Sunday, October 31, 2021

Late October Selling, Postage, and Search Problems Update

My eBay and Etsy stores are now both open.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay 

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

Many of my current Etsy listings expire in just a few days.  I went ahead and activated everything that had not yet reached the four-month expiration date.  My inventory will decrease once those listings expire, since some of them, like the Nancy Drew Files, will be moved to bulk lots.

I do not expect the school year to get any easier than it is at present.  This school year is far harder than last year.  We are trying to rebuild students' skills and work ethic while we continue to deal with all the assorted problems of the continuing pandemic.  We already have the mental fatigue that we usually don't reach until near the end of each school year, and we still have 6 1/2 months to go.  

For that reason, I am keeping many of my current listings inactive for now.  I want to make sure that I can handle selling before I allow all of my listings to be available.  By keeping many listings inactive, my sales will stay at a relatively low level.

I plan to reopen fully at about Thanksgiving, but that depends upon how everything goes.  I could end up changing my mind.


eBay suddenly changed the store design last week without any notification.  This wouldn't have been a problem if they hadn't made the design less functional.  Why is it that the new version of everything is always worse?  

It doesn't look like I can set a default sort for my store.  That functionality was removed.  When buyers follow a store, they like to see what is new.  I know this because I am a buyer.  I check the new listings.  I don't want to see whichever random listings eBay thinks I should see.  For that reason, I have always had my store set to display newest first.  

Another problem, which I consider a big one, is that eBay removed the category list from the sidebar.  Presumably this was to optimize the stores for mobile devices.  Buyers must now open a drop-down menu.  In the below image, I circled where the dropdown menu is located.

The next problem is the disappearance of the category hierarchies.  Actually, that was already a problem that I wanted to fix.  The category hierarchies have never been apparent until after the top-level category has been selected.  That has always bothered me, and this change certainly isn't helping the situation.  This next image shows how hard it is for buyers to notice that subcategories exist.  I circled the symbols which are rather hard to see.

I removed the hierarchy and now have all of the subcategories as top-level categories like I do on Etsy.  It is much better.

With these changes, I now believe that Etsy has a better interface.  Etsy does have some limitations which I dislike.  Sellers can have only 20 categories and only 25 characters in each category title.  Those parameters are too restrictive for me, but I manage to do what I need in spite of the limitations.

eBay allows up to 300 categories and 30 characters in each category's title.  Having 300 categories is far more than I need and is fantastic!  But what good is having 300 categories when buyers don't know where the categories are?  

Etsy allows me to have the default sort set to newest first.  Having my newest listings first is very important to me.  eBay no longer has this option.  Not good, eBay.  

I should mention that eBay does have a place where the buyer can change the sort to whatever is desired.  My complaint is that the seller should have the option to set a default sort that the buyer can then change if desired. 

Media mail is significantly higher in cost than it was in early August.  USPS has a holiday surcharge in place currently.  While I have not seen media mail specifically mentioned, it must be subject to the surcharge because the rates I am paying for packages are noticeably higher.  My $3.95 postage charge for one book is woefully inadequate.  My cost to mail one book is now between $5 and $6.  This includes the cost of packaging.  

My continuing offer of free shipping on orders of $35 may need to be adjusted.  I expect that I will keep it, but I may have to raise the prices of my books to cover some of the postage cost.  Everything is getting so much more expensive.

eBay search continues to be massively screwed up.  If you sell on eBay, run a search on eBay for whatever you plan to list.  Look to see in which category eBay has placed your search results.  When a search is run for all items on eBay, the results are often restricted to one specific category.  When I run searches for most series books, eBay restricts the results to the "Antiquarian & Collectible Books" category.  I then have to select "all" to see everything else.

Many buyers will never notice the problem, so they won't see your books if they aren't in the specific category selected by eBay's search.  I have moved all of my books to the "Antiquarian & Collectible Books" category.  An added benefit is that I no longer need to fill in most of eBay's item specifics, so this is a win-win situation for me.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Making Progress on My Set of Hardcover Hardy Boys Digest Books

I am currently building a set of hardcover Hardy Boys Digest books, #59 through #190.  I began working on this set in 2017.  I finished reading through the complete set of Hardy Boys Digest books in late 2016, so my pursuit of a set in hardcover came as a direct result of reading the books.  I feel that the Hardy Boys Digest set is a stronger group of books than the Nancy Drew Digest set.  I like the Hardy Boys Digest books a lot and would like to own all of them in hardcover.

I have made a lot of progress in just 4 1/2 years.

On Monday, I mentioned my latest hardcover Hardy Boys Digest purchase on Facebook:

I have stated more than once that I thought I could avoid having to box up extra books.  The hope was that I would reopen my stores before having to box up extras.  Well... it doesn't help that I just purchased this bulk lot of Hardy Boys books.  This purchase will put me close to needing boxes.  I might just leave them in the box.  Boxes, here I come!

I don't have five of the hardcover Hardy Boys Digests from the lot.  The cost was more than I wanted to spend to get them since I don't want the flashlight editions, but I decided that needing five books made it marginally worth it.  I then looked at the photo one more time before making the purchase.  I saw HB #59, 60, 61, 63, 64, and 66.  The inclusion of those books definitely made the lot worth purchasing.

I really didn't want to purchase 42 Hardy Boys flashlight editions that were library discards in order to acquire five hardcover digests.  At the same time, I knew that I had to do it.  The books have now arrived.

I have removed the stickers from the books that I plan to keep.  Five of them are books that I need, while one is an upgrade.

I also removed the stickers from the flashlight editions of #59, 60, 61, 63, 64, and 66.  

I will be selling the above group of books, and I believe that I can get more for them without the stickers on the spines.  The books are still library discards, but they have light wear and will display well.

I am not removing the stickers from the digests that I plan to sell.

I do not believe the presence of the library stickers will deter anyone from purchasing the books.  Those of us who collect library editions know how to remove library stickers.  I don't wish to take the time to remove the stickers from these books since I believe they will sell readily as is.  I already spent over an hour removing the stickers from the other books, so I will let someone else take care of these.

I also will leave the stickers on all of the flashlight editions of #58 and lower.  Those books will go in one bulk lot and will be sold fairly cheaply.  My goal is to get them out of here as soon as I can.  That is, I want to get them out of here as soon as I can after I begin selling again.

I now have 90 of the Hardy Boys Digest books in hardcover, and I need 42 more.  At present, I have over two-thirds of the set, and I'm certain that my progress so far has been much more rapid than it was when I was first building my hardcover Nancy Drew Digest set.  I am also not trying very hard.  I am purchasing what I happen to see, and I have not yet reached the point of doing exhaustive searches title-by-title like I did for years with the Nancy Drew Digest books.   However, I do feel that I am nearing that level of my search.  It is about time to begin trying harder.

Here's my set as it currently appears.

Some of the library stickers are very dry and are stuck hard to the books.  Those are the stickers that I have left on the books.  Sometimes removing the stickers isn't worth the trouble even for the books I wish to keep.

When I worked on my set of the hardcover Nancy Drew Digest books, I had the most trouble with the highest-numbered titles, such as #175 and the titles immediately before it.  With the hardcover Hardy Boys Digest books, I have had no trouble with the highest-numbered titles.  I already have all of #176 through #190, so I have all of the final titles in the set.  It looks like the middle of the Hardy Boys set will be harder for me to finish.

All in all, I have made great progress so far on my set.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

A Mystery Concerning a Few Nancy Drew Books Found Locally

I purchased some books locally. 

I saw some Nancy Drew books with the double oval endpapers.  That format was the final matte format from the early 1980s.  The books do not have ink on the top edge.  Most collectors do not seem to like this format, although for several years I have been aware of an increased interest among certain collectors.

As I looked over the books, I pulled Old Album off of the shelf followed by Sky Phantom. 

The final cover art for Old Album is scarce in the matte edition, which makes even the double oval endpapers edition desirable.  Sky Phantom is one of the scarcest of the high-numbered Nancy Drew matte editions.  The most scarce title is Thirteenth Pearl followed by Crocodile Island and then Sky Phantom.  Sometimes I find that Sky Phantom is harder to find than Crocodile Island.  It just depends.

After I had the above books in my hands I realized that they appear to be new old stock.  The covers are very smooth and unblemished.  Some of the books have minor bumping to the spine ends, but otherwise, they have no wear and have never been fully opened.  The paper is still white, which is unusual for the books with double oval endpapers.  They appear to be in "as new" condition except for the minor bumping.  

As soon as I made those observations, I pulled the other four books with double oval endpapers off the shelf.  I wasn't going to leave any of them behind.  The books were definitely worth purchasing.

Once I got home with the books, I looked over them more carefully.  

Missing Map, Crumbling Wall, and Old Album are stated as being 1985 printings on the copyright pages.  This is no surprise.

This is where it gets odd.  Double Jinx, Glowing Eye, and Sky Phantom are stated as being 1987 printings on the copyright pages.  I was taken aback, because I have always understood that the flashlight editions began by 1986.  What is going on here?

The books from 1987 have a suggested retail price of $4.50 on the back cover.  For one book, the price is printed on the back cover.  The other two books have a publisher's price sticker on the back cover. 

Not much is known about the transition of the matte picture cover books to the flashlight editions.  Most collectors have completely ignored both formats.  There is a story that has passed between collectors ever since the late 1980s that some very early flashlight edition books had double oval endpapers.  The explanation would be that the final text blocks printed for the matte era were instead used on the first flashlight editions.  However, nobody has ever come forth with a picture of one of these books.  

It's possible that some matte bindings were left over and accidentally not used when they should have been.  These three books might have been bound from some leftover matte bindings that were paired with text blocks intended for the flashlight editions.  

This sort of thing does occasionally happen.  I own one odd example of a Nancy Drew book with a 1949-1950 binding that contains endpapers from later in the 1950s.

I also purchased these books.

Friday, October 1, 2021

Reflections about the Nancy Drew Series on The CW

I wrote this awhile back and thought about splitting the post into two parts.  In looking over the post today, I decided that it was fine overall but edited some parts.  The third season of CW's Nancy Drew series premieres in one week, so this is a good time to publish this post.

The Nancy Drew CW show is quite controversial since it is very different from the original books.  Some fans have been able to enjoy the show, while others cannot.  My impression has been that at least 75% of Nancy Drew fans don't like the show.  However, when many people are vocal about being against something, the fans who like it don't speak up.  The actual percentage of fans who don't like the show is likely lower than what it appears, but I still think more than 50% of fans do not like the show. 

This is quite understandable, especially considering how the first five minutes of the first episode of the series played out.  The series opening scene was ill-conceived and guaranteed that a majority of Nancy Drew fans would never like the show.

Back in 2002 (or more likely in early 2003), I spoke up in favor of the Nancy Drew movie starting Maggie Lawson amid strong criticism by what seemed like most other fans.  Many were making rather strong negative statements about the movie, and I didn't understand why they were so upset.  I still don't understand why they were so upset.  But anyway, I felt I had to say something to defend the movie.  I did but immediately regretted it. 

One fan who didn't like the movie upset me by specifically responding to my comments, tearing them apart, and twisting them around to support his viewpoint against the movie.  I've never forgotten that response and remain a bit bitter about it.  I was wryly amused not too long ago when that very person posted on Facebook about how he has changed his mind about that movie.  Years ago, he was so upset about the Maggie Lawson movie that he could not tolerate people expressing opinions in favor of it.  Now he thinks that movie is okay.

If I could go back in time, I would never have spoken up in favor of that movie.  My feelings were quite hurt after what happened. 

I stay out of discussions about the CW Nancy Drew series when the content overwhelmingly consists of fans stating that they do not like the show.  That's because I don't belong in those discussions.  I do read the comments, and I respect the opinions.  

Likewise, most of those fans stay out of episode discussions and posts where the content is from fans who enjoy the show.  If you are one of those respectful fans, your actions do not go unnoticed.  When you state your negative opinion of the show, it holds more weight because you comment when appropriate.    

Other fans insert themselves into every discussion post about the show.  They'll interrupt a discussion just to let us know that they hate the show.  Being obnoxious doesn't win any points.  I just ignore them.  Nothing in their comments even makes an impression on me because of how they do it.

If you want to have a chance at convincing people of something, you have to do it right.  You can't force people to agree with you like some people try to do.

I pay attention to the negative comments of the thoughtful fans who place their comments appropriately.  Some of you have stated that you are concerned about how the CW series could impact Nancy Drew's legacy.  You worry that the series could change the books.  This is a valid concern.

At this point in time, I'm not worried about it, but it is possible that the show could impact the books eventually.  If  it ever does, then I will be in line to complain.

To me, book Nancy is sacred.  Everything about book Nancy is sacred: the covers, the titles, the stories, and the character.  I dislike altered covers.  That is, I do like some altered covers if they gently poke fun at the original cover and keep the spirit of the original cover.  I strongly dislike altered covers that use sex, drugs, or foul language to make a joke.  That's not funny to me, since book Nancy has nothing to do with any of that.

I have had a problem with some of the books in the Nancy Drew Diaries series because I have felt that the ghostwriters have not be true to book Nancy.  In some books, Nancy seems reluctant to solve mysteries.  The other characters poke fun at her.  That's not how book Nancy should be.  

Some readers of this blog have tried to defend Nancy's characterization in the Diaries books, saying that the publisher is trying to make her relatable.  If that is true, then they have missed the mark.  Characters can be imperfect and shown to be that way without making them the butt of jokes.  

I want to mention why I like the CW show even though it isn't like book Nancy.  I see filmed versions as in a separate universe from the books.  If I find the filmed version to be entertaining, then I can accept it being off from the original premise.  The show is not at all a proper version of Nancy Drew, but I do like it for what it is

I see the show as a young adult story that has a touch of horror and a good bit of humor.  It's not surprising that I like the show because I like young adult horror.  I like young adult books just as much as I do vintage series books.  I really do, and this is the main reason why I do like CW Nancy Drew.  It's not a children's show and is not at all innocent, which is why many (or most) Nancy Drew fans don't like it.  I like it fine since it fits into a genre that I greatly enjoy.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I read Christopher Pike's books.  The stories usually have supernatural content, are humorous yet scary, and oftentimes are absurd.  The CW Nancy Drew show has all of those characteristics.

In the last decade, I have gravitated towards young adult dystopian novels.  While CW Nancy Drew is not dystopian, it certainly has some content that falls close to some of the books I have enjoyed reading.

I also appreciate that this show has lead me to watch at least one show that I otherwise never would have watched.  In the subreddit for the series, one fan asked for suggestions for other shows to watch.  One answer was Cruel Summer, which is a show from the Freeform network.  I read a short statement about the premise, which is that one teenage girl disappears while another one takes over her life.  I was intrigued, and checked out the first episode, which was available on Hulu with the rest of the episodes.  I was immediately captivated and ended up watching all of them. 

Watching Nancy Drew on The CW has also led to me being willing to watch some shows and movies based on books, such as Enola Holmes and the Fear Street trilogy on Netflix.  Thanks to the Nancy Drew series, I have actually learned a few modern songs that I otherwise never would have heard.  I like that.

I just wish that certain people wouldn't imply that something is wrong with those of us who choose to watch the CW series.  I wish that those certain people would quit pestering us.  It's okay that some of us are able to enjoy the show, just like it's okay that others aren't.  Please feel free to share your thoughts about the show, either pro or con.  It is okay.