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?


  1. At the moment, I am finding nothing. It will probably get slightly better in the next week or so. Historically, the quality of listings always declines in December because people are so busy. It wasn't as obvious this year because the fixed-price listings did not disappear.

    The problem with eBay is that to get any good deals, you have to buy big lots of books and then sell all of the extras. Sometimes you can't get the big lots because the resellers bid very aggressively on them, but they do miss some of them, so deals can be had. For individual books, the prices are now too high.

    I once stated that I found eBay not to be worthwhile as a seller unless I was selling a book for at least $15 because of the high fees. Right there is part of the problem.

    You'll have to wait a couple of days before my December sales report on Bonanzle, but I make a point about cheap books and how I can sell them on Bonanzle without getting killed in fees. A lot of sellers limit themselves to expensive books, forgetting that the average collector just wants any copy for cheap. I'm thinking of the people who sell on eBay and imply in their listings that they only sell very nice books. Yeah, and they have trouble selling those nice books. My nice books aren't selling either, so I keep moving reading copies through as fast as I can.

  2. WHO is buying all these books and offering them for resale? And why? They don't sell. You see the same ones listed over and over again unless they are really pristine copies. I've been selling on eBay since 1997 when it began. I know that you can't buy and resell and actually make money. So why are these characters doing it, over and over?

    A lot of them must be new dealers who are learning slowly that they are wasting their time. Some may claim they are doing well, but I don't believe it. They have to pay too high for books to resell them at a worthwhile profit. I can sell mine for today's lower prices because I bought them all years ago for pennies.

    I still sell 90% of my listings but I'm mostly listing lower priced stuff with low minimum bids. Hardly anyone will bid anymore unless the minimum bid is low. I have never seen eBay so bad and not just in series books. I know a lot of people who sell other product, especially sports, and they all whine that it's been lousy.

    Before eBay I had my own website from which I sold books and the traffic and sales were amazing. I think things would still be good today if it wasn't for the poor economy. There are a lot of new collectors who would spend a lot if they could.


  3. I agree with you both- It is really hard to find anything!

  4. I'm not going to mention specific seller IDs, but you can figure out who I mean. Think of some of the people you mentioned who list the same books over and over again at really high prices. Bookbid is the worst, but I don't think bookbid is selling anything. I'm talking about the ones who try to sell high but not as high as bookbid. Most of them have "best offer" enabled, which is how a lot of the books sell.

    Some of these people buy the books with the same ID and sell a few months later, while some of them use a secondary ID. I have had them buy from me with both IDs, so I know quite a few secondary IDs. Some of them do end up selling the books at cost.

    Some of them may try to keep their powerseller status for the fee discounts, so they have to keep a certain volume in sales. For that reason, they have to keep up a high inventory and they don't mind having to sell many books at cost. I don't know whether they are making any profit in the end, but it must be worthwhile for them on some level.

    Several of them are the people who like to call many of their common books "rare" which is how they try to convince people to pay high prices.

    What I really like about Bonanzle is that I am selling reading copies directly to collectors. On eBay, I had to list in bulk because of the fees, and the books nearly always went to people who then tried to sell them at a profit.

  5. It occurred to me today that my first PC Nancy Drew books are not selling. I'm talking about the ones that list to Fire Dragon on the back cover. My prices of around $14.99 each are too high. I don't really want to lower them, because I think the books will sell eventually.

    What is interesting is that my PCs from the 1970s are selling briskly. It could be that those cover art variations are harder to find, or it could be that people are currently wanting the 1970s books more than the older ones... or it could be that the prices are lower and people want cheap books. It has me thinking.

    I just went through my extras and found all of the original text PCs that I could that do not list to Fire Dragon. I'm going to put them up for sale for under $10 each, and it will be interesting to see if I have better luck.

  6. I sell a lot of Drew PCs from the 1970s. Current collectors are of the age that these were their first Drews, and thus they want them again now. Some get interested in the older-art and older-text versions but the focus is definitely on the revised ones.

    It is exactly the opposite with the Hardy Boys books. The original-art and original-text PCs in that series sell like crazy, often for high prices and get a lot of bidding. The revised-art and texts are not so hot.


  7. For years, it seemed that people only wanted the original text books. It appears that the revised text books are currently more desirable to new collectors. People who are just now getting into collecting are more likely people who read the revised text books as children. It is interesting.

    I listed some more of the PCs from the 1970s tonight, and while my prices are close to the previous ones that had sold, I raised the price by a dollar or so for the ones in better condition. I'm glad Mike confirmed what I have thought all year: The revised text Nancy Drew PCs are in hot demand.

    Another surprising observation is that the softcover Trixie Belden books from the 1980s are in hot demand. I am selling those books like crazy! The earlier hardcover Trixie Belden books are not moving as fast. It appears that the series books from the 1970s and 1980s are the ones that people currently want. I wonder when some of those eBay sellers are going to figure that out?

  8. So it sounds like buying several lots of 70's matte PC's at lower prices will help increase one's inventory, and also move some books, building a good clientele for future sales. Correct?

  9. That is right. Like I said, I wonder when the eBay sellers are going to figure that out? They all seem to be fixated on the older books, especially in trying to convince everyone that the Cameo editions are oh so rare. I don't think most people are even buying Cameo editions these days (especially since everyone wants $75 and up for them). It seems that the newer books are the ones in current demand.

    My continuing goal is to list as many low-priced books as I can. My problem is keeping enough extras in stock, since some books move out very fast. I'm working on the descriptions of my 1960s ND PCs that are not first PCs. I'm going to try to price them at around $5-8, and I will be interested to see if they move out faster than the $15 ones.

    I believe my "December Sales on Bonanzle" post is set to publish tonight, so you can see the breakdown of what I sold. As with previous months, I sold primarily cheap books.