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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay
February 2006

by Pamela Palmer

#66, 10 April 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.

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.


Non-Fiction Top 10
February 2006

#1 $19,999.99 RARE 1st/1st Whittlesey SECURITY ANALYSIS by Graham
#4 $3,819.52 Wisden Almanack 1900. Superb condition. No reserve
#5 $2,940.77 Pink Floyd - Psychedelic Renegades - Syd Barrett deluxe
#6 $2,226.00 Narcotics Anonymous, It Works (1982) $1NR
#7 $2,039.40 PINK FLOYD - NICK MASON signed INSIDE OUT book 321/500
#8 tie $2,024.99 Narcotics Anonymous-It Works-1983 First Edition
#8 tie $2,024.99 Narcotics Anonymous - It Works - 1983 First Edition RED
#10 $1,999.99 Narcotics Anonymous - It Works - 1983 First Edition RED

Security Analysis
Benjamin Graham and David Dodd

Originally published in 1934, discussions of this book don't go far before someone mentions Warren Buffett's praise for the work; Graham was his mentor at Columbia. And in the case of February sales, Security Analysis proved a $19,999.99 financial windfall for one seller. Though 3 bids are listed, they took place at the same moment, so there was only 1 bid at the starting price. Listed in very good condition, its one previous owner was an anti-trust attorney. The seller details flaws from the small black dots on pages 91 and 92 to the light water stain atop 200+ pages. 12 photos illustrated the auction.

A History of The English Speaking Peoples
4 vols.
Winston S. Churchill

Fourteen bids took this signed set from a starting price of GBP 100.00 to $5,883.40, meeting the reserve. The UK seller notes that a Churchill expert has authenticated the signatures and illustrated the auction with 10 photos.

Alcoholics Anonymous

This first edition, first printing of 1939 is one of 4730 published in the first printing. Bound in red, "the book's binding has separated from the pages." Flaws include stains, lack of a dust jacket, and several ripped and taped areas. The seller notes the presence of the first printing indicator - "the flaw in the printing on page 234, the second and third lines from the bottom were printed twice." The 8 photos clearly show the wear and rough edges. Despite the flaws, this auction attracted 20 bids, taking it from the $9.99 starting price to meet the reserve and sell for $4,321.71.

John Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack for 1900

In 24 words, the UK seller polished off the book description and depended on 6 photographs. After 18 bids starting at GBP 0.99, the book sold for $3,819.52.

Psychedelic Renegades

Signed by Syd Barrett and Mick Rock, this book is #272 of 320 deluxe copies. Describing the book and slipcase in mint condition, the UK seller shows this Genesis publication in 2 photos. The UK seller started the auction at GBP 1,200. After 6 bids, it sold for $2,940.77.

Narcotics Anonymous: It Works

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.

Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd
Nick Mason

A Genesis publication, this limited edition book comes with all the trademark excesses that make the publisher a regular on the Top 10 list. In this case, a goatskin hand-bound book is accompanied by two signed fine art prints, backstage pass, t-shirt, wooly hat, drumsticks and a few other treats. Published in a boxed set that holds all the items. 1 of 500, the work was shown in 3 photos. A German seller with private feedback opened the auction with a GBP 1.00 starting price. After 25 bids, it closed at $2,039.40.

#8 tie, 8 tie, and 10
Narcotics Anonymous: It Works

Three copies of Narcotics Anonymous from 1983 come in at #8 tie and #10. Only $25 separated the high and low price, #8 tie sold for the same amount, and the same consignment shop sold two of them.

#8 tie offered a copy in excellent condition with light highlighting and no other marks. It contains the unusual comment, "If anyone can prove this is incorrect information, please contact me immediately. I am relatively certain this is the first edition. I have researched on the net, but can't find a photo." Sold by the seller with the lowest feedback percentage in the Top 10 February lists (98.8%), the book is shown in only 1 picture. Six questioners offered their opinions, including the comment, "... are accually rared [sic] to find." Twenty-two bids were received, taking the auction from a $1.99 starting price to $2,024.99. The winning bidder bought #9 two days later, paying the same closing price.

#8 tie was listed by a consignment shop. The seller notes "It is a RED 1st First Limited Edition. 1983.... This is a very low number #832." Shown in three photos, the book is listed in Item Specifics as "new." That's the only indication of condition. After receiving 14 bids, the book sold for the buyer of #8 for $2,024.99. Starting price was $.99.

#10 was sold by the same consignment shop, using the same auction title. This is #1665 and it too is listed as new. The auction included 2 photos. In both the prevous entry and #10, the consignment shop calls the item "a very rare book." That's quite a stretch when 4 copies turn up on the eBay Top 10 list in a single month.

By the Numbers

11 of the sellers were from the UK
8 of the sellers were from the USA
1 seller was from Germany
4 copies of Narcotics Anonymous sold
1 consignment shop sold 2 copies
1 buyer bought 2 copies
15 books were published after 1950
5 were published before 1950
5 used reserves
3 sold as BIN
1 through 35 is the range of bids
Seller feedback ranged from 9 to 2635
1 seller had private feedback
11 sellers had 100% positive feedback
Feedback ranged from 98.8% to 100%


Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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