Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Series Book Periodicals- Yellowback Library

There are several different periodicals that specialize in series book information. One of the oldest is the Yellowback Library. I am not sure how many years it has been published, but Gil O'Gara does a great job giving us a monthly periodical about our hobby. The banner reads, "Series Books, Dime Novels, and related literature." There is often a reprint of some kind, normally of the Dime Novel variety, and there have been several articles over the last year that feature information on such series as Rick Brant, Ken Holt, the Oz books, and other assorted series.
The periodical runs approximately 26 pages long, and includes some regular advertisers that specialize in series books. A one year subscription runs 36.00. You can send a check to Gil O'Gara, PO Box 36172, Des Moines, IA 50315. You can email Gil at gilo@iowalink.com .
For juvenile series book information, Yellowback Library is worth a look!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I have shared with readers here on the blog that I am taking a Young Adult Literature class which is taking a lot of reading time. I have 14 books I have to read this semester, and quite a few papers and reflections. This is keeping me from reading many series books from the past, but is introducing me to new titles, authors, and series.

One such series is Percy Jackson and the Olympians. With five books in the series I have read the first two, and I have to say that they are wonderful reads. The series centers around a young boy who discovers that he is a demigod. Demigods are illegitimate children of the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Zeus, Poseidon, Hermes... they are all there. Like Harry Potter returning to school each Fall, Percy finds himself returning to Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp close to Long Island, that serves as a safe haven for kids sired by the Gods. Adventures ensue as Percy finds himself battling evil forces that want to destroy Mount Olympus (now located hundreds of floors above the Empire State Building!) and enslave mankind.
The five book series is exciting, opens up for a reader the world of Greek mythology, and fun to read. I have managed to procure 3 first printings signed by the author, Rick Riordan, and will be hanging on to them. More people will be exposed to Percy and his friends next January. A feature length film of The Lightening Thief, is being filmed by director Chris Columbus, and the previews I've seen look like it is going to be fun.
If you haven't checked out this series yet, I urge you to do it. The books are great reads, and I believe these will be collectibles of the future!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Farah's Guide... INVALUABLE!

Farah's Guide, by David Farah is a book most Nancy Drew collectors are aware of and many use. The book, now in its 12th edition, allows a collector to identify a first printing of a Nancy Drew book. The guide lists 2745 printings of Nancy Drew books published between 1930 and 1979. It is 556 pages long, and has numerous additional articles beneficial to the Nancy Drew collector.
I find the guide very useful in identifying the printings of the Nancy Drew books I own. The guide concentrates primarily on the first 56 books published in the series. It does have a short entry on the Simon and Schuster books #57-78. I would love to see someone put together and publish a guide to the paperbacks, with artwork included.
The guide gives a history of the series, as well as biographical information on the authors and illustrators. It has 135 photos of authors, illustrators, models photos of poses used for cover art, and pictures of ledger pages kept by Mildred Wirt Benson as she received payments for her work on the Nancy Drew series. Additionally, there is information on collectibles spawned by the series over the years.
Mr. Farah has been printing his guide now for twenty years, and has been a collector since 1967. This 12th edition is considered a 20th year anniversary edition, and is available in a hardcover dust jacket copy as well as a spiral bound copy. The spiral bound edition sells for $95.00, while the hardcover lists at $130.00. The hardcover has been produced to look like a 1930's Nancy Drew book, complete with orange lettering and a spine symbol. Though seemingly hefty in price, either edition of the guide is well worth the investment spent.
I have found the guide useful as I buy and sell Nancy Drew books. I often dream of having a complete collection in high quality first printings, and this guide is an excellent tool in identifying those elusive firsts. Clicking on the picture in this blog will take you directly to Mr. Farah's web page, where you will find additional information and be able to download an order form. I highly recommend Farah's Guide to my readers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cherry Ames

When I was a child, my sister had a few different series books on her shelf. One of the series, Cherry Ames, detailed the adventures of a young girl as she practiced nursing in various locales. Patricia became a nurse, and currently works at the same school that I do providing health care to the various high school students. She remembers reading the books, and like many girls of the 1950's and 1960's, a seed was planted that would eventually lead to a career.
My sister's Cherry Ames books have mostly disappeared. Only three remain, and this week I managed to pick up a few more at a local antique store. I plan to find some more titles to add eventually to my Bonanzle booth, but in the meantime I will read a few to sample a series of which I have little knowledge.
Here is what I do know: The series consists of 27 titles published between 1943 and 1968. The early books describe her entry into nursing at nursing school, then quickly move her into the Army where she serves her country during the second World War. These early books are printed on "wartime" paper, which means first printings will be brittle and brown in nature. They were printed by Grosset and Dunlap, and the early copies up to #7 are red or maroon with gray endpapers. The complete series can be collected in the pictorial cover editions with green spines. You may also find some PC's with yellow spines, but these were changed to green to differentiate the series from the yellow spine Nancy Drews, also published in the 1960's.
The series was originally authored by Helen Wells, who wrote the first eight volumes. Julie Tatham, the maiden name of Julie Campbell who penned the Trixie Belden series wrote the next eight volumes, concluding with #16. Helen Wells came back to the series and authored the rest.
The books became more mystery centered as they continued, mostly in an attempt to draw in readers of other girl detective stories like Nancy Drew and the Dana Girls. The higher numbered volumes, like The Mystery in the Doctor's Office and Ski Nurse Mystery are very hard to find and command high prices. The first twenty volumes appear to have been reprinted, which will allow some to purchase the series at a lesser price.
I will review a couple of titles in the series sometime in the future. I'm taking a course for my Masters on Young Adult literature, so my reading list is already pretty long. When I get a chance, however, I plan to dig deeper into the Cherry Ames series.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Haunted Carousel

"A newspaper reporter challenges Nancy to solve a weird mystery involving an amusement park merry go round. Why does the carousel light up in the middle of the night and begin revolving and playing music when no one's around?"

So reads the inside flap of the library discard hardcover edition of the 72nd volume of the Nancy Drew series that I currently own. The copy had the misfortune of meeting my dog's teeth when he was a puppy, and the lower portion of the spine is severely chewed. From time to time I have tried to find a replacement copy, but to date the search has proven fruitless.

Most copies of this book are paperback copies, originally published by Simon and Schuster as a Wanderer paperback. Hardback copies with dust jackets were available as well. These were mostly sold to libraries. It was published in 1983, then reprinted in 1987 and 1988 as Minstrel editions, each with different cover art. This was one of the last Nancy Drew stories to come from the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the original creator of the series. It is edited by Nancy Axelrad, a long time employee of the Syndicate, and ghostwritten by James Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence also wrote The Silver Cobweb and The Mysterious Image in addition to a few more.

The story is well written and fast paced. Ned assists Nancy on the case that takes place in Riverwood Amusement Park. In addition, a dying man's words regarding a flower riddle is also challenging Nancy's abilities to solve a mystery. Another great amusement park mystery with shades of Robert Arthur's Three Investigator story The Secret of Skeleton Island, the story fuels my own love for the "mystery set in an amusement park" genre. I will pose the same question I did a few days ago: Are there any other such series books that take place in a amusement park? I'd love to read some more!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

1st Printing Bungalow Mystery Sells High on Ebay

An early copy of The Bungalow Mystery, more than likely a first printing just sold on Ebay for the high price of $3383.33. This book, listed as a first printing seemed to have the necessary characteristics for a real first printing, part of the original breeder set for the Nancy Drew series. Congratulations to both buyer and seller. Series books seem to be a nice investment, don't they? I downloaded a couple of pictures of the book sold. Along with the Bungalow Mystery, the buyer also got an early printing of The Secret of the Old Clock. Ebay number, in case you want to look further is 160360940768.

Stairway to Danger

Fall is upon us, and I know this for several reasons... I'm back teaching school, which means I am up early each morning heading off to work. I live outside of a resort town on the Maryland-Delaware shore, and the traffic has drastically reduced from the congested streets of a few weeks ago. And I also know it's Fall because one of the three local amusement parks in town has already started racking it's rides to head out on the carnival circuit for the winter.

I love amusement parks, especially the older, more traditional parks one runs across from time to time. I also love series books whose plot centers around an amusement park. There is something so atmospheric about an abandoned, or closed for the winter months amusement park. The irony of a place that generally brings so much joy being the site of mystery and intrigue is just plain fun.

One of my favorite such books is Stairway to Danger, #9 in the Rick Brant series. The Rick Brant series consists of twenty five titles that were published between 1947 and 1989. Like many Grosset and Dunlap titles, they were authored under the pen name of John Blaine. Actually, books 1-3 were co-authored by Peter Harkins and Harold Goodwin. The rest were authored solely by Goodwin. The series centers around the son of a world famous scientist and his son, Hartson and Rick Brant. They live on Spindrift Island, located off the coast of New Jersey. Rick and his buddy Scotty get involved in adventures, most of which involve science in some way or another. These adventures take him all over the world.

Stairway to Danger involves escaped criminals and an abandoned seaside amusement park. There are a lot of fun scenes in the park, including a fun climb and chase on the old roller coaster tracks. It is one of my personal favorite books in the series. I'm going to read it again, in honor of the end of the summer season. Are there other series books set in amusement parks?

Monday, September 14, 2009

John Axe's All About Collecting Series Books Guides

John Axe was an artist, doll collector and an authority on children's series books. When I first became interested in collecting, I found both of Mr. Axe's guides in a local book store. I quickly snatched them up, and I can tell you how invaluable they have been to me as I have collected various series over the last ten years.

Both guides are lavishly illustrated with color photos of book covers and dust jackets. Mr. Axe lets you see each cover for every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys book published. In addition, he helps you understand the various formats available for each series and even gives author information if possible. Each series that has its own chapter gets a brief history in regards to its creation as well as insider information on the books. You even get a synopsis for the books in the major series. As a new comer, this information was incredible. I remember when I first bought a Hal Keen book. I went to Mr. Axe's Boys Series book and there it was.

Book series included in Axe's works include Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, Judy Bolton, Cherry Ames, Tom Swift, Jr., Chip Hilton, Penny Parker, Kay Tracey, Ted Scott, Mark Tidd, Connie Blair, Vicki Barr, Tom Slade, Dana Girls... just about every series you can imagine!

The books are officially out of print, but you can still find both on Amazon. I put in the words "All About Collecting" and found both! If you don't have these, grab them. You'll be sorry later!

Sadly, John Axe died late last year, and the Series Book world continues to mourn his loss. This October, I believe there will be some sort of rememberance for Mr. Axe at the Couldersport, Pennsylvania Judy Bolton days. Judy Bolton was his favorite series, so it seems appropriate for these folks to honor their friend John. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet him. From all I have read about him, he was an amazing man.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Printing Guides... You Either Love 'Em or Hate 'Em!!

Series book collectors have long lamented the fact that the copyright page of a Grosset and Dunlap book has little to no information to help identify a printing of the volume they are looking at. It is often a guessing game as to what you are holding in your hands when you stumble across a title at your local antique store. In the last several years, many collectors have tried to help this process out by publishing guides to help identify a printing. These guides are often helpful, as they can help a collector determine a first printing (a prize for everyone, and highly sought after) versus a much later printing of the same title.

When you surf Ebay, you will see many books identified as first editions. They cite the copyright page as their proof, and in reality they have no idea what they are talking about. Thus, collectors are more and more relying on printing guides to help determine the age of a book in their collection. I am aware of a few guides for different series and they are the following:

1. Hardy and Hardy Investigations- Carpentieri and Mular- Hardy Boys series

2. Farah's Guide- David Farah- Nancy Drew series

3. Rick Brant Checklist- James Ogden- Rick Brant series

4. Ken Holt Mysteries Guide- Sevello, Ogden, and Towey- Ken Holt series

In addition, the late John Axe's excellent books All About Collecting Girls Series Books and All About Collecting Boys Series Books give a lot of information on the major players as well as less polular series like Ruth Fielding, Connie Blair, Ted Scott and Hal Keen. John shares a lot of great collecting information, as well a beautiful color photos of the books and ephemera assosciated with the hobby.

I use all of these guides and find them quite useful. Some are a little cumbersome mainly because there are so many printings of some titles. I find that with the Farah's Guide and Hardy and Hardy Investigstions, I have to keep reminding myself what each section of the entry I am identifying means, but they are still useful once I decipher the code!

Some collectors really hate the science of identifying the printings that some of these guide authors use. They seem to feel that it is wrong to try and identify the printing for some reason. Perhaps it is because the authors of thses guides set themselves up as experts, and the critics feel that this isn't so. Regardless, I like to try and find out how old the book is I have, and the guides are a great source to use when trying to accomplish the task.

I'll talk some more in future posts about the ones I use, but I would be interested what other guides are out there. I know they exist, and I know specifically of some others, but thought I should focus on the ones I use frequently.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bonanzle Booth

You probably have noticed that I have a booth set up on Bonanzle. In that booth, I have created a bookstore that specializes in series books. I have 58 books available for sale, and several more will be added in the next few weeks.

So why Bonanzle? I have just recently become interested in selling some books myself, and began to do some research as to what would be my best venue for selling. I had sold some items over the years on Ebay, but after doing some research, quite frankly I can not afford the fees that they want to charge. When you list an item on Ebay you pay a fee. When you sell an item, you pay an additional fee. Then you pay a fee for PayPal, and are required to use PayPal for your checkout. This is an expensive proposition for a new seller. It forces sellers to charge more for a book, and creates an inflated price for the buyer.

At Bonanzle you join for free. That's right, FREE! You pay a small price if you sell anything, and you have the option of using PayPal or accepting checks and money orders. This makes it less intimidating for a new seller. I am not paying a dime to list the books I have in my store, and if they sit for six months and don't move I am not paying for that privelege. And Bonanzle works with Google to help your items come up in their search engines. You are getting exposure, which allows for more visits to your site.

I am going to be transparent here. Thus far, I have not made a sale. But I have had over 500 hits on my site in the last four weeks. I am convinced that things will move as we enter the Fall season, and Christmas is on the horizon. And I am not worried that I am spending money with no returns. It will happen.

Jennifer of the Series Books for Girls blog is doing quite well, and if you read her recent posts, she attributes her success to inventory and repeat buyers. If you haven't checked out my store, stop by. I also encourage you to check out Jennifer's blog and her series book site. She has over 500 items for sale, and I believe you will find something you may be looking for.

I will periodically keep you posted on how things are going at the moment. I am really pleased, and think this will allow me to make some money to fuel my series book collecting interests!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Oz Book Collecting

In 1900, a china salesman turned author hit paydirt when his manuscript that he referred to as a "modernized fairy tale" was published. Almost 110 years later, The Wizard of Oz continues to delight children of all ages. The book is important in the world of series book collecting. The book spawned a whole series of Oz books, creating a significant niche for publishers, the childrens book.
40 Oz books comprise the series. After Baum's death in 1919, the publishers, Reilly and Lee, hired a young woman to continue the series. A new Oz book was published yearly until 1939, when Ruth Plumly Thompson left her post as "The Royal Historian of Oz". The author's illustrator, John R. Neill, continued the series as author until his death. Jack Snow, Rachel Cosgrove, and Eloise Jarvis McGraw and Lauren McGraw Wagner contributed their own entries in the canon before Reilly and Lee pulled the final plug in 1963 with Merry Go Round in Oz.

Check out Ebay at any time, and a plethora of Oz books in various formats are available for a new collector. But buyer beware... Oz books are sometimes very overpriced, and a novice should make sure he or she knows something about the books before buying a rare Oz book that is really not worth its starting bid.

All Oz books originally published before 1935 had color plates in its pages. In 1935, publisher Reilly and Lee discontinued the plates. Books may have a copyright page of 1907, but if there are no color plates, rest assured it is NOT a first printing of the book. These books are not worth nearly the same as a book that has its color plates. I personally would not spend much more than $50.00 at this time for a pre-1935 book with no color plates.
In comparison, a good solid copy of an Oz book complete with its plates is worth $200-300.00. Older books in the series are worth more, especially the early titles that have Baum as its author. Reilly and Lee was first known as Reilly and Britton, and if this name appears on a spine, you have an older title from 1918 or before.
Two places I would suggest to the novice to learn more about the Oz books. Get a copy of The Book Collectors Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz by Paul R. Bienvenue. This lavishly illustrated volume was published this Spring, and is invaluable when detailing the various printings of the entire Oz canon. I also suggest you check out Fred Trust's web site www.rareozbooks.com. Fred has a wonderful array of Oz books for sale, and is a walking encyclopedia to worth and availability of these classic books.
Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and all that were to follow owe much to the Oz books. Publishers developed the children's book genre around these books. It was the tradition of a new Oz book each Christmas that helped develop other series in the years to come!