Sunday, March 28, 2021

March 2021 Selling Update #4

I have listed more books on eBay and Etsy.  It should be quite obvious by now that I am primarily listing books that have come from my actual personal collection.  My goal is to reduce my collection by at least 750 books.

I don't have all of my books catalogued on Library Thing, but going by what I have there and what I know isn't catalogued, my collection consists of at least 6,500 books.  It might be a bit higher.  In addition to the approximately 6,500 books are at least another 2,000 other books that are extras or are unrelated to my series collection.  There might be more than 2,000 other books, since I tend to underestimate.  So all told, I might have around 10,000 books in my house.  I really don't know, but I want there to be fewer of them.  

I like all of my books, but I am selling books that fit at least one of these criteria.  

  1. The book has pulp paper and is not exceedingly important to me for any reason.  I won't sell my first printing Nancy Drew books with pulp paper (#20 through 25) under any circumstance.  However, I will sell books like the Penny Nichols books which have pulp paper and also fit my second criterion.

  2. The book can be downloaded via an online file and, as above, is not exceedingly important to me for any reason.

  3. I just don't really care about the book anymore.  These books are some of the books that have been double-shelved behind other books.  I might not have seen them in years.  Why do I continue to keep them?

As a result of #2, I am selling some partial sets.  I am selling my Ruth Fielding books that are available online and am keeping the ones that are not yet in the public domain.  Some other sets are also being broken up for the same reason.

I did decide last night that I would sell my Nancy Drew books with Dana Girls endpapers since the books have pulp paper.  I only have around four of them.  I've never tried hard to get them, and the ones I have found have not been very nice.  They will be listed sometime in the coming weeks.

I am also probably going to sell my Ken Holt set.  I like the Ken Holt books, but not anywhere near as much as most Ken Holt fans.  If I do want to read the books again, I now have PDF files saved to the cloud.  The Ken Holt set is not public domain, but all of the texts are online and pretty easy to find.  I won't link to where they are, but you can find the PDF files without too much trouble.  

The reason I want to reduce my collection somewhat is so that I can get some stuff out of drawers.  This next image shows what I see when I open one of my drawers.  Yes, a lot of stuff is underneath, and it's not trash.

 This is part of a shelf in an armoire.  

You might wonder what the stuff in the stack is.  Here is some of it.

I need to get this stuff more easily accessible, and I'd like for some of it to be out in plain sight.  I hope by June that the book situation will be more under control so that I can get my possessions in better order.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

This weekend I listed British, Dutch, Swedish, and Norwegian Trixie Belden books on eBay.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

On Etsy, I listed German Trixie Belden books and square Trixie Belden paperbacks.  I also listed French and Hebrew Nancy Drew books. 

For now, I will be listing all Nancy Drew books on Etsy.  eBay is suppressing me in Best Match and will continue to do so until I meet the required time open, sales, and feedback to fulfill the algorithm.  I'm fine on eBay with all other series, but Nancy Drew searches return so many results that I will not be seen by most buyers until Best Match favors me again.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Pricing Books to Sell Online; or, Taking a Stab in the Dark

This is sort of a selling update, but it's mostly another informational post. 

I have sold 305 books since the evening of March 13.  That's a strong start, although my overstock of books is so large that it barely makes a dent in my extras.  As I list books for sale, I have to move books around.  I have to keep straight the books that have been listed and the ones that have not been listed.  I have removed some books from boxes, but I have had to replace them with other books.  

One of the biggest struggles that sellers face is the quandary of book pricing.  People frequently join the groups on Facebook to ask about pricing.  We typically tell them to run a search on eBay, select the "sold" results, and see what the prices are.  Of course, the task is actually more complex than that, but we aren't paid appraisers.  The groups would become overrun with queries about selling prices if we were to begin to answer the questions in a thorough fashion.  Instead, sellers must learn how to do it themselves.

Each seller must take a stab in the dark when pricing books for sale.  That's what I do.  I miss the mark sometimes, actually probably quite often.  I both underprice and overprice my books.  If I have overpriced, then I gradually reduce the price.  I do not take offers, since most people making offers are just trying to get the book for a bargain at my expense.

I use all of the following methods to price books.

  • what I paid for the book
  • how appealing the book would be to me if I were buying it
  • my gut feeling
  • "sold" results for the last 365 days on eBay's Terapeak price research tool
  • the price range shown on BookFinder for books currently for sale online

The first three methods are the ones that influence me the most.

What I paid for the book

When I prepare to list a book, I look at what I paid for it.  That is the single most important factor into how I price my books. 

When I receive unsolicited offers from prospective buyers, more than 50% of the offers are below my cost.  You can understand why I don't wish to mess with offers.  I don't get books anywhere near as cheaply as some people assume.  I have no time for people who want me to give away my books at below my cost.

I do sell some books below cost, but that's my decision.  Values have decreased greatly for many series books, so I have no choice but to sell below cost in many cases.  When I can price above cost, I refuse to sell below cost just so that someone else can get the book for below the current value. 

How appealing the book would be to me if I were buying it

In the past, I have been asked specifically about my Nancy Drew picture cover prices.  Why do I price some lower when all characteristics appear to be the same?  I price the books based on how much they appeal to me personally.  If the wear makes the book less appealing to me, then I price the book lower.  It's that simple.  It helps to like and collect what one sells.  I price accordingly. 

My gut feeling

I am unaware of the current value of many series books.  I have moved away from buying and selling the thick Nancy Drew books from the 1930s with dust jackets, so I actually have no idea what people are paying for them.  I do recall the values from 10 years ago.  It's been stressful when some of you have referred people to me to tell them what their early Nancy Drew books are worth.  It puts me on the spot, and I have to come up with something.  I end up giving them a range and saying that condition is very important.  

I have books to sell that were taken from my collection.  I purchased the books around 15 years ago.  I know what the books were worth then, since I can see what I paid for them.  But what about now?  I have no idea!

I wanted to list my Kay Tracey Books, Inc. picture cover books last week.  I checked Terapeak and saw that the few that sold went for around $5 or so each.  That's... really low.  What would be the point of selling the books at those prices? 

I looked at my Kay Tracey books.  The books have such nice quality paper and are in great shape.  This is an example of where my gut feeling is the only method used to price the books.  It doesn't matter what I paid for them or how very low the recent sold prices have been.  No, these books deserved better.  I priced them at $19.99 each.  Some of them have sold, so I didn't price the books too high.  

These other methods are useful but not as important as the ones just covered.

"Sold" results for the last 365 days on eBay's Terapeak price research tool

Terapeak shows all eBay sales from the last 365 days.  The tool is useful, but at the same time, it is much less useful than you would expect.  One problem is that eBay does not let sellers view the descriptions of listings older than 90 days.  We can see the title, price, and usually the image, but the information in the description, such as the condition, would be very helpful.  It's difficult to make a judgment based on a tiny picture and a sold price.

Another drawback is that sold prices from 11 months ago might not be relevant in the current market.  I often avoid Terapeak and just go to eBay's regular search which only goes back 90 days.  I can actually read those descriptions, so those results are more helpful.

For very scarce books, Terapeak is quite useful since there might be no results from the last 90 days.  With 365 days, it's much more likely to find a sold listing that matches.

The price range shown on BookFinder for books currently for sale

BookFinder aggregates the search results from major bookselling sites including eBay, Amazon, AbeBooks, and Biblio.  It is useful for seeing an overview of the asking prices for books available online.

When a search has a number of results, it's important to ignore the lowest prices and the highest prices.  The low prices are usually for books being sold by dealers like Thriftbooks, who focus on reading copies.  The high prices are for books that will probably never sell; those books are overpriced.

I have listed a number of my books by Augusta Huiell Seaman.  I have a lot of money invested in the books, and the price I paid was the primary deciding factor in how I priced the books.  There was one exception, however.

The Voice in the Dark is an extremely scarce book by Seaman.  It seldom comes up for sale.  I actually do not know how often it sells, but in the two years I was buying Seaman's books, the one I purchased was the only one that sold.  The price I paid wasn't that bad.  

I checked Terapeak and found no results, which wasn't surprising.  I checked BookFinder and found one current listing, priced at $700.  I laughed.  I know how this went.  The seller knew it was a scarce book and put a really high price on it.  That didn't help me much.  

I have the price I paid and $700.  The two numbers are so disparate as to be meaningless.  Hmm...  I feel like the book is probably worth $100 to $150, maybe.  It's a stab in the dark, which is kind of fitting for The Voice in the Dark.  That aside, I didn't dare price the book at $125, which is what I wanted to do.

I don't mind people buying my books to resell.  I truly do not mind.  Please understand that.  If I have a book for sale at $20 and you know that you can sell it for $50 or so somewhere else, then go for it.  Different sellers use different platforms.  If another seller has access to buyers who will pay more, then it is fine for that seller to purchase my books to offer to those people.

However, I do mind when a seller buys a book from me and then prices it very high, which then means that they are playing "keep away" with the book.  There are far too many books for sale online at extreme prices.  All of the sellers are playing "keep away" with the books.  I wish to avoid aiding someone in playing "keep away." 

If I sold my book for $125 and the buyer then priced it at $250, that would be fine.  At least a $250 book would have a chance of selling.  I fear that the seller of the $700 book (or even someone else) might buy my book at $125 and then place it up at $700 as well.

After some thought, I priced my book at $350.  I enjoy the humor in the situation.  After all, I am just playing "keep away" from the sellers who would then price the book too high.  I fully expect that the book will not sell.  If the book were to sell, then at least I wouldn't just be handing it to someone to price at $700.

I feel certain that the book is priced too high at $350.  I'm cautiously testing the waters by placing the book out there.  After the book doesn't sell in a few weeks, I will begin to low the price, probably in $25 increments until it sells.  

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Friday, March 19, 2021

The Popularity of the Nancy Drew Digest Series #57-175

This was intended to be a selling update, but it turned into an informational post.

It is near the end of spring break, so I will soon quit listing new items.  The eBay and Etsy stores will remain open, but new listings will be sporadic when I feel like creating them.

I have sold a large number of books in the last week, but it has barely made a dent in my backlog of books.  I will keep plugging away, and hopefully by June, the situation will be more under control.

I want to mention the current interest in and value of the Nancy Drew Digest series.  I refer to Nancy Drew #57-175.  I began collecting the softcover digests in around 1999 and the hardcover library edition digests in 2001.  

20 years ago, Nancy Drew books with dust jackets were extremely popular and sold for high prices on eBay.  Series book collectors who sold those books wouldn't have dreamed of giving a second look to the picture cover books or any other later formats.

It was around 10 years ago that I noticed some of those sellers finally listing early Nancy Drew picture covers for sale.  They had belatedly noticed that the picture covers were in greater demand than the books with dust jackets.  The demand shifts to later formats as the primary collecting group changes.  Most collectors used to be Baby Boomers.  Most Boomers now have complete collections or are downsizing.  Their favorite books, the ones with dust jackets, are no longer in great demand.

The current active collectors are primarily Generation X and Millennials.  Generation X collectors love the picture covers and may have some interest in the digests.  The Millennials certainly enjoy the picture covers and many of them are also quite fond of the digests. 

Naturally, the digests are going up in value.

The time is coming for the Nancy Drew Digest series to become the most favorite format.  The picture covers aren't going to recede in popularity anytime soon, but the digests have increased considerably in popularity.

Interestingly, I don't think most series book collectors and sellers have picked up on that quite yet.  But it has happened.

In the Facebook groups, there are the usual people who only like the books with dust jackets and speak poorly of everything else.  They typically don't get much pushback.  As always, those of us who like the later formats just stay quiet.  It's never worth it.

In my opinion, the Nancy Drew titles #57-175 are just as much real Nancy Drew books as #1-56 are.  Yes, I really do feel that way.  The titles are great.  The cover art is great.  The stories are usually good with many of them very good.  There are some stories that aren't good, but there are also some stories from the original 56 that aren't good.

The digests should not be overlooked by collectors or sellers.  The books aren't that easy to find.  The trouble is that softcover books destruct very easily.  I believe that many of them get thrown away or recycled, which means that far fewer survive than do hardcover books.

I have been listing the softcover digest books on Etsy for a few years.  The books sell very fast.  I could certainly be pricing them too low, but often, the books are not in good enough shape to justify pricing them at more than $5 to $7 each.  I'm not going to ask $15 or $20 for a book that has moderate wear.  I probably could get away with pricing the books somewhat higher, but I feel like, for the most part, I am pricing the books just fine.

I had 41 Nancy Drew Digest listings last week when I reopened my Etsy shop.  31 of them have sold.  I have now listed more of them, and I expect the books to sell fairly quickly.  Even though the last thing I need to be doing right now is buying more books, I went online and managed to source some small bulk lots of Nancy Drew Digest books.  I love helping people build their collections.  Most people don't want to mess with bulk lots since they end up with many extras, so I acquire the bulk lots and then offer the books myself.

I find that the digests are in high demand up to #128 and in moderate demand up to #159.  Take a look at this cover art gallery, and you'll see why #128 and #159 are the cutoffs.  Collectors are very influenced by formats.  I also believe that the most recent books, #160 through #175 are still quite abundant on the secondhand market, which keeps their value down.

On the subject of format, hardcover flashlight editions of #57-64 were issued by Grosset and Dunlap for a very short time.  Those books are in very high demand.  I continue to be mystified by how many people rabidly seek the Grosset and Dunlap editions of #57-64 but refuse to consider #65 and up as books worth having.  It's the format mentality.  Those people are missing out on most of the set since they are limiting themselves to one format.

Regarding value, all books up to #159 are worth more than the original cover price.  #160 through #175 are probably only worth the original cover price and some titles, like the excessively common #162, may be worth less than the original cover price.  #162 was packaged with one of Her Interactive's Nancy Drew games many years ago, which is why the book is everywhere.

Some cover art variants and some books are much more scarce.  Some second or third cover art versions for books from #57-90 are very hard to find.  #100 is much more scarce than the average title.  #113, 114, and 121 are also more scarce than most titles in the set.

And then there are the hardcover library editions.  I've blogged about them on a regular basis as I have worked on my set for the last 20 years.  Interestingly, I have had trouble selling my extras, except to just a few people who greatly desire them.  I hope that will change now that the softcover books are in such demand, especially since I currently have a large number of extras at this time.

I wrote about "The Surprising Rise of the Nancy Drew Library Edition" last year.  There are very few sales of the hardcover Nancy Drew Digest books, so it's hard to say whether interest has increased like it has for the library editions of #1-56.  I suspect that interest has increased, but there aren't enough recent known sales to have any idea.

So, I'm hopeful that I will be able to sell my extra hardcover Nancy Drew Digest listings on Etsy.  They ought to sell, since the softcover books are in demand.  The only reason I began collecting the hardcover digests was to have hardcover copies to read.  For that reason alone, the hardcover books should now begin to be very desirable since the softcover books are so popular.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

You will find an eclectic mixture of many series on eBay including some very scarce books.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

On Etsy, I focus on the Dana Girls, Nancy Drew, the Three Investigators, and Trixie Belden.  Currently, most of my Nancy Drew books are listed on Etsy. 

Since my eBay store was closed for seven months, I lost my Best Match search ranking on eBay.  My Nancy Drew books are not selling on eBay, since they are suppressed in the search results.  I do fine with all other series on eBay since eBay cannot hide my books when the search contains few results.

Since buyers can spot my Nancy Drew books easily on Etsy, I am listing most of them on Etsy for now.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

March 2021 Selling Update #3

In my last post, I photographed books that I gathered together to list on Etsy.  I mentioned that some books might not get listed if I found something wrong with them.  I have had to set aside all of the hardcover Three Investigators books for now.

I had forgotten that most of them have a strong musty odor.  I had already attempted to reduce the odor by using baking soda.  I did that for around two months with no reduction in odor.  

For the record, I have never been able to get the musty odor out of any book no matter what method I have tried.

I do, however, now have an ozone generator.  I purchased it recently because of the appallingly strong scented odor of a first printing copy of Judy Bolton #1, The Vanishing Shadow, that I acquired late last year.  I want to keep it instead of the worse condition book that I have owned for years.  However, the fragrance is so strong that I find it gross.  I cannot put the book on the shelf with my other books.  Even a mild fragrance in a book bothers me. 

Many people like to cover smoky or musty odors with fragrance before selling the books.  Just be aware that quite a few of us hate fragrance as much as the other odors, so we won't see the fragrance as an improvement.  It's not natural for a book to smell like freshly laundered clothing.  The book should smell like a book.

I exposed the Three Investigators books to some ozone last weekend.  I now need to wait to see how much of the odor comes back.  I can tell that some of it is still there, but I want to see how strong it gets.  I will then treat the books again.  This process could take a few weeks.  At some point, I'll get the hardcover Three Investigators books listed on Etsy.  

I will give a report about the ozone generator, but that's a topic for another post.  I will say now that you should not purchase an ozone generator without first researching the risks. 

The good news is that every other book that I pulled to list on Etsy was listed.

Last night, I opened both stores back up.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

The Etsy shop has my most popular books, primarily Nancy Drew, the Dana Girls, Trixie Belden, and the Three Investigators.  Those series do far better than any other series I have ever tried on Etsy.  The boys' series, including the Hardy Boys, typically do not sell for me on Etsy.  I have a couple of ideas about why that is the case.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I also list Nancy Drew in great quantity on eBay.  The Dana Girls and Trixie Belden books that I list are ones that are harder to sell on Etsy, like international editions.

I list everything else on eBay, from all the boys' series to any series that is less popular than the core series that I list on Etsy.

I will be listing a large quantity of books on eBay in the coming days.  I do understand that when many desirable books show up for sale at once that it can be distressing if you cannot afford all of them.  Unfortunately, I cannot do anything about that.  I haven't sold in seven months, and I have cleared well over 500 of my own books from my shelves.  I have a large number of very desirable books to list.  I must work on getting them listed.

I am trying to pull books of different types so that the books might be desirable to different groups of people.  For instance, around an hour ago, I pulled out a set of Kit Hunter books, some books by Margaret Goff Clark, and some Dana Girls Swedish editions.  I hope that the books appeal to different groups of collectors.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

March 2021 Selling Update #2

I still plan to reopen my eBay and Etsy stores either on the evening of March 12 or on March 13.  Whether I do it on March 12 depends upon how I feel that evening.

I have not been well this past week.  I had to work late on Tuesday, which is no doubt part of the reason why I felt quite ill (deep fatigue) in the afternoon and evening on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  If that should happen this coming Friday, then I will wait until Saturday, March 13 to open the stores back up.

I have concluded that the first dose of the Moderna vaccine that I received on February 22 caused a significant disruption to my endocrine system.  I stated previously that I thought that the vaccine had caused a mild to moderate autoimmune flare.  The flare was at least moderate and perhaps a strong flare.  The deep fatigue that I have begun to feel is a delayed reaction to that flare.  How I feel at any given time is a reflection of what my thyroid hormone levels were 10 to 14 days ago.  This actually means that the symptoms from the flare may not have bottomed out yet.  I was vaccinated 12 days ago.

My endocrine system might have already recovered, but I might not feel that recovery for another week.  I will get the second Moderna dose in around 2 1/2 weeks, the exact date to be determined.  That will cause another disruption to my endocrine system.  The next six to eight weeks won't be easy.

Even with the reaction, the vaccine is well worth it.  I am happy that my body should be now approaching 50% immunity to the virus. 

I mention my situation so that you know that I have very good reasons for keeping to a specific plan and not selling before I am ready.  I find it odd that I was left alone all the months I was closed until I finally gave a specific date.  Within a couple of days of mentioning March 13, more than one person tried to get me to sell a book before that date on eBay.  One person has now tried twice.  I continue to decline, giving the date of March 13.  I am not going to budge.  I advocate for myself, and I will not give in.

I am working on preparing both stores for reopening.  I have been working on Etsy listings in recent days when I have felt well enough to do so.  I have added blue tweed Nancy Drew books as well as dust jacketed and picture cover Dana Girls books.  I now have over 150 inactive and draft listings on Etsy.  These books are the ones that have been listed.

I next will work on Trixie Belden and the Three Investigators.  The books in the next two photos are books that I have gathered to list on Etsy.

Probably all of them will get listed.  However, I sometimes will notice a significant flaw to a book as I prepare the listing.  When that happens, the book gets set aside and is not listed.  

If you would like to be notified of when I have new listings, you can follow my stores on eBay and Etsy.  Both sites have a heart pictured somewhere near the top.  On eBay, it says "save this seller" after the heart.  On Etsy, it says "favorite shop" after the heart.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I will update again as I continue this process.