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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay - August 2005

by Pamela Palmer

#52, 19 September 2005

Which fiction and non-fiction books are winners on eBay? Each month this series answers the question and, along the way, looks at the listing strategies sellers use to bring in big bucks. In early January, we'll look back at the year and consider trends and highlights. To learn more about what's in and what's out of the lists, read our Top 10 on eBay Parameters.

The August heat wave brought out sellers who can't tell fiction from non-fiction. Fortunately for them, buyers showed up anyway. Psychedelic Renegades: Photographs of Syd Barrett, by Mick Rock, made both the fiction and the non-fiction top 10 this month. Same is true of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights set. Take a look below to see if listing these titles in the wrong category helped or hurt the bottom line.

Top 10 on eBay
Fiction Top 10
August 2005

#2 $4,393.59 PINK FLOYD. SYD BARRETT. "Psychedelic Renegades"
#3 $4,103.69 JRR Tolkien The Lord of The Rings 1st UK Ed. SIGNED
#6 $2,054.24 The Surgeon's Mate - Patrick O'Brian - Rare 1st Edition
#7 $1,992.36 Ian Fleming, Goldfinger, 1959, 1st Edition, Signed, DJ
#8 $1,862.60 JRR Tolkien The Hobbit, Foyles / Childrens Book Club
#9 $1,841.68 RARE Tolkien The Fellowship of the Ring 1954 1st/1st
#10 $1,822.03 FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE - Ian Fleming 1957 1st / 1st DJ

#1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K.Rowling

Billed as "First edition, first printing 1997 ... The True First Edition, preceding all other printings published and printed in England," the book sold on August 2. It started at GBP 4.99 and moved up to $9,110.13 on 33 bids. The UK seller stated that this is one of 300 copies printed with the number code of 10-1. An ex-school library copy, it has minimal library markings but has rubbing, laminate chipping/peeling, and bumped corners. The auction included nine pictures.

#2 Psychedelic Renegades: Photographs of Syd Barrett by Mick Rock

A Genesis Publications leather limited edition in mint condition, this copy outpaced the same title listed as non-fiction. The UK seller notes there are "only 950 numbered copies worldwide, of which 1 to 320 are in a deluxe binding, signed by Syd Barrett ... and Mick Rock." Four pictures illustrate the book, which moved from GBP 450.00 to reach $4,393.59 on 36 bids.

#3 The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King

In a detailed and heavily illustrated presentation, this signed set of three garnered five questions that centered on provenance and authenticity. According to the UK seller, "This set was purchased together in Oxford, Blackwells, (1957) by a student who had The Fellowship signed by Professor Tolkien." The seller then outlines the provenance and rebinding, notes that a written record and certification of provenance and signature authentication are included.

Rebound by The Chelsea Bindery in "Full Red Leather with the 'Ring & Eye' design stamped to the front...," The Fellowship of the Ring is listed as 7th impression October 1957; The Two Towers as 5th impression 1957; The Return of The King as 3rd impression January 1957. Eighteen bids took the set from a starting bid of GBP 99.00 to $4,103.69. The same seller sold #8 fiction.

#4 Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Listed by another UK seller, this book is described as "1st/1st FlatSigned" near fine with little shelfwear with a very good+ dust jacket. Points mentioned include "the all-important £12.99 price (unclipped)" and the publisher address "as 7-9 Pratt Street, London, NW1 0AE and POINT to the base of the spine." Three pictures, including one of the signature, were included. Starting at GBP .99, the auction moved up with 17 bids to sell for $2,590.14.

#5 Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman

The same title as #4, this copy of Northern Lights is listed as a "True first ever print ... 7-9 PRATT STREET ... Hand Signed to the title page." Offering in auction starting at GBP 0.01, the seller also included a Buy It Now for £1,850, well above the final auction price of £1,370.00 ($2,447.23) which was reached with 16 bids, and, pulling out all stops, used a reserve too. The seller describes it as "very rare ... only 1000 printed ... signed by Pullman at the Oxford Literary Festival."

A photo of Pullman signing the book and a photo of the ticket will be issued with the item." Then the seller quoted what Pullman said while signing. Noting that it has been opened but unread, the seller offers "a 500% refund if you find it [the signature]" to be not authentic. Six pictures are included.

#6 The Surgeon's Mate, by Patrick O'Brian

Listed as "a genuine British 'first edition,'" this book is said to be "in stunning condition." The UK seller notes it appears unread and as new. The auction included 2 pictures and started at GBP 24.99, rising on 33 bids to $2,054.24.

#7 Goldfinger, by Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming's Goldfinger comes in at #7, as a first edition, signed copy. The UK seller includes 3 pictures and notes, "... we are sorting though a relative's belongings who it seems was a collector ... I am not an expert on books but I have just tryed to give what knowledge I do have in my listings ..." He/she describes the book and dust jacket as both in good condition with shelfwear. Starting at GBP19.99, it finished at $1,992.36 with 28 bids.

#8 The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Described as The Childrens Book Club Edition of 1942 "with wrapper excellent condition, no faults," the UK seller notes the book has "the orange wrapper and the 'Dandified Hobbit.'" Minimal wrapper chipping, near fine book with no marks, and is printed on war economy paper. Five pictures illustrate the auction. Selling for $1,862.60, the book started at GBP 999.00 and received 2 bids. The same seller sold #3 fiction.

#9 The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien's third showing in the top ten this month, The Fellowship of the Ring sold for $1,841.68, moving up from GBP 50.00 on 13 bids. Listed from Malta as "a very rare and desirable first printing of the first edition," the dust jacket is largely intact. The book has edge bumping, end papers and edges foxed, and is described as in good condition. Five pictures are included.

#10 From Russia With Love, by Ian Fleming

Rounding out the top ten fiction for August is Ian Fleming's From Russia With Love. The UK seller saw his book rise from a starting GBP 0.99 to $1,822.03 on 31 bids. This seller had a good month, also selling #4 fiction. Described as "First Edition, First Issue with Original Dust Jacket ... FINE/FINE MINT CONDITION," the book is shown in 8 pictures.

Top 10 on eBay
Non-Fiction Top 10
August 2005

#1 $5,525.00 George Harrison Books - Set of 3 - Alike Numbered
#2 $3,850.00 Alcoholics Anonymous 1st Ed 1st Printing Red Book 1939
#3 $3,026.06 Pink Floyd Syd Barrett "Psychedelic Renegades"
#5 $2,103.14 Battle of Britain RAFbook Arise to Conquer signed Gleed
#6 $2,025.00 1943 Alcoholics Anonymous 1st edition 4th print. Green
#7 $1,933.06 Philip Pullman- Northern Lights 1/1 set! Dark Materials
#8 $1,823.79 England's World Cup Triumph - SIGNED by 1966 team
#10 $1,700.00 Narcotics Anonymous 1st Edition Red Book No. 1182

#1 Three George Harrison Books
I, Me, Mine, by George Harrison
Fifty Years Adrift In An Open-Necked Shirt by Derek Taylor
Songs, by George Harrison

Listed by a seller who eschews normal punctuation, this brief auction text accompanied by 12 pictures nonetheless brought in $5,525.00 on 4 bids from the starting price of $4,600.00. The three titles sold here are from Genesis Publications and are all numbered 482 of 2000. New and unread, they are in the original shipping boxes and signed by George Harrison.

#2 Alcoholics Anonymous

Described as a first edition, first printing, ex-library red copy, this 1939 book has been restored. The auction included 5 pictures and the note that "The book looks much better than the pictures show." It sold at the starting bid of $3,850.00.

#3 Psychedelic Renegades: Photographs of Syd Barrett,
by Nick Rock

In the non-fiction category this time (see #2, Fiction above), this Barrett-and-Rock-signed Genesis Publication is #33 of 950 numbered copies, only 320 are signed by Barrett. Described as in mint condition, the slipcased book is accompanied by a postcard size photo of Syd Barrett by Rock. Illustrated by 4 pictures, this auction went from a starting bid of GBP 550.00 to $3,026.06 on 2 bids.

#4 Concert for George: A Celebration of the Life of George Harrison
Postcards from the Boys

Two limited-edition signed Genesis Publications were sold at the starting bid of GBP 1,400.00 or $2,540.72. The books are described as #220 of 350 copies of each produced and were listed with 8 pictures. The lengthy descriptions are difficult to read in all caps format (regularized here).

Concert for George is described as signed by Olivia Harrison and "half bound with terracotta shade leather and blocked in gold with blue silk screening on the cover ..." Concert-related poster, replica backstage passes, dropped petals, photos, DVD, pamphlet, and program are included. Postcards from the Boys, by Ringo Starr, is described as signed by the author with its accompanying inserts.

#5 Arise to Conquer, by Ian Gleed

The 1942 first edition by Wing Commander Ian Gleed, D.F.C. is signed by the author and by about 20 other RAF officers. Inserted are 4 newspaper clippings, including the one reporting Gleed missing. A picture of the title page with the many signatures was among the 3 pictures with the auction. Described as Good+, the wartime paper has yellowed at edges but "the book is tight and the boards are clean." Said to be the first book to describe the Battle of Britain, the UK seller notes it is of special interest to RAF and Battle of Britain collectors. Twenty-two bids raised the opening bid of GBP 14.99 to $2,103.14.

#6 Alcoholics Anonymous

A first edition, 4th printing green copy is described as in very good condition with one small tear on the spine and name/address on flyleaf. Corners are bumped and there are some scratches on the cover. Eight pictures illustrate the auction. The book sold with 25 bids at $2,025.00, rising from an initial bid of $9.99.

#7 Philip Pullman Dark Materials Set, by Philip Pullman
Lyra's Oxford
His Dark Materials
(the play)
His Dark Materials (the book)
The Amber Spyglass
The Subtle Knife
Northern Lights

Listed as non-fiction, these 6 volumes are described individually. All are first edition, first impression. The first two were issued without dust jacket; the other 4 are hardbacks with dust jackets. Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are flat-signed. Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are in mint condition. Number 6 is very fine in a mint DJ. No pictures were included in the auction by this seller with 0 feedback, but potential buyers were instructed to email for them. The UK seller saw the book sell for $1,933.06, rising from the starting bid of GBP 1.00 on 34 bids.

#8 England's World Cup Triumph, by Jack Rollin

Jack Rollin's 1966 book is a "first edition first printing, and is signed by the team and Alf Ramsey!" In the original dustwrapper with price intact, the book is described by the UK seller as very good with some browning/foxing, a small stain, sunning, tight hinges, front board warp, and a dust jacket in excellent condition. The auction received 23 bids taking it from a starting price of GBP 29.99 to $1,823.79.

#9 Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce

In a month when sellers blur the line between fiction and non-fiction, it's no surprise to see the equally cross-format James Joyce work show up in the non-fiction category. In this case, it's a first English edition "published with Egoist title page and using the American sheets, not more that 750 copies were printed." [all caps auction regularized here] Described as very good by the UK seller, who calls it "a very scarce book." Seven pictures illustrate the book. Sold as a Buy it Now at GBP1,000 or $1,814.80 in around 10 hours.

#10 Narcotics Anonymous: It Works

Minimally described as "copy number 1182 of the first edition ... in excellent condition but not perfect" with some ink underlining on 16 pages. Three pictures illustrate the book that sold on 1 bid at the starting price of $1,700.00.

By the Numbers

75% of the sellers were from the U.K.
1 seller was from Malta
20% of the sellers were from the U.S.A.
2 sellers each sold 2 books in the fiction category
10 sellers had 100% feedback (1 of them sold 2 books)
1 seller had 99.3% feedback, the lowest with any feedback (sold 2 books)
1 seller had 0 feedback
11 were listed for 7 days
7 were listed for 10 days
2 were BIN purchases
7 used reserves
1 to 36 is the range of number of bids (including BIN)
5 auctions had over 30 bids
4 items had only 1 bid
3 were sales of Genesis Publications
3 were Narcotics or Alcoholics Anonymous publications
3 were Philip Pullman titles: 2 in fiction, 1 in non-fiction
3 were JRR Tolkien titles
2 were Psychedelic Renegades, 1 in fiction, 1 in non-fiction
2 were Ian Fleming titles
75% of the books were published after 1950

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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