Friday, March 31, 2023

Renee and Lisa by John Benton

From the back cover of Renee:

Renee longed for freedom.  She wanted to escape from her alcoholic mother, dilapidated home, and the drudgery of school.  Renee found brief release when smoking pot, but after she came down, the harsh reality of her life slapped her in the face once again.

When she heard that a local pusher, Greg, was fleeing town, the desperate young girl begged to go with him.  He reluctantly agreed.  Much to her horror and outrage, Greg sold her to a vicious pimp, Bruce, at a truck stop.  Renee quickly learned that if she tried to escape from Bruce he'd kill her.  Therefore, she submitted to the degradation and danger of being a prostitute.  Only the drugs enabled her to endure the humiliation.  Every day her chance for survival looked bleaker and bleaker.  Her dreams for a better life vanished in the grim reality of her nightmarish existence, but Renee had no friends to help her.  How could she ever escape from the mess she had made of her life?

Content: sexual abuse, prostitution, drug use, theft, rape, burglary

I found the early part of the book to be pretty interesting, but I partially lost interest later in the story.  I skimmed the last one-third of the book.

From the back cover of Lisa:

Although she was a 23-year-old prostitute and junkie, Lisa Tomassio still tried to keep her life under control.  However, as her drug habit grew more insatiable, it also grew more expensive.  Therefore, she reluctantly agreed to take part in high-risk crimes that yielded high profits.  She survived one murder attempt only to be threatened first by mobsters and then by a perverted neighbor who her mother believed was a "nice young man."  Lisa knew that eventually her "walk on the wild side" would lead to death.  Therefore, she responded eagerly when she heard of a detour to hope and new life.  No matter where you are today, let Lisa show you the path to deliverance and peace.

Content: prostitution, drug use, rape, human trafficking 

From page 50:

I washed off the works like the guy had said.  As I was washing off the needle, I kept thinking about who might have used it before.  One of the things junkies worry about is AIDS.  A lot of addicts have died from it.  Another disease junkies can easily get is hepatitis. 

AIDS is also mentioned on pages 55 and 135.  It took until the end of the set for AIDS to be mentioned.

I enjoyed this book.

Monday, March 27, 2023

Thoughts on the Value of Nancy Drew #56 The Thirteenth Pearl

I have long suspected that most people seeking to purchase a matte edition of Nancy Drew #56 The Thirteenth Pearl do not care which printing they get.  A growing number of collectors are fine with the double oval editions.  Most of you still scorn them, but some people do appreciate them.  I am now part of that group, but only when the double oval editions are in nice shape and have good quality paper.

The double oval books tend to surface in bad condition.  They were made from cheaper materials than the previous matte printings.  Those books, just like the book club edition picture covers from the 1960s, look worse when in rough shape than the other matte editions do. 

Click on this photo from a current eBay listing.  Look at the double oval editions (the ones with no ink on the top edge).  There is something about how the double ovals look when worn that I find yucky.  That was my sole reason for not liking them in the past.

Once I found a bunch of double oval editions in nice shape, I discovered that I really enjoy them.  Look at these beauties.

Last night, I checked on recent sold listings of Nancy Drew #55 and #56.  I needed to know if the value has changed since in the fall.  I was surprised to see the highest sold copy of Thirteenth Pearl was a copy with double oval endpapers.  It sold for $49.99 plus $10.65 shipping. 

My mind was blown.  This changes everything.   

To me, Thirteenth Pearl in the matte PC shouldn't be as scarce as people think.  At least five printings exist: the first, second, and third printings plus at least two printings in the double oval edition.  However, the price continues to rise, so collectors place great value on the matte edition of Thirteenth Pearl.

A double oval copy selling for $49.99 meant that I needed to raise my prices.  My first thought was to go with $74.99 for the first printing, $64.99 for the second printing, and $49.99 for the double oval edition.  I went with $74.99 for the first printing and $49.99 for the other two books.  The second printing copy has some flaws, so I feel that I should price it the same as the double oval edition.

I want to see if anyone is willing to pay $74.99 for Thirteenth Pearl.  It could go either way.  Typically, I never have to relist Thirteenth Pearl.  The books I place up for sale always sell during the first listing cycle.  This likely means that I've been pricing them too low.  This experiment will help me see whether that is the case.

If the book priced at $74.99 doesn't sell, then my conclusion will be that all matte copies of Thirteenth Pearl, regardless of printing, are worth about $50 if in at least very good condition.

You see, I don't think there is much value difference between the first and second printings and the double oval printings.  Last year, I priced the double ovals at $29.99, the second printing at $34.99, and the first printing at $39.99.  I feel that the double ovals should be lower than the earlier printings, but not by much.

I have charged nearly as much for the double oval edition as for the first printing, and the double oval edition always sells.  It often sells first, probably because the price is lower.  That's why I don't think the buyers care which matte version they get.  

If a double oval edition can sell for $49.99 on eBay, then a similar price range should be true for the three printings.  The first and second printings should be priced no more than $10 to $25 higher than the value of the double oval edition.  At least that's what I think should be the case, but I'm no longer sure.  It will be interesting to see what happens.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Thoughts on the Value of Revised Text Nancy Drew Books

This is not the post that I was going to write about the scarcity of the revised text Nancy Drew picture covers.  I instead have some brief thoughts about my unlisted extras.  

I went through my unlisted extra Nancy Drew picture covers to pull books to list on Etsy.  The goal was to find a copy of each title that I don't have listed on Etsy currently.  I was unable to pull some of them.  For some of the books that I did find and pull, I took the last unlisted extra.  I'm short on extras. 

I purchase bulk lots when I can, but bulk lots typically yield only one copy of each title.  This only fills in the gaps briefly.  Certain titles are always more in demand, and those are the ones where I have fewer extras.  If I list the one copy that I have of each of those books, then they sell and are gone. 

I seldom lack for extras of #55 and #56.  I'm willing to pay more to acquire them, so I have no trouble acquiring extras.  I can pay more because buyers are willing to pay more.  Buyers feel that those two books are worth far more than the rest of the titles in the set.  

I took some photos of my unlisted extras after I removed one copy of each available title that I needed for Etsy.  Click on each image in order to see a larger version.

Notice that my photo shows four extras of #55 and three extras of #56.  Before taking the photo, I removed two copies of #55 (1st printing and double oval) and three copies of #56 (1st printing, 2nd printing, and double oval), so I had six of each.  As I stated, I tend not to lack for extras of #55 and #56.  I have more extras because I pay more.  When I list the extras, they sell fast.  I wonder if, despite the higher prices for #55 and #56, we are undervaluing them. 

I tend to have fewer extras of the revised text books in the range from #12 through #34, especially for many of the books from #21 to #34.  I am limited in how much I can charge for those titles, since buyers feel that they should be cheap. 

Most of these books are now 45 to 50 years old or more.  They are getting scarce.  The picture cover format is the current most desired format among Nancy Drew collectors.  Low supply coupled with high demand results in higher prices.  Or at least, it should.

The problem is that Farah's Guide has low values for most of the picture cover editions.  Many people go by the prices in Farah's Guide even though they are sorely out of date.  

Here is something interesting.  Farah's Guide has the same first printing value of $25 for each of #53, 54, 55, and 56.  Oddly, #53 and 54 sell for less than #55 and 56.  I contend that the first printing of #53 is the hardest to find of the four titles, yet it isn't worth more than #55 and 56.  If Farah were to state that #53 is worth more, then the price would shoot up.  

Many of the revised text books are worth far more than the stated Farah's Guide values.  There is something about a printed guide that holds great weight even when the guide no longer has accurate values.  If Farah were to update his guide with higher prices, then the prices would suddenly jump.  We saw that immediately after the publication of Farah's 12th edition many years ago.

My conclusion is that I'm going to have to start paying more for revised text picture covers.  This means that I will have to charge more.  Hopefully this will work out okay, since most people think that the revised text books in great shape are worth no more than $5.  That's so illogical considering that the current list price for new flashlight editions is $9.99.

I guess we'll see how this goes.  I'm certainly having trouble sourcing the books, and the condition just isn't that great.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

eBay and Etsy Update - Etsy Now Open!

I have moved some of my Etsy books to eBay.  I chose books that have been listed for a long time on Etsy without selling.  Some books just don't do that well on Etsy, and those were the ones that I moved.  

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

One of the books sold soon after it was listed, and that just proved the point.  I find that books from series other than Nancy Drew, Dana Girls, and Trixie Belden tend to do much better on eBay.  Etsy doesn't have quite enough traffic to support steady sales of other series. 

I have done okay selling books from other series, but after the more popular books in those series sell, the remaining books become stagnant inventory.  And so I moved them to eBay.

My Nancy Drew books do better on Etsy than on eBay.  eBay has way too many Nancy Drew listings for anyone to be able to spot my Nancy Drew books in search.  For that reason, I tend to list my Nancy Drew books on Etsy where they do get noticed.

In order to help my eBay Nancy Drew listings gain exposure, I will be running periodic auctions of Nancy Drew books.  Since I must pay $0.25 per auction upfront, I will choose books that I believe have a high chance of selling during the first listing cycle.

Last fall I found that my Nancy Drew library editions auctions helped drive traffic to my store.  I seemed to sell more books during the time that those auctions were active. 

I have some high-grade Nancy Drew original text picture covers.  Those books will be among the books auctioned in the next two to three months.

On Etsy, I disabled my free shipping promotion on orders of $35 or more. My promotion was tied to Etsy's free shipping promotion which is for orders of $35 or more.  I received a boost in Etsy search from that promotion.  I wish that I could have kept Etsy's promotion, but they need to raise the order minimum to $50.

Most sellers on Etsy sell handmade items.  Those items must ship via priority mail.  It is unfair for Etsy to expect those sellers to offer free shipping on orders of $35 or more.  It is still feasible, at least, for media mail.  A $35 minimum is too low for priority mail shipping.

Since I can't use Etsy's promotion, I created my own free shipping promotion for orders of $50 or more.  That offer is now in place.

I edited my media mail prices on Etsy to match my recent changes to my eBay media mail prices.  I now charge $4.95, $5.45, or $5.95 to mail a single book via media mail.  

As I worked on moving some Etsy listings to eBay, I also began activating my Etsy listings.  All Etsy listings that were not moved are now visible on Etsy.  

Jennifer's Series Books on Etsy

I feel like I can keep both stores open.  I feel fine physically (with the usual daily fluctuations and continuing limitations of my condition), and my mental state is beginning to improve.  I suspect that the supplements that I began taking in hopes of improving my T3 level might be improving my mood.  My T3 level might also be improving.  Regardless, I'm glad to be feeling somewhat less stressed.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Lorene and Rocky by John Benton

My summary of Lorene:

Seventeen-year-old Lorene Hobart's mother is a drunk.  After the two get into a fight, Lorene's brother, Brian, invites Lorene to go out for pizza.  Instead, brother and sister meet up with Brian's friend, Dwight, and Lorene is forced to be their getaway driver when the boys rob a liquor store.  After the robbery, Dwight purchases some dope, which Lorene tries for the first time.

Brian becomes further involved in criminal activity as does Lorene.  Eventually, Lorene teams up with Dwight, who takes her to New York City.  Lorene's life spirals out of control, and she faces possible prison time.  Can Lorene find a way to escape from her dead-end lifestyle?

The publisher's summary reveals too much information, so I had to write my own.  I looked at the summary not too long after I began the book.  As a result, I knew an important plot detail that doesn't happen until the final 20 pages of the story.  That sort of information should be omitted from a summary.

This book is overall good, but I found it tiresome.  The book consists of one scene after another where Lorene has to help with a criminal act.  In every scene, Lorene protests constantly and questions what they are doing.  I got sick of it and skimmed through parts of the book.

From the back cover of Rocky:

110th Street was a tough area to grow up in, and while he was still in his teens, Rocky Gardini became addicted to heroin.  It wasn't long before he started mugging people to support his habit.  By the time he was twenty-three, Rocky realized that threatening people with his switchblade was taking a chance.  Some mugging victims would fight back—and his switchblade would be useless against someone who packed a handgun to defend himself.  Rocky knew that mugging was risky business—until he discovered how easy and effective a sawed-off shotgun is. 

However Rocky's use of firearms only led to a new kind of trouble and violence, including drug pushing, gun battles, and being an accomplice to murder.  Peddling dope landed him in prison for four long years, but upon his release he continued his risky lifestyle of drugs and crime, eventually being shot down himself.  After being released from the hospital, Rocky teamed up with a pimp in his sordid business.  Living a life of violence and crime, Rocky was certain death awaited him—until he met a caring pastor with a unique mission.  Rocky gives a vivid example of how God's love and mercy can transform anyone's life or any situation, no matter how bad it seems.

Content: drug use, murder, violence, prostitution

The murder, while described minimally, is still graphic.  I won't say what happened, but it is gross. 

From page 64:

I knew I was taking a chance with hepatitis.  That pusher looked like he had drilled a few times with a dirty needle himself.  But when you need to get off, you don't even care about hepatitis or any other disease.

I had wondered when Benton would finally address the possibility of a junkie getting a disease from a shared needle.  This is the first time that the risk of shared needles has been mentioned in this set of books, and just about all the characters in these books share needles.  This book was published in 1985, when bloodborne pathogens were getting heavy coverage in the media.

I never place tape on books, but I made an exception in this case.  By the second or third page of the story, I realized that the front cover was brittle and splitting along the left edge.  Meaning, the front cover was attached as I read the first page and then had split about halfway by page 3.  I had to use clear tape on the outside and inside of the front hinge in order to salvage the book.  Otherwise, it would have fallen apart as I read it.

This book starts out with the same approach as Lorene.  Rocky questions everything, and it's hard to read.  Also, various people continually tell Rocky how stupid he is and tell him what he did wrong.  I skimmed a lot of it.

Around halfway through the book, the writing style shifts so that Rocky isn't questioning and acting stupid.  Finally, the story becomes interesting and engaging.  I quit skimming the story.

The first half of the story is tedious, and the second half is very good.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Paco and Kristi by John Benton

From the back cover of Paco:

Although he had been a junkie and an occasional drug dealer for ten years, Paco Malicksen had always managed to stay one step ahead of the law.  Therefore, when a friend informed him that the cops were on his trail, Paco knew that he had to get out of the Bronx.  But once he wound up in Manhattan, things took a turn for the worse.

In order to support his demanding drug habit, Paco became hopelessly trapped in a revolving door of crime.  And with every new venture—drug dealing... robbing appliance stores... stealing cars... the course of his life veered closer toward a violent end.  When he completed a harrowing term in a New Jersey state pen, Paco quickly returned to crime and drugs, although he knew he was headed for certain death.

But one day Paco overheard a conversation about the one Person who had the power to save and restore broken lives.  Paco knew that he was in a desperate situation.  Was there a chance for him to have a new life?

Content: drug use, car theft, prostitution

I found this particular to title to be very interesting and engaging.  All of these books are, but this one is especially so.  This is an excellent book.

From the back cover of Kristi:

Abused at home by alcoholic parents, fifteen-year-old Kristi Zetterstill was easy prey for a slick-talking New York pimp named Danny, who made a business of luring girls from troubled Midwestern homes.  Promising her independence and freedom, Danny took Kristi from her native Minnesota to New York City, where she quickly learned that she had made a horrible mistake. 

Danny's big promises vanished like smoke and Kristi found herself hopelessly entangled in prostitution.  She was Danny's girl now, and his beating and threats to kill her made her life worthless and unbearable.  In desperation, she tried to take her own life—and nearly succeeded.  Was there any better way to find freedom from her vicious pimp and end her life of misery?  Here's Kristi's gripping story of how she discovered a real lasting peace and joy in her life—and how you can find it, too.

Content: prostitution, violence, murder, suicide attempt, theft

I found this story to be pretty engaging and really enjoyed it. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Comparison of eBay and Etsy Fees + eBay's International Shipping Program

Many people do not read my blog posts or else they skim, missing important details.  That has been rather apparent. 

I have mentioned that I am mentally stressed, meaning that I easily become anxious and overwhelmed.  I am forgetful and make many mistakes while completing simple tasks.  I won't notice many of my typos.  You probably have seen some mistakes in my posts.  Normally I find all of them.  I haven't done that great of a job lately, and I don't care as much as I typically would.

I assume that this has been caused by my low T3 levels, but I feel it could be more than that.  I may have a touch of long Covid.  My thyroid was further damaged by Covid, and it's possible that I also have lingering brain fog caused by Covid.

I remind you of this in hopes of getting more people to understand that I must do everything I can to keep my stress to a minimum.  This is why I have a message in every listing telling prospective buyers that I do not accept offers.  I need to avoid any extra tasks.  Answering unsolicited offers is an extra task that I do not want.

I also will not be selling any books through private transactions.  In a private transaction, I have to do everything manually.  This isn't a big deal to most of you, but it is to me due to brain fog.  In a private transaction, I have to take the photos and send them through a private message.  I have to type out what I want for the books.  

After I know which books the person wants, I then have to make sure that I have collected the correct books together.  After all, I have no handy eBay or Etsy invoice to guide me.  I'm doing it manually.

I then have to figure the amount owed manually along with any shipping.  I tend to make mistakes due to brain fog, even if I use a calculator.  I have excellent math skills, but the brain fog causes silly mistakes, which are dangerous when money is involved.

I then have to send a money request.  Unfortunately, at least 50% of the time the buyer doesn't give me their address.  Repeat buyers tend to think that I have their address right in front of me, so no need to send it.  I have to ask for it.

I then have to manually create the shipping label on PayPal, making sure that I don't make mistakes.  Finally, I have to send the tracking information to the buyer.

Do you understand why I don't want to do all of that?

If I do have a particular book that someone wants, then it will be listed on either eBay or Etsy.  If the book is something that several people want like library editions, then I will use auctions.  Multiple people have contacted me in the last few years wanting me to consider them first when I have certain library editions.  The solution is to run auctions and let the buyers decide who wants it the most.

It's worth it to me to pay the high fees on eBay and Etsy.  Paying the high fees makes my life easier, which reduces my stress.  Lower stress is more important than saving money

Did you know that the selling cost on Etsy is nearly as high as on eBay?  It certainly is.

eBay's final value fee is 15% in the books category.  Etsy's final value fee is 6.5%.  However, Etsy also has a payment processing fee of 3.0% in addition to the 6.5%.  Etsy's final value fee is actually 9.5%.

Both sites also charge a flat fee in addition to the final value fee.  eBay charges $0.30 plus the fee.  Etsy charges $0.25 plus the fee.

Here is what my total fees were in 2022 as a percentage of my gross sales.  I used my actual gross sales and fees paid to determine the percentages.  I'm just not sharing the raw numbers with you.

My Etsy fees were 13.9% of my gross sales while my eBay fees were 18.1% of my gross sales.  

Postage is also a selling cost, especially since many buyers earn free shipping through my shipping promotion.  The fee gap between eBay and Etsy lessens when postage is considered.

My Etsy selling costs including postage were 27.1% while my eBay selling costs including postage were 29.8%.  The difference is not enough to matter.

I'm unsure why the postage causes the Etsy selling costs to increase to be nearly as much as the eBay selling costs.  I thought that maybe I had more international buyers on Etsy, but I had very few.  I'm confident that I had far more international buyers on eBay.  The cause may have something to do with combined shipping.  I may have had more sales on Etsy with multiple books in each transaction.  I'm not sure.

I did have more returns on Etsy, so perhaps that is part of the cause.  I dislike accepting returns when the buyer changes their mind, but I do so simply because it is good business practice.  Those returns are expensive.  They usually happen on cheap books which didn't have much of a profit in the first place.  The returns cause me to take a loss on those transactions.

eBay has an international shipping service.  If you are one of the sellers who is afraid to use it, you should reconsider.  On your end, you only have to pay the standard U.S. shipping to eBay's international shipping center.  eBay takes care of the rest, guaranteeing that you will not take a loss if something goes wrong.  eBay even provides free international tracking.  You are notified when the buyer receives the package.

Furthermore, since the seller only pays the U.S. shipping charge, then the seller avoids exorbitant final value fees on the high international shipping.  Before I started using eBay's international shipping program, I would have to charge international buyers $30 or more for postage.  I then had to pay 15% final value fees on that $30+ shipping charge.  With international shipping, I only pay the 15% fee on the media mail shipping charge.

I have had far more international transactions on eBay due to how easy the process is for both buyers and sellers.  There is no downside.  

Friday, March 17, 2023

eBay Postage Cost and Free Shipping Promotion Update

On Wednesday, I wrote:

My free shipping promotion now requires a $40 purchase.  As I proceed, I will reflect on whether I raised the amount enough.  I found it interesting that eBay had $50 prepopulated in the form.  I want to see how the numbers crunch in the few weeks, then I will decide if I should raise the order minimum to a higher amount.

It only took me two days to change my mind about free shipping.  I have now adjusted my free shipping promotion to require a purchase of at least $50.  Even $50 is probably too low, to be honest. 

Additionally, I have changed my postage charge to $4.95 for books that can ship at the one-pound rate.  Some books are heavier, and I adjusted those listings to either $5.45 or $5.95.  

eBay has a 15% final value fee in the books category, higher than other categories.  We must be a burden to eBay. 

If I charge $4.95 to ship a book, then eBay gets a 15% cut.  Unfortunately, most buyers now pay sales tax, and they have to pay sales tax on the shipping charge.  I then have to pay a 15% fee on the amount collected for sales tax, even though I never see that money. 

This means that eBay is getting around $1.25 of the $4.95 postage charge.  Keep that in mind if you think a seller is charging too much for postage.  In order not to take a loss on postage, I would need to charge at least $6 to ship a book via media mail.

Adjusting my postage charge to $4.95, $5.45, or $5.95 continues not to cover my costs.  At least I'm closer.

I changed my free shipping promotion requirement to $50 when I thought about eBay's fees.  I realized that the minimum must be at least $50.

Let's assume that a buyer has made a purchase for exactly $50.  I lose $7.50 to eBay fees.  Since several books are likely involved, my postage cost will be at least around $7.50 and perhaps higher.  This means that I only receive $35 of the $50 payment.  And the books weren't free.  I paid for them as well, and that comes out of the $35.

This is why I don't ask sellers to lower their prices.  They face high costs as well.  If a seller's price is too high for me, then I continue looking elsewhere.  

Some sellers have adjusted their prices up instead of adjusting the shipping charge.  I don't want to do that, because it invalidates the free shipping promotion.  Buyers will see no value in the free shipping promotion if they have to purchase $50 in books that have inflated prices due to the shipping cost being built in.  

My feeling is that buyers who really want my books will purchase them even if the shipping is higher than they would like.  Those buyers who don't want to pay a higher price can try to find a seller who charges less or just hope that they can find the books locally.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

Kari and Tracy by John Benton

From the back cover of Kari:

After being raped and beaten by her brutal stepfather, sixteen-year-old Kari Allensworth left home.  And like millions of naive runaways before her, she wound up on California's notorious Sunset Strip with no money and no destination.  Confused, scared, and lonely, she became easy prey for Paco, a flashy pimp who showered the love-starved Kari with compassion and kindness.  But the mask of concern quickly slipped away, revealing a ruthless, cold-blooded killer. 

Paco forced Kari out onto the streets as a hooker and made her his slave by demanding all of her earnings in exchange for her life.  Caught in the degrading world of prostitution and drug trafficking, it looked as though there were no means of escape.  Then one night a woman handed Kari a novel about another prostitute who found deliverance and unconditional love.  Would Kari choose the only way out—or remain enslaved to prostitution forever?

Content:  rape, physical violence, abduction, murder, drug use

Kari is present during two murders.  While Benton has Kari turn her back and not look, she still hears what happens.  The reader can imagine the details despite the minimal description.  These scenes are disturbing even without the details, especially because of the lengthy leadup to each murder.  Both victims know what is going to happen, and the reader knows as well.

Kari has very good reason to run away from home; she has no choice.  Her mother has just married a simply awful man who rapes her the first time he is alone at home with her.  Kari tells her mother, who doesn't believe her.  Kari's stepfather makes it clear that he will get back at her the next time the two of them are alone.  How horrible.

Augie was not compelling because of Augie's stupidity.  He had no reason to turn to crime.  Kari is a victim all the way, and her descent into crime happens as a result of her having no place to go.

This is an excellent book.

From the back cover of Tracy:

Beautiful but belligerent, seventeen-year-old Tracy Hauptly picked pockets to support her drug habit.  Severely beaten by her father and in deep trouble with a vengeful pickpocket victim, Tracy ran away from home and moved in with a friend named Hector.  He set her up as a drug runner for his friend Raul.  When Raul tried to frame Tracy for a junkie's violent death, she managed to escape.  She started to work as a runner for Hector's cousin, until narcotics agents broke up his operation. 

Caught in the deathly trap of addiction, Tracy resorted to prostitution in order to buy drugs.  In time, she was sent to prison, where the horrors of her life and of those around her drove her to the brink of ending it all.  Through her wild experiences and close brushes with death, Tracy finally discovered the way to straighten out her life.  Tracy shows you that God's love is powerful enough to destroy the death trap of sin and create a new life with joy and purpose.

Content:  drug use, physical assault, prostitution, suicide

The front cover depicts a scene from the book, although not completely accurately.  Tracy is given a stack of cards to give to junkies who want to purchase drugs.  When a junkie arrives, Tracy gets in their car and gives them a card.  They drive down an alley to a hole in the wall of one of the tenements.  The card and money are placed in a small basket, which is pulled inside.  The drugs are placed in the basket and pushed outside to the junkie.  In the book, the hole in the wall is about the size of a brick, so it's very small.

This is a very good book.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

March 2023 Health and Selling Update

This is an update to two previous posts.

January Health and Selling Hiatus Update #3

My eBay Store Is Open for Now

Yesterday, I reopened my eBay store.  This is a trial run.  I will remain open so long as I do not get too stressed mentally.  Etsy will remain closed at this time. 

I will reopen Etsy sometime between early April and late May.  I feel that early April would be perfect, since the listings last for four months.  I could then shut down for the start of school in early August, and all of the listings would reach their four-month expiration at that same time.  That's my tentative plan for Etsy.

Between last night and this afternoon, I considered the possibility of listing new items on eBay. The idea is causing me considerable stress for several reasons upon which I won't elaborate.  The stress I feel is enough that I have concluded that listing new items is not remotely an option.  I won't do it.  I am sorry, but I have to look out for myself first.

In the last couple months, I have been using delay tactics in order to avoid having to do things for various people who are online.  In one recent case, someone wanted me to scan copies of dust jackets.  I felt immediate stress.  There was no way I felt like it.  

I struggled with how to reply.  Finally I wrote, "I am very mentally stressed right now, so I don't need to take on any additional tasks.  I'm sure I could do it, but I would rather wait until I'm less stressed."

My delay tactic worked.  I was very relieved to see that this person got what they needed from someone else.  I am very grateful to whomever helped this person out.  Thank you.

In January, I wrote about my thyroid test results and how my TSH had gone up, showing that I was not in good shape.  My medication was increased.  

In February, I migrated all three of my websites away from the clutches of Yahoo!, which had been passing them from host to host for years.  That process took quite a toll on me.

How I Wasted a Saturday...

Website Migration Progress

It didn't help that I caught two viruses in February.  The first virus from February 3 had mild symptoms but definitely impacted my thyroid levels.  I felt the hit.

The second virus from February 18 had moderate symptoms.  I had a lot of congestion, which lingered for around two weeks.  I didn't notice an impact to my thyroid.  I suspect that I was probably already so messed up from the first virus that any further impact from the second virus was negligible.

My thyroid levels were tested on March 6.

My TSH has come down.  Ideally, it should be no more than 1.  It is slightly higher than 1, but it's close to where we want it.  TSH is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.  It increases when the body doesn't have enough T4, and it decreases as the T4 level improves.

My T4 level has improved, which is why the TSH decreased.

The problem is my T3, which has dropped.

I believe that the low T3 level is the sole cause of my mental stress.  I don't have enough thyroid hormone circulating in my brain, so my mental state is not that great.

I quit taking NP Thyroid in early December, which is a natural thyroid medication containing both T3 and T4.  I am now on T4 only.  The removal of the T3 in my medication has caused my level to drop.  My body should gradually adjust as more time passes.  The body converts T4 to T3, which is the active hormone that makes us feel good.  My body hasn't started doing that again like it should.

The viruses didn't help the situation, either.  Viruses impact conversion of T4 to T3.

I may need to add a synthetic T3 medication, but my provider wants us to give my body a little more time to recover from the two viruses.  Once more time has passed, we'll test again to see how I'm doing.  I have started taking a few supplements that are supposed to help with conversion of T4 to T3 in hopes of speeding up the process.  

That's where I'm at right now.

In summary, I feel like I can handle having my eBay store open.  I can fulfill any orders that I receive.  I hope that I do receive a number of orders, since my eBay shelves are packed.  In time, I will reopen my Etsy shop.  I will eventually begin listing new items for sale, but that's probably going to be awhile.

I look out for myself first, of necessity.  I didn't use to do that.  Now I know better.  Always be kind to yourself, and remember that you can always say "no" if a task is more than you can easily bear.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

My eBay Store Is Open for Now

I am in the process of activating my eBay listings.  My Etsy shop will remain closed indefinitely.

Jennifer's Series Books on eBay

I am slightly over halfway done.  This is a slow process since I'm relisting the items manually.  I am changing my boilerplate text that is in each listing.  I want people to leave me alone and not try to pressure me into lowering my prices.  

My mental state was not that great last week.  "Mentally stressed" is how I would describe it.  I am on spring break, and I just finished doing my taxes.  Now that I'm past that and am not feeling too stressed at the moment, I am willing to try to sell again.  I think it could be good for me to return to selling.  This is a trial run.  If I get too stressed next week when I return to work, then I will close the store immediately.

Etsy will remain closed since I have to pay for each listing.  I need to see how selling on eBay goes first before I consider paying to reactivate any Etsy listings.  

My new eBay boilerplate text is as follows.

"I do not accept offers.  My current best price is the price on this listing."

I have had the text about not accepting offers in my listings for several years.  The problem is that those people changed to asking me for my best price.  Now my listings will state that my price is my best price.  It will be interesting to see what they try next.  Some of these people struggle to understand that I mean what I say.  I do change prices, but on my own schedule.

Some of my prices are being reduced as I activate my listings.  In most cases, they remain the same.  Bear in mind that online sellers pay rather high fees.  I pay a lot of money in fees.  I won't say what the dollar amount was for last year, but it was substantial.  I do make a profit overall, but most of what I bring in is cancelled out by fees, supplies, postage, and what I paid for the books.

My free shipping promotion now requires a $40 purchase.  As I proceed, I will reflect on whether I raised the amount enough.  I found it interesting that eBay had $50 prepopulated in the form.  I want to see how the numbers crunch in the few weeks, then I will decide if I should raise the order minimum to a higher amount.

Raising the order requirement to $40 solves a problem that I've had.  I like to price many of my books at $34.99, which was just one cent below the requirement for free shipping.  With the minimum raised to $40, the $34.99 books are no longer problematic since their cost with shipping will still be slightly lower than the threshold for free shipping.  I tend to price fewer books at $39.99, and I will try to avoid pricing books at that amount.  Tonight I lowered the price of a few books that I just reactivated from $39.99 to $34.99 to avoid that conflict with the threshold.

I have more to share about what is going on, but this covers the basics.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Sandi and Augie by John Benton

From the back cover of Sandi:

At seventeen, Sandi viewed "life in the fast lane" as pretty exciting.  But within two years, she learned that it inevitably leads to a dead end.  Because she was often "high," she was fired from her job in a pizza parlor.  Left with no means of supporting her insatiable drug habit, she teamed up with another junkie, Maggie, who supported herself and her young daughter by robbing bakeries.  From there they went on to credit card scams and prostitution.

After Maggie was imprisoned and Sandi almost lost her life while pushing drugs, Sandi realized that she was hopelessly tangled in a web of self-destruction from which she could never break free.  Therefore, when a loving, concerned neighbor told Sandi how she could find a new life in Jesus Christ, she didn't take too long to yield her life to Him.

Content: theft, drug use

Maggie's idea to rob bakeries is stupid.  Maggie drives a truck that delivers bread to bakeries.  Of course the bakeries would figure out that they all got robbed around the time that the delivery truck arrived.  These characters are such stupid criminals.

While this is a good book, I didn't enjoy it as much as other titles.

From the back cover of Augie:

When Augie was first approached by a cute young addict and prostitute who needed assistance in ripping off a customer, he agreed, believing "one time can't hurt."  Unfortunately, that impulsive attitude led him into drug addiction.  As their drug habits grew to be insatiable, Augie and Paula were imperiled by involvement in dangerous crimes to support themselves. 

After Augie mistakenly cheated an underworld kingpin, his days were numbered.  When Augie was shot by a hit man, Paula realized that their lives were destined to end violently.  Therefore, she eagerly received some information given to her by some loving people from the Walter Hoving Home.  Was it possible that they could really find a refuge before it was too late?

Content: prostitution, drug use, hijacking, mugging, homocide

From page  87:

We walked into the apartment, and Paula went over to a couple of old books that were on her dresser.  She opened up one of them.  What was she up to?

I immediately guessed what was next.

Paula walked over to me and showed me the book.  There was a big hole cut out of the pages, and the bullets were inside.  Pretty smart, I thought.

Of course.  What else would a criminal be doing with a book?

The schemes in these books are often amusing.  A man approaches Augie.  He fixes up tenements, but he has a competitor who puts in cheap fixtures and sells at a high price.  The man hires Augie to steal from his competitor so that he can use the fixtures in his tenements, where he charges a more fair price.  Sure, by stealing what he needs.  Pretty soon, Augie is stealing toilets.  Imagine what that looks like: Augie walking down the street, carrying a toilet.

From page 112:

"If I were you, kid, I’d walk in there and kill that Malinsky," the other cop told me.

I couldn’t believe it!  A cop telling me to waste Malinsky?  Then I thought about it.  They must be after Malinsky.  They knew he was murdering people.  And if Malinsky got killed, that would be the end of that.

"You mean to tell me you wouldn't care if I walked in there and killed Malinsky?" I demanded.

"Listen, we don’t have to paint you a picture.  Malinsky’s knocked off quite a few people.  The best thing that could happen would be for somebody to get rid of him for us.  Go get him, kid!"

The cops walked back to their car.  "We've got to go, man."  They didn’t even frisk me for weapons!

This is crazy.

I forced myself to read this book after not reading any of these books for three weeks.  The book is good, but I didn't enjoy it that much.

Monday, March 13, 2023

The 2023 Friends of the Library Book Sale

On February 24, I attended the Friends of the Library Book Sale.  While I did purchase some vintage series books, the sale did not have a very good overall selection of them.  This is partly because of the aftermath of the pandemic.  The sale isn't quite back to normal, although it is getting there.  That aside, the older books continue to become more scarce and show up less often as the years pass.

The Oklahoma City Fire Marshal has cracked down on businesses and is strictly enforcing the fire code.  Years ago, the library book sale let everyone in the door regardless of how many people were present.  It was too crowded.  

This year they enforced the capacity limit, and people had to remain in line until the crowd inside thinned out.  I heard that on the second day of the sale that the wait time at one point was 1 hour and 15 minutes to get inside, and that was after the sale had already been open for a couple of hours.  I was at the sale on the first day and was third in line, so the capacity limit did not impact me.  

What is really nice about the fire code being strictly enforced is that the sale is now required to have eight feet of space in between the lines of tables.  Years ago the tables were only around four feet apart, which left very little room.

Due to rising costs, the book sale raised prices this year.  In the general section, hardcover books went up from $1.00 each to $2.00 each.  Softcover books went up from $0.50 each to $1.00 each.  This forced me to avoid purchasing any softcover books that were in rough shape. Normally, I would have purchased those as well, but I felt that $1.00 each was too much to pay for examples in poor condition.  I did see other people grab them, however.  

The first photo shows all of the vintage series books that I found at the sale.  The selection wasn't good, even though I did find some worthwhile books.  

Click or tap on images in order to see them at a higher resolution.

The Nancy Drew and Judy Bolton books with dust jackets are from the 1940s and have pulp paper.  I'm not too enthusiastic about that era due to the continuing deterioration in condition, but still, it was nice finding some books in dust jacket.  I haven't found many books in dust jackets in recent years.  They show up infrequently.

For at least five years, my greatest interest has been in looking at the vintage teen books.  I find a better selection on those tables than I do for the vintage series books.  The heyday of the vintage series books at the library book sale has passed.  For me, the sale is more about the vintage teen books, especially since this sale is just about the only place where I can ever find vintage teen books in the wild.  Bookstores don't have them.

I spent around 2 hours in the general section going back and forth at least eight times in the vintage paperbacks section.  Half of the books were on top of the tables on an area about 3 feet wide by 15 to 20 feet long.  This photo is of some of the books on top of the tables.

The other half of the books were on the floor under the tables.  This next photo shows some of the books on the floor.

I took both of the above photos after I had already been looking for over an hour.  I had gotten most of what I wanted by that point, but after I took the photos, I checked a few more times and found even more books.  The books are always so mixed together that it is very hard to spot the ones I want.  I also want books that I'm not going to recognize easily, so I tend to miss those on the first few passes.

Most of the books that I purchased at this year's sale were vintage teen books.  Someone donated a large number of Sweet Valley High books plus some other great vintage teen books.  This is what I purchased.

I would have been disappointed if the only books I had found had been the low number of vintage series books.  The vintage teen books are what made this a great sale.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Friends of the Library Book Sale 2013-2019

I always take photos of whatever books I purchase at the library book sale.  I don't always place the photos online.  This post contains photos from past book sales that I haven't published in this blog.  Some photos were placed on Facebook.   

Always click or tap on a photo in order to view it at a higher resolution.

This photo is of what I purchased in 2013.  I didn't get very many books, but I did find some good ones.

I had forgotten about this purchase of Rocket Jumper.  Over the years, I have found four different copies of Rocket Jumper locally.  It is a scarce book to most people, but not to me, since I keep finding it.

My 2014 book sale photos are in a photo album on my Facebook page.

2014 Book Sale Photos

2015 was probably the worst of any year.  These books were purchased that year.

2016 was better.

I don't know where my 2017 photos are.  

I purchased these books in 2018.

These books were purchased in 2019. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Stephanie and Candi by John Benton

From the back cover of Stephanie:

Sixteen-year-old Stephanie Conder could no longer stand living with her "drill sergeant" father and timid mother.  So when her boyfriend offered her a new lifestyle that promised undreamed-of rewards, she jumped at the chance.  At first, Stephanie found living in a posh New York City apartment exciting.  But there was a price to pay. 

She soon became involved in despicable crimes and fell victim to an enslaving drug habit.  As she sunk lower into a meaningless existence, Stephanie was sure that she would die a violent death and saw no way out.  Her criminal acts resulted in an inevitable term at Riker's Island.  Despite the horror of prison, here she found the hope and freedom she needed to release her from her miserable lifestyle. 

Content: car theft, physical abuse, drug use, burglary, abduction, gun violence, credit card fraud

Stephanie doesn't like her father, so she turns to a life of crime.  This is a bit illogical.

Max, a drug dealer, is owed money by several people.  He orders Stephanie to help him.  She is to find a way to make each person pay his debt, or she can kill each person.  Max doesn't care which Stephanie chooses.  Since she doesn't want to kill anyone, she takes the first man, Jeffrey, to a motel where she handcuffs him to the toilet.  Jeffrey obtains Max's money from his contacts, and then Max orders Stephanie take additional people to the motel.

Pretty soon, Stephanie has several prisoners with her in the motel room.  I find this part of the story to be a bit absurd.  Somehow, one woman manages to keep several men under her control in a motel room while they are free to move around in the room.  Bizarrely, these people grow loyal to Stephanie and begin helping her with her schemes.

This is a very good book.

From the back cover of Candi:

Candi and Kathy used and pushed drugs—and the narcotics agents were on to their game.  After narrowly dodging the law, they moved to another part of town.  Kathy decided prostitution was a safer business, and tried to persuade Candi to join her.  But Candi knew she could never lower herself to that

Her decision to help another dealer ended up sending her to the hospital with a shotgun wound.  When she went back to Kathy, she began to steal money for a living.  Though she resented robbery, to her it was better than prostitution.  What would she do when an angry pimp gave her the choice between prostitution and her life?

Content:  prostitution, drug use, robbery

I enjoyed this book.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Denise by John Benton

From the back cover of Denise:

"Denise, I know a way to get rid of all those problems you're having.  I mean all of them."

You probably know someone like Frank—a high school drug pusher who always had an answer ready.  And someone like Denise was ready for anything.  After all, who wouldn't want some kicks, when your mother literally kicks you around?  Who wouldn't want to run away when you discover a dark family secret about yourself?

Denise left her troubles at home and found something far worse on the streets.  Heroin... prostitution... loneliness.  In the end, she felt more used and abused than ever, until...

Someone gave Denise a choice—perhaps the most difficult one she'd ever had to make.  She had to face the truth.  She had to change.  

Would she do it ?  Find out.

This was the very first book that I read by John Benton last summer.  I don't remember much about it, but I placed sticky notes on a few pages.

This book contains strong homophobic content.  A majority of Benton's books contain implied homophobic statements, but they are much worse and quite prominent in parts of this book.  Normally I would include some examples of the content, but I'm not comfortable doing so.  

Many of my followers are gay, and I won't subject them to reading these statements.  I don't want the statements in this blog, since they could be misconstrued as being endorsed by me regardless of what I write.  I'm thinking about how search engine results highlight short phrases from sites in the search results.  I can't risk having that happen.

This is why I was flabbergasted and offended last summer when a member of the Vintage Teen Books group suggested that gay members of the group would be scared of being in my group due to me allowing discussion of these books.  Most people understand that old books have objectionable content and that group moderators do not endorse that content.  Good grief!

Read this post for the full context about this book and the Vintage Teen Books group.

I marked a hilarious passage from pages 46 and 47.  Denise and her boyfriend, Frank, go out to the garage to smoke marijuana.

We went out back into the garage and lit up in the darkness.  We had almost finished the joint when suddenly the lights went on.  I yanked the stick out of my mouth and threw it on the floor.  But not in time, for there stood my mother!

"What on earth is going on out here?" she demanded.

I stuttered, trying to think of something to say.  But Frank piped up with, "We're smoking pot."

That stupid Frank!  I thought he was so smart, so cool.  Why did he admit it?  This was going to be nothing but trouble for me—and him too!

"Smoking pot?" Mom asked.  "Where did you get it?"

"Well, I just happened to have a few joints with me, Mrs. Brady.  Do you want some?"

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  No way would Frank be able to spend the night at our house now.  He'd be lucky if Mom just threw him out and didn't call the cops!

"I've got another joint, Mrs. Brady," Frank said.  "Denise and I were just going to smoke it.  Why don't you join us?"

Mom hesitated and looked around to see if anyone else was there.  Then she smiled faintly and said, "You know, I've always wondered about marijuana.  I've heard some good things about it and lots of bad.  But I've always had a secret desire to try it."

That was all the encouragement Frank needed.  He quickly lit the stick, handed it to her and said, "Inhale, taking a deep breath.  Then hold it."

When she did, it absolutely disgusted me—that big, fat slob, smoking pot!  So when Frank took the stick and handed it to me, I pushed it away with, "No thanks, Frank.  I'll see you later."

Denise is a very good book.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Valarie and Sheila by John Benton

From the back cover of Valarie:

Arrested for prostitution, Valarie was unable to stop the horrible suicide of another inmate.  But what she saw and knew about her friend's death made her a very real danger to her captors, who arranged for her to be released in custody of "Uncle Harvey."  In return for her freedom, she was forced to work in Harvey's massage parlor, where she found life to be as dangerous as ever. 

There seemed to be no way out for Valarie—no place of safety—no friend who could be trusted —no future.  Would she be better off back on the streets?  Valarie will show you that there is always hope and help available, if you will only reach out to claim it.

Content: prostitution, suicide witnessed by protagonist, physical violence, gun violence, theft, drug abuse

The suicide in this book is highly likely to be triggering.  Valarie witnesses her friend commit suicide by hanging in the adjacent cell.  Valarie screams for the guards repeatedly as she tries to stop her friend.  The guards ignore the cries for help.  The scene is quite disturbing and infuriating.  These books are based on true stories, so this happened.

This is another typically thrilling John Benton book.

My summary of Sheila:

Sheila is addicted to heroin and uses prostitution to fund her habit.  Sheila is so addicted that she can only get straight instead of high.  Sheila must leave her little girl, Robin, alone in their apartment while she walks the streets looking for a trick.  Child welfare begins asking questions, so Sheila flees with her daughter.

Sheila gets an apartment on the second floor of a strip club.  Her employer takes her to conventions where she services all the rich businessmen, making plenty of money for her habit.  But finally, Sheila's lifestyle catches up with her, and she risks losing everything.

Content: child abuse, prostitution, stripping, drug abuse, gun violence, theft

The publisher's summary focuses on around the last 50 pages of the story, so I opted not to use it.  I cannot stand it when publishers choose to focus on the ending instead of the main part of the story.

This is another excellent John Benton book.