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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay
April 2006

by Pamela Palmer

#70, 5 June 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.

Readers of Bill Klimon's article in the May 29th issue of The BookThinker won't be surprised to see a magic book atop the non-fiction Top 10 for April. The group also includes a biography of Pierre Curie signed by the author Marie Curie, a golf architecture book, and the 1907 Polar Times. The fiction Top 10 includes the usual Pullman, Tokien, and King along with the unusual - Injun Babies, Harper Lee, and Salman Rushdie.

For those tracking changes in closed eBay auctions, the listing and payment details section now shows details with the option of hiding them. This is a welcome change from the previous practice of hiding details with the option of showing them, an option so discreet it was easy to miss entirely. One auction in the April Top 10 mentions a reserve price in the listing itself, but eBay closed auction records no longer routinely indicate whether a reserve was used - at least for now.

Fiction Top 10
April 2006

#1 $9,844.62 The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien 1954-1955 1/1/1/UK
#2 $3,676.01 The Dark Tower: THE GUNSLINGER Autographed Signed RARE
#3 $3,042.49 PHILIP PULLMAN - NORTHERN LIGHTS x 3!!! 1/1 HB/DJ
#4 $2,959.19 J.R.R.Tolkien...The Two Towers...1st imp in d/w...1954.
#5 $2,289.02 SEAMUS HEANEY ? THE ISLAND PEOPLE ? BBC 1968 1st Ed.
#7 $2,177.21 Dashiell Hammett Glass Key 1st Ed w/DJ 1931 Scarce
#8 $2,050.03 Autographed Copy of To Kill a Mockingbird
#9 $2,025.00 Injun Babies by Maynard Dixon 1st Edition Mint No Res
#10 $2,024.15 Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

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

J.R.R. Tolkien

The 3 first printing, first edition volumes have dust jackets, are not price clipped, and are in very good condition. The UK seller describes them in detail, including a litany of what each does not have - foxing, bumping, inscriptions, offsetting, internal marks - making it a bit difficult to find the statement of flaws. 12 photos illustrate the 10-day auction which started at GBP 5000. After 4 bids, the set sold for $9,844.62.

Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
Stephen King

Started at $9.99, the first limited edition volume received 25 bids and sold for $3,676.01. Signed by King and Michael Whelan, the book is #454 of 500. The seller appears to be selling for others, making the brief description with run-together words all the more unusual. For example, "ofthevalue" is written as one word, as is "itwill." Spelling and grammatical errors appear throughout the auction.

Northern Lights
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
Philip Pullman

Listed by a UK seller who frequently makes the top 10 list, this set of 1st UK printings is in very good condition with light shelfwear and light sunning. The 10-day auction received 22 bids, reaching the selling price of $3,042.49.

The Two Towers
J.R.R. Tolkien

Shown in 12 photos, this first edition, first printing is in "very good condition" with a near fine dust jacket. Minor flaws are described and shown in the photographs. The UK seller started the 10-day auction at GBP .99. After 19 bids, the book sold for $2,959.19.

Island People: An Irish Sequence of Music and Poetry
Seamus Heaney

Listed in a 7-day auction with no pictures, this book went from a GBP .99 starting price to $2,289.02. The UK seller describes it as in very good condition. Surprisingly the author punctuates the auction title with question marks, seeming to indicate doubt. In the auction itself, though, includes no doubts about authenticity; the seller calls it "rare" and "scarce."

Northern Lights
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
Philip Pullman

Another UK seller takes an ignore-the-grammar approach to online selling with this set. "Has all the point's so you no its a true first" and "Dust jaket perfect,no tanning,rips..." are part of the description. Described in "mint condition," the set started at GBP 120 and sold for $2,276.30 after a 7-day auction.

The Glass Key
Dashiell Hammett

The US seller calls this book a "first edition, stated second printing before publication." After a careful description, the seller notes that the "Original second issue dust jacket issued same time as the first; this jacket meets all of the first issue points except that it is 1/16th of an inch shorter than the first issue." Sold in a 10-day auction that included 11 photos, the book received 4 bids. Starting bid was $1,500; selling price was $2,177.21.

To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

Autographed in the author's full name of Nelle Harper Lee, this 6th edition copy was inscribed to Thomas Earl Nettles. The auction states that he "has retained the book with him ever since." The dust jacket is missing and the 8 photos serve as a condition description. Sold in a 10-day auction with 20 bids, the book had a starting bid of $25 and a selling price of $2,050.03.

Injun Babies
Eight Stories and Eight Drawings for American Children

Maynard Dixon

Published in 1923, the 1st edition hardback book is described as in "beautiful condition" and the 6 photos reinforce that description. Clean and unmarked, the book started at $.99 in a 5-day auction and sold for $2,025.00.

Midnight's Children
Salman Rushdie

Coming in at #10, the Booker Prize 1st edition hardback with dust jacket was inscribed by the author to the seller at the launch party. Described as in "excellent condition, except for the dust jacket which has been partly faded by sunlight," the book was listed in a 10-day auction with no photos. Starting bid was GBP 10. After 31 bids, it sold for $2,024.15. The auction attracted 4 questions focused on requests for scans and edition details.


Non-Fiction Top 10
April 2006

#1 $12,100.99 Magic & Magicians Carter the Great limited edition
#2 $2,600.00 Rare I Me Mine George Harrison Signed L/E Leather Book
#3 $2,500.00 Peter Beard by Anthony Haden Guest, Peter H. Beard (..
#5 $2,125.00 Narcotics Anonymous Blue N A IT WORKS CARENA
#6 $1,967.00 Narcotics Anonymous Red N A IT WORKS CARENA
#7 $1,900.00 Qutub, Chumbley Grimoire (SCARCE!)
#9 $1,775.03 Pierre Curie by Marie Curie Signed First Edition

Carter the Great: Being a Detailed Account of Charles Joseph Carter ...
Mike Caveney

Carter the Great is #33 of 50 deluxe copies and is inscribed to Brian McCullagh whose brother is the Australian seller. It is described as in "perfect condition." Fifty people were sent the special deluxe edition; it includes collectible material from Carter's files in addition to the book in slipcase. Collectible items included varied. This particular box contained, among other things, a copy of one of Carter's books and 5 letters to Carter from Australians. Listed with 5 photos for 7 days, the auction went from a starting bid of $500 to $12,100.99 on 13 bids.

I Me Mine
George Harrison

The Genesis signed limited edition is leather bound and includes several additional items such as the unopened People Magazine in memory of Harrison. Described by the US seller as in "excellent to mint condition," the book is #1481 of 2000. Listed with 6 photos, the auction started at $99.99 and after 19 bids ended at $2,600.

Peter Beard: Fifty Years of Portraits
Anthony Haden Guest & Peter H. Beard

Listed by a US seller who won it at a charity auction, this signed first edition had an opening bid of $.99, a reserve of $2,300, and a BIN of $2,500. It was purchased by a BIN 10 days into the auction.

The South Polar Times vol. 1
R. F. Scott and others

No. 43 of 250 copies, the 1907 first edition record of exploration and life at the South Pole is ex-library. The UK seller listed it with 12 photos in a 10-day auction. Starting at GBP 999.99, it rose to $2,235.06 in 3 bids.

Narcotics Anonymous
It Works

In a brief auction, the US seller describes the book as a blue first edition, noting "There is no writing nor highlighting...." Listed with 1 photograph, the 7-day auction started at $100 and after 20 bids sold for $2,125. The same seller sold #6.

Narcotics Anonymous
It Works

The seller of #5 sold #6 to the buyer of #5. Described as "First Edition Red Pre-sale Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text number 612," it was listed with 1 photograph. The 7-day auction started at $100 and after 15 bids sold for $1,967.

Andrew D. Chumbley

Published in 1995, the book is described as "an arcane poetic text in 72 verses, a detailed commentary in critical prose, and a substantial glossary of esoteric terms and names." It's 1 of 500 copies and includes "a hand-drawn bookmark ... signed by Chumbley...." Sold as a BIN for $1,900, the book was listed at $.99; the auction included 4 photos.


Alcoholics Anonymous

A 1st edition, 13th printing, Feb. 1950 sold after 7 bids for $1,796.71. A US seller listed it for $999.99 in a 7-day auction. Signed by Bill W., the book is described as "in fine tight clean condition.... The original correct dust jacket is very good + + to near fine."


Pierre Curie
Marie Curie

Signed by Marie Curie, the 1923 first edition is #59 of 100. Listed in a 10-day auction with 10 pictures, the book's slipcase, cover, and pages have water damage. 9 bids took the starting price of $99 to $1,775.03.


Golf Architecture in America: Its Strategy and Construction
George C. Thomas, Jr.

The 1921 signed first edition is described as "in very good condition" with minor flaws. In the next paragraph, the US seller described it as "very fine." But 3 days into the 10-day auction, the seller added good news and bad news. The bad news is that there is a missing illustration. The good news is that the inscription is written to A.W. Tillinghast called by his nickname Tilly. After 33 bids, the auction ended at $1,775.

By the Numbers

7 of the sellers were from the UK
12 of the sellers were from the USA
1 seller was from Australia
1 seller sold 2 books by the same person
15 books were published after 1950
5 were published before 1950
2 sold as BIN
4 through 49 is the range of bids
Seller feedback ranged from 2 to 10,875
16 sellers had 100% positive feedback
Feedback ranged from 94.1% to 100%
The oldest book was published in 1907

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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