Saturday, November 27, 2021

Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, and R. L. Stine Books Purchased Locally

I began writing this post a week ago, and it turned into a lengthy discussion about the value of bare tweed Nancy Drew books.  I removed that part and published it independently.

The Value of Nancy Drew Bare Thick Blue and Tweed Books 

In short, Nancy Drew bare tweed books are easily worth $10 each plus tax and postage.  The bare tweed books can even sell online for well above $10 each.  

Local stores are different.  A neighborhood bookstore will not be able to get online prices for those books, while a bookstore located in a tourist hotspot should be able to get a higher price.  A bookstore located in a wealthy area might get even more than that.  Stores should price according to the demographics of their clientele.  

This leads me into the subject of this post, in which I will reveal exactly how much I paid for some books that I purchased.  I do not usually divulge that information since most of the books I buy will be sold online.  Some buyers get really offended when they realize that a seller might actually have paid less for a book than what they had to pay to get the book from the seller. 

I don't understand that reasoning, since sellers have to pay fees on the item price, the shipping cost, and even the sales tax collected.  Yes, I am charged a selling fee on the sales tax collected on the items I have sold, even though though that amount never goes in my pocket.  Selling online is rather expensive, so prices must be marked up above cost.

A seller's time should also be compensated.  But that's not the point of this post.

Back in the summer I published a post about how people reveal too much information when they mention their purchases from local stores.

Hidden Clues #9 Sharing Too Much Information

In the post, I explained how some of my local stores have greatly increased their prices on series books.  This passage is especially relevant. 

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.

Nearly one year ago when the first books in dust jacket showed up priced at $20 each, I knew that most of the books would not sell and that they would end up getting marked down eventually.  Later, when the bare tweeds showed up in the same store priced at $10 each, I had the same reaction.  

Most stores like this one must keep the books moving since new books continue to arrive.  Overpricing works against the purpose of the store, which is to sell books.  While the books might sell eventually, they end up taking a long time to do so when they are priced too high.  They also end up taking up too much shelf space that the store needs for the new arrivals.

A week ago, I checked the store that had the overpriced Nancy Drew and Dana Girls books.  The books had been recently marked down to half price.  So, my prediction came true.  I knew all along that the books would languish for months until they were marked down.  The lower prices made some of them worth purchasing and others marginally worth purchasing.  I purchased some and left others behind.

The yellow spine picture covers were recent arrivals that were priced fairly, so they had not been discounted.  The tweed Nancy Drew books had been reduced from $10 to $5 each, and the books with dust jackets had been reduced from $20 to $10 each.  I left around half of the books with dust jackets behind, since I didn't feel that the condition was good enough for me to pay $10 each.

The Nancy Drew and Dana Girls books are my core inventory.  I like to keep a good selection of each series, if at all possible.  By having those books always available, I am more likely to have regular sales, which are necessary in order to keep a favorable ranking in eBay and Etsy's search engines.  

I continue to work on downsizing parts of my collection.  Many of my books that I need to sell are hard to sell, so I must keep the popular books in stock in order to drive traffic to my stores.  Sometimes buyers might add an impulse purchase, perhaps a book in an obscure series that they wish to try, to their order to reach the $35 threshold for free shipping.  

For that reason, I am willing to pay more to get the Nancy Drew and Dana Girls books that I need.  I am finding it increasingly difficult to obtain these books.  That is to be expected since the books are getting to be older and older.  Most of the nice copies are already in personal collections.

I also really like helping others build their collections.  I enjoy the process, and I find it a lot of fun.  I love finding books locally that I can offer to those who need them.

During the last week, I kept thinking of the books that I left behind.  I decided to go back and get them.  It's interesting that my opinion of them changed since I last saw them.  I actually perceived the books to be in better condition than I did a week ago.

I was planning just to purchase the three Dana Girls books with jackets, but I decided to get the Nancy Drew books as well.  One of the Red Gate Farm books has the deeper blue multi endpapers.

I also visited another store, where I found some softcover Nancy Drew books as well as some R. L. Stine books that were in pretty good shape.  I really like the design of the Stine books.  I wish I actually liked the stories.  If I did, I would collect the books.  I tried a number of Stine books a few years ago, and I did not like the writing style at all.  That was disappointing.  At least I can enjoy looking at the books while they are in my possession.

This last picture is of some Stine books that I purchased a few weeks ago.

Friday, November 26, 2021

Books Listed on eBay and Etsy + A Listing Dilemma

This week I listed a large number of books and other items on eBay and Etsy.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I had a dilemma concerning some hardcover Three Investigators books.  The books needed to be on eBay due to condition issues, but I prefer not to sell Three Investigators books or early Nancy Drew books with dust jackets on eBay.  There is a certain problematic eBay user that I have blocked on three of their IDs.  This person deals in Three Investigators, early Nancy Drew books with dust jackets, and other books outside of my interests.  Even though I have this person blocked, he could very well circumvent the buyer block yet again.  He's already done that once before.

Circumventing a Buyer Block

His selling practices also disturb me, so I would rather not become his supplier again.

eBay's New Search Uncovers a Shady Seller
Tainting the Book Supply
Why I Don't Want to Sell Certain Books on eBay

The above posts are worth a read.  They will make clear why I keep certain books off of eBay whenever possible.

Getting back to my dilemma, I have quite a few Three Investigators books that have a musty odor.  Early this year, I used an ozone generator on the books in an attempt to get rid of the musty odor.  I believe that it helped some, but the books still smell musty.  I don't want to mess with them anymore.

Etsy is not a good venue for books with hidden flaws.  I cannot place text in bold or change the color of the text on Etsy.  I find on Etsy that buyers are less likely to look at all of the photos and are less likely to read the description.

This meant that I needed to list the musty books on eBay, but then my books would be visible to the blocked buyer.  I needed to price the books high enough to avoid gaining this person's interest.  I finally focused on this person's prices when selling the books.  I priced my books about the same as comparable books offered by this person. 

Another dilemma that I encounter fairly frequently is how to price extremely scarce books that are not in the best of condition.  The original text picture cover edition of Nancy Drew #7, The Clue in the Diary, falls into this category.  That printing is unbelievably scarce, yet it usually surfaces in bad condition.  

I have a copy available on eBay.  I may have priced it too high for the market.  We'll see.  I believe that the book is worth a good bit more than what people are willing to pay.  Quite a few people want that book fairly badly, but many of them expect for it to be priced at under $20.  The book is so scarce that pricing it under $20 is illogical.  Also, I haven't gotten my extras cheaply enough to price them that low.

At some point in the near future I want to get into a more lengthy discussion of my observation that many desirable books have an invisible cap on their values.  I find that this invisible cap often applies to the library editions and the international editions.  In short, very scarce books sometimes fail to sell due to the expectation that the price must be low.  It's an interesting topic.

Monday, November 22, 2021

Removing Library Stickers from Library Editions

I acquired some more hardcover Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Digest books.  The books featured in this post are the ones that I will keep.  

I remove the library stickers from the outside of library editions whenever possible.  I never touch anything on the inside of the book, since I prefer that information to remain.  I don't mind having library discards in my library edition sets, since nearly all existing copies came from libraries.  I want the books to look nice on the shelf, which is why I remove the stickers.

For this group of seven books, I spent close to two hours removing the stickers.  I first used a hair dryer to loosen the adhesive on the tape, and then I pulled the tape off of the books.  The removal of the tape partially removed the stickers.  After I removed the tape from all of the books, I used lighter fluid on the stickers, scraping each sticker off bit by bit.  Finally, I went back and removed the stickiness that remained on each book.

These pictures show the process.  The first photo in each sequence is of the books with the library stickers.  The second photo shows the books after the tape had been removed.  The third photo shows the books after the lighter fluid had been used to remove the stickers.

Nancy Drew #155 Tornado Alley has the white spine, and I will keep it in addition to the yellow spine hardcover that I already had.

Nancy Drew #171 Grand Opera and #172 Riding Club Crime will be kept in addition to the books I already had.  They are in slightly lesser condition but the print on the spine is darker and easier to read.  The presentation of the spines is very important to me, and this is the reason why I remove the library stickers.

Nancy Drew #173 Great Lakes will replace the book I already had.  I like the binding of the new book better.  

Hardy Boys #159 Daredevils is a title that I did not have in hardcover.

Hardy Boys #178 Black Rhino is a slight upgrade to the copy I had.

Hardy Boys Ghost Stories is a title that I did not have in hardcover.

These pictures show these new books on the shelf with my other books.

Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Value of Nancy Drew Bare Thick Blue and Tweed Books

Recently, someone posted in a Facebook group about two Nancy Drew books that they purchased in an antique shop.  Ivory Charm was $45, and Larkspur Lane was $30.

Members immediately offered their unsolicited advice about how the books were too expensive.  I felt bad for the buyer.  The buyer apparently deleted the post, because it vanished.  Later, someone else asked about the purchase in another group, wondering about the value.

As soon as the post asking about the value appeared, members jumped in, saying that the books were too expensive and suggesting that they are worth under $10.  

I responded to the post.

First, here is a short answer.  If you are considering a purchase, then the prices are fine and worth it if you are willing to pay them.  It's whether the books are worth it to you, not what others think.  Ivory Charm might have the four internal illustrations due to the cover texture.  I can't tell on Larkspur Lane.  If Ivory Charm has internals, then it probably is worth that price.

Checking eBay, I see copies of Ivory Charm without internals (including a wartime copy in rough shape) that sold for $20 to $30.  That doesn't surprise me, since tweed books without jackets often sell for $10 or more online.  (Yes, they do even if others think that is too high.  I have sold tweed books without jackets for $10 plus postage.  The books tend to sell fast.  There is a market for them.)  Likely, the books are worth the prices on them, although at the same time, the books could probably be found for cheaper if one is patient.

The member asking about the value clarified that someone else had purchased the books, and then I remembered the original post.  I made another response.

In these groups, members almost always will say books like these are priced too high.  There is an expectation in these groups that all books without jackets should be very cheap, as in well below $10.  Some members will say that the books should be $3 to $5.  That simply is not realistic in the real world in the 2020s.  30 to 40 years ago, sure.  Not now.

I have sold thick bare Nancy Drew books similar to these in the $25 to $35 range.  That was probably 10 to 15 years ago.  I don't recall the exact prices or anything else.  It's been a long time.

The value of bare tweed Nancy Drew books is also discussed in the groups.  Members often state that the bare tweed books are worth $2 to $3 each.  $2 to $3 is accurate for 30 years ago.  We've had a lot of inflation since that time.  The current Nancy Drew books published under the Grosset and Dunlap imprint by Penguin now retail for $9.99 each

We all remember the matte picture covers costing under $3 each.  Those days are long gone.  Any tweed Nancy Drew book or matte picture cover Nancy Drew book that is in nice shape is easily worth as much as the new books.  

I want to back up my statement about the value of bare tweed Nancy Drew books.  All of my sold listings are saved in my Etsy account.  I took screen captures of all of the tweed books.  A few books with jackets are also included, since I had no way of sorting them out of the results.

In some cases, the buyer got free shipping for purchases of $35 or more.  In other cases, the buyer purchased one book and paid $3.95 postage.  Most of the recent purchases had sales tax added, which was paid by the buyer.  This means that very often the book's actual cost was more than the price on it.

As always, you can click on an image to see a larger version.

I would price all bare tweed books at $10 or more each, but most bare tweed books that I sell have at least moderate wear.  I do not feel comfortable pricing them higher due to the condition.

I could be pricing the books with jackets too low.  However, I find the books with jackets to be much harder to sell than the bare tweed books when the jackets have chipping.  When I have tried to sell the tweed books with jackets at higher prices, they take way too long to sell.  Even when the books with jackets are in excellent condition, they take too long to sell if priced higher.  

Many years ago, a collector sold Nancy Drew books to the production for the movie, The Birdcage.  The production decided in favor of bare tweed books instead of books with dust jackets.  Some people actually like the appearance of the bare tweed books better than the ones with dust jackets.  I believe the value difference between the bare tweed books and the tweed books with jackets is much less than what most other people think.  

Other people who sell on eBay have no qualms about pricing the books higher.  Here are some sold listings from the last year.

The second listing seen below is still visible.  The book had moderate wear. 

The next sold listing is mine.  My price was $3.57 per book.  Whenever I choose to sell tweed and thick blue books in bulk lots, it is because I feel that the condition is not good enough to sell the books individually.  This means that the books have heavy wear, stains, and possibly loose pages.  

The next listing seen below is still visible.  The book had light wear.

This is enough to support my position.  Bare tweed books are worth more than just a few dollars.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Early November Sales Update

This weekend I listed over 100 books on Etsy.

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

My Etsy shop has fully reopened, but I do still have 35 inactive listings.  Most of those listings will be moved to eBay eventually.

I listed a few bulk lots on eBay, mainly of items pulled from Etsy. 

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

In order to make sure that you see all of the newly-listed items, you will have to change the sort to "newly listed."  eBay's algorithm sometimes shows the new items first.  At other times, eBay shows random stuff.  I guess the idea is to keep changing what is shown first in order to give all items a chance to sell.  I'd still rather see newest first.

My eBay store remains mostly closed.  I have 130 inactive listings which will be reactivated sometime in the next one to two weeks.  Once I have reactivated those listings, I will also begin listing many new items on eBay.

I have dozens of extra First Love from Silhouette books that I need to list.  I also have some R. L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Nancy Drew Applewood, a few Dana Girls in the blue/red jackets, Three Investigators, Vicki Barr, Ken Holt, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew with blank endpapers, my usual large selection of Nancy Drew picture covers, and lots of other assorted books.

Friday, November 5, 2021

Some Collectors Enjoy Trolling

Last week, a Hardy Boys collector called me a jerk after reading a post of mine from five years ago.  As I begin this post, I will go on the assumption that the collector was truly angered by my post and was not just trolling.

Hardy Boys Wanderer Books and Judy Bolton Picture Covers

The anonymous collector wrote, "You wouldn't 'mind' them falling into your hands? What a jerk. Those of us who have been fans for decades work hard to get a set, not just to [s]ell them and make money."

My first thought was, Wow, such anger.  I then approved the comment, because why not?  If someone wants to act this way, then I might as well let everyone else see.  Finally, I went to the post and quickly skimmed it in order to see what triggered this person's response.

In the post, I mentioned how much I enjoyed reading the Hardy Boys Digest set.  I stated how I wouldn't mind having a set of the Wanderer books in hardcover with dust jackets.  Even so, I didn't want to spend the time and money involved in building a set, simply because I am not obsessive about the Hardy Boys series like I am with Nancy Drew.  I was happy acquiring whichever books I was lucky enough to find should they "fall into my hands."  The purchase that was detailed in the blog post resulted in me acquiring a few extras.  I mentioned that I would be selling the extras.  I never stated that I would be selling any of the rest of the books.  

Apparently those statements angered this person so much that they had to call me a jerk for selling books.  The bottom line is this:  If no one ever sold books, then collectors would never be able to buy books. 

It's now five years later, and I still have all of those books, except for the few extras that were sold at too low of a price.  Here are pictures of my set, which is incomplete since I am not trying hard to finish it.  Even though completing the set is low priority, I would like to do so eventually.

It took me over two years to sell the extras.  It shouldn't have been that hard.  The books were ultimately sold for well below what I should have gotten for them and well below what I would now get for them.  I remember that a reseller purchased a number of them.  The anonymous commenter thinks that I am a big bad reseller, but instead, I am often used as a supplier by other people who then resell the books at much higher prices.  I am a small fish, not one of the big ones.

I mentioned the person who purchased some of the Hardy Boys Wanderer books with dust jackets in this post.  Here is the portion of the post about that buyer.

I would just love to tell you who this person is, but I will refrain.  The buyer is a prominent seller on sites like Amazon, AbeBooks, Biblio, and others.

This person purchased a book from me, and then sent a message asking if I combine shipping.  I said that I do.  I made a grave error in not setting a time limit for combining orders.  I will never make that mistake again.

The buyer purchased a second book and sent a message thanking me for combining the orders.  I figured that the buyer was finished, which was my second grave error that evening.  I combined the orders in one box and refunded the extra postage.  Around 30 minutes after that, the buyer purchased some more books, each individually so that postage was charged on every order.  The buyer also sent another message thanking me for combining all the orders.  This time, I did nothing.  I waited.  Around four hours later, the buyer came back yet again and purchased another book.

This time I sent a link to the remaining ones, telling the buyer that if he wanted them as well to go ahead and purchase them.  He did not make any additional purchases.  Maybe I annoyed him.  Whatever.  I was more than just annoyed myself.  I was furious about his lack of consideration.  He was causing me extra work, and I could not get the books packed until he was finally finished.

In case the problem is not obvious, I had already packed the first two books thinking that the buyer was done.  The buyer received shipping notices for those books, since this was on eBay, so he knew that I had already packed the books.  The buyer then proceeded to purchase additional books, expecting me to combine them with the books that were already packed.  If I hadn't agreed to combine shipping, I would not have unpacked the first two books and repacked them with the later books.

I want to touch on another thought I had a few days ago.  This person who just called me a jerk didn't consider how my attitude towards the Hardy Boys Wanderer editions in dust jacket has saved the diehard collectors some money.  Since I stay out of the fray, I don't drive the prices of auctions up.  My inaction is keeping the prices lower than they otherwise would be.

This recent comment might just be the latest trolling by one of a small number of collectors who enjoy trolling.  They especially enjoy anonymous attacks.  In the late 1990s, there was a Usenet group called  The remnants of that newsgroup still reside on Google's servers.  A few collectors went after each other ruthlessly.  They created dozens of fake ids, using them to trash each other and a few other prominent collectors.  They ended up destroying the newsgroup, so everyone had to leave. 

The attacks that have been made in this blog and in other places online over the last 20 years are tied to the collectors from alt.books.nancy-drew.  Those same collectors are also some of the people who sparred in the letters pages of The Mystery and Adventure Series Review during the 1990s.  Read these past posts from 2011 for more of the background information.

An Explanation and My New Blog Policy

Series Book Collecting and Prices 

The first of the two linked posts mentions "unfortunate events" that upset me.  Those events occurred in the comments to the post "The Tenth Nancy Drew 1930A-1 Old Clock Dust Jacket."  One of the collectors took a shot at me via an id created to hide their identity.  I responded in anger, and then another person who had previously always been very friendly to me then told me I was the problem.  I  deleted my original response, feeling like everyone was against me.  After the events of that summer, my skin became quite thicker, and I no longer care about the collectors who keep throwing out insults while hiding behind various screen names.  

On more than one of the above linked posts, at least two of the collectors who participated in the disputes in made comments.  One of those collectors identified himself while the other one used more than one alias for different comments.