by Pamela Palmer

#66, 10 April 2006

Bookthink's Top 10 on eBay
February 2006

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Top 10 on eBay

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.

Not-quite-sure sellers had big paydays in February when a whirlwind of Narcotics Anonymous, Pink Floyd, and Tolkien dominated the charts. Other sellers presented more traditional auctions with detailed descriptions and clear photographs. The highest price of $19,999 went for a venerable financial title - Security Analysis, by Graham and Dodd. The auction includes a comment from a questioner, noting the existence of a maroon bound Security Analysis issue as an alternate first edition/first printing binding to the black one being sold. Citing the 1934 Books in Print as the source, the writer mentions researching the issue further with several rare book dealers and with McGraw-Hill, the publisher. The seller responded with thanks, adding, "I researched the internet which turned out to be surprisingly deficeint [sic] in information."

Fiction Top 10
February 2006

#1 $5,301.01 The Dark Tower & The Dark Tower II - Stephen King
#2 $4,119.79 J R R Tolkien LORD OF THE RINGS ALL 1ST Edns 1/1/1 1954
#3 $3,932.63 TOLKIEN - LORD OF THE RINGS 1st Eds. 1/1/1/
#4 $2,716.30 William Burroughs as William Lee Junkie on Digit UK 1st
#5 $2,051.13 The Outsider & Others H. P. Lovecraft 1939
#6 $1,815.71 Terry Pratchett : THE LIGHT FANTASTIC True 1st edition
#7 $1,740.10 Ian Fleming. From Russia With Love. 1st/1st 1957...Cape
#10 $1,479.09 Legend UK 1st Edition Hardcover David Gemmell RARE!!!

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three

Stephen King

The US seller with 56 feedback included significant detail and 8 clear pictures in the auction that started at $2,500. Both books are first editions signed by both author and illustrator. The Dark Tower is described as #487 of 500; The Dark Tower II is #567 of 850 copies, "800 of which were for sale." Described as in mint condition and in individual "hard book box and a paper dust cover," the seller added that the bottom right corners of one book had been bumped. Fifteen bids took the auction to $5,301.01.

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

J.R.R. Tolkien

The first edition, first printing, first issues of the "COMPLETELY ORIGINAL & UNRESTORED" set was thoroughly described with details about all 3 volumes. Flaws were minimal and included light scuffing, mild darkening, dulling to gilt, and tiny scratches. Special note was taken of The Return of the King, which the UK seller describes as "...the RARE First Edition FIRST ISSUE with all the issue points on page 49 ie, the signature mark '4' and the type sagging slightly in the middle of text." All 3 volumes include a folded map. After 8 bids, the price rose from GBP 15.00 to $4,119.79.

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

J.R.R. Tolkien

Another UK seller offered this set of first editions, first printings, first issues. The set had cover wear, particularly to volume 1. Other flaws include previous owner's name in 2 volumes and an inscription in the 3rd volume. The same point cited in #2 is mentioned. This set came in around $187 lower than #2, included 14 photos, and attracted 7 bids.

William Lee
(pseud. of William Burroughs)

A lurid paperback cover with the blonde clutched against a threatening man, a famous author writing under a pseudonym, and Junkie for a title. What's not to like? Apparently 35 bidders were strongly attracted to this first UK edition. So what "the pages are loose from the cover?" The UK sellers confesses, "I'm not a book collector/dealer" and promises to answer questions. In response, he notes a "big block of loose pages" along with some others, a penciled price, initials inside, and small spine split. All pages are present, though, and a picture of the spine was added. Bought by the seller because "the cover was amazing," the book sold for $2,716.30.

The Outsider and Others
H.P. Lovecraft

The 1939 book in original dust jacket is an association copy from the library of Brian Lumley. Listed by a UK bookseller, the book is described as "GOOD and tight (with no bumped corners) in a FINE to MINT dust wrapper apart of a half inch tear ...." It's 1 of 1268 copies published 2 years after Lovecraft's death. A note indicates the seller is the Lumley's wife Silky. The book, illustrated with 5 photos, went from a starting price of GBP 12.20 to $2,051.13.

The Light Fantastic
Terry Pratchett

With clarity and preciseness, a UK seller listed this true 1st edition hardback in dust jacket. Noting it has been "carefully shelf-stored," the seller details minor flaws including "pages yellowed toward edges. Ends of spine have slight fading." Both the book and dust jacket are described as near fine. 6 photos illustrate the auction. The starting price was GBP 50.00. After 11 bids, the reserve was met and the book sold for $1,815.71.

From Russia With Love
by Ian Fleming

Attracting 34 bids, the true first edition, first impression James Bond book is listed in very good condition with a near fine dust jacket. Minor flaws are noted and the absence of typical flaws is emphasized. 6 photographs are included in the listing. The book started at GBP 0.99 and ended at $1,740.10.

Five on a Treasure Island
Enid Blyton

Blyton's 1942 action adventure is graded very good with a dust jacket that "has some eccentric repair work done with cotton stitching," as well as some done with archival tape. The sole photo shows the dust jacket. The auction ended with a BIN of $1,709.27.

Gone With The Wind
Margaret Mitchell

Calling it "a rare TRUE MAY 1936 FIRST 1ST ISSUE FIRST EDITION," the seller notes it comes with a very good second issue dust jacket. A signature of Margaret Mitchell is laid in. Described as in very good condition, the book has minor flaws that include a small tear near the spine. 24 bids took it to $1,525.

David Gemmell

Another UK seller rounds out the fiction top 10 with a 1984 UK true first, signed, mint condition copy of Legend. The seller notes, "You will never find another copy of this book in this condition. I garuntee [sic] it!" Shown in 5 photos, the book is described as one of 750 copies printed. After 2 bids, the auction rose from its starting bid of GBP 200.00 to meet reserve and sell for $1,479.09.


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