Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Bad Packers Don't Care + Recently Damaged Comic Books

The first part of this post was written in March 2019 and was not published until now.  I also have added a story about a recent package that I mailed that resulted in damaged contents.

Periodically, collectors post photos of bad packaging online.  Sometimes, the books arrive fine without damage.  This usually results in at least one person making a comment like, "What's the problem?  The books arrived fine."

That kind of response is curious.  I have seen it rather often on message boards frequented primarily by sellers.  I have also seen it quoted as a response given by a seller when a buyer has contacted the seller to complain about bad packaging.  The seller further annoys the buyer by making that kind of response.

When someone makes this kind of reply in a message thread, I assume that they are a seller who packs badly.  They take the view that as long as the books arrive okay most of the time, then there is not a problem.  This is why contacting these sellers to complain about the packaging is not going to help. They won't change, because they don't care.

I also think it's a bit rude for a seller who doesn't care to butt into a message thread about badly packaged books and make a statement in disagreement.  A few months back [back from March 2019], it happened in a thread in one of the Facebook groups.  This one person seemed to want to dispute whether the package really arrived damaged or whether it had been opened for inspection, possibly by customs.  Sigh.

The package was a media mail package, which is used by United States sellers to send to United States buyers.  It didn't go through customs.  The package also wasn't opened for inspection since the postage service always stamps those packages with a message stating that the package was opened.

It's just really strange how some people don't want to believe that packages ever arrive damaged.  


December 22, 2021:  A buyer contacted me last week about some comic books he purchased from me.  They arrived damaged with the lower corner of the comics bent.  It was significant, and this kind of damage completely devalues the comics.    

The package was international and went to the United Kingdom.  The comics were bagged and boarded.  I wrapped the stack of 12 comics in plastic and mailed them inside of a 12" x 9" x 3" sturdy Uline box with padding.  I was perplexed when the buyer contacted me, so I asked for additional information.

The box was not damaged.  The buyer said that it looked like one side of the box might have been very slightly dented inwards but that the box didn't look damaged.  The box had not been opened by customs, and the comics were still wrapped in the stretch wrap.

I was having trouble wrapping my mind around how the comics were damaged while the outer box was fine.  I really pondered this.  Finally, I realized that the comics did not have enough support with the backing boards.  The stack of comics was heavy enough that it was likely to shift inside the package while the package got thrown around.  The stack must have shifted up against the side of the box.  The box was probably thrown hard where a flat edge hit a surface straight on so as not to be dented inwards.  The corner of the stack of comics probably hit against that side of the box, and the corners were damaged.

I can see where I went wrong.  The comics probably would have been okay if mailed to a United States address via priority mail.  I did not pack well enough for international, and I did not even necessarily pack well enough for domestic.

I should have placed heavy cardboard (perhaps even a double layer) on the bottom of the stack to support the comics.  I also should have placed heavy cardboard on the top of the stack as well.  Furthermore, I should have made certain that the stack of comics could move not at all within the box.  I think that I didn't use enough paper to pad the stack of comics.  This was definitely my fault.  

Yes, the international postal system was rough with the package, but better packing could have prevented the damage.  Therefore, I fully refunded the buyer's purchase.  I apologized and remarked that while I was refunding the purchase that I could not truly make it right.  The comics were to be a Christmas present, and there was no time left for the buyer to purchase a replacement that would arrive on time.

Some of you might think I was scammed, since the outer box was not damaged.  No, I can read people pretty well.  I know when someone is pulling something and when they are telling the truth.  I was provided pictures of the comics, and they were definitely damaged.  This person was genuinely regretful and disappointed about the damage since it was to be a present.  When they first contacted me, they said that the comics should have been secured better inside the box and that they would not have purchased the comics if they had known how they would be packed.  The buyer made no demands in that initial message or at any point.  I asked for more information, and then I refunded the purchase with my apologies.  I remain quite chagrined about it.  

Another lot of comics sold a few days later to somebody else, this time in Texas.  These comics didn't have the backing boards, and I didn't have any on hand.  I was very paranoid when packing them and spent a lot of time on that package.  I had double cardboard on the bottom and cardboard on the top.  I also cut the cardboard large enough to be able to fold it down over the sides.  I did everything I could to make the comics immobile inside the cardboard.  I used lots of packing paper to get the enclosed stack of comics to where it was quite unlikely to move around.

That package was delivered two days ago.  I haven't heard from the buyer, so the comics are probably fine.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Facebook Group Behavior

This post was written in 2017 and 2018 and has remained unpublished until now.  My comments are a bit blunt.


Last year I wrote about my loss of enthusiasm for Facebook.  My enthusiasm has waxed and waned since that time.  Right now [in March 2018], my main thought is that I greatly miss the wonderful discussions we used to have in the Yahoo! Groups.  I spent several hours recently running searches in one of the Yahoo! Groups to read comments about Kay Tracey.  We had such great discussions in those groups, and members actually paid attention to what other members wrote.  On Facebook, members skim or don't read at all, then in response they make inane comments with little substance.

The comments in this blog tend to be much better, so I feel that a higher percentage of this blog's readers are actually paying attention to what they read.  Facebook is such a mess.

On Facebook, members make openly critical comments directed towards others. This comes in several forms.  Sometimes a member will make a strong statement about how they do not understand why others collect certain books.  These statements come across as rude and demeaning.  I wonder if the members who make them have any idea how they sound.

Members will also make strong statements about how awful a certain series is.  It's not a problem to dislike a series, but these statements are worded in such a fashion that they are guaranteed to upset fans of that series.

I mentioned in my previous post [apparently this post] how members expect low prices for series books since just about the only prices mentioned in the groups are the cheap prices.  I didn't mention why the rest of us don't mention the prices.  Some of the members who expect low prices would make insulting comments directed at us.  It has happened to many of us.  We admit to someone what we paid for something, and their response is that we paid too much.

Over the years, I have seen collectors who expect low prices also sneer at others because they feel that books are being kept away from them by the ones who pay higher prices.  Just read some quotes from issues of a old series book publication.  I mentioned in that post that some of the letter writers are well-known collectors.  Some of those people are now in the current Facebook groups and also read this blog.  Therefore, it is understandable why many of us reveal very little information about what we pay for our books.

Members keep correcting each other if they don't use the proper term.  I have seen that several times recently, and it annoys me.  Let's talk about my online sales listings.  I purposely do not use the proper terms in some of my listings because the average person looking for the Nancy Drew book they read as a child does not know the proper bibliographic terms.  Why create confusion when my buyers are not advanced bibliophiles?

Yet I know some of you read my listings and silently criticize me.  Take for instance when a pastedown is flawed.  I state that the pastedown endpaper is flawed. Oh, I can imagine the smirks, but I want my buyers to know what I mean. Other times, I dispense with the proper term completely and just refer to damage on the inside front or back cover.  Using ordinary language is better when dealing with average people who just want to enjoy a piece of their childhood.  Quit being snobs.

I also should know better than to try to be humorous.  I let my guard down last summer [summer of 2017], and made what I thought were humorous comments on several posts.  I could tell that in every case at least one person misunderstood, thinking I was dead serious.  The lesson learned is that I must quit trying to be funny at all.  People just can't understand humor online.

Speaking of which, this also reminds me that many of you take my reviews way too literally.  When I make humorous (what I think are humorous) remarks in some reviews about how a book tortured me, some of you start comforting me about my absolutely awful experience.  Hey, I don't read books to be tortured.  If I had been truly tortured, I would not have read the book.  Try not to take everything so literally, or you'll discourage me from being even slightly funny.  You've already made me pull back a lot.

On the other hand, when I write about what I intend to do, read, or quit reading, then you should take those statements literally.  I am not exaggerating or trying to be humorous, so you should not read meaning into the statements that is not there.  When I state that I have quit reading something, I get asked for clarification.  If I have quit reading something, then I have quit.  I probably will never ever in a million years get back to it.  I quit reading Grace Harlowe in 2011.  I still haven't gotten back to those books.  I'm not sure if I ever will.  [I never have and never will.  I sold all of my Grace Harlowe books.]

Back to the groups, people keep taking them off topic.  I'm not just referring to the groups I manage, and I am getting tired of it.  Facebook has groups for any type of book you can imagine.  Whatever it is, there is a place for it.   You don't need to take one group off topic to discuss something else.  It is a constant struggle everyday to keep a group on topic.  Some people don't like me anymore because they don't like me telling them that certain topics are not appropriate.

The groupies are annoying.  These are people who have decided that a certain member is just perfect and can do no wrong.  Some people who seem to be groupies are actually just people trying to manipulate a certain person by pretending to be a groupie.  All group administrators, moderators, website owners, blog writers, and online sellers have groupies, both real and fake.  I have had a few groupies of the fake kind who worked hard to ingratiate themselves by gushing compliments or granting me favors that I did not want or care to reciprocate.  Needless to say, those fake groupies are now former fake groupies since I did not respond in the way they wanted.

Other people are real groupies and genuinely love the person they gush over.  Most of the time, this isn't bad, and everyone likes to be appreciated.  However, the behavior can be excessively annoying when they gush too much.  I recall one exchange on Facebook.  I'm not going to give details, since both people might be reading this, but if I did, you'd understand how truly ridiculous and nauseating the compliment was.  The compliment rang false and was completely not based on reality.  I couldn't believe it when I read it, and I wanted to slap some sense into the person who made the fake compliment.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Revered Series and Trying Out a New Series

This post contains the content from two old draft posts that were never finished.  The content is presented as originally written with some current thoughts included.

Draft title:  Revered Series (July 3, 2016)

Some series are revered in such a way that collectors who don't like those series feel like they have to hide that fact.  The series that come to mind are Ken Holt, Judy Bolton, and Trixie Belden.  I've known for a long time that Ken Holt and Trixie Belden are revered, but I recently realized that the same is true for Judy Bolton.

Someone on Facebook made the statement that Judy Bolton is treated like the Rosetta Stone.  I hadn't thought about it, but I recall hearing about an intense rivalry between Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew fans that occurred during the 1980s.  I didn't witness that, but Judy Bolton fans have a strong opinion about their favorite series.

December 2021 comment:  Ken Holt is a series where I do not feel like I can give a true opinion.  I have reviewed the books in this blog, but I probably wasn't entirely honest in some places.  I don't feel that I can be, since Ken Holt is treated as another Rosetta Stone series.  My introductory post gives more information about how I feel about Ken Holt. 

The "group think" where it seems that everyone loves a certain book or series or that everyone hates a certain book or series keeps the rest of us from speaking up.  Many people on Facebook think that everyone hates Nancy Drew #58 The Flying Saucer Mystery.  No, quite a few of us do like it.  We keep quiet as those who dislike the book expound on their views.  We aren't always comfortable interjecting our opinions into those discussions.

Draft Title:  Trying Out a New Series (August 14, 2016)

Readers of series books are always looking for new series to try.  We all have different tastes, so what appeals to one reader might not appeal to another.  We do know that if we can find a series that is similar to a favorite that we will probably end up liking it a lot.

Once we find a series that might be to our liking, we have to decide which title to try.  Sometimes this doesn't matter.  Other times, if the wrong title is selected, the reader might be turned off by a series that would otherwise be appealing.  I want to give some suggestions on series that are similar and which titles to try—or which titles to avoid.

The Nancy Drew series is a favorite of many series enthusiasts.  It makes no difference which book is selected, since the series does not progress.  The Mary Lou books are very similar to the early original text Nancy Drew books.

Other series that are considered similar to Nancy Drew are Penny Parker and to a lesser degree the Dana Girls and Kay Tracey.

If you like the Dana Girls, you will most likely enjoy Kay Tracey.

I also think collectors lose sight of the fact that recommending their favorite books in a series as the ones that a new collector should try first is often not the best approach.

December 2021 comment:  Judy Bolton is a series where fans often recommend the wrong books.  I've seen The Rainbow Riddle suggested as a book to try, since it is a favorite book of many fans.  The problem is that The Rainbow Riddle is a sentimental book that will only appeal to fans who have read the previous 16 books.  It doesn't work as the first book read.

Instead, fans should suggest Judy Bolton books that read well as stand-alone books and that were written in a fashion more similar to other series books.  The goal is to acquire new fans, so books that would appeal most to a new fan are the ones that should be suggested.  

I concluded my summary post about the Judy Bolton series with this statement.

For readers wishing to try out the series, no single book will be representative of all of the books due to the variance in premise and style.  My suggestions for the very best titles to try are #18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 36, and 38.  These titles are the ones that would most easily be enjoyed by people who have never read a Judy Bolton book before and have no knowledge of the series.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Nancy Drew Matte Picture Covers with Double Oval Endpapers

I have always dismissed the Nancy Drew matte picture cover editions with the double oval endpapers as being of no interest and of minimal value.  Most other collectors have had the same opinion and continue to feel that way.  During the last few years, I have begun to reconsider my stance on these books.  

I know of a few people who seek out these books.  I have been aware of that for several years, which is when my opinion began to shift.  In early October, I found some very nice examples of the books in a local store.

A Mystery Concerning a Few Nancy Drew Books Found Locally

I was impressed by how nice of condition the books were in, and I was also surprised that some of the books were from 1987. 

In late October, I found more of them and wrote about the books on Facebook.

I purchased some more Nancy Drew books with double oval endpapers today in a local store.  I am confident that these books are from the same original source as the ones I blogged about earlier in the month.  I purchased these books today since I already have some of the books that are likely from the same original set.  I love acquiring groups of books that have been together all along.  

Like the books I previously purchased, these books have nice white paper that has not yellowed.  The books are in excellent condition with the only flaw being some bumping on the spines.  These books are stated as being 1985 and 1986 printings on the copyright page.

These are the photos that I used in my Facebook post.

I have now found another group of the matte books with the double oval endpapers.  This time some of the books have good quality paper, while others have poor quality paper.

I am confident that this new group of books has been together from the beginning due to the markings on the back covers.  Five of the books have a price sticker from the same place, while all of the books have had the price obscured with marker.

Since this group has paper of varying quality, I looked for printing dates and other differences.  None of these books contain any information about when they were printed.  The last title listed on the back cover means nothing, since all books with double oval endpapers list to Thirteenth Pearl. 

I did spot one difference.  Some of the books have a UPC while others do not.  My purchases from October all have a UPC, and all of those books have good quality paper.  For this most recent purchase, two books have a UPC while the rest do not.  The two books with a UPC have good quality paper.  Five of the seven books without the UPC have poor quality paper.  The books with the UPC must have been printed later, and these books have good quality paper.  

The matte Nancy Drew books had good quality paper throughout the 1960s and 1970s when the books had the blue multi or black and white multi endpapers.  When the books switched to double oval endpapers, the paper quality became poor.  At some point during the run of the books with the double oval endpapers, the UPC codes were introduced on the books and the paper quality improved to the same as it was during the 1960s and 1970s.  

The paper quality didn't necessarily change at the same time as the change in the endpapers or the introduction of the UPC code.  I will have to see more books before I can draw any conclusions about that.  Since pretty much all collectors have dismissed these books as being of no interest, we don't know that much about them.

Farah's Guide states that the books with double oval endpapers were in print from 1982 through 1986.  I have always believed that to be true and have never questioned it.  Based on my own observations, it's apparent that the books with double oval endpapers were in print until 1987.  I have several of the matte books with double oval endpapers that are stated as 1987 printings.   

David Farah has never been very interested in the picture cover editions (he told me this), especially any printings after 1979.  For that reason, his guide has only sketchy details for anything from after 1979 and some information, like for the books with double oval endpapers, is approximate.  Note to certain people:  This is not a criticism, so consider controlling your reaction.

According to Hardy and Hardy Investigations, the Hardy Boys books were published in the matte edition with double oval endpapers from 1980 through 1987.  The Nancy Drew books would have been published in the matte edition with the double oval endpapers during the same years.  So, I'm going with 1980 through 1987 for the Nancy Drew books.

We know that the flashlight editions began in 1987, so the transition occurred during that year.  I suspect that the transition from black and white multi endpapers to double oval endpapers occurred during 1980.  Likely, the entire duration of the double oval endpapers was probably right at seven years.

Back in the 1990s and early 2000s, I considered the books with double oval endpapers to be pretty common.  I felt like they were going to become increasingly common in the secondhand market, like on eBay.  That hasn't happened.  Rather, the flashlight editions have become extremely common in the secondhand market, since they have been in print for close to 35 years.

The matte books with double oval endpapers actually aren't that common.  The double oval endpapers were used for fewer years than the black and white multi endpapers.  The matte books with double oval endpapers are a bit hard to find in nice shape.  These books were made from cheaper materials similar to the book club editions and the very first picture cover editions of 1962.  Many of the books have poor quality paper that is now noticeably yellowed.  

Now that I have acquired a number of these books in very nice condition and with good quality paper, my opinion of them has improved greatly.  I am beginning to like them a lot.

This photo shows what I have at present.

Only two of the books have poor quality paper, and all of the books are in excellent condition.  They look really nice on the shelf.  

I don't necessarily want to build a set of these books.  I will keep the ones I have for now, since I am interested in learning more about the variations.  I will likely not keep the books indefinitely, since a set of them would take up shelf space that I do not have.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Books Found Locally Early December 2021

I purchased quite a few books this past week from local stores.  

The first two photos show some Trixie Belden books that are in really nice shape as well as books from a few series including Nancy Drew and Cherry Ames.  Nancy Drew Black Keys is the first printing of the revised text.

I also found some more matte Nancy Drew books from the 1980s with the double oval endpapers and no ink on the top edge.  I have a growing fascination with this format and will write more about them separately.

I found some more R. L. Stine/Fear Street books and a Sweet Valley High book.

I purchased this book because it was reduced and looked interesting.

Finally, I spotted another book for my small collection of books about cats and kittens.

I prefer the books from before 1950 (see this post), but this book is cute as well.