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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay
October 2005

by Pamela Palmer

#56, 28 November 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.

U.K. sellers dominate the October Top Ten lists with 75% of the top sales. For the first time a New Zealander joined the winners, coming in at #10 in the non-fiction group. This was a month of extremes - a striped woman, a longhorn, and a 1605 publication accompanied the usual suspects. Fiction selling prices soundly beat non-fiction with a nearly $5,5000 difference between the top price in each category.

Top 10 on eBay
Fiction Top 10
October 2005

#1 $8,226.78 Colour of Magic Terry Pratchett HB 1/1 Signed
#2 $7,076.80 V.RARE-2 x SHADOWMANCER - 1/1 HB - Leather + Paintings
#3 $4,423.00 HARRY POTTER ROWLING 1st 1st 1st 1997 COMPLETE SET
#5 $2,476.86 T. Hardy. Return of the Native 1ST ED IN THE ORIG CLOTH
#6 $2,463.86 HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES DOYLE1902 1st/1st
#9 $1,822.45 Ian Fleming MOONRAKER 1st edition, 1st printing 1955 dw
#10 $1,804.58 Harry Potter Half Blood Prince UK HB Signed JK Rowling

The Colour of Magic, by Terry Pratchett

"Go on, mortgage the kids, sell the cat into kitty slavery - you know it's worth it!" That's how the confident UK seller hyped this book. It sold for a hefty $8,226,78 with 27 bids from a starting price of GBP 1.00. Described as a hardback first edition, first printing, the book was signed by the author on the title page, has a mint jacket, and is not price clipped. It was listed for 10 days and 6 pictures illustrated the auction. The seller originally claimed it was one of 5,000 printed but later corrected that to one of 500. He cites "a true test of the original cover" as "reviews on the front cover pasted over."

Shadowmancer (Mount, 2002)
Shadowmancer (Faber & Faber, 2003)
by G. P. Taylor

Two 1st edition 1st printings of Shadowmancer started as GBP 4,000 and sold at the starting price after a 10 day auction. The UK seller describes the one as, "...Number One Mount 1st Edition 1st Printing 2002 which is hand signed and numbered ONE by the author and contains a hand painted Watercolor by the Illustrator Percy Hope." It is bound in full leather with leather inlays. The second is described as "... Faber & Faber 1st Edition 1st Printing 2003 which also has the number ONE and hand signed by the author ... with a hand painted Watercolour by the Illustrator...." Noting that each design was limited to 10 copies, the seller included 4 pictures.

Harry Potter UK First Printings, by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The UK seller sums the auction up by writing, "This auction is for the complete set of True Worldwide First Printing paperbacks from the UK." Calling book 1 the rarest of the group, the seller provides details of printing errors, print line, use of Joanna instead of JK for the author and more to describe the paperback. Similar details are used to describe the other 4 books; 4 pictures illustrate the auction. The first book has minor flaws - a slight crease and yellowed pages; the others are rated as fine. Started at GBP 2,500, the auction ended at that price with a BIN.

Northern Lights Trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Northern Lights
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass

All three titles are 1st/1st "... in fantastic condition ... all flat signed to the title page and onto offical book plates as well - ALL Double Signed!!!" This UK seller who appears frequently on BookThink's Top Ten apparently doesn't proofread his auctions. Despite typos, this trio garnered 29 bids to sell for $3,519.80 from a starting bid of GBP 0.99. The seller used 11 pictures to illustrate the auction, listed for 7 days, and used a reserve. The seller also sold #6 below.

The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy

Another UK seller takes the #5 position with an 1878 3-vol. set of The Return of the Native. The set sold at the starting price of GBP 1,399.99 after a 10-day auction that included 4 pictures. Described as "FIRST EDITION IN THE ORIGINAL CLOTH," the set has been re-cased and the inner hinges strengthened. Flaws include a small indentation in one fore-edge, occasional foxing/browning, and a bit of cloth replaced. The set is in a later cloth clip-case, is first edition, and is graded as very scarce. It was among the 1000 copies published on November 4, 1878.

Hound of the Baskervilles, by Arthur Conan Doyle

A BIN ended this UK seller's auction at the starting bid of GBP 1,400. Hound of the Baskervilles is described as "FINE/FINE MINT CONDITION." It's the 1st edition, 1st printing published in 1902 by George Newnes, London. It appears unread, not faded/sunned, with slight foxing to end papers with all other pages clean, crisp and unmarked. Three pictures show the book. This seller also sold #4 above.

The Inimitable Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse

Described as a "FIRST EDITION - and in the scarce original d/w," the 1923 book sold for $2,385.92, rising on 16 bids from a starting price of GBP 4.99. The UK seller notes that it is in "excellent/near fine condition" externally and internally with a "clean and bright" dw that has some chips and loss. Condition is clearly illustrated in 7 pictures.

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer

An exact facsimile of the 1896 Kelmscott Press Chaucer, the 2-book set sold for the starting bid of GBP 1,195 with a BIN. Published in 1975 by The Basilisk Press in London in a limited edition of 515 copies, this is copy 211 of the 500 that were sold by special subscription. Graded in very fine condition, it was opened only to make the 12 auction pictures. The second volume in the set is "a Companion Volume ... (with Burne-Jones pencil drawings ...)." The two volumes are in a wooden slipcase which is in fair condition.

Moonraker, by Ian Fleming

Twenty-one bids took this 1955 first edition, first printing James Bond book from a GBP 4.99 starting bid to $1,822.45. Described as having a tight binding and sharp corners, the book is "clean and bright" with light rubbing and some white marks on the exterior (the UK seller indicates this may be dust). The dw is original; it's chipped and rubbed with some soiling and a faded spine.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling appears again as #10 with a "1st Edition UK Hardback 1st Edition ... with dustjacket." It was "hand signed directly to the page." A crew member's t-shirt is included in the auction, along with a used AAA pass. The auction started a GBP 1.00 and rose to $1,804.58 on 19 bids during the 7-day auction. Two pictures illustrate the auction. The UK seller opens the auction with this admonition, "Before you look at our items, PLEASE educate yourself." He can only hope.

Top 10 on eBay
Non-Fiction Top 10
October 2005

#1 $2,727.85 PINK FLOYD, SYD BARRETT - "Psychedelic Renegades"
#2 $1,850.00 Geneva Breeches Bible 1602 / 1605
#3 $1,804.58 Marcel Duchamp and Richard Hamilton rare 1966 work
#4 $1,763.00 *The Lord of the Rings Sketch Book*by ALAN LEE*UNIQUE*
#5 [tie] $1,525.00 1909 LONGHORN TEXAS A&M YEARBOOK
#5 [tie] $1,525.00 Alcoholics Anonymous RARE 1941 with Bill's Signature
#7 $1,500.00 Narcotics Anonymous 1st Edition BLUE - HELP
#8 $1,475.00 A Kertesz DAY OF PARIS 1945 1st dj Signed
#10 $1,350.05 SNAFFLES, Charles Johnson Payne, Millwood Press. 1983.

Psychedelic Renegades: Photographs of Syd Barrett, by Mick Rock

The volume is #89 of 320 signed and numbered copies of this Genesis publication. Signed by both Barrett and Rock, it is in a slipcase. The UK seller describes it as "bound in two colours of leather, and gold blocked ...." Five pictures are included in the auction. Listed at GBP 1.00, the 7-day auction received 12 bids, met its reserve, and sold for $2,727.85.

The Bible
Geneva Breeches Bible 1602 / 1605

When the UK seller listed this Bible, he noted it contains "17th & 18th Century handwritten notes." Described in separate places as "a good copy" and "... in excellent condition for its age," it was "printed in 1605 printed throughout in black (gothic) letter.... It also contains, bound in at front, a contemporaneous Book of Common Prayer (lacking a title page) ... [and] Bound in at the end is an edition of Sternhold-Hopkinks Metrical Psalms, with musical notation dated 1602." Bound in the original leather with "metal clasps but no fastenings, the spine has been professionally replaced some time ago ...." The signature inside is Francis Cooke and is dated October 31st 1719. Nine photographs illustrate the auction. The UK seller started the auction at $990 (listing the action in US dollars). After 5 bids, it met its reserve and sold for $1,850.

The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors ...
by Richard Hamilton

This title is obscure enough without the UK seller repeatedly calling it The Bride Striped Bare..., evoking the image of a zebrasque female. Having clarified that, the rest remains murky. The seller calls it "a copy of 'The Bride Striped Bare by Her Bachelors Even Again' by Richard Hamilton published in 1966 for an exhibition held at the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle." It's noted that "the catalogue / nook examines Duchamp Glass and Hamilton faithful reproduction of it." From the context, one could guess that "nook" is meant to be "book." The seller reports that "When Marcel Duchamp came to London for the opening of his exhibition, he agreed to sign it" but, the seller added later, "This book has not been signed by either Hamilton or Duchamp." Searches of the Library of Congress Catalog and the British Library Integrated Catalog do not locate a 1966 work of this title; however, they both list a 1960 book titled The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, even; a typographic version by Richard Hamilton of Marcel Duchamp's Green Box," listed as 1 v. unpaged. The auction started at GBP 0.99 and rose on 4 bids to $1,804.58. It included 4 photographs and lasted for 10 days.

The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook, by Alan Lee

Including Lee's signature and hand-drawn sketch, this book is shown in 6 photographs in the auction. The UK seller started it at GBP 0.99 and 12 bids took it past the reserve to the $1,763 selling price.

#5 tie
The Long Horn
1909 Texas A&M Yearbook

In a brief listing, the yearbook is described as in good condition with a leather cover. The book is not autographed. Listed in a 7-day auction, it is shown in 5 photographs. The auction attracted 28 bids, moving it from a $19.99 starting bid to the $1,525 selling price.

#5 tie
Alcoholics Anonymous

The auction is for a second printing, March 1941 copy of the book plus a signature paper signed by Bill Wilson. The US seller married the two elements, originating from different sources. The book's flaws include a cut at top of spine and faded gold lettering. The seller rates its condition as very good, with a tight binding and no writing or torn pages. Starting at an opening bid of $9.95, 18 bids took it to a selling price of $1,525 during the 7-day auction.

Narcotics Anonymous: It Works

Selling at its starting bid of $1,500, this 5-day auction is for a first edition, blue basic text. Three photos illustrate the auction but there is scant description, only the comment it is in "incredible condition ...with a signature in the front of the book."

Day of Paris
Photographs by A. Kertesz; Edited by George Davis

Listed as a 1st edition "presentation copy dated May 22, 1945 and signed by A Kertesz on ifep," the book is described as having slight wear and soiling. More information was added in response to questions; the dj is worn and chipped but the book has a tight binding and hinges. Listed by a US seller for 7 days, the auction started at $9.99 and ended at $1,475 with 15 bids.

The Merchants Mappe of Commerce; Wherein the Universall Manner
and Matter of Trade, is Compendiously Handled...

by Lewes Roberts

Published at London in 1638, this 454-page work contains table and 4 maps, is bound in leather with raised bands. The UK seller describes it as in very good condition with the rebinding retaining some original leather. Details include some loss to the frontispiece that has been repaired, maps in good condition, a few missing index pages, and some marks. Ten photos illustrate the 7-day auction. Started at GBP 19.99, the auction received 15 bids and closed at $1,371.13.

Snaffles: Charles Johnson Payne,
Being a Selection of His Hunting and Racing Prints

Listed by a New Zealand seller, this title was published in his country by Millwood Press in 1983 in a limited edition of 750 copies. This is copy #26. It contains "82 coloured plates by Snaffles, tipped in by hand with black and white illustrations ...." The book is described as in fine condition; the fall down box with it shows sunning, scratches, and a water stain. Listed for 7 days with 5 photos, it started at GBP 500 and sold with 4 bids at $1,350.05.

By the Numbers

75% of the sellers were from the U.K.
20% of the sellers were from the U.S.A.
1 seller was from New Zealand
1 seller sold 2 books in the Fiction Top 10
9 sellers had 100% feedback
1 seller had 97.4% feedback, the lowest percentage
6 were listed for 10 days
9 were listed for 7 days
2 were listed for 5 days
3 sold as BIN purchases
5 used reserves, including 1 that sold for the starting price - why the reserve?
1 to 29 is the range of bids (including BIN)
6 auctions had 1 bid
1 was a facsimile reprint
12 books were published after 1950
1605 was the earliest date of publication
1638 was the second earliest date of publication

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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