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Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
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Beren Said (17/08):> "Want to talk about
- how they make profit from people selling fake items, overpriced items, so called rare items,... "

I think you have a legitimate point on fake items, and I personally believe eBay turns a blind eye to the extent of the fakes sold through it. Especially with autographed items, one only has to look at some of the regular purveyors of signed crap to see these guys are shifting thousands upon thousands of suspect items and clearly not getting brought to account.

However, I think it is any sellers prerogative to overprice an item, so long as that item is genuine and accurately described. A free market is just that. The seller is free to ask any price, and the buyer is free to utterly reject that price.

From a sellers point of view, the correct price of an item at any given point in time is simply what one person in the market will pay. Non-eBay sellers are every bit as guilty on asking daft prices for books. You (Beren) recently commented on putting the odd item up for sale at an excessive price that you don't really expect to sell. [Beren 17/08/10 wrote: "it indeed happens we list books at prices we do not expect to sell at. An example was the Cor Blok painting Rene had listed on his website, he did not expect to sell it at the asking price, but was willing to let it go if someone was crazy enough to pay 'that amount' for it"]

A quick search for "Tolkien" on ABE will list a whole bunch of overpriced tomes (which also typically won't sell). I stand by the right of any seller to request any price they feel like, just as I stand by my right not to buy the items. With regards to the classification as "rare", this is really just a totally subjective term which would be impossible to police the accuracy of. Is 500 copies rare, 100 copies, 10 copies? Depends on the item and the size of the prospective market for that item. I think it is up to the buyer to know what they consider to be an appropriate price and to be aware of how scarce or otherwise a book is. Information is power and it it up to the buyer to be informed.

> "- how they don't allow people to comment on items, and leave the 'seller' (including people selling fake items, overpriced items, so called rare items,... ) to decide to post q&a's on the items, while it should be the other way around"

I basically agree, although I'm not sure how you would stop competitors deliberately sabotaging each others auctions. I think making the display of Q&A along with responses appear automatically might be a possibility, though, subject to profanity filters being employed.

>" - how they undermine the book selling business by allowing this"

eBay couldn't care less about the book selling business and, honestly, why should they? The traditional book business (selling via means other than eBay) is a competitor. They *should* care about their customers and promote honesty, safety, transparency, etc. [which they claim to, but don't], but caring about a specific business is probably not in their remit.

All eBay cares about is taking a percentage on transactions, and it wants the highest volume of highest value transactions possible. The reason for all the postage changes with regards to books was quite obviously to bump the price of each transaction so they could make more money. It is important not to forget that eBay are in it for the money and absolutely nothing else.

>"- how they could change some things to make all better"

They don't want it to be better or it would be. They simply want to make as much money as possible. They don't care about buyers or sellers, just completed transactions.

Fundamentally, the only way to fix eBay is to vote with your feet and not use it. Personally, I have pretty much abandoned it as a buyer as prices are usually unrealistic (and I can't generally be bothered to sell books as it is too much effort for the handful that I would like to be rid of).

Stu

Posted on: 2010/9/3 15:40


Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
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> 'If you want an investment, buy gold' - bit harsh there. I think Tolkien books are a great investment thanks.

My comment was phrased in a glib manner, but it really does stand. Obviously you can get lucky and pick up a treasure for a bargain price and then undoubtedly make money on it. However, if you expect to pay "normal market price" today and then have a book beat inflation in the long term, then I think you are mistaken. Very rare items can evade the normal laws of economics, but there aren't that many Tolkien books that really fall into this category. One thing I have discovered collecting Tolkien Books is that the market that is prepared to pay even moderately large amounts for these books is very, very small. The relative lack of interest in the recent Superdeluxe editions was an excellent illustrator of this fact. Most books listed at very high prices on ABE (or eBay stores) will never, ever sell. Don't be fooled into using these prices as a guide as to how the price for an item has increased over time - only actual sold prices tell you anything, and this information is hard to come by.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my Tolkien book collection (albeit it is just a tiny one @ 150 or so Hardbacks and maybe half that quantity of paperbacks, plus calendars, etc, gathered over about 30 years at a very slow rate), but I do not kid myself that it has been a good investment. Why am I not worried about that? Because other than a couple of "investment copies", I was never kidding myself that I'll make money. I bought them simply because I wanted them. And there is no harm in that.

I'm not kidding about gold, mind. When the crap really hits the fan (and it will), you really do want to have some tucked away!

Posted on: 2010/9/3 14:52


Re: A nice blog on collecting Tolkien books
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>Even if I were to buy a brand new edition right now that wasn't in a slipcase, it's very likely it would be in bad shape in ten years time, (or I should say 'worse' shape) even if I had looked after it.

If you buy a brand new edition today and it looks *any* different in ten years time than it does today, then IMHO, you don't know how to look after your books!

I have forty year old books that are not slipcased and still look brand new. My 1/1 Sil and UTs (30 years+) look better than most books you would find in the store today. They key is avoiding UV and excessive humidity, plus keeping them nice and straight on the shelf. I personally have mine behind glass, out of direct sunlight and with several large bags of silica gel (originally used to ship large Network switches) on the shelves, but out of sight. Wash your hands before handling them and use appropriate DJ protectors and your books should last your lifetime with nothing more than a bit of toning to the paper if it is of poor quality (e.g. UK HoME 11, 12).

>Not a great investment in my mind.

You will find very few new (or even old, I suspect) Tolkien books that are a great investment, boxed sets included. Buy them because you like them if you can afford them. We are in an economic environment that is very likely to be deflationary for a lot of asset classes, including books, and I don't see this turning around, given that the US economy is about to self-destruct. This may not apply to a few extremely rare and expensive items, but even they are probably not immune from the wider economic climate. If you want an investment, buy gold :)

Cheers
Stu

Posted on: 2010/9/2 23:04


Re: Super Deluxe values
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> Out of interest, for those who agree with low numbers being more valuable (and I know some don't) how low does a number need to be? Number 17 of 500 seems to be quite good I would think?


Personally, I don't think it makes much - if any - difference. Some of the prominent Tolkien book dealers would like to make the market think it does (and price lower numbered copies accordingly), but unless the lower numbered book is different (e.g. signed, vs unsigned), there is no logic to it costing more. The number is completely arbitrary.

I was fortunate to get two for the price of one (at the original price), so I only paid GBP 125 per copy. I think that is about what they are worth to me, and if I could get GBP250 for my lower numbered copy (19), I would be pretty happy as that would leave me with a single copy with no outlay. Realistically, though, I don't see them being "worth" much more than GBP 175 or so each, so I'll more than likely just hold onto them unless I have a pressing need for cash. I'm not as anti this book as some of the posters are (it grew on me), but the asking price and number of copies printed was always daft.


Stu

Posted on: 2010/8/20 3:16


Re: UK HOME Hardback Reissues
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Trotter wrote:

I can't agree with David Brawn's comments that "a production problem resulted in the heights of the three volumes being marginally different". The books vary considerably in width and height between the three editions. It would have been very difficult to make a slipcase that housed the three books, you would have needed some sort of padding to stop the books falling out.


Actually the books themselves only differ in height quite marginally. I think my volume and 1,2 and 3 only differ in height by 1-1.5mm or so (from shortest to tallest). The real issue in height on these volumes is all down to the different construction of the slipcases, which exaggerates the differences hugely. It would be quite easy to make a slipcase housing all three that would look "OK", but not great (especially when also taking into account the different profiles of the spines). This is evidently what HC found, so they decided not to bother.

Stu.

Posted on: 2010/7/10 17:37



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