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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay
March 2006

by Pamela Palmer

#67, 1 May 2006

    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 nine months since we launched the first BookThink's Top 10 on eBay have seen changes … and more changes. Now when something looks different, it's old news fast. For those of you keeping count, though, here is a short list of some of them. Starting date and starting bid disappeared from ready view. To find them now, click the "Listing and payment details: Show" button above item specifics. It's easy to miss; I did for quite a while. So far, no "best price" has reached the top 10 lists, but last month, one came close. In March, no reserve price books made the lists. Whether this is fluke or missing information only time will tell.

What's left? The most intriguing data, that's what - selling price, number of bids, BIN (and maybe reserve), auction title, description of the item, seller feedback score/percentage and country remain. Add that all of us have the potential to make the lists - even relative newcomers. After all, four of March's top sellers got there with fewer than 20 feedbacks.

Fiction Top 10
March 2006

#1 $6,630.24 J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings trilogy
#2 $6,327.63 The Lord of the Rings 1961 - SIGNED BY TOLKIEN
#3 $5,621.44 J.R.R. Tolkien LORD OF THE RINGS 1st / 1st 1954 3 vols
#6 tie $2,500.00 Signed Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged Ltd Ed Fine Copy
#6 tie $2,500.00 Ian Fleming GOLDFINGER Signed Shirley Eaton 1st in dj
#6 tie $2,500.00 NORTH OF BOSTON by ROBERT FROST **1st. Ed. BINDING B**
#9 $2,125.00 Dean R Koontz - Phil Parks - Unique Limited 1 of 1
#10 $1,967.50 Ray Bradbury FAHRENHEIT 451 - TRUE 1st/1st Hardback

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

by J.R.R. Tolkien

"Bound in grey Moroccan leather with art work - original brass plates included," this set consists of first impressions of each title. Described as in excellent condition and pictured in 7 photos, the volumes contain the original maps. The UK seller purchased the books from Dominic Winter and, in response to questions, notes having the original receipt. Other responses indicate these are the original covers with plain endpapers. The set sold for $6,630.24.

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

J.R.R. Tolkien

Signed by Tolkien and with a strong provenance, this 3-volume set is composed of later printings of the first editions, 1961. The volumes have only minor flaws and are shown in 5 photos. Listed by a UK seller, it sold for $6,327.63 after 9 bids.

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

J.R.R. Tolkien

The same set comes in at #3. First printings, first editions, these have been rebound in "full red morocco…The quality and design of the binding is simply superb incorporating Tolkien's line drawing of 'The Gates of Moria' stamped in gilt across the three individual spines." The books have gilt edges and come in a slipcase. Condition is fine. Offered by yet another UK seller and shown in 10 photos, the set attracted 22 bids and sold for $5,621.44.

Inside Out
by Nick Mason

The UK seller auctioning this Genesis book notes it was signed by Nick Mason, is #180 of 500 published, and comes with a "Deluxe Leather Box of Delights." The book in unread and the delights include drumsticks, a backstage pass, postcards and more. Shown in 1 photo, the auction attracted 1 bid and sold for $3,968.88

Northern Lights Trilogy
Northern Lights
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass

by Philip Pullman

Stoutly declaring these are not ex-library, the UK seller with a long track record in the fiction Top 10, notes these are all 1st edition, 1st printings. Flaws are described in detail, including "the slightest hint of sunning to the spine edge" of Northern Lights and similar minor flaws. Clearly shown in 10 photos, the auction received 28 bids and ended at $2,617.20.

#6 tie
Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand

Offered by a US seller, the "special tenth anniversary edition is limited to two thousand copies signed by the author…." This is #1160 and comes in a slipcase. Minor flaws are detailed - a scuff on the binding, light rubbing - and show in 9 photos. A single bid ended the auction at $2500.

#6 tie
by Ian Fleming

Signed by the golden Bond girl Shirley Eaton, this first edition, first printing is very good in a very good dust jacket. It was sold by a US seller as BIN for $2500.

#6 tie
North of Boston
by Robert Frost

Traditional literature makes an occasional appearance on the top 10 fiction list, this time with a collection of Frost's poetry. The US seller describes it as "First Edition, Second Issue, Binding B for American Publication," Published in 1914, it is 1 of 150 copies "published on February 20 1915 by Henry Holt and Company on sets of the original printed sheets imported from England." In very good condition, the seller notes that the Author Price Guide for Robert Frost indicates this edition, printing, and binding are valued at $2500 - and that turned out to be the exact selling price

The Servants of Twilight
The House of Thunder
The Eyes of Darkness
The Key to Midnight

by Dean Koonz
Illustrated by Phil Parks

As the story goes, "In early 1991 Phil Parks, the illustrator, was going to release a small limited edition of these 5 titles." Other things got in the way and this was the only completed set. Each book has an original illustration. A letter from Parks is included in the slipcase. The 5 books are described as "first edition and are in fine condition." The auction contained 9 photos and attracted 5 bids, taking it to $2,125.

Fahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury

Forty bids led to the $1,967.50 selling price of this first edition, first printing fine hardcover in unclipped and unfaded jacket. The UK seller included 6 photos of the book published in England by Hart-Davis. Condition is described as "Awesome."


Non-Fiction Top 10
March 2006

#1 $9,889.98 Ed Ruscha Tweentysix Gasoline Stations, 1st printing
#2 $5,158.99 Ed Ruscha Some Small Fires, 1st printing
#4 $4,362.00 Helmut Newton SUMO - Taschen
#5 $4,102.99 Ed Ruscha Some Los Angeles Apartments, 1st printing
#6 $3,623.76 THE BEATLES "HAMBURG DAYS" Genesis De-Luxe Publication
#7 $2,950.00 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF YOGI 1946 1st HC DJ SIGNED Yogananda
#8 $2,859.73 TIMEFORM RACEHORSES OF 1949
#9 $2,650.00 Very Old and Rare Geneva Bible (1599)
#10 $2,600.06 Signed Limited HARLEM by HIRSCHFELD & William Saroyan

Twentysix Gasoline Stations
by Ed Ruscha

A personal connection with Ed Ruscha meant the seller received 2 copies of each of Ruscha's books. In March, 3 from this US seller made the top 10 as #1, #2, and #5. This first run printing, listed with 1 photo, attracted 43 bids and sold for $9,889.98. Questions covered dust jacket (no dj) and book contents.

Some Small Fires
by Ed Ruscha

The second Ruscha book received 31 bids and sold for $5,158.99. The same seller as #1 and #5 listed this first run copy without DJ.

Universal Brotherhood: Tasks and Oaths

Signatures, thought to be those of Achad Parzival and Crowley, add interest to the 1916 booklet now loose pages. 7 photos illustrate the auction and provide information on the levels within the group. After 17 bids, the item sold for $5,100.

by Helmut Newton

This is #7862 of 10,000 copies of Sumo; it is signed and numbered by Newton. The unopened 66 lb. book is in original packaging, and a display device is included. The auction featured 9 photos and closed with a BIN of $4,362.

Some Los Angeles Apartments
by Ed Ruscha

Sold by the seller of #1 and #2, this first run book attracted 14 bids and sold for $4,102.99. As with the others from the seller, only 1 photo illustrated the auction.

Hamburg Days
by Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voorman

In listing the 1982 first edition, the U.S. seller with 9 feedbacks provides little description beyond calling the book rare and indicating it is #1272. Bidders best information comes from the 3 clear photographs. The auction attracted 19 bids, taking it from a $1 starting price to $2,226. A Genesis limited deluxe 2-volume set is #131 of the 250 numbered copies. George Harrison's initials are on a special bookplate. Included in the set are 2 prints, 1 by each of the authors. Still unopened, it is described as "Brand New Mint." The set is quarter bound in black silk and housed in a lithographed solander box with metal name plate. After 37 bids, the auction reached the selling price of $3,623.76.

Autobiography of a Yogi
by Paramhansa Yogananda

Offered by US seller, the auction with 3 photos attracted 6 bids and closed at $2,950 for the 1946 signed and inscribed first edition. The dust jacket, in mylar, is price clipped. Flaws listed include light wear and dj chips, bumped corners. Pages are clean and unmarked. One of the 3 photos shows what appears to be a label on the dj spine, No mention is made of it being ex-library, so what seems to be a label may be a feature of the dj itself. Questions focus on the signature (undamaged) and its authenticity (no direct evidence).


Timeform Racehorses of 1949

"Rarer than rocking horse droppings," is how the UK seller describes the green paperback copy. As for description, it's indicated by "nice clean and tight copy, photo does it no favors." After 24 bids, the book sold for $2,859.73.


Geneva Bible 1599

12 photos illustrate the auction of the 1599 Bible. The US seller is unsure if it has been restored; photos show a fine or near fine copy with uncropped margins. Photos also show some ornate writing inside. The seller notes, "There is a place where the binding has fasteners but they are no long there." After a whopping 88 bids, the Bible sold for $2,650.


Harlem as Seen By Hirschfeld
text by William Saroyan

Coming in at #10 is the 1941 signed first edition, #89 of a 1000-copy limited edition. Slightly soiled, the hardcover book has no dust jacket, a small spine slit, and a few other minor flaws shown in the 4 photos. It was inscribed to a previous owner and signed by Hirschfeld. Contents include "24 original colored lithographs signed in the plate by Hirschfeld on hand-made paper." After receiving 8 bids, the book sold for $2,600.06.

By the Numbers

9 of the sellers were from the UK
11 of the sellers were from the USA
1 seller sold 3 books by the same person
14 books were published after 1950
6 were published before 1950
0 used reserves
3 sold as BIN
1 through 88 is the range of bids
Seller feedback ranged from 9 to 10,780
12 sellers had 100% positive feedback
Feedback ranged from 98.5% to 100%
The oldest book was published in 1599


Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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