacted laws assessing sales tax on online purchases.  As the few states which had enacted laws began to reap the benefits of having those laws in place, the vast majority of the remaining states quickly began passing sales tax laws for all online purchases.

This page on eBay lists the states for which sales tax is collected from buyers.  As of this writing, 38 states plus the District of Columbia charge sales tax on all online transactions.  This is problematic for me as an eBay seller, simply because eBay hasn't changed its packing slip to include sales tax.  What are they thinking?

I find that most all other sites quickly adapt to change, while eBay lags behind by a couple of years.  I am sure that eBay has been informed that its packing slip does not indicate the sales tax that has been charged to the buyer.  You would think that they would want to fix it in a timely fashion, but months have already gone by with no change.

I always print a packing slip and place inside the package simply as a safeguard in case the shipping label gets ripped off of the package.  I know of one past case when a shipping label did get ripped off of a package that I mailed.  The package was sent to the mail recovery center where it was opened.  The packing slip was found with the buyer's address, so the package was forwarded to the buyer.  

It is very important that the buyer's address is inside the package so that a damaged package can be recovered.

Most buyers probably do not look at the packing slip.  I toss all of the packing slips that are inside the packages that I receive.  However, some buyers might look at the packing slip.  If so, then the packing slip had darned well better have the actual amount that the buyer paid for the item.  That's where eBay is failing us.

The following image shows the eBay packing slip total as compared to the PayPal packing slip total for the same eBay transaction.

I feel that I will look bad if I use the eBay packing slip.  The eBay packing slip does not acknowledge the sales tax, like the money just vanished into oblivion.  As the seller, I never receive the sales tax.  The $0.79 collected by eBay never reaches my account and will be sent to the buyer's state.  However, the tax ought to be shown on anything that the buyer will see.  The PayPal packing slip shows exactly what the buyer paid. 

I now have to go into PayPal to print the packing slips.  It takes longer, and it annoys me.  Since I have to go to extra trouble, I have added the URL of my Etsy shop to the PayPal packing slip.  If I have to spend extra time getting the packing slips printed, then I'm going to advertise my Etsy shop on them.  I'm probably never going to get an Etsy sale from inclusion of the URL, since most buyers never look at packing slips.  However, I gain personal satisfaction in just knowing that the Etsy URL is on the paper.  Take that, eBay.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Today's Book Find + 10% Off on eBay and Etsy

These books were purchased locally today.

The Hardy Boys picture cover books have the original text and list to Desert Giant on the back cover.  The Nancy Drew matte picture cover books have the original text and were printed during the early 1960s.

The Nancy Drew flashlight edition is one of the textured flashlight variants.  This format is explained in my post, "Hidden Clues #6 The Textured Nancy Drew Flashlight Editions."  By the way, this reminds me that I dropped the ball on my Hidden Clues string of posts.  I will have to get back to them. 

The softcover Nancy Drew books are in pretty nice shape overall.

I actually wanted to do two Facebook posts tonight, one on the book find and one about my eBay and Etsy listings.  However, Facebook does not allow normal visibility to more than one post per day on my Jennifer's Series Books Facebook page.  Whenever I publish two posts in the same day on my page, the second one is mostly invisible.  Even when the second post is the more interesting of the two posts, which should result in more views for that post, it instead ends up with far fewer views. 

This has happened too many times for it just to be a random occurrence.  Websites do throttle traffic for various reasons.  In my case, I'm sure Facebook is trying to get me to pay for advertising.  I would pay for Amazon Prime long before I would ever pay for any Facebook advertising.  And I continue to refuse to get a Prime account.  So there you go.

Besides, I do not believe that paying for Facebook advertising will actually help gain me more traffic.  I have read accounts of people paying advertising only to find that traffic decreases in the long run.  These people claim that Facebook allegedly throttles the traffic even more in order to force the user to continue to pay for visibility.  I'm not going to play that game.

My solution was this blog post with the book finds mentioned first, followed by what I wanted to mention about my eBay and Etsy listings.

I was fortunate to receive eBay promotions for each of the last three months in 2019.  This resulted in me being able to list over 300 listings each month without having to pay an overage.  The promotions were granted undoubtedly because of the holiday season.  Now it's January, and I have not received a promotion.  I have an overage looming.

In an attempt to avoid the overage, I have placed all of my eBay listings at 10% off for the next week until the end of the day Saturday, January 25. 

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I have also reduced the prices of my Chalet School books yet again.  They are now at fire sale prices.

I recently listed quite a few Sweet Dreams books on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I also placed my Etsy listings on sale until the end of the day Saturday, January 25.

If you see this post after the close of the sales, the discount will no longer be active and will not be honored.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Sweet Dreams #13 The Summer Jenny Fell in Love and #14 Dance of Love

Sweet Dreams #13 The Summer Jenny Fell in Love, Barbara Conklin, 1982

Jenny's summer gets off to a bad start when her mother decides to take in boarders... and seventeen-year-old Cliff and his mother move in.

Suddenly the house just isn't big enough.  Wherever Jenny turns, Cliff seems to be in the way.  And even though they are both trying hard, they just can't get along.

Then Cliff starts interfering with Jenny's love life, trying to protect her from the one boy she's always dreamed of dating.  At first Jenny is furious, but then she realizes Cliff is jealous.  And Jenny is touched.

Will Jenny's summer turn into something wonderful—and totally unexpected?

At first, I really enjoyed the book.  By halfway through the story, I became intensely annoyed that Jenny and Cliff keep yelling at each other.  Cliff overreacts over tiny things, and Jenny ends up screaming at him.  Both of them come across as mentally unstable.

I quit reading the book halfway through.  I couldn't take it anymore.

Sweet Dreams #14 Dance of Love, Jocelyn Saal, 1982

If Polly follows her heart, will she lose her best friend and her most cherished dream...

Ever since third grade, Polly and Jennifer have shared everything from ballet lessons to boy talk.  They both dream of becoming famous dancers... and falling in love.  Then Polly meets Cott Townsend, and her plans get turned upside down.  Can Polly win Cott's love, keep Jennifer's friendship, and still be true to herself?

This book bored me, and I could not read it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sweet Dreams #11 The Problem with Love and #12 Night of the Prom

Sweet Dreams #11 The Problem with Love, Rosemary Vernon, 1982

Cathy's the partying type, who loves having fun.  John's the serious type, who hardly ever cracks a smile.  They seem like the boy and girl least likely to fall in love.

But then Cathy's report card brings them together.  Her math grades are so terrible her parents hire John as her tutor!

At first, she can't resist making John nervous, teasing him and acting like a flirt.  But the more she tries to get his attention, the less he seems to care.  And suddenly she's the one who's getting nervous, because for once the funny girl is in love.

Cathy teases and flirts in the most obnoxious fashion.  As John tries to help her with math, she keeps teasing and flirting.  What an airhead.

The book is good overall, but I found it annoying.

Sweet Dreams #12 Night of the Prom, Debra Spector, 1982

Will Barbara's prom report have a happy ending...

Barbara's the best editor the school paper has ever had—serious and hard working.  But Kris, Barbara's best friend, thinks she's missing out on all the fun—like the prom.  And deep inside Barbara wonders if Kris is right.

Then Michael dares her to trade her typewriter for a prom gown, and Barbara finally gets the inside scoop on romance.

The summary puzzles me.  I don't think Michael ever dares Barbara to do anything, unless I skimmed over something.

This book is very good to excellent.