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BookThink's Top 10 on eBay
December 2006

by Pamela Palmer

#87, 5 February 2007

    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

    Action-packed may not be how you describe most Top 10 on eBay columns, but this one merits the description. December brought drama, intrigue, pathos, and a seasoned bookseller who smelled a rat.

    Fiction Top 10
    December 2006

    #1 $4,892.50 The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald 1/1 & D/J 1925
    #2 $4,446.30* First Folio Shakespeare
    #4 $3,750.00** Norman Mailer THE NAKED AND THE DEAD Signed 1st Ed
    #5 tie $2,935.50*** LUCKY JIM 1st UK original SCARCE d/w 1953 Kingsley Amis
    #5 tie $2,935.50 Harry Potter Half Blood Prince JK Rowling signed HB 1/1
    #7 $2,815.99 ray bradbury FAHRENHEIT 451 FIRST ED 1953 HARDBACK fn.
    #8 $2,646.70 LUCKY JIM 1st UK original SCARCE d/w 1953 Kingsley Amis
    #9 2,386.81 A MIND TO MURDER by P.D. JAMES-1ST UK ED-HB DJ-1963
    #10 $2,211.55 Tolkien-Lord of the Rings 1963 A&U DELUXE EDITION

    *This auction appears to be repeated with no evidence of completed purchase. The sale price has not been validated and this auction has been retired from Top 10 on eBay. See #2 for details.

    ** Non-registered buyer so sale not completed and final value not validated.

    ***Hijacked buyer ID. This auction was removed from eBay after the sale. The same book was relisted and sold as #8 on this list (see #8 for details from the seller). The sale price of #5 has not been validated.

    The Great Gatsby
    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Sold as a BIN, the 1925 book in this private auction with 7 photos is a first edition, first printing. Sold by a UK seller, the auction details the 6 "correct issue points of a true first printing." One aspect of the auction was confusing. In large print, it stated, "FIRST ISSUE DUSTJACKET," yet in the condition statement, it said, "A beautiful fascsimile dustjacket, accompanies this book: Reproduced from a first issue dustjacket."

    William Shakespeare
    First Folio

    Remember the 200+ page auction from the rambling UK seller? Well, he's back. The seller is auctioning a "First Folio Shakespeare" in a 10-day auction at least 9 photos. Looks like he struck out. Purchased by a novice buyer, the transaction shows no feedback as of February 1 and the seller seems to have relisted it and changed his selling name. This seemingly ill-fated item is hereby retired from contention in BookThink's Top 10

    A Clockwork Orange
    Anthony Burgess

    Called "a stunning copy of the first printing of the first edition of 'A Clockwork Orange," the book was listed in 10-day auction with 5 photos. It was offered by a UK seller. Described as fine with a "virtually fine" dust jacket, the book sold with one bid at $3,913.98.

    The Naked and the Dead
    Norman Mailer

    Just when you thought the anomalies were over, a "not a registered user" failed to purchase this signed first edition of The Naked and the Dead. The US seller saw the auction end with a BIN on December 12th, and thus missing the height of the Christmas selling season.

    #5*** tie
    Lucky Jim
    Kingsley Amis

    Only his knowledge and experience kept the UK seller of #5 from problems selling this copy of Lucky Jim. For the inside story, see #8.

    #5 tie
    Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
    J.K. Rowling

    Sold as a BIN, the "signed childrens cover first print from the actual launch at Edinburgh castle 2005" sold at private auction with 1 bid. Described as in fine condition, the book was accompanied by various proofs of its being signed at the event. The seller focused as much space on casting doubt on the validity of other seller's similar items/signatures as on describing the book for sale.

    Fahrenheit 451
    Ray Bradbury

    The US seller describes this copy of Fahrenheit 451 as a "first printing hardback the scarce cloth issue H-41, in fine unmarked condition with bright near fine dust jacket." Listed in a 7-day auction with 4 photos, the book sold for $2,815.99 after 26 bids.

    Lucky Jim
    Kingsley Amis

    When the UK seller saw something suspicious about a bidder, he worked for a solution. "The first one [auction #5 above] was sabotaged by someone who hijacked a genuine bidder's ID," he explained. "It looked 'wrong' to me straight away, and I contacted eBay immediately. They cancelled the deal and I relisted. The second sale was a genuine deal with a great customer I've sold to before." With the hijacked auction cleared from eBay, the second auction went online the next day in a 7-day listing with 7 photos. It sold with 5 bids for $2,646.70.

    A Mind to Murder
    P.D. James

    Described as an "extremely scarce first edition in fine condition," this first UK edition was listed by a seller in Scotland in a 10-day auction with 2 photos. After 16 bids, it sold for $2,386.81.

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

    "The very rare 1963 George Allen & Unwin deluxe box set with the original Pauline Baynes 'Triptych' slipcase" came in at #10. It was listed by a UK seller in a 10-day auction with 12 photos. Described as in very good condition, the auction received 14 bids and sold for $2,211.55.

    Non-Fiction Top 10
    December 2006

    #1 $5,105.00 1ST ED Signed Alcoholics Anonymous COMES OF AGE Book AA
    #2 $5,000.00 Syd Barrett Signed Genesis Publications Pink Floyd LE
    #3 $4,950.00 SUMO by Helmut NEWTON, the biggest BOOK in the World!!!
    #4 $4,800.00 Collector Bible VERY Rare : BOOK OF MORMON
    #5 $3,550.00 OMG! Signed BILL, Alcoholics Anonymous AA 1955 BIG BOOK
    #6 $3,233.88 1944 ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS AA 6th Printing HC/DJ
    #7 $2,722.19 New Naturalist - Woodlands - Leather Bound - Signed!
    #8 $2,381.00 ALBERT EINSTEIN SIGNED Theory of Relativity,VERY RARE
    #10 $2,299.48 A Man May Fish T C Kingsmill Moore Special Edition 1979

    * Non-registered buyer so sale not completed and final value not validated.

    Alcoholic Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of the A.A
    Alcoholic Anonymous

    Autographed by Bill Wilson, the history of AA was listed by the US seller of #5 in a 5-day auction with 9 photos. Described as "in decent used condition" with a worn dust jacket, the book received 29 bids and sold for $5,105.

    Psychedelic Renegades
    Mick Rock and Syd Barrett

    This Genesis publication usually grabs bidders' attention, but the starting price of $5,000 attracted only 1 bid. Listed by a US seller in a 10-day auction with 4 photos and a minimal description, the book is #229 of 320 and was signed by both authors.

    Helmut Newton

    Sumo is another Top 10 regular. Listed by a Swiss seller with 6 photos, it sold as a BIN. The book is #2804 of 10,000. This copy is new, unopened, and described by the seller as a "MUST have."

    The Book of Mormon

    Sold in a private auction by a Canadian seller, the 1871 Book of Mormon is described as in very good condition. It was part of the collection of the seller's grandmother. Flaws include a tear in the front flyleaf and "the back flyleaf is asunder." The 7-day auction attracted 19 bids before closing at US$4,800.

    Alcoholics Anonymous

    Vintage copies of Alcoholics Anonymous big book signed by Bill Wilson often draw bidders in large numbers, and this copy was no exception. Listed by the US seller of #1, this 2nd edition, 1st printing copy received 37 bids, raising the $.50 starting price to $3,550. It was listed in a 5-day auction with 11 photos.

    Alcoholics Anonymous

    The third AA title in the Top 10 for December was listed by a different US seller in a 7-day auction with 1 photo. A 1944 6th printing, it is described as "in excellent Clean condition." Nineteen bidders took the price to $3,233.88.

    Oliver Rackman

    Recently reissued by the New Naturalist in deluxe format, Woodlands is leather bound with "gilt edges and raised bands." It is #23 of 100 and was signed by Rackman. Listed by a UK seller in a 7-day auction with 4 photos, it is described as in "excellent/mint condition with no wear whatsoever." The auction received 18 bids and closed at $2,722.19.

    Relativity: The Special and General Theory
    Albert Einstein

    A novice US seller listed the 1921, 1st US edition signed by the Einstein in a 3-day private auction with 5 photos. Described as in good condition and part of the collection of the seller's father, the auction attracted 21 bids to sell for $2,381.

    Bows for Musical Instruments of the Violin Family
    Joseph Roda

    The high bidder, now "not a registered user," ended this mid-December auction with a BIN. Listed by a US seller with 12 photos, the leather-bound 1959 deluxe edition is #129 of 200.

    A Man May Fish
    Vol 1.

    T.C. Kingsmill Moore

    Coming in at #10, the 1979 special edition, leather-bound copy of A Man May Fish was published in Dublin. It was listed by a UK seller in a 10-day auction with 3 photos. Fishing devotees will understand the significance of this note - "Claret Bumble Tied By the Author On Front Cover." Described as "very rare" and in new condition, the book attracted 6 bids and sold for $2,299.48.

    By the Numbers

    9 sellers were from the UK
    9 sellers were from the USA
    1 seller was from Canada
    1 seller was from Switzerland
    14 books were published during or after 1950
    6 were published before 1950
    1 book was listed for 3 days
    2 books was listed for 5 days
    5 books were listed for 7 days
    5 books were listed for 10 days
    6 sold as BIN
    0 sold as Best Offers
    1 involved a hijacked buyer's ID and eBay/the seller made the auction disappear
    1 to 40 is the range of bids
    4 were private auctions
    Seller feedback ranged from 0 to 21138
    9 sellers had 100% positive feedback
    Feedback ranged from 97.5 % to 100 % for sellers who had feedback
    The oldest book was published in 1871

    Questions or comments?
    Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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