Sunday, August 30, 2020

Library Editions, Reading, and School

Some of you might have been dismayed by my recent post concerning Nancy Drew library editions.  After all, if you are now seeking them out, you hardly want people like me to advertise that they have become quite collectible.

Despite how collectible the Nancy Drew library binding has become, I continue to find examples of books that I need at reasonable prices.  I strongly suspect that my 20 years of ardently collecting them means that I know how to find and spot them easier than anyone else.  I'm not bragging.  I just know that this must be true since I can still locate them online for reasonable prices while others struggle.

Library editions are always upfront in my mind.  Here's an example.  A woman was selling her deceased sister's collection via the Facebook groups.  She posted spreadsheets with the books listed.  There were no pictures.  I went through the spreadsheets line by line and selected all of the library editions as well as anything else that caught my eye.  I was not the first person to purchase books, but I was apparently the first person to consider the library editions.  Collecting Nancy Drew library editions had become quite popular by early 2019 when I purchased those books, yet I was the first one to do so in that opportunity.  Read my post about the neat library editions I purchased in that transaction.

I think also that I search far more often than most people do.  Since I search more often than most people, I see more of the books than others do.  I saw a really neat Hardy Boys library binding the other day and purchased it.  This motivated me, so I went searching somewhere else online where I hadn't searched in some time and found a neat Nancy Drew library edition there.  The books are out there, and you have to take the time to look for them.  Searching online can be just as fun as in local stores.  I enjoy stumbling upon hidden treasures in my online searches.

I did pretty well reading at the start of the month.  I then went back to work and completely lost interest.  I didn't read anything for 2 1/2 to 3 weeks.  This weekend I wanted to read again, but the two books I was trying to read are no longer of interest.  That has been my problem all year.  Nothing much interests me.

I found a young adult dystopian series to read yesterday.  The series is The Harvesting by Melanie Karsak.  In The Harvesting, a flu-like virus causes a pandemic.  Those who get the virus die, are reanimated, and then try to eat everyone else.  So basically, they become zombies.  I'm okay with that.  Covid-19 does not cause people to become zombies, so I don't mind reading about this sort of virus.  I just needed a thrill, you know?

The books aren't perfect, and there are parts that could definitely have been written better.  However, I find the story engaging.  In addition to zombies, the books also have vampires, forest spirits, and other creatures who can shapeshift into animals.  So there seem to be five different factions, including the regular humans who have not been infected.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

The Covid-19 pandemic is such a consuming event on multiple levels that in my present state of mind I want my media to be just as consuming.  That's why I am once again reading a dystopian series.

This school year is just as consuming as the pandemic itself.  We have to convert all of our tests to fully digital versions.  All lessons must be digital.  I have to field many questions through email, and must help my students troubleshoot their problems with the various sites that we are using.  This is quite a different experience.

I do see each group of students twice per week, but that's really not enough.  It makes the entire experience quite challenging.  I do like being at school on Wednesday without students.  It gives me a chance to catch up a little.

My medical-grade air purifier finally arrived.  I purchased the Medify MA-40 Air Purifier.  Everyone is buying them these days because of the pandemic, so they are backordered and can take a few weeks to arrive.  I purchased it for my classroom.  It will be able to purify the air in my classroom every 30 minutes.

Will it keep me from getting the virus?  No.  My motto is the following line from The Hunger Games.  "May the odds be ever in your favor."

My goal is to reduce the possibility of acquiring the virus.  I do everything I can to reduce my chances while not worrying too much about what I cannot control.

I do know that I will be nervous if I catch any kind of virus this winter.  How will I know if a sore throat is just a common cold or Covid-19?  These are scary times.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Surprising Rise of the Nancy Drew Library Edition

In around 1999, I decided that I wanted to own Nancy Drew #57-78 in the hardcover Wanderer edition with dust jacket as issued by Simon and Schuster.  As I searched for those books, I noticed all of the hardcover library bindings of Nancy Drew #79 and up that were for sale online.  I began purchasing those books in order to acquire hardcover copies of those books, which were only published in softcover.

As I began building my set of hardcover copies of Nancy Drew #57-175, I then noticed all the library bindings for Nancy Drew #1-56 that were for sale online.  I was quickly hooked and began working on multiple sets of the library editions.

Nearly all collectors scorned them, actually hated them.  As best I can understand, there are two reasons for the traditional overwhelmingly negative opinion of the library binding.  First, the books are library discards, and collectors have always hated any kind of library discard.  After all, a trade edition without library markings is infinitely better than a trade edition with library markings.  That's a given.  Second, a book with a library binding has been rebound, that is, bastardized.  The book was taken apart to be put back together with a substitute binding.  So it's understandable why almost nobody wanted them, and very few people thought otherwise during the 2000s.

I can think of exactly two other people who also wanted the Nancy Drew library editions during the first years in which I purchased the books.  I was able to purchase dozens of bulk lots containing some or many library editions during the 2000s.  In the early years, I typically first offered the extra books to those two people.  Whatever was left that they didn't need went on eBay in bulk lots.  I had to sell the extras for cheap, since nobody else wanted them.

It was discouraging, in a way, although at the same time I was fortunate that everyone else ignored the library editions.  That's why I own over 1,000 library editions, many of which are extremely scarce.  Some of them can be considered rare, and that's a word that I tend to avoid.  I believe that a few of my library bindings are unique examples in which my book was the only one ever bound that way.

It was incredible to have a collection of rare or unique books in a widely collected series and to know that my rare or unique library editions were unwanted by nearly all other collectors.  I typically paid around $2 to $4 for the average library edition back in the 2000s, although I sometimes had to pay significantly higher prices in the few cases in which someone bid aggressively on an eBay auction.

I mentioned my library editions in discussions during the 2000s, and the response was always a certain statement.  It went like this:  "I like the way those books look.  However, the only way I will ever buy a library binding is if I can get one in excellent condition that was never used in a library."

So those strict limits kept everyone away.  99% of library bindings were used in a library, and probably at least 75% of the books have moderate to heavy wear with library markings everywhere.  That's just how it is, so no one wanted them.

Somehow, the tide has turned, and this has taken me by surprise.  It was suggested to me recently that I had a lot to do with the change in opinion.  I undoubtedly played an important role, but other factors came into play.  I don't understand exactly what they were, but I can mention what could have influenced people.

It has been since 2010 that the interest has increased.  I think I sold a lot of library editions in individual listings on Bonanza beginning in 2009.  Bonanza was such a pretty site.  (The site still exists, but it doesn't have the charm it did in 2009.)  My Bonanza booth did attract a lot of attention via Google search and my relentless promotion of it in this blog.  It might be that people began to notice the library editions through my individual listings, which might then have sparked an interest.

I might be wrong about that, but something had happened by 2010.

In 2012, some of my library editions were featured in Country Living Magazine.  Perhaps the magazine's endorsement of the library binding and my mention of the article in this blog influenced a few people.

On August 5, 2013, the Nancy Drew Book Fans group and the Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books group were created on Facebook.  On that auspicious day, a collector commented on Jenn Fisher's Facebook timeline, suggesting that we needed groups in which to discuss Nancy Drew and other series books.  As a result of that comment, Jenn Fisher created the Nancy Drew group, and I created the series book group.  As I recall, I created the series book group, then I added Jenn and a dozen or so other people to it.  Immediately thereafter, Jenn created the Nancy Drew group, and she added me and some others.  The two groups were created within an hour or so of each other.  And off we went!

Facebook groups make it very easy to share photos.  I have shared many photos of library editions in the groups since 2013.  I believe that my images strongly increased interest in the library editions.  After all, when you see the beautiful rainbow of library bindings in the below photos, how can you possibly resist the allure of them?  The books are gorgeous when shelved together, even when they have library markings and lots of wear.

The interest further increased in around the last two to three years, especially since 2019.  A number of people who are fairly new to collecting Nancy Drew books have embraced the library binding, and their enthusiasm has influenced others.  Interest has increased so much that I am astonished.  I never thought that other collectors would ever catch up with me and share my love of all library editions.  I think library bindings are beautiful works of art.  Now others do, too!

These days, I find it very easy to sell my extra Nancy Drew library editions.  The green APC and the FLB bindings are especially in demand.

These images show recent eBay sold items.  Notice how much people are paying for individual green APC editions.  Remember that you can click on an image to see a larger version.

In the 2000s, I considered the green APC editions to be worth around $5 each.  In the last five years, I decided that they were worth around $10 each.  It's now apparent that if the books have light wear—which is the case for the books seen in the above results—that the books are worth $35 to $50 each.  Here is an image that shows two of the books that recently sold on eBay.  They are in very nice shape.

Books in rough shape are not worth as much.  Many sellers make the mistake of taking books in rough condition and pricing them like they are in excellent condition.  That's not an effective strategy.

I recently sold some green APC books that I priced at $10 to $15.  I might have gotten slightly more for some of them, but my books had some wear and tear.  I also tend to price my books on the low side.  I would rather sell the books quickly to people who want them than try to get the highest possible price.

Let's cover some of the other bindings.  Another type is the patterned binding.  One example that sold at $26 can be seen in the above eBay sold listings.

This is actually a very desirable binding, which is probably a revelation to those of you who do not collect library editions.  Country Living Magazine borrowed some of my patterned library editions for a photo shoot.  Read "Judy Bolton in Country Living Magazine" for more information.

I consider the patterned bindings to be worth $15 each if in excellent condition, but they might be worth a bit more depending on the pattern.  I have not seen enough sales results to know the actual current value.  Certainly, any book with a more striking pattern is worth more than one with a less interesting pattern.

My all-time favorite library binding is the one seen below.  I have 184 of them; yes, that's one hundred eighty-four of them.  I want every book in every color.

This binding has become difficult to find.  I have no examples of sold listings except for books I have sold and for one bulk lot shown in one of the eBay screen captures.  That bulk lot contained seven of them, but the books were in rough shape with very heavy wear.  The bulk lot was listed at $24.99, and a best offer was accepted.  The books were priced appropriately for the rough condition.

I have never sold one of these books for more than $15, but I have also never sold any in excellent condition, since I end up keeping the nicer copies when they come into my possession.  I am confident that books as nice as the ones pictured above would be valued at $35 to $50 each in the current market.

The FLB library editions have been in demand for at least five years.  Four different examples are seen below.

Nearly all of the books are pink or salmon like the one seen at the top left.  Some scattered books are blue, green, or gold, and these books are quite uncommon.  While I have seen some pink books sell at around $50 each, the value is probably more around $20 each.  The other colors would be worth a little more.  Again, keep in mind that these values are for books in excellent condition.  I do not believe that I have ever sold an FLB book for more than $10.  The books I have offered have had moderate to heavy wear.

The books seen below are from the "multi" library binding.  The covers mimic the design of the multi endpapers used inside Nancy Drew books.

I have no information on current value for these books.  I have never sold one for above $10, and I don't know how much the current buyers value them.

The Grosset and Dunlap lavender spine library edition is seen below.

The Grosset and Dunlap library edition was an official binding, so the books were not bastardized.  The collectors who scorn most library editions do want this type, but with the restriction that the books be in excellent condition and not library discards.  These books are slightly easier to find in uncirculated examples.  For all other library bindings, 99% are library discards.  For these books, probably around 80% are library discards, so uncirculated examples can be found through careful searching.  The value of uncirculated examples in excellent condition is probably $25 to $35.  That's a guess since I haven't seen many sales of them.  Circulated copies with moderate wear are worth no more than $10.

There are also other types of Nancy Drew library editions, but the above examples are the ones seen the most often.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

August 2020 Situation Update

I shut down my eBay and Etsy stores in anticipation of my heavy workload as I started the new school year during this pandemic. 

We are in over our heads.  We are having to do everything completely differently than we ever have before, and at the same time, we are concerned about catching the virus.  I felt like I was drowning in work during the week leading up to the opening of school.  At present, I feel like I am gaining a foothold and beginning to get a grip on the situation.  There are still many unknowns, however.

While all that was going on, I actually took a few brief moments to reflect on the current situation, and I have come to the conclusion that it is not feasible for me to re-open my eBay and Etsy stores anytime soon, as in not at any point during the current school year.

I have some rules that I follow.  Among those rules is one where I do not allow myself to go into any public place later than mid-morning.  I follow this self-imposed rule because the more concerned citizens who wear masks are more likely to be in the stores early in the day.  I do not wish to intermingle with the unmasked people later in the day when they are more likely to be in public places.

(Note:  The situation in Oklahoma is perilous at best.  Our governor has been hiding the White House Covid-19 recommendations for Oklahoma from all of us, while claiming that everything is fine.  His behavior is one of several reasons why many people do not take this pandemic seriously, which in turn endangers the rest of us.)

Even though I am now back to work and around other people (who all wear masks per school policy), I will still limit my exposure by not going into public places later in the day.  I realized that if I were to begin selling again during this school year that I would have to go to the post office between 4:30 PM and 6 PM on weekdays.  No way will I do that.  My post office is insanely busy during that time of day and will be full of people who won't be wearing masks.  Therefore, unless this pandemic magically goes away, then I must keep my stores closed until late May 2021.

The only feasible way for me to sell any books between now and late May 2021 is to sell them in private transactions.  For private transactions, I could ship my books on my schedule, which would be once a week on Saturday morning when I could go early.  This wouldn't work on eBay or Etsy since buyers would be upset by the shipping delay. 

I could consider selling on Facebook and shipping once per week.  However, I very much dislike selling books on Facebook.  Here are the reasons why.
  1. People don't send the right amount of money.  And yes, I have clearly given them the correct total, but for some reason they sometimes do not send the right amount.  Of course, some of them might do this on purpose.  I dislike being forced to be a bill collector.

    Sending an invoice to the buyer will solve this problem.

  2. People say that they want the book and then don't pay for it.

    This can't be avoided, but buyers can be given a strict time limit so that I don't have to wait around forever.
  3. Multiple people want the same book and are disappointed when someone else gets to it first.

    This also can't be avoided, but I can price books at the fair market value, which will cause fewer people to be interested.  Facebook buyers want books to be dirt cheap.  If I refuse to play that game, then I won't have multiple people wanting the same books.  Unfortunately, this might also cause nobody to want the books.

  4. Buyers very often do not give me their address, and I have to ask for it.

    This problem can also be solved by sending an invoice to the buyer.

  5. I don't like the process.

    I have no solution for this.
I'm not eager to sell on Facebook, but I won't dismiss the idea completely.

I pay eBay a subscription for my store.  I do it by the year so that my cost is $21.95 per month, which is $6.00 less than the monthly rate.  I don't pay upfront for the entire year, but I commit to the entire year and will be assessed a cancellation fee if I cancel early. 

My store will automatically renew on September 1st for the next year.  The fee for early cancellation is quite steep, so committing to another year is not to be taken lightly.  If I let my eBay store renew, I will pay $21.95 for September.  If I decide during September to cancel the subscription, I will do so 11 months early and will be assessed a cancellation fee of $87.80.  That's a significant amount.  The cancellation fee does go down each month as the year progresses, but it's still a significant amount.

The logical solution would be just to cancel my store subscription before it renews.  After all, it doesn't look like I will reopen my store until late May 2021.  But there's a problem...

Canceling my store would cause me to lose all of my settings.  I have dozens of categories entered which are there for me when I am ready to list a book.  I have my store set up just the way I want it.  All of that would disappear if I cancel the subscription.  This means that I would have to set up the store again from scratch if I open it again next summer.

I am all about making my life easier.  This is more important to me than saving money.  Besides, I'm not spending as much as normal because I don't go into stores very much these days because of the pandemic.

I don’t want to lose those settings.  Therefore I will allow my store to renew on September 1st even though I plan to keep it closed indefinitely.  My eBay store subscription fee will be a convenience fee.  It will be well worth it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Wishing Star #3 Blind Sunday and #4 The Two Worlds of Jill

Wishing Star #3 Blind Sunday, Jessica Evans, 1978

Lee is the first girl Jeff has ever been able to talk to.  Pretty, funny, and smart, Lee puts Jeff at ease.  But Lee is blind.  Jeff worries about what his friends will think if he dates her.

"What's it like to be blind?" Jeff wonders.  After spending an amazing day in Lee's world of darkness, he find that he feels closer to her than he had ever thought possible.

This story came from an episode of ABC Afterschool Specials from 1976.

The story alternates between Lee and Jeff's point of view.  This is a very sweet romance which is in its early stages.  I loved this book.  The story is excellent.

Wishing Star #4 The Two Worlds of Jill, Patricia Aks, 1981

"I am not a little girl," I protested.  "I'm almost sixteen, and Mother never cares what time I get home."  

"I can't help what your mother does," Daddy said.  "When you live with me, you follow my rules."

Jill's parents live apart, and Jill spends time with both of them, a month here, a month there.  Downtown she's her mother's equal—with adult responsibilities.  Uptown she's Daddy's little girl.  Downtown there's Jason, uptown there's Paul.  Jill thinks she can handle anything—until her two worlds look like they're headed for a collision!

The book is just okay at first.  I was fine reading it during the early part, but it was nothing special.  During the second half of the book, the story is very good.  The plot is resolved a bit fast in just the last few pages of the book.  

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Finding the Original Text Picture Cover of Nancy Drew #7 The Clue in the Diary

This story may seem strange to many of you, but it's a sort of game to me.  I have fun sleuthing out clues found in the photos of online listings.  I see what I can figure out without asking the seller any questions.  I am much more likely to take this approach when I don't actually need the book for my collection. When I do need the book, then I am more likely to ask questions.

One of the scarcest Nancy Drew picture cover books is the original text printing of The Clue in the Diary.  It's actually not even a printing.  It's said that one printing has the original text, but the original text copies are too scarce for them to have been used on an entire print run.

While the book is scarce, it can be found with careful online searching.  I have had a number of them pass through my hands over the years, probably around 10 of them.  So the book can be found with care and patience.  Really, just be very observant about the books for sale online, and you'll eventually locate one.

Recently, I saw a lot of nine Nancy Drew books that had to be from the early 1960s.  If you wonder how I knew the age of the books, take a look at this post.

The original text picture cover of The Clue in the Diary tends to surface in rough condition.  The blue sky is usually darker on the original text picture cover than on printings that have the revised text.  For those two reasons, I felt that this book was a good candidate for having the original text.

I stared at the photos, wondering if there was some way to tell.  There really wasn't.  I would know if I could see the endpapers, which are blue multi in the original text version.  The revised text version has black and white multi endpapers.

The seller of this listing had enough bad feedback that I did not feel confident that the seller would answer a question reliably.  But most importantly, this was a fun game.  With just the darker blue cover and rough condition, I felt that there was a 50% to 75% probability of the book having the original text.  I wondered if there was some way to tell for sure, or at least some way to see if this book had a greater than 75% probability of having the original text.  If only I could see the endpapers!

Finally, I focused on the first photo seen above, looking carefully at the top edge of the book.

Hmm...  Did I see a hint of blue multi endpapers?  Perhaps what I thought was blue was just soiling on the book...

The more I stared at the book, the more convinced I became that it could have blue multi endpapers and the original text.  I decided that the book had a 90% probability of having the original text.

Was there any way to be certain?

I focused on one small area where I could see a couple of small white marks, which I circled in the below photo.  That would be at about the center top of the pastedown.

Remember to click on the image to see a larger version.

I knew that all of the books to the right of The Clue in the Diary had blue multi endpapers for sure since I could tell that they had the original text based on the mixed-case letters of the titles on the spines.  Looking at the same part of the pastedown possibly visible on the other books revealed some white marks in the same position. 

I then pulled a Nancy Drew book with blue multi endpapers off the shelf and looked at the rear pastedown, noting where the white marks are.

I decided that The Clue in the Diary must have the original text, and I felt 100% certain.  I purchased the books, even though the rough condition made it not that great of a deal.  I was so eager to receive the package and see if I was right.

Finally, the package arrived.  I pulled out the books and removed The Clue in the Diary from the stack.  With great anticipation, I held the book in my hands, closed.  I turned the book every which way, looking at the front, back, top, bottom, and fore edge.  I knew that either I was going to be proved right or I was going to feel like the biggest idiot in the world.  And then I opened the book.

The book came open to the contents page, upon which I saw the old-style font.  Yes!  I knew it!

Look at the inside back cover in the above image.  Notice the white marks that I had noticed in the seller's picture.  The binding is a little loose, so the text block rests a little lower than it should, which is why part of the rear pastedown was visible in the seller's listing.

I used the books I had on hand to make a brain teaser post that I put on Facebook.  My original post had six books in it, two books with the original text and four books with the revised text.  I asked, "Which two of these six books have the original text?"

Most people guessed the middle books in both rows.  Those two books were the best ones to guess and probably would have been the two books that I would have chosen if I hadn't already known the answer.  Those familiar with the early picture cover copies know that the three best candidates for the original text are the middle books and the third book in the bottom row.  This is because of the darker blue tint on the covers of those books.  The other three books look just like the average revised text printing, and those three do have the revised text.

After I posted my brain teaser, I acquired another original text picture cover copy of The Clue in Diary.  It is rather strange that I acquired two of them in the same week.  The second new acquisition was easy because the seller identified the book as having the 1932 text.  I staged the photos again to include the second new acquisition of the original text picture cover.  That book is seen off to the right side in the below photos.

Here is the spine image of the seven books.  The first three books are the top row from left to right.  The next three books are the bottom row from left to right.  The last book is the one off to the right side.

The spine photo reveals which books have the original text.  When I posted my brain teaser on Facebook, I ended the post with the following statement.  "In person, you can tell for sure without opening any of the books.  The original text copies have a slightly different texture to the cover."

Do you notice anything about three of the spines as compared to the other three spines?  Look at the light from the camera flash, especially on the lower part of the cameo spine symbols.  Do you see the difference?

Check it out before you continue reading.

In the spine photo, the second, sixth, and seventh books reflect the camera flash in a different fashion, indicating a slightly different texture.  The three original text books are the second, sixth, and seventh books, or the top middle, bottom right, and far right books.

This supports what I stated originally, which is that there is no way to tell for sure which text is inside without additional information.  Seeing the texture of the cover reveals the text, but most online listings will not be photographed in such a way that the texture can be seen.  The books with a darker (or less bright) blue tint are the ones to check, but sometimes the original text books look very much like revised text books.

Notice that the third and fifth books are the thickest ones, and they have the revised text.  This actually makes sense.  The very earliest picture covers are less thick, slightly later books from the early print runs are more thick, and then all remaining picture covers are less thick again.  The original text The Clue in the Diary picture covers are from the earliest books bound, which means that they are less thick.  The brief period when the books were more thick would be the earliest of the revised text books.

The original text books are usually found in very rough shape.  I have now seen more than one original text copy in pretty nice shape, and these books do have an overall appearance that is similar to the revised text books.  The rough condition books with the darker blue sky are more likely to have the original text, but not always.  The really nice original text books are the ones that most people would love to have, and they are very hard to spot.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Wishing Star #2 The Girl Who Wanted Out

Wishing Star #2 The Girl Who Wanted Out, Bianca Bradbury, 1981

She remembered every horrible detail of the crash—the headlights bearing down on them, the hideous squeal of brakes, the crunch of glass... and later, the terrible, cold feeling as she touched Eric's face and knew he was dead.

How can Andie go on living?  She survived; Eric didn't.  And she has lost the use of her legs.  She is seventeen, pretty... and confined to a wheelchair in her bedroom.  She feels she can never leave home, never again have friends, never go anywhere.

Then Andie hears of a way out of her confinement.  But it won't be easy.  Does she have the courage to try?

Public places are now required to be wheelchair accessible, and this was not true when this book was written.  Andie's chair has to be lifted up and down over the curbs by strangers whenever she crosses a street.  Nowadays, street crossings are wheelchair accessible.  Andie also has to be assisted so that she can get inside buildings.

I have commented about how Scholastic's books are packaged in a misleading fashion.  The summary itself is fine.  The blurb on the front cover is deliberately misleading, in my opinion.  The statement "One reckless moment and her life was changed" gives the impression that Andie might have been responsible for the accident.  She wasn't even driving!  She had nothing to do with the wreck.

This book is really depressing at first.  There's no way it wouldn't be depressing, since Andie is paralyzed.  Andie's paralysis is permanent, and she will never walk again.

As Andie experiences personal growth, the story becomes quite compelling.  Once Andie begins her stay at the rehabilitation hospital, the story becomes hopeful.  I enjoyed following Andie's struggle as she learns to cope with her paralysis.  This is an excellent story.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Wishing Star Overview and #1 The Lost Summer

The Wishing Star series was published by Scholastic during the early 1980s.  Some of the books had previously been published and were reprinted with this set.

These books feature girls who have significant problems, such as alcoholism, pregnancy, eating disorders, and abusive parents.  While the books fall under the umbrella of the teen romance genre, they are more like coming-of-age stories where the girls experience personal growth or find a way through a difficult situation.

Since I prefer teen romance books where the romance is a subplot to a more significant story, these books are well suited to my taste.  I love them.

 1.  The Lost Summer, Joan Oppenheimer, 1977
 2.  The Girl Who Wanted Out, Bianca Bradbury, 1981
 3.  Blind Sunday, Jessica Evans, 1978
 4.  The Two worlds of Jill, Patricia Aks, 1982
 5.  Francesca Baby, Joan Oppenheimer, 1976
 6.  Too Much in Love, Patti Brisco, 1979
 7.  Don’t Look Back, Audrey P. Johnson, 1981
 8.  Katie, Deborah Aydt, 1980
 9.  I Don’t Want to be Your Shadow, Deborah Aydt, 1981
10.  Remember to Love, Dorothy Bastien, 1979
11.  Honey, Helen Cavanaugh, 1979
12.  The Great Lakeside High Experiment, Neil R. Seldon, 1982
13.  The Night Skiers, Dorothy Bastien, 1974
14.  Jealousy, Sheila Schwartz, 1982
15.  The Loving Year, Bianca Bradbury, 1982
16.  Walk Beside Me, Be My Friend, Joan Oppenheimer, 1978
17.  A Summer to Remember, Priscilla Maynard, 1982
18.  Secrets, Deborah Aydt, 1981
19.  Sisters, Audrey P. Johnson, 1982
20.  Why Did You Leave Me?, Jane Claypool Miner, 1980
21.  But This Girl Is Different, Arnold Madison, 1982
22.  Second Chance, Joan Oppenheimer, 1982
23.  What About Me?, Pat Lawler, 1982
24.  Who Needs a Stepsister?, Patricia Aks, 1982
25.  Far From Home, Jill Ross Klevin, 1982
26.  How Can We Talk?, Deborah Aydt, 1982
27.  Jody, Deborah Kent, 1983

Wishing Star #1, The Lost Summer, Joan Oppenheimer, 1977

For Susie, one drink makes the summer wonderful fun.  Two make her forget her mother's new husband.  And three?  She forgets all the things a nice girl should remember!

The the fun ends and the agony begins.  Susie just survives from drink to drink.  A bottle hidden in the bathroom; a thermos taken to work; and Buck only too willing to keep her well supplied.

When life becomes unbearable, Susie desperately reaches out for help.  But is it too late?

Susie's best friend, La Dawn, is African American, and part of the story is told from her point of view.  Most of the teen books from this time period do not feature diverse characters, so it's great to see one.  La Dawn has a great personality and makes fun, snappy comments.

In two different parts of the story, I get the impression that Susie might have been taken advantage of by a male while she was drunk or in need of obtaining liquor.  Early in the story, Susie has is uneasy about what happened when a boy, who is said to be a jerk, took her home while she was drunk.  She cannot remember any details, and that part of the story is not pursued.

Later in the story, Susie's employer lets her purchase liquor from him.  Susie reaches a point where she cannot afford to buy any liquor from him, and then she begs.  He replies, "Oh, now, sure, little Sweetheart.  You just come along back to the office.  You and old Buck, we'll work somethin' out.  You just come along, and we'll see about it."  The chapter ends with that statement, and the reader never learns what they worked out. 

This is an excellent book.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Book Reading and Reviews

I have three different groups of followers.

1.  Fans of vintage series books
2.  Fans of the vintage teen books of the 1980s and 1990s
3.  People who like my posts about eBay and other online selling sites

The three distinct groups overlap to varying degrees.  Some people are interested in all three topics, but others might only be interested in reading about vintage series books and eBay.

I'm pretty sure that the largest group is the series book fans, and many of those people are completely uninterested in my reviews of teen books.  In fact, a recent comment indicated exactly that and requested that I resume my reviews of the series books.  Readers can make all the requests they want, but the motivation has to come from within me.  It's just not there at this time.

It's too bad that nobody else publishes reviews of vintage series books on a regular basis.  I cannot be expected to carry the torch forever.  I don't know if it will be a continuing thing, but there currently is someone posting Nancy Drew reviews in a blog.  Check it out.

I stated multiple times in the last couple of years that I saw my reviews of vintage series books coming to an end before much longer.  I seem to have arrived at that point.

It's apparent from my recent failure to reread Rick Brant, Beverly Gray, and the books of Mildred Wirt that I have no current interest in reading vintage series books unless I happen to acquire a book that I have never read that actually appeals to me.

I may review one vintage series-like book in the near future, if what I purchased turns out to be what I expected.  Other than that possibility, I will not have any vintage series reviews in the next several months and possibly longer.  I will have some posts of interest about collecting topics, but I won't have reviews.

Any reviews will be of vintage teen books, because that is what I want to read currently.  However, I won't be reviewing Sweet Dreams, because I have about decided that the vast majority of those books are not of the type I like.  I have enjoyed only around one of every ten books that I read.  That makes it a bit hard to continue with the set.

Even for the teen books that I am reading, I am only somewhat motivated to write reviews.  It just seems like too much effort for too little of a return.  Some of the posts that I work the hardest on (usually on series books) get very little feedback, sometimes none at all.  There was a certain recent one, which I will not name, where I was surprised when it received no reaction.  Since I get very little feedback, I have to do this just for myself.  When my own motivation fails, then I have no reason to write reviews.

I am now reading the Wishing Star books, and I will probably get through the set and have reviews of the books.  I plan to read Windswept next, if all goes well.

At this point, I guarantee nothing.  This new school year could prove to be so disruptive that I might quit reading altogether.  Who knows?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Upcoming Hiatus for eBay and Etsy Stores Beginning August 9

I will be placing my eBay and Etsy stores on vacation on August 9.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay
Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

My district scrapped its plan to have all students in the building at the same time for normal school.  The plan changed to a blended schedule with just half the students in the building on any given day.  The new plan might be doable, but then again it might not.  Regardless, this will not be a normal school year, so I must focus only on it as the year begins, which is why the stores will be closed as school starts.  How long they are closed depends upon what happens with school and how disruptive it is to my life.  My store closure could be from two weeks to two months or even longer.

I want to mention what is going on with eBay.  

Offers and Shipping

When I reopened my store in May, I added a message to every listing that stated that I do not accept offers.  So far, the message has worked splendidly.  I have received no offers. Yay!

I have received a few messages asking about adjusted shipping on multiple items purchased.  Most were just people who were concerned about whether they would receive combined shipping.  There were a couple that I felt were actually fishing for a discount and knew not to ask because of the message in my listings.

One person who asked about combined shipping was unclear about how many books would be purchased.  I notice that these prospective buyers tend to withhold the actual number.  It would be helpful to know the actual number or at least an estimate so that I can formulate an answer easier.

In this case, the buyer mentioned that the books are "thin softcover" books, so they obviously felt that my combined shipping rate would grossly overcharge for postage.  Since I had no idea how many books this person wanted, I had to write up an explanation of several possibilities.  I realize that I could have stated my combined shipping with no explanation, but it's better in a case like this one to give a reassuring reason so that the buyer knows I'm not gouging.

I responded as follows.
When you complete checkout the postage will combine as $3.95 for the first book and $0.60 for each additional book.  If the cost of the books before shipping ends up at $35.00 or more (6 books should do it), then you will receive free shipping.  As long as you add the books to the shopping cart first and then complete checkout, then postage will be combined.

About the only way you might be overcharged is if you purchase 4 or 5 books. If you go with 4 or 5 books, then I can refund the difference if there is an overage.
I hadn't figured out my actual shipping costs in a very long time.  I have kept shipping for the first book at $3.95 for twelve years.  It's hard to know my actual cost per package, since I have never figured out the number of packages that I can pack with one roll of tape.  I also don't know how many packing slips and postage labels each printer cartridge will cover.  There are other costs involved as well, but I know those amounts, like the cost of each box.  I also pay eBay a fee on the postage charge.

I just did some figuring, taking a guess about the tape and ink.  My actual cost for the first book is around $4.90.  The next time that a buyer asks about lowering the combined shipping, I will reply that I take a loss on the first few books shipped.  With multiple books, I gradually break even.  I don't make a profit on shipping.

Managed Payments

I have been switched to eBay's managed payments.  This means that eBay now collects payment directly from buyers just like Etsy does.  I no longer receive eBay payments to my PayPal account.  The payments are sent by eBay to my bank account once every few days.

My workaround for eBay's failure to include tax on its packing slips no longer works for me.  I was going to PayPal to print a packing slip.  PayPal, at least, does show the tax paid by the buyer.  I cannot do that since the payment no longer goes to PayPal.

The reason that a packing slip must be inside the package is in case the shipping label gets ripped off of the package.  The buyer's address must be inside the box.  I do not wish to take the time to handwrite it, nor do I wish to correct the total by changing it on the paper.

I found an easy solution.  I print eBay's packing slip and cut off the part with the total on it.  I just put the portion in the package that contains the buyer's address.  I then turn the paper around and feed it through the printer again for the shipping label.  The result is that I now just use one piece of paper per transaction instead of two.  I am saving trees, one piece of paper at a time!

Additional Free Listings

I mentioned in the past that eBay didn't give me enough free listings for my store.  I only had 250 fixed price free listings.  From April through July, eBay gave each store owner 50,000 additional free listings per month.  Okay now, that's way too many, but I was glad this summer not to be limited to just 250.  I never did understand eBay's stinginess with free listings.  If we list more, then we sell more, causing eBay to collect more fees.  Don't we both win?

Apparently, eBay finally figured that out.  I couldn't believe it on August 1 when I saw that instead of 250 free listings that I had 350 of them.  That's really all I needed.  But get this.  I then saw that I had another 10,000 free listings for being in the managed payments program

I followed the link on the promotion to see how long I would get the additional free listings.  The change is permanent.

Ah, so eBay figured out that they make more of a profit when sellers are able to list more items.  It's about time!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Beverly Gray at the World's Fair Detailed Summary

I decided to write a detailed summary of Beverly Gray at the World's Fair since this book is not in the public domain and cannot be shared online.  This is the type of summary that I typically dislike which is the style that many people use when they review books.  I do not like this kind of summary because I would rather read the actual book than read a lengthy play-by-play of what is in the book.

In this case, most people cannot find a copy of Beverly Gray at the World's Fair to read, so a detailed summary should be helpful to those who don't own the book, since the book contains rather important events in the continuity of the Beverly Gray series.

Beverly Gray at the World's Fair should become public domain in 2031.  Unfortunately, that is still quite a few years away.

I have made certain to mention anything that is important to the chronology of the series.  There are quite a few conversations that I do not mention.  The conversations are interesting if reading the entire book, but they don't move much along in the plot.  Beverly Gray fans will understand that there is much inconsequential banter between Beverly and her friends, especially with Lenora, and I did not feel it necessary to try to summarize all of that.

I scanned a few key passages in the book and have shared them here.  The scans were kept to a bare minimum to avoid running afoul of the copyright law.

The following summary spoils the entire plot of Beverly Gray at the World's Fair.


Lois leaves for France to spend a year studying art.  Connie and Kathleen arrive in New York just after Lois departs and are disappointed that they missed her.  Connie and Kathleen will be living with Beverly and Lenora in the girls' apartment.

Lenora and Connie decide to go to Chicago to see the Century of Progress at the Chicago World's Fair.  The girls will stay with Virginia, who lives in Chicago.  Beverly and Kathleen decide that they will stay in New York to work.

Kathleen spots Mr. Crandall's name in the newspaper.  Mr. Crandall first met Shirley at Vernon College and promised her an acting role on the stage.  After Shirley graduated, Mr. Crandall hired her.  Unfortunately, Mr. Crandall just recently died of a heart attack.  The girls have not heard from Shirley in some time and wonder whether she is okay.  Mr. Crandall's play will surely close, and Shirley will have to find another role.

Beverly chances to meet Roger Garrett one day, and he informs her that he and Shirley's parents have heard about Mr. Crandall's death.  No one has heard from Shirley, and it is doubtful that Shirley will return since Shirley and her parents had a terrible argument when she left home.  Beverly was unaware that Shirley had argued with her parents, and this raises her concern for her friend.

Connie and Lenora leave for Chicago by train.  Meanwhile, Charlie Blaine asks Beverly to cover the Century of Progress in Chicago.  When Beverly arrives home, she finds Larry Owens waiting for her.  Larry is about to fly to Chicago, so Beverly agrees to go with him.  Right after Beverly leaves, Jim Stanton, who has just returned from South America, arrives at the apartment looking for Beverly.  Kathleen gives Beverly's Chicago address to Jim.

Beverly arrives in Chicago before the girls do, but she can't remember Virginia's address.  Beverly registers at a hotel and decides to meet Connie and Lenora when their train arrives the next day.

Beverly goes to find a restaurant and sees Shirley looking in a shop window.  Beverly can tell that Shirley is not doing well.  She is pale and worried.  Shirley reveals that her play closed weeks ago.  She cannot find another acting job or any other kind of job for that matter.

Shirley tells Beverly about the horrible fight that she and her parents had when she decided to go into theater.  They told her that she shouldn't ever bother to come home again.  Beverly wants to help Shirley, but Shirley refuses.  She wants to succeed without help from anybody.  She will not go home to be bossed by her mother.  She must get work on her own.

Beverly resolves to help Shirley no matter what.  After Shirley leaves the restaurant, Beverly follows her at a distance.  She sees Shirley enter a dirty three-story building.  Beverly steps inside as Shirley disappears up the staircase.  A sinister looking woman appears and calls after Shirley, but Shirley ignores her.

The landlady tells Beverly that the rent must be paid by tomorrow or else Shirley must leave.  Beverly decides to pay the rent for Shirley and then goes back to her hotel.  The next day, Beverly returns to speak to Shirley, but Shirley has moved out, probably because she discovered that her rent had been paid.

Beverly meets Connie and Lenora at the train station, much to their shock, then the girls get settled at Virginia's house.  They immediately head out to the fairgrounds to begin their tour of the exhibits.

Lenora purchases a movie camera, the Cine-Kodak Eight.  Lenora uses the movie camera to make memories of the exhibits and to film her friends while they are unaware.  The girls later enjoy watching the movies.

The girls go to see a show at the lagoon theater.  The show is like a circus, and it also features diving and swimming.  Paul Graham, a young diver, is announced as the next performer.  When he dives, something goes wrong causing him to hit the water at a strange angle.  Paul does not surface and has to be rescued.

When Beverly learns that Virginia knows Paul and his sister, June, she has Virginia take her to June's dressing room.  Once there, the girls learn that Paul is dead and that he had been shot before he hit the water!  There was no water in Paul's lungs, so he definitely did not drown.

Beverly spots Inspector Dugan, who was visiting the Century of Progress but is now investigating the murder.  Beverly strikes up an agreement with Dugan and the Chicago police.  Beverly will get the story first so long as she keeps quiet for now about what she knows.

The police suspect Paul's brother, George, because of a shared inheritance.  Beverly suspects John Cummings, who is a friend of June and Paul's family.  Beverly keeps the murder a secret from Connie and Lenora, because they would tell everyone.  Unknown to Beverly, Lenora follows her and figures out some of what is going on.  Beverly relents and tells Lenora everything, making sure that she keeps it a secret.  Later, Connie is told about the affair.

The girls go back to the lagoon and talk to the boat pilots.  They learn that at the time of the murder, one boat had a passenger who had a violin case with him.

Both June and her brother, George, have accidents while working in the circus.  The accidents easily could have been fatal.  Later, Lenora reveals that she filmed John Cummings loosening the wires that support June's trapeze.  Beverly is now certain that Cummings is the culprit.

Beverly receives a short message in the mail.  The note reads, "Thanks so much, S."  The envelope also includes the exact amount of money that Beverly paid for Shirley's rent.

The girls briefly discuss a new actress, Dale Arden, who is very good.  They have not yet seen her perform.

Cummings is confronted about the loose wires, but he claims that he was trying to fix them.  The girls remain certain that he is guilty.

Lenora reveals that she saw a violin case in Cummings' room that morning.  Beverly thinks of the boat passenger who carried a violin case.  Lenora coaxes Beverly into searching Cummings' room for the violin case.  Against Beverly's judgment, she agrees to search the room.  The girls find and take the case.  As the girls leave, they see Cummings, and hope that they weren't spotted.  The only item found inside the violin case is a bullet, which Lenora then loses.

Beverly is later accosted by John Cummings, who makes it clear that he saw her with the violin case on the previous day.  Cummings warns Beverly not to do anything rash.  Even though Cummings did not admit to anything, Beverly is certain that he is the murderer.

The girls visit Lake Geneva for the day.  Another boat rams the girls' boat, throwing all of them in the water.  Beverly is knocked out and has to be rescued by the other girls.  Upon awakening, Beverly recalls seeing the pilot of the other boat, and she believes that he was Cummings.

The bullet has been found again, and the girls take it to the police, who try to interview Cummings.  The man has disappeared.  Later, Beverly sees him digging through June's trunk in her dressing room.  Beverly searches June's trunk and finds a pawn ticket.  She doesn't know whose pawn ticket it is, but Beverly decides to turn it in to see what was pawned.  The pawned item is a sawed-off shotgun.

The girls go to the police, where they learn that Cummings insisted that the police search June's dressing room.  It is believed that Cummings planted the pawn ticket in order to cast blame for the murder on June.  While the police close in on Cummings, Beverly phones the story to Charlie Blaine.

The girls once again discuss the new star, Dale Arden, and think about going to see her.  Dale Arden was originally the understudy to the star of a play.  The star took ill on opening night, and Dale Arden performed, apparently much better than the actual star.  Ever since that night, Dale has played the role.  The girls wish that Shirley could get a chance like that.  Later, the girls see Shirley in an expensive car.

The girls have 10 days left in Chicago, and the girls give Beverly a surprise party for her birthday.  Beverly is shocked to see Jim Stanton, since she thought he was still in South America.  Jim once again begins to ask Beverly to marry him, but Beverly cuts him off.  Roger Garrett then sits with Beverly, and tries to put his arm around her.  Beverly immediately suggests that they dance.  Later, Beverly wonders what is wrong with her.  Why does she not want romance?

Beverly and Jim sit on a bench at the fairgrounds with Judy, who is Virginia's young niece.  Shortly after Judy wanders off, Beverly and Jim learn that a lion has escaped from the circus.  Beverly finds the lion as it is about to attack Judy.  Beverly lunges in front to push Judy away and gets raked on the shoulder.  Fortunately, Beverly will be alright.

The girls view a television demonstration at the exhibit.

With regret, the girls return home to New York City.  They settle back into their daily routines, and Beverly vows to start her novel.  As the days pass, Beverly works tirelessly on the novel and then sends it off to a publisher.  Beverly is devastated when the novel is rejected.  Jim finally convinces her to continue sending it off to publishers.

Roger decides to give a theater party.  Dale Arden's play is coming to New York City, and Roger wants to take all of his friends to see her.  When Dale Arden steps onto the stage, Beverly is shocked to discover that she is Shirley.  In just a few weeks, Shirley has become more confident with the ability to hold the audience's attention constantly.

During the second act, the girls notice that something is wrong with Shirley.  Her voice falters, and then she collapses.  Beverly and her friends go backstage to see her.  Shirley is very ill from overwork, and she desperately needs to take a vacation.

The young people spirit Shirley away from the theater and have her stay at their apartment.  Roger informs his friends that he owns a yacht, the Susabella.  He proposes that all of them go on an ocean cruise around the world.  He insists that Shirley needs a rest.  He points out how much Lenora loves adventure and how Beverly wants to travel.  The entire group agrees, and Roger says that they can depart as soon as everything is ready.

Beverly reflects on the future, deciding that whether she can go on the cruise depends upon whether her book is published.