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.


  1. Your library story is maddening. This reminds of a guy who ran a book store in Tulsa. Back around 1998 through around 2003 or so, I would make a point of driving to Tulsa around once or twice a year to look for books. This guy who ran this one store was always suspicious about why I wanted to buy a certain book.

    I was in this store in around 1998-2000 looking at the Nancy Drew books with jackets. He did not have several of the books priced, so I had to ask. He said the books with mylar covers were one price and the ones without were another price, around $5.00 less, because they hadn't been "cleaned up" yet. I don't remember the exact details.

    I selected a dust-jacketed copy of Black Keys to purchase, which did not have a mylar cover, so I was getting it at the cheaper price. He was really suspicious about why I wanted it and looked over it carefully. I wanted it because I did not have a Black Keys with jacket yet. Duh... Generally collectors buy books that they need...

    A couple years later, I was back in that store and found that one Hardy Boys title that has the Nancy Drew list on the back cover. It was priced the same as the rest but it was worth more. I remember giving it to him and he looked over it before figuring the tax and total. He was still suspicious about motives. That time, I was getting it because of something he didn't know, but I truthfully told him that I was getting it because I didn't have that title. Yes, he asked me that time, too. People collect sets of books. Is that so hard to understand?

    I remember hearing him bragging one time to someone about selling first printing Harry Potter books for huge prices on eBay. Maybe he should have sold all of his books on eBay and not been so suspicious of his customers.

  2. People are so afraid they are missing out on a deal. I'm getting my Masters to be a School Librarian, and the people I take classes with remark all the time that todays youth will not look at an older book on a shelf. They are turned off by it. If that librarian had allowed me to, the library would have had a fresh new set of Nancy Drew books, that probably would have circulated-
    Ah well!

  3. There is a similar thread to this on the Ken Holt group. Libraries generally don't like donations of older books. If they take them, they put them in the library sales, and then the people who run the sales get first choice. If you offer them vintage stuff for circulation, they act like you are trying to give them something from Ethiopia. The only sets I ever got to donate that were actually circulated were to private academies.

    I always view this kind of reaction as that the people don't want to do extra work. The system is already set up the way their books and materials come in and how they are prepared for circulation. Donated stuff is handled by volunteers, not them. Why take on the extra work of having to get donated sets ready for circulation?

    There are many people out there who have nice cushy jobs and don't want to lift an unnecessary finger if they don't have to. Academia has always impressed me as being that way.

    Many collectors who 'stole' all the library copies of rare books in the 70s and 80s used that for an excuse. Even the Library of Congress lost all their 'rare' series books, and some early collectors have Stratemeyer and G&D 'file' copies. All acquired using the viewpoint 'they don't care a hoot for them' as an excuse.


  4. James- What was interesting to me was that I was not offering to donate a vintage set to replace their worn copies. I was willing to buy a NEW set myself or give them money to buy a new set that was more durable w/ library bindings. My gift was refused!

  5. Hi Jack!

    I can understand a little about the time it would take to catalog them. Although the records could easily be found through LOC or somewhere else. Obviously this was a public library so she didn't need to do it herself unless she is extremely short staffed. don't seem to be reading the old classics. As a kid I loved The Little House on the Prairie books, but I can't even get my own children to read those. Now a days they seem to prefer Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

  6. Hey huge Nancy Drew fan here. I have a lot of 66 Nancy Drew books on eBay. 19 1st editions originals, 8 school library editions, 3 paperbacks, and 36 re-revised great condition books. The buy it mow price is $390 and the starting bid is $250. Please spread the word.

  7. Please go under 66 Nancy Drew Books