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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay
September 2006

by Pamela Palmer

#81, 13 November 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.

    NOTE: For item numbers of auctions featured in Top 10, subscribe to our free email list by writing Editor Craig Stark at

    How many times have you seen a Best Offer reach to Top 10? If you answered "never," until now you would be right. During September, an Easton Press copy of Long Road to Freedom marked that milestone, followed a few days later by a signed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Keeping the pattern of twins, two buyers who are now "not a registered user" struck the Top 10 fiction section, and the September lists contain two copies each of It Works, Long Road to Freedom, and Legend.

    Fiction Top 10
    September 2006

    #1 $4,743.49 Ian Fleming MOONRAKER UK 1st hc/dj
    #2 $4,400.00 The Wonderful Wizard of OZ L. Frank Baum 1900 First Ed.
    #5 $3,264.63 Harry Potter CHAMBER of SECRETS signed JK ROWLING
    #6 $3,000.00* Stephen King, The Plant LIMITED SIGNED All Three Parts
    #7 $2,798.25 RAREST COPY OF LEGEND David Gemmell HB 1/1 - UNIQUE
    #10 $1,901.20 David Gemmell Legend Signed 1st HB
    *Non-registered buyer so sale not completed and final value not validated.

    Ian Fleming

    Sold by an Australian in a BIN, this UK first edition, first impression copy of Moonraker is remarkable for its unfaded spine. The seller states, "… this spine condition putting it among barely a handful of unrestored DJ's to be in such unmelted condition left in the world." Listed with 8 photos, the book also has "the Scarce variant with the dropped t on page 10." The seller noted the things that have not been done: no re-colouring, no repairs. Book condition is very good+; dust jacket is rated near fine. The purchaser often appears as a seller of top 10 books.

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
    Frank Baum

    Listed by a US seller in a 7-day auction with 4 photos, this first edition was published in Chicago in 1900. It is missing 1 of the 23 color plates. The seller enumerated 8 points, including "plate facing page 34 has 2 dark spots on moon." After receiving 3 bids, the price rose from the starting bid of $3,500 to the $4,400 selling price.

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

    Sold for $3,802.40 after a 10-day auction with 7 photos, the first UK edition is rated very good in a very good dust jacket. Flaws include price clipped, a tear, and minor chipping of the dust jacket.

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    Lewis Carroll
    Illustrated by Salvador Dali

    After Oz and The Lion, The Witch … comes Alice, as envisioned in the illustrations of Salvador Dali. Sold by a Canadian seller in a 5-day auction with 5 photos, it is part of a limited numbered edition of 2500. Rated near fine, the book is in a hinged box with several flaws. The auction attracted 15 bids that took it from $250 to $3,307.51. Note: These are US, not Canadian dollars.

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

    A Best Offer won this first edition signed copy of Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. Listed by a UK seller as a BIN at GBP 2,000.00 or Best Offer, it went for GBP 1,750.00 or $3,264.63. The book and dust jacket were rated in excellent condition.

    The Plant
    Stephen King

    Though this auction ended with a BIN, the US seller was the victim of a non-paying buyer who is now "not a registered user." The item listed was all three parts of The Plant with part 1 being #118 of 200. All parts were signed by the author.

    The Legend
    David Gemmell

    "For Mother," wrote Gemmell in the first hardback copy of this work, "With fond memories of the Tree Dwellers and Sharptooth. Love, David." The UK seller, who listed it in a 7-day auction with 3 photos, indicated the story of how he got the book will be told to the buyer. He reported, "Gemmell authenticated that the book was the one he dedicated to his mother at his Swords of Night and Day signing in Manchester." It sold with 1 bid at the starting price of $2,798.25.

    His Dark Materials: The Trilogy Northern Lights
    The Subtle Knife
    The Amber Spyglass

    Philip Pullman

    The trio of signed first edition/first printing hardbacks was listed for 10 days by a UK seller who included 12 photos in the auction. For each book he indicated condition of the dust jacket, boards, spine, and pages but did not record an overall condition statement. In addition, he provided specific details of each book; for example, Northern Lights has a 4mm lean. The books sold for $2,416.43, up from the starting bid of GBP 0.99 after 17 bids.

    The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring
    The Two Towers
    The Return of the King
    J.R.R. Tolkien

    A perennial on the Top 10 list, this copy of the trilogy is a signed, second edition set. Unfortunately for the UK seller, the 27 bids ended with a non-paying buyer who is now "not a registered user."

    The Legend
    David Gemmell

    Another copy of The Legend came in at #10. This signed 1st edition hardback was listed by a UK seller in a 10-day auction with 1 photo. Most of the auction description consisted of a brief biography of the author and a plot summary. The book is described as in "great condition…, the DJ is not bashed or ripped …." It sold with 1 bid for $1,901.20.

    *Auctions marked with an asterisk indicate those won by a bidder who is no longer a registered user. The final value should not be interpreted as valid.

    Non-Fiction Top 10
    September 2006

    #1 $7,779.00 Ballet Alexey Brodovitch Photographs Edwin Denby
    #2 $3,311.26 Open Golf Championship Official 1932 SANDWICH, Kent
    #3 $3,250.00 Narcotics Anonymous First Edition Red Cover CARENA
    #4 $2,677.87 Erdnase's THE EXPERT AT THE CARD TABLE Rare1st ed. NR
    #7 $2,201.00 Narcotics Anonymous First Edition Red Cover CARENA
    #8 $2,130.40 Ed Ruscha, Sunset Strip Artist's Book, Edward Ruscha
    #9 $2,000.00 Easton Press-Long Walk- Nelson Mandela,1st ed. signed
    #10 $1,875.00 Easton Press: Long Walk to Freedom, Mandela 1st Ed Au

    Ballet: 104 Photographs by Alexey Brodovitch
    Alexey Brodovitch and Edwin Denby

    Twenty-five bids took this 1945 book of photographs from a starting bid of $1000 to $7,779. Listed by a U.S. seller in a 7-day auction with 14 photos, the book was described as in excellent condition. One questioner asked about the slipcase with the book.

    Open Golf Championship at Prince's, Sandwich
    Official Programme
    For Monday 6th June 1932

    Sold to benefit Oxfam in the UK, the initial auction contained little information about the book. In an oops moment the day after launch, Oxfam added a condition statement - "top inside front cover has paper clip mark; cover is Good++." The 44-page very good illustrated guide with course plans for Prince's and Royal St. George's. Shown in 7 photos, the auction attracted 12 bids, closing at $3,311.26.

    It Works
    Narcotics Anonymous

    The 1982 hardcover copy of It Works was sold by a US seller, who wrote, "I am clean 30 years last month, but my health is not good and I could use the money." The seller listed it in a 7-day auction with 7 photos, including one in which he air-brushed his name inside the book. After 9 bids, it sold for $3,250.00.

    The Expert at the Card Table
    S.W. Erdnase

    The hardcover 1902 book "includes card sharking, card tricks and demonstrations of how to utlize and/or recognize cheating card playing." Described as in very good+ condition, the book struck a chord with buyers, attracting 26 bids in the 5-day auction with 7 photos. It sold for $2,677.87.

    Dominique Tarle

    Listed minimally by an eBay drop-off store in a 7-day auction with 8 photos, this auction is for the Genesis Publication of Exile. It is #831 of 2000 copies in the limited edition and signed by the author. Called "a very rare item," the book attracted 39 bids and sold for $2,650.00. Given the attention Genesis publications garner, it was unusual that the only clue to the publisher was the statement that the book was "not available on Amazon or Genesis publication web sites."

    Helmut Newton

    Weighing in at 45 lbs, Sumo ships with its own stand. This is #5288 of 10,000 copies. Described as in "near fine condition," its flaws include small marks/creases and a bit of spine slant. Listed by a US seller in a 10-day private auction with 6 photos, the book attracted 22 bids, raising it from the starting bid of $999.99 to $2,605.55. It also attracted 4 questions, ranging from flaw details to shipping.

    It Works
    Narcotics Anonymous

    Listed by a US seller in a 7-day auction with 3 photos, this copy of It Works received 7 bids and sold for $2,201.00. It was described as new, the second copy of a founder of NA in New Jersey.

    The Sunset Strip
    Ed Ruscha

    The 1966 book is "an extended fold out photograph of the entire Sunset Strip." Described in excellent condition by the UK seller, the book is in a silver-covered slip-case. Listed for 7 days with 7 photographs, the auction attracted 16 bids and ended at $2,130.40.

    Long Walk to Freedom
    Nelson Mandela

    Published by Easton Press, this is a signed first edition leather bound copy in excellent condition. After a 7-day auction with 3 photos, the book sold for the starting price of $2,000.

    Long Walk to Freedom
    Nelson Mandela

    Another signed, leather-bound Easton Press copy of Long Road to Freedom came in at #10. There are no photographs with the auction because the book has "never been removed from the delivery box provided by Easton and remains shrink wrapped." Listed by a US seller with a BIN of $2,500, the book sold as a Best Offer for $1,875.

    By the Numbers

    8 of the sellers were from the UK
    10 of the sellers were from the USA
    1 of the sellers was from Canada
    1 of the sellers was from Australia
    2 books sold to non-registered buyers
    16 books were published during or after 1950
    4 were published before 1950
    2 books was listed for 5 days
    8 books were listed for 7 days
    6 books were listed for 10 days
    2 sold as BIN
    2 sold as Best Offers
    1 to 39 is the range of bids
    1 was a private auction
    Seller feedback ranged from 8 to 1877
    12 sellers had 100% positive feedback
    Feedback ranged from 93.3% to 100%
    The oldest book was published in 1900

    Questions or comments?
    Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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