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Collecting & Selling Tips

This area is devoted to tips for collectors and sellers alike on what to look for when selling and purchasing, what to do about formats and that infamous red herring--the copyright date! For several guides on Nancy Drew, visit the Books About Nancy Drew section. If you are interested in having your books identified and valued, I do appraisals.

For Selling Tips, they are located below under Collecting Tips!

Collecting Tips

The following two lists of collecting tips are good rules of thumb to collect by:

Get A Clue - 5 Fast Facts Before You Collect:

1. Nancy Drew books have been in print from 1930 until present day, so there are a lot of formats the books have gone through over the years. Check out the Collecting Nancy Drew-Formats section at this website to view the various formats from the dust jackets to book covers to endpapers to internal illustrations--will give you some perspective on when these were available and what books came in these formats.

2. Beware of the Copyright Red Herring. Just because the book has a 1930 copyright, doesn't mean it's a printing from 1930. Some sellers do not realize this. One way to help you figure out the general date of the book as a general rule, is to check book lists either on dust jackets or internal listings of books. Whatever Nancy Drew book is listed last, check to see when it was published. If your copy of The Secret of the Old Clock book lists to The Clue of the Velvet Mask (#30), it is likely a printing circa 1953 for example.

3. How to determine an original from a revised? Rule of thumb number one is that only the first 34 books were revised. Number two is that an original will have 25 chapters, a revised only 20.

4. Only the first 38 books came out with dust jackets, books 39 to 56 all came out as yellow spine picture covers. Of course, eventually books 1-38 were produced in the YSPC format.

5. Is it RARE?! Probably not. Beware of listings that shout from the rooftops that the book is rare. There aren't too many rarities in the Nancy Drew collecting world--most are just scarce items.

10 Nancy Drew Format Tips In A Nutshell:

#1: How to tell an original text (OT) from a revised text (RT):

1) Only the first 34 books were revised. 2) An original text of 1-34 will have 25 chapters. Revisions have 20!

#2: What does a format #1 Nancy Drew book look like?

A: These format #1 books were out beginning in 1930 through early 1932. Only the first 7 books came out in this format. The format does not have the familiar orange silhouette on the cover--just orange lettering. The endpapers are blank a.k.a creamy white in color--no orange silhouettes.

#3: How can I tell if a book is a first printing?

A: Generally, a first printing will list to itself, however this is not a fail-safe rule. Some books listed to a previous volume, and some lists were not updated for a few printings.

#4: Q': I want to get vintage Nancy Drew books with glossy internal illustrations, how many volumes came like this?

A: Only the first 13 books did through printings from 1930 to 1936. Because the books continued to look similar in board style after 1936 for a time and they still had a glossy frontispiece, be sure to double check with a seller to see if a book does in fact have 3 internal glossy illustrations. Many sellers don't realize they exist and miss them if they haven't gone through the book very closely. And be sure to check that the illustrations are attached properly.

#5. If you want a vintage set of all white spine Nancy Drew dust jackets, only the first 22 books came in this format.

#6. Beware of the Copyright Date Red Herring. Some sellers think that because a Nancy Drew book carries a copyright of 1930, it's a printing from 1930. Keep in mind, the copyright date did not change overtime, unless a book was revised, or some other necessary information was added to the copyright page!

#7. Beware the prices of glossy flashlight edition yellow spine picture covers. You can still purchase these in bookstores today as they're still printing them, at $6.99 ea in most retail stores, and less in lots in discount stores or wholesale/membership club stores. Bid wisely at online auctions--you can get great deals on these at eBay sometimes.

#8. Yellow spine Nancy Drew picture covers (YSPCs) were not produced until the 1960s--in the matte style--and were published in this style through the mid-80s.

#9. If you're looking for a uniform set of blue boards, the only style of blue boards that you can get for a full run of volumes of 1-38, are the blue tweed boards.

#10. There were no more blue boards with dust jackets after volume #38, the yellow spine picture cover format debuted with volume #39.

Where Can I buy Nancy Drew Books & Collectibles?

Online Sources:

The Sleuth Shop
Book Search of Databases: AddAll
Amazon - Used Book Sellers
Links to More Online Sellers


Used book stores
Antique shops and malls
Garage, estate and tag sales
Flea markets
Place a "want to buy" ad in the paper
Craig's List (place a want to buy ad or search the ads for sales)

Selling Tips:

Most sellers of vintage children's books don't do their homework and do not realize what they have and that's ok. If you're here reading these selling tips, then you're halfway to solving the mystery of the vintage Nancy Drew books. You may think you've stumbled upon a very valuable and even a rare Nancy Drew book. Chances are it's a very common and much later printing that you suspect and worth less than $50.00 to $100.00--maybe even as little as $5.00.

I've seen sellers list a yellow spine picture cover for $99.00 thinking it's extra special when it's worth about $5.00. I've seen some sellers at eBay trying to sell Nancy Drew books in the hundreds that aren't even valued for half what is being asked. And then I've seen sellers listing a first printing The Secret of the Old Clock book for a buy it now of $100.00 when it's worth in the thousands with the original dust jacket. Being realistic about what you have by doing some research and understanding values is key. Beware of the copyright red herring (see below) and also be sure to pay attention to the following tips on providing the right information to help Nancy Drew collectors decipher what you have.

PLEASE NOTE: When you list at auction sites like eBay, you need to keep 2 things in mind. The first, is that if you are selling something that's worth quite a bit or a first printing or one of those early blank-endpaper Nancy Drew books, there is a small minority of unscrupulous collectors out there who have in recent months taken advantage of unknowing sellers by making them offers to sell outright and end auctions. In one case a seller sold a 1st printing of #3 The Bungalow Mystery with a dust jacket for $300.00 when it would have likely brought upwards of several thousand had it run its course at auction. The buyer knew what they were doing and the seller was unaware. To me, that's shameful to do that to sellers but at the same time, sellers should do their homework and be aware of what they are selling. It's very easy to do a Google search and look for information. There are several sites including mine that offer this kind of information about Nancy Drew books and the various formats. It's also against eBay rules to take a transaction off site like that and make deals to end auctions.

The second thing to keep in mind, is that for most auctions, collectors will typically bid in the last few seconds of an auction--called SNIPING--that is when the price will really jump if you have something of value and something collectors desire. So if your item has few or no bids up until the last few seconds, this is because collectors prefer to snipe--it's cheaper than getting into bidding wars during the main duration of an auction. I've seen auctions jump from $50.00 to $4,000.00 plus in the last 7 seconds of an auction due to sniping for a desirable first printing of the first several Nancy Drew books which command prices like that in good condition. Other times things may jump up to $30.00 to $150.00+ for less valuable books.

So to recap--be sure not to sell too low to a small minority of unscrupulous collectors and also be aware that most collectors will snipe in the last few seconds of an auction. If you want to protect a value or investment, use a reasonable reserve on the auction if you're worried about waiting to the last few seconds to see how much it will sell for.

Important Clues About Describing Your Nancy Drew Books to Buyers...

This is my chance to influence some sellers or future sellers with some simple advice. Especially if you are selling your books at auction, Take the time to be detailed! It will result in less e-mails from buyers asking for the details. And please post photos showing the front/spine/back of books and if there's any major damage, please show photos of that.

Give your potential buyer/bidder the following information for books with dust jackets:

The Series and total number listed for that series on the front inner flap of the dj

The Series and total number listed for that series on the back inner flap of the dj

The Series and total number listed for that series on the back cover of the dj

Give your potential buyer/bidder the following information for books without dust jackets:

The Series and total number listed for that series on an inside listing of books--if there is an inside listing--either pre or post text--these lists will be on their own pages, not on the copyright page, if present. ****PLEASE NOTE: Inside lists on a copyright page, are not really indicative of what printing a book is, as those tended to be more random lists and not updated frequently.****

If there is no inside listing, then note that.

Give your potential buyer/bidder the following information for books that are picture covers--the last listed book on the back cover of the book. If the last listed book for example re: Nancy Drew books, is the Cookbook, then also list the next to last book.

The reason for this information, which may seem a bother to some sellers at taking the time to note it, is to be able to distinguish between common and 1st printings/formats, rarities, etc.. I cannot count the number of e-mails I send to sellers asking for this information. If you're selling at eBay you can add the question/answer to the listing via the contact form--I suggest you do that or update your listing descriptions with the info so you'll not get asked repeat questions.

Where Should You Sell Your Books?

You can get instant gratification by selling your books locally to used and antiquarian bookstores or even at antique malls. You won't get much at Half Price Books and maybe even just store credit at the other establishments. If you'd like to make more money on your books, consider selling at the following sites online:

Facebook Group: Sleuthing for Vintage Children's Series Books
Facebook Group: Series Book Swap & Sell (free!)

I put together 95% of my extensive collection using eBay in the late 1990s onward. The last few years have really declined in the variety of listings and the amount of unique or scarce collectibles. With all the new rules, regulations, and fees, eBay pretty much drove away the mom and pop sellers who were selling items from grandma's attic--the really good finds! Now you have a mix of lots of modern books from wholesale sellers and just a little bit of vintage items. It can be very hit and miss. You also have a small group of resellers who buy in the very market, driving up some prices, in which they try to resell these items which has driven away some collectors and sellers as well. It would be nice to see more mom and pop sellers with these vintage books and collectibles give eBay a chance again. Try it, and see how you like it. If you have quite a variety of series books and/or other items, consider renting a booth at a local antique mall or flea market. These can be great places to sell and collectors are always on the look out at these types of establishments. The Facebook group linked above is great and quite a few collectors will post their wants or what they're selling or willing to trade there, so it's a good place to show what you have for sale. And, it's free!

The Red Herring:

To both sellers and collectors: Do not be fooled by the copyright date! It was not changed from printing to printing unless the text was revised. It is not reflective of what printing you are actually holding in your hands! With the exception of a couple of printings for picture covers that actually noted a printing date, 99 percent do not have this information. You have to look to other factors about the book to determine the actual printing date such as what the book lists to inside in front/back or what the dust jacket lists on the flaps or on back. ****PLEASE NOTE: Inside lists on a copyright page, are not really indicative of what printing a book is, as those tended to be more random lists and not updated frequently.****

Good luck in your collecting and selling!

Copyright © 2001-2015 by Jennifer Fisher. All Rights Reserved. Nancy Drew® and the Hardy Boys® are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved. This site is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Any of Simon & Schuster's Copyright material appearing on this site complies with fair or acceptable use principles established in U.S. and International copyright law for the purpose of review, study, criticism, or news reporting.