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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay
May 2006

by Pamela Palmer

#72, 3 July 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.

A Mexican and a Japanese seller broke into the Top 10 in May, demonstrating the reach of eBay and the growth of international bookselling. In both cases, they sold items in their native languages. Watch future lists to see if there is a trend toward sellers from countries other than the US and the UK.

Thanks to BookThink readers who wrote and made good suggestions about improving Top 10. Look for some of those to appear over the next few months. For the May list, a new tally is in place - the private auction. In May 1 seller launched 2 private auctions with the bidder's names and buyer's name concealed.

Fiction Top 10
May 2006

#2 $4,683.00 Ed Ruscha Billy Al Bengston 1st Business Cards SIGNED
#4 tie $3,000.00 QUIXOTE 1815 Edition 4 Volume With Error EXTREMELY RARE
#4 tie $3,000.00 Stephen King Cycle of the Werewolf
#6 $2,278.75 **A PASSAGE TO INDIA**E M FORESTER (1924) 1st/2nd imp
#7 $1,951.74 Ian Fleming Casino Royale 1st Cape D/w James Bond 1954
#8 $1,928.92 The Return of the King JRR TOLKIEN 1st/1st HB DJ 1955

The Fountainhead
Ayn Rand

Twenty-eight bidders vied in a private auction for this stated first edition in a first edition first issue dust jacket. Calling it "extraordinarily rare," the US seller included 12 photographs in the 10-day auction that started at $1 and ended after 28 bids at $6,100. The same seller sold #3 in this list.

Business Cards
Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha

Signed by Ruscha and initialed on the cover by Bengston, this 1 of 1000 limited edition copies of the self-published book was offered by a UK seller. The 7-day auction with 1 photograph attracted 2 bids, selling for its starting bid GBP 2,500 or $4,683.00. A questioner wrote to confirm that the business cards of the authors were both laid in.

We The Living
Ayn Rand

Rand's first book is described as "NF-/VG+++" by the US seller who started it at $1 in a 10-day auction with 10 photos. After 13 bids, it sold for $3,438.88 in a private auction. The same seller sold #1 in this list.

#4 tie
Don Quixote De La Mancha

The 4-volume 1815 edition in Spanish is leather bound and contains a press error - volume 1 contains 4 pages that should be in volume 3. Described as in "magnificent condition" by the Mexican seller. It sold for the starting bid of $3,000 after a 10-day auction with 12 photos. The seller notes that it will be shipped by certified airmail from Mexico and that the buyer should anticipate up to 3 weeks to a month for delivery.

#4 tie
Cycle of the Werewolf
Stephen King

Called "the real collectors dream book," this #348 of 350 signed copies is in "perfect condition." It is signed by both King and Wrightson. The illustration portfolio accompanies it; Wrightson's signature appears 4 more times. Listed by a US seller in a 5-day auction with 6 photos, the book started at $3,000 and sold at that price with 1 bid. For sale again, the seller explains, because "Last buyer bailed."

A Passage to India
E. M. Forester

Listed in a 7-day auction with 5 photos, the book attracted 13 bids and sold for $2,278.75. The UK seller started the auction at GBP 25.00 and noted it is a 1st edition, 2nd impression in "very good condition for age."

Casino Royale
Ian Fleming

The 1st edition, 3rd impression copy of Fleming's book is described as "in excellent clean unread condition without any inscriptions." The dust jacket is in very good condition. Listed in a 10-day auction with 6 photos, the book started at GBP 1,050.00 and sold at that amount with 1 bid.

The Return of the King
J.R.R. Tolkien

Described as in fine condition and including the fold-out map, this true first in dust jacket is not inscribed. The dust jacket is described as in "really wonderful condition" by the UK seller who listed it in a 10-day auction with 7 photos. Starting at GBP 4.99, it received 15 bids and sold for $1,928.92. A questioner confirmed the sloping text and dropped 4 on page 49.

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

J.R.R. Tolkien

Sold at the starting price of GBP 995.00, 3 volumes are described in detail by the UK seller. The Fellowship of the Ring is 1st edition, 2nd impression without the original dust jacket. The Two Towers is 1st edition, 1st impression with a poor dust jacket; a facsimile dust jacket is included. The Return of the King is 1st edition, 1st impression, 3d state and the dust jacket is first state. The dust jacket is in poor condition and a facsimile one is provided. Each volume has flaws. The set was shown in 6 photos in the 7-day auction.

The Stand
Stephen King

Signed by King and illustrator Wrightson, this is #420 or 1250. It is housed in a black box with red satin lining. The book and dust jacket are both described in "as new" condition. Listed by a US seller in a 7-day auction with 3 photos, the book started at $999.99, received 7 bids, and sold for $1,800.


Non-Fiction Top 10
May 2006

#1 $51,655.55 Unique & Rare Joseph Smith Book of Mormon, 1830 NR
#2 $10,702.00 1858 McKenney and Hall Indian Tribes of North America
#3 $ 2,393.95 My African Journey by Sir W.Churchill 1908*SIGNED 1stEd
#4 $ 1,876.93 Elting Napoleonic Uniforms 1 & 2
#7 $1,825.00 Narcotics Anonymous 1 ST EDITION BLUE V V G CONDITION
#8 $ 1,795.00 Narcotics Anonymous-It Works-First Edition RED
#10 $ 1,600.00 1977 Kanei Uechi Okinawa Karate Uechi-Ryu KYOHON 1325PG

Book of Mormon
An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon,
Upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi

Joseph Smith, Jr.

Selling at $51,655.55, this rare 1830 Book of Mormon attracted 52 bids during its 7-day auction. The US seller, who appears to be selling on consignment, listed the book for $9.99 in a 7-day auction with 9 photos. It is described as worn, with spine "almost separated from the first pages." Questioners asked the history of the book. The seller refers to the inscription "S. Jackman from his Father's Library 1850. Mary Jackman from her Father's Library." Two days into the auction, the seller amended the form of payment to allow only cashier's check or bank wire transfer. For more information and a picture of this item, see here.

Indian Tribes of North America
Thomas L. McKenney and James Hall

The 3-volume set shown in 11 photos in the 10-day auction, dates from 1858. According to the US seller, "this is the last year these plates of Indian chiefs were totally hand colored." Listed with a starting bid of $10,500, the set sold for $10,702. The volumes are described as in "very nice condition."

My African Journey
Winston Churchill

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. Inscribed by Churchill to Capt. D. S. MacInnes, the book is described as having grubby boards, fading, wear, stains, and foxing. The UK seller listed it in a 10-day auction with 5 photos at a starting bid of GBP 19.99; after 16 bids, it sold for $2,393.95.

Napoleonic Uniforms
John R. Elting

The 2-volume 1993 set with 918 original plates is described as "Very Very rare in excellent condition." The seller notes they "are the only reference book of their kind to accurately depict the entire grand Armee in detail." Listed by a UK seller in a 10-day auction with 2 photos, the set attracted 25 bids to move them from a starting bid of GBP 10.99 to a selling price of $1,876.93.

The Life Trilogy
The Trials of Life
The Living Planet
Life on Earth

David Attenborough

Listed minimally by a UK seller and shown in 1 photo, the set is described as in "immaculate condition in the presentation box." They sold for the starting bid of GBP 999.00 as a BIN.

Voyage à la Nouvelle Guinée, dans lequel on trouve la description des lieux, des observations physiques et morales, et des détails relatifs à l'histoire naturell e dans le règne animal et le règne végétal...
Pierre Sonnerat

A large octavo dated 1776 and bound in calf with 5 raised bands, the ex-library volume is described as "very scarce and important account of New Guinea, the Philippines, and the Dutch East Indies" with engravings. Called "a very nice copy," the book attracted a single bid, selling at the GBP starting price of 999.99. It was listed by a UK seller in a 10-day auction with 12 photos.

Narcotics Anonymous
It Works

Described as in very good condition, this 1st edition blue copy has a name written on the flyleaf and a name sticker on the last page. Listed by a US seller in a 7-day auction with 4 photos, it received 13 bids that raised the starting bid from $1000 to $1,825.

Narcotics Anonymous
It Works

Another copy of It Works sold for slightly less than #7. Listed by a US seller, who appears to be a consignment shop, at $1,500, the book garnered 3 bids in the 7-day auction with 4 pictures and sold for $1,795.. This book is red, 1983 limited edition #1099 in very good condition with no marks.

The River War
Winston S. Churchill

A 1949 reprint, this book is described as "a very good book in tatty dustjacket." Signed by Churchill, the book had a starting bid of GBP 9.99 and after 17 bids sold for $1,687.79. Listed by a UK seller in a 7-day auction, it is shown in 2 photos.

Okinawa Karatedo
aka Kyohon
Kanei Uechi

Listed by a Japanese seller at a starting bid of $1,600, the 1977 karate book is lightly sunned; pages are clean; and the hierarchy chart is included. It comes in a slipcase. It was listed in a 7-day auction with 14 photos. The Japanese seller, who banks in the US, wants payment in US dollars but will accept cash in Euros.

By the Numbers

10 of the sellers were from the UK
8 of the sellers were from the USA
1 seller was from Japan
1 seller was from Mexico
1 seller sold 2 books
11 books were published during or after 1950
9 were published before 1950
1 book was listed for 5 days
9 books were listed for 7 days
9 books were listed for 10 days
1 sold as BIN
1 - 52 is the range of bids
2 auctions by the same seller were private auctions
Seller feedback ranged from 6 - 2782
12 sellers had 100% positive feedback
Feedback ranged from 97.3% - 100%
The oldest book was published in 1776

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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