Sunday, September 12, 2021

September 2021 Update on My Activities

On a future date, I plan to go into greater detail on how my tooth extraction went and how this school year has gone so far.  I also plan to write a post about misinformation on the Internet.  We all know that it's bad, but you'd think that actual dentists would give the right information about tooth extractions.  I have learned that they don't, or at least the dentists that Google serves up in search results don't.  More on all of that sometime soon.

In summary, the last six weeks have been horrific, just awful.  That's all you need to know, but I'll tell you a little bit.

I knew that the tooth extraction would be difficult, and I knew that going back to school with the Delta variant surge in progress would also be difficult.  I didn't realize that I would have some unexpected (to me) complications from the extraction and that the Delta surge would cause massive problems at school, which are still underway.

I've been a bit puzzled about my autoimmune response to all of this, and I will go into greater detail in a future post once I figure out the severity of my autoimmune flare.  I expected a moderate to strong autoimmune flare after going back to work. 

That I am in a flare is not in question.  I am puzzled as to how bad of a flare it is.  I won't be able to tell until I start coming out of it, which is why I cannot tell the entire story at this time.  I think the flare just got worse on Friday after I went through dealing with the new mask mandate at school that began on Wednesday.  It did not go well.  I barely slept Thursday night into Friday, and I was in tears when I woke up on Friday.  I calmed down later.  By Saturday, I realized that the insomnia and tears were caused by an autoimmune attack that came from the stress of dealing with the mask defiance.  Oh, the hostility.

Perhaps I will bottom out this week and start getting better next week.  I hope so.

What has puzzled me the most is that my energy level has held quite well during the last month.  That is not usually the case.  My energy level usually takes a hard crash during the first six weeks of school.  That didn't happen.  I have had pretty high energy overall, which makes no sense.  

I do have brain fog, which was expected and always happens during the first two months of school.  I have said and done some stupid things, and two weeks ago I did hit a curb at 30 mph, which popped a tire.  

I am fortunate that my Achilles heel when driving is hitting curbs and nothing else.  I don't have wrecks with other vehicles.  I just pop tires once every few years, usually during autoimmune flares.  I think this was the fourth tire that I have destroyed.  One was not my fault.  Someone cut me off, and I hit a curb at 40 mph.  The other three times were my fault and occurred during flares.

I should also mention that I sometimes view red lights differently than I should during flares.  I always stop, but if I have brain fog, then I seem to regard the red light as if it were a stop sign.  I know better, but the autoimmune flares cloud my thinking.  I found myself starting to take off at a red light after looking both ways around the time I popped the tire.  I realized what I was doing and avoided taking off.  

So you can see, autoimmune flares are significant and can have serious consequences.

When I was preparing to close my eBay and Etsy stores, I stated that I would reopen in October (fall break) or November (Thanksgiving break).  As it stands now, there is no way I will reopen during fall break.  Thanksgiving is still a possibility, but things are going to have to get better at school before then.

I know how much I can handle, and selling at this time would be too much for me.  Oh, I could do it, but it would take a toll and would make the autoimmune flare much worse.  I must come out of the flare, Oklahoma must be past the Delta surge, and school must start going better before I can possibly consider reopening my stores.  

I have decided that in advance of fully reopening that I will start with a partial reopening where I sell bulk lots only.  I have so far avoided putting books into boxes.  I think I can avoid the boxes completely this time around, but it will get a bit dicey.  The books are increasing (I simply cannot resist purchasing bulk lots...), and in the below photos of some of my extra books,  you can see that I am beginning to stack books on top of other books.

I was feeling quite emotional all day Friday, no doubt from the autoimmune attack that was underway on Friday.  The overarching theme of my thoughts was that I was sick of the "covid crap" and wanted it to be over.  I call what we are dealing with "covid crap."  I am sick and tired of it.  This needs to end.  Unfortunately, I fear that we have quite a ways to go.  The longer this goes on, the more it wears on us.

I keep thinking back to late January 2020.  Pandemics have always interested me, and I have always watched for any sign that we could have a major pandemic.  Anytime there has been a virus outbreak, I have read everything I could, looking for signs that the outbreak could become a pandemic.  I spent hours during January 2020 reading about the Wuhan outbreak.  Once the virus was reported to be outside of China, I concluded that the virus would spread worldwide, that this would be a major pandemic, and that we were going to go through what would be a minimum of a one- to two-year event.

We are now all but guaranteed of this being a two-year event.  I'm glad that I didn't know for sure in January 2020 that it would be two years or longer, as that would have been a bit much to bear.  It is sobering to think of how long this has lasted and how much longer this could still last.

On a lighter note, some good has come from this pandemic.  We have had experiences that we would never otherwise have had.  I tried all sorts of services last year like Shipt and Walmart grocery pickup that I never would have tried under normal circumstances.

This experience has also shocked all of us out of our normal lives and caused us to change our paths.  This is why I decided to begin downsizing my series book collection.  
I also reconnected with my interest in the Bee Gees.  It was always there, but I was annoyed with Barry Gibb for around 10 years, so I put my interest on the backburner.  That may sound silly, but when you are a fan of actual real people, they do frequently cause extreme annoyance.  What Barry wants and what we want are not the same. (This has to do with unreleased demo recordings.  Barry doesn't want them released, and we do.)  Due to the pandemic and reassessing what is important in my life, I have swallowed my annoyance and put my interest out in front again right where it belongs.

So, I am working on my new Bee Gees mirror collection.

I have five of them so far.  My favorite is the one with the green logo.  It is so gloriously tacky.  The mirrors were carnival prizes from back in the late 1970s.

It's also been interesting so see how other people have changed habits.  I continue to enjoy any unexpected fun new developments in my interests, but I do want the "covid crap" to go away soon.  

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Hidden Clues #9 Sharing Too Much Information

This is a cautionary tale of the possible consequences when too much information is shared in the collecting groups.  Members tend to regard the other members as close friends and share lots of information, as if they were talking to those people in private.  They forget that other people are in the group reading their posts and that what they share might not be in their best interest.

Sharing information that could cause books to be stolen

The Lookout Mystery Series by Christine Noble Govan and Emmy Govan West is extremely scarce in the original hardcover editions with dust jackets.  It is about impossible to find those books.  A member posted about some Lookout books from her church library.  She photographed them so that we could see them.  The books were hardcover with dust jacket.  She said that the church library operated on the honor system.  Anyone could walk into the church's library and remove books without checking them out.  She shared the name of the church and the city in which it was located.

I was horrified that the exact location was shared along with the information that anyone could remove the books without being held accountable.  There were multiple comments on the post about the value and scarcity of the books.  I warned the person who wrote the post, telling her that the group has many sellers in it, that some likely live near her, and that one of them could take advantage of the situation.  I told her to remove the city and church's name from the post.  She instead deleted the entire post.

She never should have shared specific information like that.  

Sharing information that hurts one's own interests

A large number of sellers join groups in order to obtain information.  The knowledge gleaned from the groups helps them to know which books to buy.  In turn, great books show up on sites like eBay because those sellers have learned about the books from the groups.  The downside is when members fail to consider the presence of those sellers and share information that hurts their own interests.  

Many people in the groups work in antique malls and bookstores.  I know this for a fact, since I approve members for some of the groups and see the information on their profiles.

Collectors are surprisingly very open about exactly where they purchase their bargains and for exactly what prices.  People who work in their local store might very well be in the group reading about their cheap find from that store.  If someone from the store does see the post, they might begin to price books higher.  We all know that stores that price higher tend to overprice the books.  We don't want that to happen.

Some collectors have mentioned that quite a few locations of a certain bookstore chain (name withheld for obvious reasons) have figured out that series books can be worth a lot more than $3 to $5.  Those stores are now pricing the books at steep prices, really too high for the local market.  Books that members were happily purchasing for $3 to $5 might be worth $10 to $15 online, but some stores now price them at $25 or more.  That causes the books not to sell and is not helpful to either the buyers or the stores. 

I believe that some employees of this bookstore chain are in the group and have seen the many posts about the cheap series books that are worth more than the prices paid.  Those employees now feel that series books are valuable and price them much higher than in the past.  It has been since the existence of the group and the many posts about cheap books that this chain has increased its prices.  Once too much information is shared, it cannot be taken back.

Books from prominent series like Nancy Drew are now priced a bit steeply in my local stores from this chain.  Ordinary tweed Nancy Drew books with dust jackets are now $20 each.  Tweed Nancy Drew books without dust jackets are now $10 each.  Those are online prices.  Local customers are unlikely to pay that much.  The books are going to take a long time to sell, and the books will likely go on clearance eventually at the prices that the store used to charge.  

I never give the location when I share book finds.  I seldom share the price.  I understand that revealing everything could cause local dealers to raise prices.  Sometimes other collectors will ask me where I purchased books.  Some of them really pressure me to tell them.  I either do not answer, or I give a vague answer, like "in Oklahoma."  

In most cases, the books I purchased were the only good series books in the store.  There would be no reason to share the location.  Also, if one of my local stores were suddenly to get a lot of phone calls about series books because I shared the name and location, then that store might decide to raise prices.  

Occasionally a collector will tell everyone that lots of bargains can be found on an obscure online site unknown to everyone else.  Well, not anymore after they tell everyone.  They just destroyed their own source for cheap books.

In another case, I was rather annoyed when a few people started sharing some very specific search techniques, mentioning one that I used a lot.  Of course they said how that particular search got some great bargains.  I never got anything good from that search ever again, and I bet the person who shared the information was also unsuccessful from that point on.

Sharing information that potentially hurts everyone's interests

On the posts where collectors have given the exact names and locations of stores where they have found cheap books, discussions have occurred about how these stores price books.  Comments are made about how the employees don't know series books and don't know that the high-numbered titles are often worth much more.  Specific examples are given.

Recently, I realized that these discussions could be causing many of the employees to check on the values of the high-numbered books.  This typically results in the books being priced as high as the unsold copies available online, which are likely priced too high.

If your objective is that you want books not to be cheap in stores so that stores will make a good profit, then telling stores how to price series books is a wise decision.  However, if you enjoy finding scarce books priced lower than they should be, then being so open about the mistakes made by stores is counterproductive.

Sharing information that harms one's own business

Some people who sell online make the mistake of being too open about how they acquire items to sell.  I have read multiple tales of woe from people who trusted a friend.  That friend would ask them about how they sourced their stuff.  They told the friend everything.  The friend immediately became their steepest competition by checking all the local stores and purchasing all the good stuff before the seller could.  The friend basically stole the seller's business.  

This has also happened on Etsy with the sellers who offer handmade items.  People try to get those sellers to share how they do it.  If the seller reveals too much information, then the recipient of that information sets up their own shop as a direct competitor.

Sharing information that affects an eBay auction

This one is a little different in that it doesn't hurt the person who shares the information.  It does potentially hurt the interests of other collectors, so it has always been a sore point with me.  Back in the 2000s and early 2010s, several copies of Nancy Drew Old Clock with the 1930A-1 jacket came up for auction on eBay.  At that time, I couldn't justify paying above a certain amount for the book, so I hoped for an auction to fly under the radar.  That never happened.  

Every time an Old Clock with the 1930A-1 jacket came up for auction, a certain collector who was never planning to bid would immediately make sure that absolutely everyone knew about the listing.  So of course, I had no real chance at the book.  

When that collector advertised the listings, they were unintentionally letting sellers with very deep pockets know about the auctions.  The Old Clock auctions usually were won by a certain dealer, who was a member of the group but not a series book collector.  The person who publicized all the auctions was unwittingly helping that dealer, not the other collectors.

I'm always very nervous when something extremely scarce that I really want is up for auction on eBay.  When the latest Old Clock 1930A-1 book and jacket was up for auction on eBay in early 2019, I was worried that someone would let everyone know about it.  I felt that it was the very first copy where I actually had a good chance of getting the book.  However, I still had no chance if anyone advertised the listing.  I was certain that many people knew about it, but not everyone checks eBay constantly.  I was fortunate that nobody mentioned the book and that I was able to win the auction.

I often see excellent items on eBay that I don't need.  I do not advertise them, because I feel that the eBay regulars who check eBay all the time should have first dibs on those items.  Those people are the ones doing the hard work of checking eBay often.  If they spot something great, then they should have a fair shot at it.  

Remember to consider your own personal interests when sharing information online.  Being open is fine, but make sure what is shared will not cause you future problems.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

My Big Pandemic Goal Has Been Accomplished

These previous posts tell the recent backstory.

July 2021 Update on My Activities

Late July Selling Update and Forthcoming Store Hiatus

Store Hiatus Begins Sunday + Thoughts on What I Have Accomplished

Right before my oral surgery, I worked hard on the room I call "The Library."  It is a small bedroom that was intended to be a baby's room by the builders of the house and is one of three rooms in my house where I keep my books.  Of the three rooms, it is the one that has just bookcases and an armoire and nothing else. 

Sometime in 2020, I decided that I wanted to thin out my collection so that I could get all of the shelves straightened in this room and all of my Bee Gees stuff out where I could see it.  This was a daunting task.  It took around a year to complete because of the immensity of the task and the fact that I took a seven-month break from selling in late 2020 and early 2021.  During the months that I did not sell, no books left the house.

When I started selling in March 2021 after my seven-month hiatus, I felt certain that I could accomplish my goal by June.  I later realized that I needed all of summer break.  I came very close to finishing on those few days just before the tooth extraction.  I stopped just short of completion.  That was three weeks ago.  On Saturday, I finished.  

Since every shelf in the room is actually organized enough other people to see, I will give you a photo tour.  You would not believe the mess this room was in during June and early July.  I painted the bedroom next to it in June (see above posts), and I used this room for storage of the stuff that I had to remove from the other room.  I actually had stuff stacked three to four feet high on the floor of "The Library."  What a huge mess it was.  

I got that stuff put back in the other room and finished up most everything three weeks ago, leaving some disarray.  I got everything in order on Saturday.

I'm going to start at the bottom of a bookcase to the right of the bedroom door.  I will go up that bookcase and then down the one next to it, continuing in that fashion all the way around the room.  I did not fully crop the photos so that you can see what is next to each shelf that is pictured.  And I'm taking a deep breath and hoping for the best before I begin uploading the 41 photos to this post.  Blogger no longer works well with photos.  Ugh.

And the first four landed in reverse order.  So it's going to be one at a time.  Thanks, Blogger.  Your faulty new interface has made everything harder.

Remember that you can click on photos to see a larger version.

This bookcase has unlisted extra books.  They are in disarray, but that is the least of my concerns at this time.  My goal during the next two to three months is not to place any of my unlisted extra books in boxes before I get my stores reopened.

These are more unlisted extra books.

The below photo shows more unlisted extra books.  Yes, I did actually purchase 10 extra copies of The Dana Girls Guide.  I did it for the collectors who don't know about the guide and will be upset in a few years when they learn that they missed out with no copies available.  I got 10 more printed that would not have been printed otherwise.  

This next photo shows a wall-mounted shelf with Linda Carlton, Mildred Wirt, and some other A. L. Burt books.  Sometimes concern is expressed about wall-mounted shelves.  The supports are screwed into the studs and have been in place for over 20 years with the weight of the books on them.  The shelves are not going to fall.

Here you can see some of my Christopher Pike books and the beginning of my Bee Gees display. 

Here are my Beverly Gray books and my Dana Girls picture cover books.  I sold most of my white spine Dana Girls set this summer, leaving just #14 through #17.  Beverly Gray at the World's Fair is out of order behind the others to prevent fading of the dust jacket.

My Nancy Drew Her Interactive games can be seen at the upper left edge of this next photo.  International Judy Bolton editions, Norwegian Connie Blair books, and some Japanese Nancy Drew books are on this shelf as well.  The Danish Judy Bolton books are my favorites and are in the front.  The shelf below has the Nancy Drew Twin Thriller editions.

These shelves contain series book guides and fanzines, including The Sleuth, Yellowback Library, The Whispered Watchword, and Mystery and Adventure Series Review.

The next photo shows what is on top of the armoire.  My Outdoor Girls books were shelved here for around 15 years.  This is where I have my main Bee Gees display.  I have three puzzles, a backpack, a microphone, the fan club folder, an unused school folder, an unused spiral notebook, and assorted other fun stuff.

Here is another view.

This is the first photo of the upper shelves with the Christopher Pike books and Bee Gees lunchboxes.  My Nancy Drew Files, Wildfire teen romance books, and other teen books are shelved behind them.

This is another photo showing more Pike books and Bee Gees stuff.

And this is another photo. 

This is where I moved my Outdoor Girls books.  Also shown are my Nancy Drew and Zorro lunchboxes.

Many of my library editions are in this bookcase.  The top shelf has my green APC Nancy Drew books and the 1940s Style Library Binding plus some thick library editions that are rebound early editions.

I should mention that I turned some of these shelves over because they have been sagging for years.  You might notice that some are still bowed upwards, but they are gradually bending down to where they are mostly straight.  After they begin sagging again, I will turn them over again.  The middle of the bookcase has a fixed shelf that I cannot turn over, so it is still sagging.

This photo shows more library editions, both Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton.  My Judy Bolton picture covers are hiding in the back.  I placed them there to prevent additional fading of the spines.

My Kay Tracey books were in the room that I painted for the entire time that I have owned them.  I decided to get them where I could see them, and here they are.

This is a closer photo of some of the Kay Tracey books.  This is a cramped area that is hard to photograph.

This is the first of my eBay shelves.  These books are ones that I have listed on eBay (in currently inactive listings).

These are more eBay books and items.

On the right, the last of my eBay listings can be seen on the top shelf of the bookcase.  On top of the bookcase are the rest of my Outdoor Girls set as well as the May Hollis Barton and some Amy Bell Marlowe books (ones that I liked and didn't sell).

This is an overflow shelf of unlisted extra books.  All of the Hardy Boys books that I didn't get around to listing this summer are in the back row.  At the bottom are Zorro comic books that I plan to keep.  

In this photo, the bottom shelf has magazines with the Bee Gees on the cover.  Right above is some extra stuff (Zorro and Bee Gees) that I will sell in the coming months.

My Penny Parker books are on the top shelf of the next photo.  The bottom shelf has the Augusta Huiell Seaman books that I didn't sell and my Connie Blair library editions and picture covers.

This next picture shows my Penny Parker books again.  Above them are assorted items that I plan to sell.  I will not be keeping duplicate copies of puzzles and games.  

These shelves are more wall-mounted shelves.  This photo shows my Hardy Boys books and below them are Nancy Pembroke, the Mercer Boys, other books by Capwell Wyckoff, and Connie Blair books.  Behind these books are Ruth Fielding, Girls of Central High, and Hardy Boys books with white spine jackets.  The Hardy Boys books with white spine jackets were placed in the back to prevent additional fading of the red shields. 

This photo shows the rest of the Hardy Boys, Christopher Pike's Spooksville series, and Merivale Mall.  Below them are Connie Blair books and some Dana Girls library editions.  Shelved in the back behind these books are Sally Baxter, Ted Wilford, Roy Stover, and miscellaneous books.

This shelf has some Bee Gees overflow.  The items include a mirror, which doesn't show up well in a photo.  The mirror is a carnival prize from the late 1970s and is gloriously tacky.  The bottom shelf has 45 rpm records with picture sleeves.

The top shelf in this next photo has assorted Bee Gees flat items that I would like to get into the armoire.  Before I can do that, I need to remove other items from the armoire.  That is a task for another time.  The bottom shelf has Bee Gees songbooks.  I cannot explain why exactly, but Bee Gees songbooks make me very happy.  I feel the same way about them as I do library editions.  

These shelves have my Etsy books (in currently inactive listings).

These shelves have more Etsy books.

Here are the last of my Etsy books.

This CD holder is on top of a bookcase and contains all of my Bee Gees CDs except for the boxed sets that don't fit.

These next shelves have unlisted extra books and items.  Some are items that I didn't get listed when I was selling this summer.  The rest are items that I recently weeded out or are extra books acquired through recent purchases.  At the extreme left edge of the photo, you can see my eBay books in a bookcase across the room.

Here are more unlisted extra items.

This is the last of the unlisted extra items.

This is my book closet.  At the bottom you can see some of my packing supplies.

The top shelf in this next photo has First Love from Silhouette teen books with Sweet Valley High on the bottom shelf.

On the shelves at the top of the closet are Nancy Drew library editions.

Here is another photo of the Nancy Drew library editions.

The top shelf in this photo has the rest of the First Love from Silhouette set.  The bottom shelf contains some assorted books, including Nancy Drew library editions, the set of Seniors books, some Sweet Valley High books, and the Heartbreak Cafe books.

That's the end of the tour of "The Library."

I have thought about changing which books are in the book closet.  I could move all the books in there for which I am especially worried about the spines fading (Judy Bolton picture covers, Dana Girls picture covers, Hardy Boys white spine jackets with the red shield, and all A. L. Burt jackets).  I could then hang a curtain across the opening.  I really like how I have my Sweet Valley High and First Love from Silhouette books positioned, so that keeps me from seriously considering moving the books.

I would never have been able to get the books straightened if I had not sold approximately 2,000 books during the five months from March to August.  A few people expressed surprise when I mentioned that I was selling certain books.  I had to get rid of desirable stuff in order to make way for the Bee Gees stuff.  I like the Bee Gees, okay?  They are just as important to me as the books.  In some ways, they are more important.  All of my books are great, but I had to let go of enough of them to free up some space.

Since some people seemed a little surprised about what I was selling, I quit giving any warning of what I was doing.  I put the books up on eBay and Etsy, and they sold, often very fast to those of you who were keeping close watch.  I'm sure that others would have preferred for me to have done auctions, and I would have gotten more money for some books if I had done that.  However, I didn't wish to mess with auctions.  I had to get the quantity of books reduced fast so that I could straighten up the shelves. 

I will consider some auctions once I resume selling again.  I do have some items that are special enough that an auction is the safest and fairest approach in order to avoid people getting huffy like they did when some of my listings were advertised on Facebook in July.

I will be writing another post soon about how I am doing after the tooth extraction and going back to work as well as my concerns about the current stage of the pandemic.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

The Heartbreak Cafe Series

The Heartbreak Cafe series consists of six books written by Janet Quin-Harkin.  The first three books were published in March 1990.  The last three books were published in April through June 1990, one per month.

1.  No Experience Required
2.  The Main Attraction
3.  At Your Service
4.  Catch of the Day
5.  Love to Go
6.  Just Desserts

The series is widely available in modern paperback editions and in digital format.  The original editions of the first five books can be found in softcover without too much trouble.  #6 is readily available in the hardcover Especially for Girls edition, but the original softcover edition of #6 is difficult to find and pricey.

In the Heartbreak Cafe series, Debbie Lesley's parents have recently divorced, and Debbie now lives with her mom.  Debbie's mom informs her that they don't have enough money to pay for the insurance for Debbie's car, so Debbie is forced to find a job.

By chance, Debbie ends up at the Heartbreak Cafe and applies for a job as a waitress.  She's hired, but the owner's grandson, Joe, is extremely arrogant.  Joe and Debbie do not get along at all.  And yet... at times Debbie feels like Joe could become more than just a coworker.  

The overarching story of the series is whether Debbie and Joe will ever have a romance.  They gradually become friendlier and share a few kisses here and there.  At the same time, they argue and insult each other constantly, which keeps them from beginning a real relationship.

The Heartbreak Cafe has a group of regular customers who appear in all six books.  During the first book, I felt like there were too many characters, but at the books continued, I became more familiar with them and was able to appreciate them.

I really enjoy teen series in which the protagonist has a real problem.  Debbie has a good share of real problems.  She must work, and she's lost her membership in the country club, which has caused some conflict.  Debbie's father is in some kind of mid-life crisis, and Debbie does not approve of his behavior.  Debbie's boyfriend, Grant, seems to be more interested in how Debbie can make him look good than in her as a person.  There is a lot going on.

Debbie also makes some really bad decisions at times, but considering the turn her life has taken, it is understandable.

These books are interesting and engaging.  They are loosely similar to Sweet Valley High in that the stories continue from book to book, and the same characters interact throughout the series.  Additionally, the plot elements are similar to Sweet Valley High as well.

Overall, this is an excellent series, and I greatly enjoyed reading through the set.

Friday, August 6, 2021

The Conflict Caused by Pricing

Before reading this post, it would be worthwhile to read three old posts.  The first post from 2011 mentions events from the 1980s and 1990s.  The second post from 2008 mentions the hoarding of the Nancy Drew Applewood editions.  The third post from 2008 mentions the hoarding of the Nancy Drew Applewood and Cameo editions.

Series Book Collecting and Prices

The Hoarding of the Applewood Editions

eBay Prices Hit Record Levels

In short, series book collectors are often bitter about the pricing of series books.  Some collectors believe that dealers hoard series books just so that they can sell the books at inflated prices.  In the case of the Nancy Drew Applewood and Cameo editions, a few dealers actually did hoard those books in the late 2000s, causing them to appear to be quite rare.  In reality, the books were just rare to everyone other than the sellers who were buying up all available copies.

Some collectors also believe that series books should always be priced for extremely cheap prices, like for under $5.  I wrote about it in 2017.

The Expectation of Low Price Regardless of Scarcity

I haven't seen many complaints about prices in the last couple of years, except for the ones about the Three Investigators series.  That series has been selling for extreme prices since the pandemic began, and there is some hoarding and shenanigans going on with at least one of the sellers.  I don't want to get into any of that in this post, but I do want to acknowledge the Three Investigators situation even though I state that I haven't seen many pricing complaints recently among series collectors.   

Another big interest of mine is vintage teen books from the 1980s and 1990s (Sweet Valley High, Christopher Pike, etc.), and this interest inspired this post.  Even though this is a major interest, I have been unaware of the drama between collectors of the vintage teen books.  It appears to be the same old story as detailed in the posts to which I linked above.

I have a group on Facebook about the vintage teen books.  Every so often, someone will ask where to purchase the books.  These posts have gone fine until the most recent one.  When someone asked in July about where to find the books, a member linked to a certain online store.  

After the link was placed, the seller was said to be a scammer.  I am paraphrasing, since all of this has been deleted.  Some others jumped on the bandwagon, going so far as to bash the site that the seller uses, saying that it is full of fraudulent sellers who pad each other's feedback.  Claims were made that the seller and their clients spam groups on Facebook.  Members complained about the seller's very high prices. 

Someone stated that the pricing wasn't fair and that fans should never take advantage of other fans.  Fans should always be willing to help other fans out and should never price the books above a reasonable price.  I got the impression that a reasonable price means not higher than $5.  This all sounded so familiar.

I didn't know whether the complaints about spamming were true, so I was neutral about that.  I very much did care about the site that was bashed.  That really annoyed me, since I do sell on that site.  If the site was full of fraudulent sellers, then I was being lumped in with them. 

I hate it when blanket negative statements are made about online sites.  The blanket statements are most often made about eBay, Etsy, and Amazon.  Those statements are unfair.  While bad sellers can be found on most sites, the vast majority of sellers are good.  Bad sellers do out themselves if buyers will pay attention.  Taking a look at the seller's feedback and viewing the listings with a discerning eye will reveal the truth.  I would have almost no books in my collection if I had not been willing to purchase from the many fine individual sellers on various online sites.  It pains me that people are discouraged from buying from those sites.  

Getting back to the complaints about the seller of vintage teen books, the part about the pricing was something that I could check out for myself.  I went to the seller's store.  I didn't go through all of the listings, but the ones I saw looked fair.  They weren't cheap, but the particular books that this person sells are scarce and very much in demand.  The pricing looked just fine to me.  I was baffled, to be honest.  People were complaining about the seller's prices, yet the prices looked fair to me.

In my opinion, this is just the same old story about how books shouldn't be priced high.  As a buyer of vintage teen books, I very much do understand how the fans feel.  I would prefer for the books to be under $10 each.  However, that's not the reality.  Many of the books are now quite expensive.  It is frustrating.

I also sell books, so I understand the seller's position as well.  The books aren't easy to acquire inexpensively.  Some people are lucky and can find the books in great quantity for very low prices in thrift stores.  That's not true for most of us.  Here in Oklahoma, vintage teen books rarely appear in any stores.  When they do, thrift stores price them at $2 each.  Bookstores tend to price them at $4 to $5 each and sometimes a bit higher.  I am referring to softcover books that are typically in rough shape.  

R. L. Stine's fans are annoyed that people are buying up the Stine books and pricing them extremely high.  In one example, someone purchased some R. L. Stine books for $15 each.  The person who sold them was quite annoyed when the buyer placed them back up for sale at $150 each.  In that case, the price does seem a bit extreme.  While I don't have a problem with books being sold for profit, pricing at 10 times higher is a bit much for a paperback book from the 1980s or 1990s that is in rough shape.  Yikes.

But is that scamming?  It's not nice, but a seller does have the right to sell the books at whatever they want.  

I recently wrote about some R. L. Stine books that I found in a local store.  I am going to sell them but it is a dilemma on how to price them.  If I price them too low, then they could get purchased by a reseller who will then raise the price.  I might end up pricing some of the R. L. Stine books at $25 to $35.

That might make me seem greedy, but I would be trying to give the books at chance at going directly to someone who needs them instead of to someone who will price them even higher.  I can't prevent it from happening, but I can make it more likely that the books will go to someone who needs them.  Sellers do have to price books at above the bare minimum in order to give the books a chance at going to someone who actually needs them. 

I have a used the same strategy for years with the Applewood editions.  In 2008, around three to four people were buying up every Applewood edition and then selling them for hundreds of dollars.  I did not put mine at extreme prices, but I did tend to sell them for a bit higher than I would have.  Even then, many of my books went to the people who were reselling them.  This is why I know exactly who was buying the books since I was one of their sources.  So at least I got a little more for them but I still didn’t actually sell them in the hundreds of dollars.

So does that make me a bad person if I sell certain books for above what people would like?  Where do we draw the line between someone selling the books at a fair price or selling the books at an extreme price?

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Nancy Drew Cookbook FLB Library Edition

In June, an FLB library edition of the Nancy Drew Cookbook came up for auction on eBay.  I was very interested to see how high the auction would go.  To my knowledge, it was only the second one ever to come up for sale.  The FLB Cookbook binding is very scarce.

I purchased the FLB edition Cookbook seen above on eBay in November 2005.  The book was offered in an auction.  During that time, I usually was able to purchase any library edition I wanted, whether through Buy It Now or auction, with very little competition.  Sometimes though, a newbie buyer (a new account with no feedback) would show up on eBay and decide to go after a library edition at all cost.  That was what happened when I failed to bid high enough on the 1940s Style Library Binding of the Nancy Drew book, The Haunted Bridge.  

There has always something about newbies to eBay and how they react to certain listings.  It can be library editions or anything else.  It was always frustrating to me when a newbie chose to go after a library edition.

A newbie to eBay decided to bid aggressively on the FLB Cookbook that I purchased in 2005.  There was also another bidder involved, someone who was not a newbie.  I waited until the end to bid, as I have always done.  I bid something like $125 on it, which should have been more than sufficient to win the auction.  I lost the auction.

Shortly after the auction ended, I received a second-chance offer, because the winning bidder had backed out.  Certainly, I could not rule out shill bidding by the seller, but I am confident that the seller was not the winning bidder based on the messages I exchanged with her.  

Consider that just about nobody wanted library editions in those days.  Would a seller really have bid on her own auction for a library edition?  I just don't think so.  Also, nobody had any idea what kind of prices I might have been willing to pay.  I usually purchased library editions at low Buy It Now prices, in bulk lots, or as the only bidder in an auction started at a reasonable price.  It would be more logical for a seller to shill bid now than in those days of low interest.

After I received the second-chance offer, I declined it.  I told the seller that I didn't feel that it was fair for me to have to pay one bid increment below the winning bid since that person was not a serious bidder.

I don't recall whether my suggestion or the seller's was mentioned first.  In any case, the seller offered to relist the book at the same low starting bid.  I offered to pay the seller a price somewhere in the middle.  I believe my offer was about at what the third highest bidder was willing to pay.  I do recall the seller not wanting to take my offer.  Some people might say that she was going to shill the auction agin, but I really don't think she was bidding on the auction herself.  

Besides, I rather badly wanted the book.  I just didn't want to have to pay one increment below what the winning bid was.  I didn't want to have to wait through another auction, not knowing who else might get involved.  I had a chance to purchase the book outright, and I told the seller that I did want to purchase it for what I offered.  

I had offered the seller $75.  At that time, it was an exorbitant amount to pay for a library edition.  I didn't tell anyone what I paid.  Well, I didn't have a blog at that time, and I certainly didn't go into discussion groups and tell people about my spending habits.  They would have thought I was insane.  

It's apparent that I got a really good deal, now that the Nancy Drew library editions have become much more desirable.

The recent auction closed at $330.  For this auction, the third highest bid was $30.  Usually, the third highest bid is used to assess the actual value.  Based on the scarcity of this book, I would place the value at above $30.  Let's say at least $75 to $100, but it could very well be worth more than that.  While the pink/salmon FLB binding is not too hard to acquire for the Nancy Drew titles from the main set, the Nancy Drew Cookbook is in a different league.

The FLB editions date from the 1970s, but I don't know the exact range of years.  The highest numbered title of which I am aware is Forgotten City, which was published in 1975.  If Forgotten City was the final book done by FLB, then FLB quit rebinding the Nancy Drew books in around 1975.

My FLB Cookbook has a handwritten date inside of when it was acquired by the library:  12/15/73.  My copy does have the red endpapers of the first printing, so it is a rebound copy of the first printing from 1973.  Therefore, the Cookbook would have been rebound by FLB from 1973 to 1975.  The regular edition Cookbook is quite scarce compared to the average Nancy Drew book.  While the Cookbook can be found by most people who want one, there really aren't that many copies out there.  Very few of the Cookbooks would have been sent to FLB for rebinding.  That's why the FLB Cookbook is so hard to find.  

I also like the FLB cover better than the original cover.  The style is great and really stands out.  This is a special collectible Nancy Drew item.

In an auction with competitive bidding, books often close at well above the perceived value.  It might take years for this book to come up for sale, so the winning bid was well worth it. 

These notes are for me to document my struggles with uploading photos via the sorry new Blogger interface.  On the first attempt, the first two photos landed in the correct part of the post but in reverse order.  On the second attempt, the photos were in reverse order again even though I reversed the order in which I selected them.  The photos were also in the wrong part of the post.  I had to move the text to get the photos in the right position.  For once, I was able to drag the second photo to above the first photo.  That typically no longer works.  However, it did cause HTML problems, so dragging the photo is still a bad idea.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Removing Smoke Odor from Books

This post consists of some of my past Facebook posts on what I did to remove or reduce smoke odors from books.  Each date links to the original Facebook post, where comments can be read.

August 18, 2018

These Hardy Boys books arrived in the mail today.  They were priced very cheap, in fact way too cheap.  When I saw the listing, I assumed that there was a catch, because the price was illogical.  The seller mentioned no flaws, but I knew that there had to be something wrong with the books.  Since the books were so cheap, they were worth purchasing if even flawed.  The books were actually cheaper than if I had found them in a local thrift store.  I couldn't lose.

Now I know what was wrong.  The books smell strongly of smoke, the kind of smoke that comes from a burning structure.  They have been in a fire.  I was mystified to smell such a strong odor yet not see soot on the books.  Finally, I discovered that Crooked Arrow has a charred area at the top.  

As I sit here with the books four feet away, I can smell a faint odor of smoke.  I am going to find somewhere to place these books fanned open.

I placed the smoky Hardy Boys books (see post from yesterday for details) on shelves in the garage along with household items.  They will be okay there for now, and I don't want them near other books.  I had the garage door open for a while today to air it out.

Last night, the smoke odor had spread to over half of the garage.  I could smell the books from at least six feet away.  Now, I have to get within 12 to 15 inches of the books to smell the odor.  This means that the smoke odor has already lessened, but the books do still smell just as bad up close.  The odor should continue to lessen, especially if I continue to expose the books to fresh air periodically.

Smelly Book Update:  I had the garage door open for an hour today with a fan pulling in fresh air.  I previously reported that I could smell the smoke from six feet away on Saturday.  Yesterday I could smell the smoke from 12 to 15 inches away.  Today I have to get within two inches of a book to smell the smoke.  The books still smell bad, but the intensity of the odor has reduced greatly in just two days.

Smelly Book Update #2:  You might recall some smelly books that came into my possession in August.  The books had been in a fire.  They are still in the garage, still fanned open on shelves.  Some of the books no longer have any odor.  Others still have an odor, but the odor has decreased by 90%.


These last two posts are about another set of books that smelled of cigarettes.  

I purchased a bulk lot of Nancy Drew books in order to acquire some extra Wanderer books.  I have an international buyer who is seeking them.  The books are in really nice shape, but they smell strongly of cigarettes. 😩 Why do sellers not disclose odors in books? 😡 Over time, cigarette odor does fade, but I need to expedite the process.  

I have heard of wrapping each book in newspaper.  Supposedly, the odor goes away in a few days.  We shall see.  I am quite skeptical, but I am willing to give it a try.  I have wrapped the books.  There are some flashlight editions that came with these books that I did not show in my picture. I am not trying to get rid of the odor in those, so I will be able to compare their odor to the wrapped books in a few days and see if anything has changed.

Cigarette Odor Update: Four days ago, I posted about some books that smelled of cigarette smoke. I wanted to get the odor reduced quickly so I wrapped the books in newspaper. Someone who used this method said that the odor goes away in four days. It's been four days, so I checked one book.

Flying Saucer Mystery is one of the books I wrapped in newspaper.  Red Gate Farm was not wrapped in newspaper, which means that I can compare the odor.  The odor in Flying Saucer Mystery has reduced by around 75%.  Flying Saucer Mystery smells overall okay, although it needs to go back in the newspaper a bit longer.  Red Gate Farm smells strongly of cigarette smoke since I did nothing to it. Yuck.

Conclusion: Wrapping books in newspaper does reduce cigarette odor quickly.