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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay
November 2005

by Pamela Palmer

#58, 26 December 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.

In November, Orwell took the lead with two winners in the fiction category, two in the non-fiction group, and an association copy as well. He wasn't the only interesting quirk this month. The non-fiction top seller brought in over 4 times the price atop the fiction list. One seller hit the jackpot with two fiction and two non-fiction titles. Other intriguing twists include an author's handwritten comments about his ex-wife, two charity auctions, and an 18th century history of Armenia, apparently written in Armenian.

Top 10 on eBay
Fiction Top 10
November 2005

#1 $3,581.46 C.S. Lewis Hideous Strength 1st inscribed George Orwell
#2 $2,977.27 George Orwell 'Burmese Days ' First Edition
#3 $2,682.12 Harry Potter CoS UK DLX 1st/1st fine cast signed book
#5 $2,111.09 George Orwell 1984 First Edition Book and Dust Jacket
#6 $2,076.48 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe 1st
#9 $2,025.00 The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Alan Dingman, Peter

That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown Ups, by C. S. Lewis

How speculative is the U.K. seller's assertion that "It is highly likely the Blair [in the inscription] is Eric Blair who wrote under the pseudonym of George Orwell?" He continues by suggesting the probability that this was the copy Orwell used when he reviewed Lewis' book for a review in The Manchester Evening News. Speculation aside, the title is listed as "a good copy in original black cloth" of the first UK edition, first printing, 1945; its leather and cloth box is lined in velvet. The seller details wear, rubbing, faded lettering, and slight lean. Offered for sale with 4 pictures, the 10-day auction started at GBP 9.99 and rose to $3,581.46 on 22 bids.

Burmese Days, by George Orwell

A mint condition book with a carefully restored dust jacket, this title garnered 17 bids to sell for $2,977.27 from a starting bid of GBP 0.99. The UK seller describes it as in mint condition with a carefully restored dust jacket and calls it the first edition, first issue, Harper and Brothers, 1934 with 2000 in the print run. Listed for 7 days with a reserve and 6 pictures, the auction brought questions. The seller assured one writer that the US edition was published before the UK one and gave details of the dust jacket restoration. This seller also sold #5 below plus #3 and #6 in the non-fiction list.

Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets,
by J. K. Rowling

The main feature of this UK seller's auction is a "Fine condition UK deluxe version of: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." The seller notes it is a 1st/1st and is a "MEGA multiple cast signed book." A list of those who signed is by screen name; the list includes Harry, Ron, Hermione and 17 others. A wrap party wrist band is also included. The auction includes 3 pictures and sold at the starting price of GBP 1,550 as a BIN.

The Lord of the Rings
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King

by J. R. R. Tolkien

Twelve photographs illustrate the trilogy, which sold at the starting bid or $2,595.60 after a 7-day auction. The trilogy is identified by the UK seller as published by Allen and Unwin in 1954-55. The Return of the King is first edition/first impression, 1955; The Fellowship of the Ring is first edition/second impression, as is The Two Towers. All three dust jackets are in good condition and the three books are in very good condition.

Nineteen Eighty-Four: A Novel
by George Orwell

Listed by the same UK seller as #2 above plus #3 and #6 in non-fiction, this second Orwell title on the November fiction list is first edition, first printing in a dust jacket. The seller notes it is "A stunning example of the rare red variant dust jacket; both dust jacket" and book are unrestored. The auction attracted 28 bids, moving if from a GBP starting price of 0.99 to a selling price of $2,111.09. The 7-day auction included 7 photographs and had a reserve. Described in near fine condition, the book is "almost totally unmarked." The dust jacket has two closed tears and a few chips.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,
by C. S. Lewis

Selling 10 days before movie's release, a first edition (Bles 1950) of C. S. Lewis' book comes in at #6. The UK seller states that it was "bought from a reputable London dealer and can prove provenance." Bound by The Chelsea Bindery in green morocco with gilt decorations and marbled endpapers, the book is in fine condition. Five photographs illustrate the auction. It ran 7 days, starting at GBP 600 with a reserve. It sold for $2,076.48 on 13 bids.

Now Wait for Last Year, by Philip K. Dick

The US seller proclaims the quality of this fine first edition in a near fine dust jacket. Dick's signature is on the title page. Dedicated to his wife, publication occurred after their divorce. An additional biographical detail is on the dedication page, where the seller reports Dick wrote, "My %&#$ Ex-Wife Who I send $200 a month to. PKD" The 3-day auction started at $2,000, received 3 bids, and sold at $2,050.

The Fellowship of the Ring
by J. R. R. Tolkien

Twenty-five bids propelled this UK first edition, first printing far above the opening bid of GBP 0.99 to close at $2,041.89 after a 10-day auction. The UK seller calls this edition "extremely rare." The book is in excellent condition with a mint condition map; there is not dust jacket. Flaws include a slight spine lean and end paper browning. According to information added 4 days into the auction, the seller was informed that the book had been rebound. The 3 pictures show only the open book and map. In the additional information, the seller offers to send pictures on request.

The Girl Who Loved Tim Gordon
by Alan Dingman, Peter Abrahams, and Stephen King

With 100% of the selling price going to the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association, the seller states that this "Pop-up Autographed Limited Edition ... sold for $1,000.00 on the open market. It is still in original wrap." The auction attracted 10 bids during its 7-day run, taking the book from a $100 starting price to $2,025 and meeting the reserve.

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis

Rounding out the top 10 fiction for November, this is "an ultra scarce, first edition, first print hardback ...." The UK seller started it at GBP 49.99 and saw it reach $1,957.08 with 28 bids during the 10-day auction. The book does not have a dust jacket and the only other flaw mentioned is fading on the front and back boards.

Top 10 on eBay
Non-Fiction Top 10
November 2005

#2 $ 2,768.64 Sir Paul McCartney Signed 1st Edition Book - Charity
#3 $ 2,706.61 George Orwell ' Homage to Catalonia' First Edition
#4 $ 2,450.00 Photography - The Art of Edward Weston by M.Armitage
#5 $ 2,143.38 First edn of one of the First Texts on English Law 1569
6 $ 2,091.93 George Orwell Inside the Whale First Edition DJ
#7 $ 2,000.00 Picasso Toreros by Jaime Sabartes
#8 $ 1,990.77 Andrea Palladio's Architecture. Ware's edition. 1738
#10 $ 1,751.51 Narcotics Anonymous Limited First Edition

Travels to the Source of the Missouri River and Across the American Continent to the Pacific Ocean Performed by the Order of the Government of the United States in the Years 1804, 1805, and 1806 by Captains Lewis and Clarke ...

The subject is purely American, but publisher of this 1814 title was British. The UK seller reports it is in very good condition, "11 X 9 INCHES,FULL LEATHER SPINE REPAIRED,TITLES IN GILT ON RED LABEL...663PP." The volume includes a large map and five charts, shown in the 7 photographs. It attracted 40 bids during the 7-day auction. Though the seller is from the UK, the opening bid was $100. Selling price was $15,737.

Blackbird Singing, by Sir Paul McCartney

In this charity auction to raise funds for The ACE Centre, the item is "A very rare signed hardback copy of a collection of poems and lyrics written by Sir Paul McCartney between 1965 and 1999." More than 50 song lyrics are included. McCartney donated the volume, and it is accompanied by a letter from his management company about the donation. The auction states this is an American first edition and is autographed by McCartney. The 10-day auction, that includes two photographs, raised $2,768.64 after 44 bids from a starting price of GBP 0.99.

Homage to Catalonia, by George Orwell

Orwell's non-fiction Homage to Catalonia is described by the UK seller as being in "very near mint condition" with an "almost mint condition" dust jacket with near invisible repairs. Noting that this first edition was limited to 1500 copies, the seller calls it "a truly stunning copy of a very scarce book." The 7-day auction with a reserve started at GBP 0.99 and sold for $2,706.61 after 21 bids. The same seller sold #6 below, plus #2 and #5 in fiction.

Photography: The Art of Edward Weston,
by M. Armitage

Described as a first edition folio, the title contains 39 full page photographs. The US seller names a darkened spine as the sole flaw. This is #234 of 500 copies, is in a slip case, and is signed by Weston. The 7-day auction started at $900 and garnered fifteen bids to reach the selling price of $2,450. Only 1 photograph illustrated the auction.

De Legibus & Consuetudinibus Angliae Libri
published by Richard Totell, London, 1569

In an extensive description accompanied by 9 photos, the UK seller is frank about description. He says, "The binding is a wreck with both boards detached" and both describes and shows damp damage, noting "It is a great shame that this damp damage has occurred as it would otherwise have been an excellent copy, the unstained pages being crisp and clean." The title is a noted work on British law, consisting of 888 pages and bound in late 18th century calf. The 10-day auction received 1 bid, with the book selling for its starting price of $2,143.38.

Inside the Whale, by George Orwell

Orwell again, this time at #6. The UK seller, who also sold the #2 and #5 fiction titles plus #3 above, calls this "The Rarest of all Orwell's Essay Collections Published in 1940 by Gollancz with a print run of just over 1000." The book is in very good condition and the unrestored dust jacket is price clipped with some chipping. Listed for 7 days, the auction with reserve started at GBP 0.99 and attracted 12 bids, selling for $2,091.93. Three photographs illustrate the auction.

Picasso: Toreros
by Pablo Picasso and Jaime Sabartes

Sold as a Buy It Now about 3.5 hours after launch, the auction started at $2,000 and had a reserve as well. The first edition has text by Jaime Sabartes along with the lithographs. The text has been translated from French into English. The work was published in New York in 1961, and includes 103 Picasso lithographs. The US seller states that "A special feature of this book is the four original Picasso paintings executed for this book."

The Four Books of Architecture, by Andrea Palladio

Published in 1738 by Isaac Ware of London, these four volumes are 16 x 10.5 inches and bound in calf covered boards. This historic work is described in detail, including noting the grubby sections, light marks, worn binding, and other flaws, as well as minor repairs. The UK seller listed for 10 days and started bidding at GBP 1,100. After 5 bids, the selling price was $1,990.77 in this heavily illustrated auction with 11 photographs of the set.

[a 3-volume Armenian history book, published 1784-1786]

Listed by a seller in Turkey, this set is in what appears to be Armenian. The first volume was printed in 1784, the second in 1785, and the third in 1786. Printed in Venice, the borders are described as "gold plated" and the leather binding is in excellent condition. Four photographs illustrate the auction. Starting at $999.99, the 7-day auction received 8 bids and ended at $1,825.

Narcotics Anonymous: It Works

The original owner of this 1982 first edition maroon bound volume numbered #1471 is donating 10% of the selling price to help other addicts. Described as in excellent condition, the book attracted 12 bids that moved it from the starting price of $500 to sell for $1,7451.51. The auction lasted 7 days, had a reserve, and included 3 photographs.

By the Numbers

70% of the sellers were from the UK
25% of the sellers were from the USA
1 seller was from Turkey
1 seller sold 4 books, 2 in fiction and 2 in non-fiction
1 other seller sold 2 books
17 sellers has 100% feedback
1 seller had 98.8 feedback, the lowest percentage
6 were listed for 10 days
10 were listed for 7 days
1 was listed for 3 days
3 sold as BIN purchases
8 used reserves
1 to 44 was the range of bids
4 auctions had 1 bid
2 were auctions for charity
10 books were published in 1950 or after
1569 was the earliest date of publication

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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