Friday, February 12, 2010

Library Bindings- Part 2: The Three Investigators

There are varying opinions on library bindings among collectors. Because so often they are circulated, many find them to be of little to no value, therefore not worth collecting. For others, these library bindings represent the books the way they are remembered among fans. Libraries were sometimes the source of introduction to a series, despite the fact that many libraries refused to carry series books. When they were found in a library, a child might check out a certain title over and over. Nostalgia draws these buyers back to library binding books. In some cases, however, library bindings are the only way to find certain titles in a series. Thus the emphasis for collectors who want a complete collection that looks the same is drawn to these particular copies. The Three Investigators series is one such series.

The Three Investigators series was published by Random House beginning in the 1960s. Trade editions were issued, and were fairly common to find in discount stores as well as book stores throughout the 1960s and 70s. These books however have a common flaw inherent in many copies. The text box seems to crack and break away over time, creating a problem for keeping good copies of the books. Random House had library bindings created under the Gibraltar Library Bindings to create more durable books for the heavy use that a library can see. GLB books are fairly easy to identify. There are no titles listed on the back of these editions, and at the bottom, one usually sees the logo of an elephant, pictured here. One will find the illustrated endpapers reversed from the trade editions.

For a collector seeking all 43 titles of this series in hardback, one runs into a problem. Numbers 1-28 were printed in hardcover, but beginning with number 29, The Mystery of the Sinister Scarecrow, the books were published in paperback. Hardcovers continued to only be issued in GLB bindings, which were primarily marketed to libraries. These books are highly sought after by collectors, and normally will sell for anywhere of 15.00 to 50.00 each on line. Uncirculated copies often sell for 100.00 or more, especially if they appear to be never read and in mint condition. These books allow a collector to complete their collection with uniform books on the shelf. GLB books are durable, and are really better than the earlier trade editions. I have noticed that some of my books, which are sitting on the shelf, are starting to crack and separate. I may have to upgrade my collection, which has many firsts, because of the text block issues.

I have posted pictures of some of my GLB books from my collection. I was fortunate to acquire most in library sales. It is indeed a shame that the books are no longer available to today's young readers, but I feel confident that they will return at some point in time. It's a great series, and fun to collect!

More on library bindings to come...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Library Binding Books- Part 1

TV's Nancy Drew solves a mystery at the library

About three or four years ago, I was out antiquing around the area, and I stopped in a small local library. You never know if you will find something of interest at ongoing library book sales. This particular library had no sales, so I decided to look and see what series books were on the shelves for circulation. When I got to the K's, I found a large number of library bound Nancy Drews. I later found out that the copies I was looking at were known as Cameo Editions. Jennifer White's web site has some extensive information about these editions. Click here to see the books. I thought the covers were neat, and they were in okay condition considering they were probably published in the 1960s. This was my hunch, based on the fact that so many of them were Original text copies. We know that the Drews were revised in the 60s and 70s.

It seemed logical, based on the age of these volumes, that the library might be interested in accepting a gift of new copies of the classic 56. I contacted the head of the library with a simple proposal. I would donate a set of Nancy Drew books to the library, or give them the money to purchase a new set library bound. My only request was that I could have the older volumes on the shelf. Library books have little resale value among collectors. They are more of an anomaly to collectors. They show a variant, or alternative copy of a familiar title. My offer was rejected by the Head Librarian of the county. She seemed very suspect of my motives. She told me that old library books were commanding "huge" prices on Ebay, so they have a policy to only weed a collection when the books have basically lost all value.I tried to explain to her that these books had little value, but she refused to budge. In addition, she told me the library only accepts cash donations that have no stipulation on how the money is to be spent. I personally find that policy ridiculous. If I wanted to give money to have a huge wing placed on a library, they won't accept the gift?

I returned to this library late last year. I casually went to the children's collection to check out the Nancy Drew books. Probably half of the titles that were there before were now gone, and had not been replaced. The remaining volumes had deteriorated to such a state that I doubt any twenty first century child would have any interest in reading them. Old books on library shelves tend to have no circulation. So the children in that tiny town really no longer have access to a wonderful children's series.

Short sightedness can certainly be maddening.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Today Show Book Talk for Kids: Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys

Last Friday, Jennifer Fisher, president of the Nancy Drew Sleuths was the guest speaker on the Book Corner segment of The Today Show. Jennifer was interviewed by Al Roker and fielded questions from 6 kids who had read "The Secret of the Old Clock" and "The Tower Treasure." Jennifer did a great job sharing a little about the history of the series as well as some specifics about the two books read.
It was very encouraging for me to see these two classic series featured with today's children. I think we can be encouraged that the series will continue to delight new readers, as they have in the past.
I tried hard to get this segment embedded here on the site, but was unsuccesful. Clicking on the link below will allow you to see the entire segment:

Great job Jennifer. So glad to see you talking up our favorites!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Best Month Yet on Bonanzle!

The series book sale on Bonanzle is done, although a few booths may be continuing today. The sale certainly helped my booth, giving me my most successful month yet on Bonanzle. It seems as Bonanzle grows, so do my sales. I had over 185.00 worth of sales this month, with a total of 12 books sold in 7 transactions. My total bill to Bonanzle is 8.50, well below what I would owe Ebay for the same amount of sales. I sold primarily lower priced books, several below 10.00. As stated in other blogs, Ebay's charges makes it very hard to sell books at a low price. The fees are just too high. Thanks to all of you who bought books from me this month. Special thanks to Jennifer White, for her continued commitment to this hobby, and to those of us who sell similar items on Bonanzle. Your encouragement, knowledge, and help is very appreciated.
I will be adding new books to the booth shortly. Included will be some Three Investigators books and some Yellow spine PC Nancy Drews w/ blue multi-scene endpapers. I'm keeping my eyes open for more Beverly Grays and Judy Boltons.
The second half of January was busy for me, which kept me from posting new entries here. I will be spotlighting in the next few days collecting library binding books, and continue my thoughts on the Beverly Gray series.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bonanzle Booths Series Book Sale

Beginning tomorrow, January 18th, seven Bonanzle Booths that specialize in children's series books will be offering a sale that will continue until February 1st. Many series books can be found on Bonanzle, including Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, Rick Brant and the Three Investigators, Kay Tracey and Beverly Gray... the list goes on and on.
Bonanzle is different from Ebay, in that prices are set for selling, as opposed to an auction type sale. Think complete "Buy It Now" listings. This way, if you see something you like, and the price is good, you can buy it right away.
Here is the list of book sellers and the amount they are offering off using the coupon code "booksale" at the time of checkout. Clicking on each individual name will take you to their booth.

Book Venture - 15% off
CAL's Book Inn - 15% off
Irish Pirate Queen - 15% off
Jennifer's Series Books - 10% off
Lian's Vintage Series Books - 15% off
Only Nancy Drew - 15% off
SeriesBookLover's Bookshelf - 15% off

SeriesBookLover's Bookshelf is my bookstore, but be sure to visit all of the booths. This is a great chance to pick up something you may have been looking for and the selection looks pretty good in all booths. Bonanzle is very user friendly, and is giving Ebay a run for its money.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Complete Matte Blue Spine Hardy Boys Set

Despite the picture, my two year old nephew Caleb is not quite ready to read the Hardy Boys yet. At two, though obviously brilliant and a handsome rascal like his uncle, there is some time before he will venture into the wonderful world of series books.
As his uncle, I certainly feel responsible to insure that he will be indulging in quality reading, so I have a plan. I want to put together for him a nice set of blue spine matte Hardy Boys books. That complete set will represent books 1-58 with as many original text books that this format allows. I'm hoping to find good copies that have held up well over the years. Nice quality copies from the 1960's and 70's would be ideal. I'll have to figure out how many have the tan endpages versus black and white endpages. I've only casually looked on Ebay, and I admit to feeling a little overwhelmed. It seems that many sellers of Hardy Boys books do not give good descriptions as to printing year or to book listing. Somehow yellow spine Nancy Drews seem to be identified better on Ebay.
Does anyone have any collecting tips for me before I start on this venture? I think we have some time before Caleb finishes The Disappearing Floor so I welcome your advice.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Beverly Gray and the World Cruise

I know that over the years I have walked past many Beverly Gray books in antique stores and used book stores. Until I read John Axe's book All About Collecting Girls Series Books, I had no idea what I was missing. The Beverly Gray books are fun and enjoyable. I am enjoying the various arcs that the various volumes present. I feel like I am reading a continuing story. The books follow one another, and they read best in order.
Saying that, I will confess that I have only read three of the titles so far. I started with World's Fair, and I was a little lost initially. Obviously these girls have been together for a while, and their various male friends also have been around before. I felt that I was coming into the middle of the story. Since I didn't have the earlier titles, which chronicled Beverly's college years and her move to New York, I continued along. By the end of the story, despite the lack of background information, I was hooked.
I wanted to know more about Beverly. Would her book be published? Would she really go on the Cruise? And where does the money come from to allow her to travel around the world on the Susabella? I wanted to know, so I continued with the next title.
Beverly Gray on a World Cruise officially begins the adventures of the Susabella passengers as they embark on an around the World cruise. The young men and women embark from New York with their chaperon, and we are quickly thrown into many adventures. Passengers go overboard, half of a mysterious treasure map fall into the travelers hands, and a mysterious Count with questionable motives follows the travelers.
I am halfway through the World Cruise story arc, having completed the second volume, Beverly Gray in the Orient. They are shanghaied by pirates, the mysterious Count continues to pursue them, and they are slowly becoming aware that the treasure map is going to lead them on more adventures. I am very much enjoying the storyline, and the various romances that are developing in the story.
There is something to be said for books that build from one volume to the next. Many series books are individual stories that use the same characters in each of its volumes. Series like Beverly Gray use continuing story lines to their advantage. Judy Bolton stories are another series that come to mind that build from story to story. When I finish the next two titles, Beverly Gray on a Treasure Hunt and Beverly Gray's Return, I'll give more feedback. If you haven't read these books, grab a copy!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

"Beverly Gray at the World's Fair"... A truly rare book!

The Beverly Gray series has many followers and justifiably so. Published between 1934 and 1955, this 26 volume series follows the adventures of a young girl, first as a college student, then continues on and follows her exploits as a reporter for a New York newspaper. In addition, early in the series she takes a world cruise that takes three books to complete. Her adventures continue upon her return, and she becomes quite the girl sleuth in the ensuing years. The books have a continuity that makes one want to read the books in order. Some call the Beverly Gray books a sort of soap opera. Relationships are built, and characters become more developed as the saga progresses.
Originally published by the A.L. Burt company, the book rights were bought by Grosset and Dunlap after the first eight books had been published. These early books are somewhat hard to find in their original printings and dust jackets. When Grosset and Dunlap bought the book series, they decided not to reissue the title Beverly Gray at the World's Fair. Set in the Chicago World's Fair of 1934, the book was seen as dated by the new publishers. As a result, there were only a few printings of World's Fair, and the book was allowed to go out of print. The events in this volume were fairly significant to the series, and readers who were not aware of this missing title detected a gap in the continuity. Author Clair Blank offered to rewrite the book to alleviate the problem, but Grosset and Dunlap was not interested. Beverly Gray on a World Cruise, originally number seven in the series was reprinted as number six by Grosset and Dunlap, and World's Fair slipped out of circulation.
There have only been two reprints done over the years of this title. American Web Books, a division of Applewood Books, reprinted the book in 2003. As a result, this title is sought after not only by Beverly Gray fans, but series book collectors as well. I have a copy I bought from AWB, but I do not have an original. Several copies pop up from time to time, but the price tends to be high each time the book is offered. I have heard of this title selling for as much as $1000.00, so it can be costly to grab a copy. Of course, one can get lucky and find it somewhere a lot cheaper. If you ever see it at an affordable price, you should buy it. Resale value alone makes this title a very collectible book.
I'll talk more about this series and the fun of reading it in my next post.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Recent Purchases...

Over the Christmas break I made three series book purchases. Two of the purchases were made on ABE (Advanced Book Exchange), a book service I have only occasionally used. The third purchase I made was on Ebay. I know I've been ranting the last couple of days about Ebay, but I feel the need to vent once again. Forgive me in advance, if you will please.
All three packages arrived today (Don't you hate that? You'd think they would spread themselves out over several day so that you have something to look forward to in the mail. Bills come almost every day. Why can't packages?). Two were well packaged in new boxes, and one package was a tad beaten and worn. The first package I opened was a copy of the Dana Girls "In the Shadow of the Tower." It was a copy in a red and turquoise jacket, a format I've recently decided I would like to collect. The book is in beautiful condition, the dust jacket bright and attractive, and the spine just a little lighter than the cover and back. It looks great and I will add it to the collection. I paid 28.00 for the book. It was a little pricey, but the condition of the book justified the price. I purchased it through ABE.
In the next package I had a copy of "Beverly Gray's Surprise". Anyone who collects the Beverly Gray series knows that the Clover books are cheaply made, and many copies have not held up over time. "Surprise" was only released in the Clover edition, so a nice sturdy copy can be hard to come by. Often times the cellophane coating on the cover is peeling or gone, and the bindings have also loosened over the years. This is the last title in the series, and when I found this copy on ABE for 10.99 I jumped on it. I now own a nice, sturdy copy of the last volume in a series I like, for a price that was minimal. If the general rule of thumb that the last book in any series is harder to find, than I think I did pretty well.
My last package, the one that didn't look so good was purchased from an Ebay seller. It contained four Beverly Gray titles that were sold as a lot. I opened the package, and I was grateful it was not raining today. The box had been used several times, and the books were not wrapped in any plastic or paper. Some newspapers were balled up, I suppose to keep the books from moving around in transit. I can't understand why a seller would mail books that aren't protected from moisture. Upon close inspection, I quickly determined that the books were not up to my collecting standards. They aren't terrible copies, but the dust jackets are faded and worn, and the books have a musty odor, something not mentioned in the original description. I paid 40.00 for the four books, and will try and sell them for 9.99 each in my Bonanzle booth. Perhaps at that price they will sell as reading copies, and I will break even, sans my Bonanzle selling fee.
I was obviously most disappointed in my Ebay purchase, and will not be giving the seller superior ratings. A wet, rainy day could have completely ruined the books I purchased. As it is, I am stuck with books that I really don't want, despite missing copies of two of the titles. My ABE purchases are very good, and they were well wrapped and protected. I purchased the Beverly Gray books without doing a lot of homework, something that happens when an auction is about to end. Buying books on ABE or Bonanzle gives the consumer a chance to find out what they are getting before they make their purchase. Auctions can be fun, and good deals are sometimes made, but the fixed price sales can sometimes prove to be the better way to go.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Nice Books.... High Price

Here is a great example of what I wrote about yesterday. Check out this Ebay item:

Item Number:230419696020

Eight of the Bolian illustrated Nancy Drew books... Price? A Buy It Now of 602.00!

I don't have any of these books in my collection, but I know they are a little more desirable among collectors. I have not seen them for less than 50.00 on Ebay, but this seems to be a rather steep price: 75.25 a book. All eight for 602.00.

And another picture besides spines facing out would have been nice. What do the fronts look like? At 602.00, I'd like to have a look before buying. The description says "Some are in better from very nice to good." Better what? Shape I presume. The seller offers to send more pictures upon request, but why not post up front? I have a hunch these copies are not worth 75.00 a book!

I, unfortunately do not have 602.00 laying around for an Ebay purchase.

They seem overpriced to me. Desirable? Yes. Obtainable? "Not I, said the blindman..."

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ebay: A sad state of affairs...

I've been keeping my eyes on Ebay lately, and there really isn't much there for the serious collector these days. Over the Christmas break, I have been using the advanced search and looking at the recently added books while drinking my first cup of coffee. I insert a couple of different keywords: Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton, Ken Holt, Rick Brant, and occasionally Dana Girls.
Nancy Drew comes back with the most books, but there is little of any value that I can see. You find plenty of Flashlight books and sets, and certainly some matte yellow spines as well. In addition, blue tweeds that don't have dust jackets are fairly prevalent. But early white spines are not very prevalent. Early books that are in good condition, with a dust jacket and complete with all glossies are selling for a price that makes it fairly hard for the average collector to make a bid. Books that start at 300.00 are out of my league. I have noticed that many of these high priced books are listed over again, because they do not sell. Little inventory, and high prices seems to be the trend.
It's a little better for Judy Bolton collectors. More early copies creep in, and I managed to buy a first printing of The Midnight Visitor for just under 40.00 last month. I was able to upgrade my copy of that book, but it's still a challenge to find things to bid on. There is very little in the way of boy series books. I have not purchased a boy series book for months, due to a lack of inventory.
I hear other collectors talk about the early days of Ebay, and how so many collections were built using this venue. For those of us that have entered rather late in the game, it's a struggle.
I would love to find some deals, but currently deals are just not to be found on Ebay. Between a lot of junk, good books are being eaten up by resellers and collectors with heavier pockets than mine.
I am an optimist by nature, so I keep returning to the well. However, my bucket is rarely half full after the trip. Anyone finding anything on Ebay these days?