ISSUE 52: May 5, 2008
Yard Salers: May 5: Digging for Art, Hedging Your Bets on Amazon & More
Please forward to a friend!
Between working estate sales, trying to finish my new ebook about setting up yard sales, and reviewing a couple great new ebooks, I've been like a one-armed paper hanger. (I don't know what that is or if anything like it even existed).
When Late Birds Still Get the Worm
This place was positively teeming with yard sales this past weekend. I learned some good news for all of us when we get in slacker mode...you don't necessarily have to be an early bird to get the worm.
Or, put another way, early birds may still get worms, but there are other worms out there that late birds are finding too.
In my case, I hit a couple sales first around 8:30...not crack-of-dawn, but not too shabby. I didn't find anything that was "all that and a bag of chips" - a few First American edition Harry Potters, which I've learned to snap up whenever I see 'em so I can sell 'em together as lots (and if J.K. Rowling ever comes to town, I'll be in that line); and a book I wanted to read.
Then I had to go pick up my daughter and take her to her community service project for school. By the time I hit another sale, it was teetering on 9:45.
But I was yet to find my best score of the morning. I was standing in a yard filled with particularly bad glassware, less-than attractive framed posters, and other marginal merchandise, when the lady's neighbor came over laughing about one of the sillier items he had at his own yard sale (it was a community sale). He seemed like such a jovial gentleman, that I thought what the heck, maybe it's a sign he has good stuff at his sale.
He didn't have too much stuff out, but a black box caught my eye before I left. The words "Mont Blanc," an upscale pen maker, definitely got my attention. (As a side note, I later researched the name, and found it seems to be spelled as one word, Montblanc, so why it is two words on the box I don't know).
Opening it up, I found it was a gift box combo of a Chopin CD and Montblanc fountain pen.
"How much is this?" I asked the guy's wife. I hadn't seen the masking tape with the price on the bottom. Of course, just as I asked the question, I saw that the price was $10.
"Oh...ten dollars," I said, realizing the price was there. I think she took my "Oh" to mean I thought the price was too high, because she countered with, "It's a real Montblanc."
OK..thanks, I said. I don't know pens that well but I knew enough to know that Montblancs can do very well. I went ahead and bought it. Well when I got the thing home I put it aside to price..and when I did look it up I found several of these Chopin sets had sold for a healthy $200 or so!
Well, enough about my pen.
(For some reason a couple of movie lines about giving pens as gifts are springing to mind. It must be associated with breakups, because it's what the Baroness thinks of giving Captain Von Trapp shortly before he dumps her. It's also what Diane gives to Lloyd Dobler when she breaks up with him in the John Cusack movie "Say Anything.")
Most of what else I found to resell this past week was some kind of art, and came from estate sales. But I'll be writing about that separately in the first article in this issue, "Digging for Art."
A small housekeeping issue: from time to time folks write to me saying they have changed their email address and could I please unsubscribe them and re-subscribe them with the new address. I used to take care of these individually for folks, and like to when I can, but I find with more subscribers and time constraints it's something I can't do anymore...at least not on a timely basis.
The good news is anyone can unsubscribe an address and re-subscribe a new one. To un-subscribe, simply go to the bottom of any newsletter in your email in-box (assuming you haven't deleted my gem-encrusted verbiage), click the Topica-provided "Unsubscribe" link, and follow the directions.
To re-subscribe, go to the site at www.yardsalers.net, and click the "Subscribe" link, enter your email, etc. (At some point in the not-too-distant future I'll be redesigning the site).
From the "a propos of almost nothing" department: Remember our friend Mike Dukakis from the last issue, who I found in a 1950s Swarthmore College yearbook? I was listening to political commentary on the radio the other day, and the topic was the small nonverbal cues that impact people's votes. The guy (sorry I can't remember who) said the moment he saw Dukakis's topsiders in the debate, he knew he was doomed. Meaning, I suppose, it conveyed a preppiness that was going to turn some voters off. Anyway. For my purposes, the only nonverbal cues I care about now are whether or not my eBay listing of Dukakis's yearbook sells, and so far it hasn't. Oh well.
On another note, if any of you want to see the photo of Richard Chamberlain in his fraternity in the Pomona College yearbook I found, let me know.
OK, moving along..the articles today will be the aformentioned "Digging for Art," and a review of a great new ebook by former eBay employee and former eBay University instructor Steve Lindhorst. Do you think his book is going to be all about how great eBay is, stick with eBay, etc etc and so forth? Nope..it's about expanding your horizons and hedging your bets..selling on both amazon and eBay. But I'll let you read the review.
(If you want to cut to the chase and buy the ebook via my affiliate link, it's at:
Selling on "The River")
Also, more of the "Books that Look Like Nothing" list, this time with commentary about the books and why they are so valuable. Or why I think they are so valuable.
And..I haven't forgotten that some of you want an article of tips about how to get the most out of eBay Live. I'm planning that for the next issue. Speaking of eBay Live, did you hear that eBay has canceled the 2009 eBay conference, which was going to take place in Atlanta? Oh, the humanity. Skip McGrath alluded to it, but I guess the era of warm-n-fuzzy, kumbaya, we're all family is over. And color me corny, but frankly, I'm going to miss it! Oh well.
Was It the Yellow Color?
Very few of you were be enticed by last week's Flip of the Week contest. I think I dangled a ginormous yellow eBay tote bag as the prize, along with a signed copy of the ever-lovin' eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks. This thing is big. Great for the beach. But don't take it yard-saling, unless you want people to know yer gonna flip that find on eBay.
I was going to extend the Flip of the Week (and its corresponding ongoing Flop) contest until the next issue, but then an entry came in that was so good, I just had to award the bag. You'll read it in article 4.
Also, Reader Mail. Now, let's get to it!
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In This Issue:
1) Digging for Art
2) Hedging Your Bets on Amazon
3) A Book That Looks Like Nothing Revisited
4) Flip of the Week Contest Winner
5) Reader Mail
1) Digging for Art
We've talked a lot in recent months about selling art on eBay. I'm starting to think more and more it's one of the easiest and highest-dollar turnaround areas you can specialize in.
Here are a few things about art that make it a great thing to buy and sell:
- the upper end is very high. The most expensive paintings sold at auction are, well, very expensive.
- rich people tend to buy it. I know this is a huge generalization, but I think it's fair to say overall. So you don't have to worry so much about people being able to afford it.
- it tends to fly under the radar at a lot of sales. Not all of it, always, but some of it, often.
- A lot of people are intimidated about buying art so you usually won't have a lot of competition.
The rules of thumb I'm trying to keep in mind now are to buy original works (not prints or reproductions, unless they're signed or numbered, limited editions), and not to buy anything too huge because it's hard to ship.
I violated both tenets with a ginormous print in a gilt wooden frame that is lovely but now taking up a whole wall in one of our guest rooms. I'm going to have to put the thing on Craigslist and may even have to offload it at a yard sale.
Anyway. Let's talk about finding good stuff. I've done very well at some regular ol' estate sales recently. What I do is walk around the house, look especially in the basement, bedrooms, maybe even hanging on the walls in the bathrooms or kitchen -- the unpretentious places -- and ignore overpriced art on the living room walls.
The other day at one such sale I picked up a watercolor for about $10 -- I think it was hanging in one of the halls of the house. I researched the signature and he turned out to be a schooled artist who had his own web site. It sold for $68 on eBay.
Estate Sale Chit-Chat Can Be Gold
Friday I hit another estate sale. There were various pieces of old art on the living room walls, with prices like $500 and such. I wasn't going to be forking out those kinds of funds for them. But here's another tip: keep your ears open at these sales. Especially, listen to the chit-chat of the person running the sale and the customers, and/or his/her friends.
I heard the lady running the sale say that the lady who'd lived in the home had been "very crafty." I remembered coming across a painting on a stretched canvas that caught my eye on my first pass through the basement. There were also some loose papers that I hadn't paid as much attention to as I should have.
Thinking she may have been a part-time artist, I headed back down to the basement to give the painting another look. Eyeing it again, it was really a charming oil on canvas of apples spilling out of a barrel. better, turning it over, the artist had typed up the title, her name, address, etc. for a local art show she must have been exhibiting it in.
I also grabbed another oil painting from the wall which I surmised was by this lady.
Right now I have one of her paintings up and am about to list a second oil as well as a watercolor, a black and white photo of Mont Blanc (the real mountain, not the pen..haha); and possibly a vintage ski poster, tho I may save that one for myself.
Come to think of it, I'm becoming rather fond of the second oil painting as well.
So don't forget to dig around. Under and behind things, in back rooms, and on all those racks of shelves.
One last note: don't neglect little carved items as well. I grabbed a small wooden figure from a jumbled office scene at a different estate sale. The place had been ransacked by estate sale vultures and there were papers on the floor and everywhere.
This charming little wooden object was lurking on one of the shelves.Turning it over, it had in Spanish the name of the sculptor who'd created it. It just sold for $75.
2) Hedging Your Bets on Amazon
We all know that recent changes on eBay have left people....if not leaving eBay as sellers, at least feeling as though they should not have all their selling eggs in one basket. And many of us already may be using amazon.com casually to sell books here and there, as I've been doing.
But I found a new ebook, "Selling on 'The River,'" by former eBay University Instructor and onetime eBay employee Steve Lindhorst eye-opening as to all the possibilities out there on amazon.com. It's also very detailed about how to go about selling on amazon and how the nuances of selling there are different.
If you want to cut to the chase and buy it via my affiliate link, you can go to the link below. Otherwise, please bear with me while I tell you about it.
Selling on "The River"
As Steve points out in the book, between eBay and amazon, you're looking at over 100 million visitors per month. Wow!
Why not harness the power of both? It just doesn't make sense not to.
And did you think you could only sell books on amazon? Before I read Steve's ebook, that's all I thought I'd be selling on there. Well, Steve opened my eyes to all the other types of things you can sell on amazon -- the "open" categories that are not restricted -- although there are several that are indeed restricted.
And there is one category in particular on amazon that a lot of eBay sellers
head to, but I don't want to steal all Steve's thunder, so I'll leave it to him to tell you about it.
The other nice thing about amazon as a complement to eBay, as you've probably noticed if you've sold on there, is it tends to attract a different kind of buyer. As Steve points out in the book, the buyers there tend to want to get in, buy their item, and get out. They don't really want to mess around with bidding or spend any more time than they have to, except, perhaps, to read product reviews, which amazon has down a heck of a lot better than eBay, at least at this juncture.
The other thing I've noticed is the buyers tend to pick up newer, more current books -- which is not to say they won't buy collectible books there. I just sold a Zane Grey hardback which I listed after being inspired by Steve's book.
And -- the thing that really surprised me -- amazon is starting to carry yearbooks! That's right...old, musty, people-with-pompadours yearbooks. The kind that pay for a dinner out. I'm lovin' it. I haven't double-listed all my yearbooks on amazon yet, but I plan to.
If you already know the ins and outs of setting up an amazon listing, for not only books but other types of products, you may not need all the detail in this book. It also covers things like different account types, and the nuances of how to write good product descriptions to set yourself apart from other amazon sellers (hint: it's not a different animal from eBay titles).
There is a "Condition Notes Best Practices" section, and also a "Things to Avoid in Your Condition Notes," that I found especially helpful.
In short, I think it's a valuable resource that will pay for itself very soon after purchasing. At $29.97, I think it's a good value. And you also get:
- "25 Things eBay Sellers Must Know about Selling on Amazon" and
- SPECIAL BONUS - "How to Scout for Top Sellers with Your Cell Phone."
Again, you can buy it at:
Selling on "The River"
One last tip from me, Julia, about what I do if I double-list stuff on both eBay and amazon. It's very low-tech but it works for me. I take a simple sheet of paper or post it note and insert it in the book, and note that it's been listed on amazon and what date I listed it. (I put the date on it for amazon because amazon listings last for 6 months, at least last time I checked).
As I use specific shelves to house books I've listed on eBay, I usually don't need to put paper in them as well, but I just may start doing that as well in the future.
Happy increased sales!
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3) A Book That Looks Like Nothing Revisited
OK, I *thought* I had written a short bit in one of the newsletters about the thread "A Book that Looks Like Nothing" on one of the eBay Discussion boards, listing some of the books alphabetically. Then I said I was going to write more in future newsletters about these books on the list, but bit by bit and going over why they were so valuable, or why I thought they were.
Now I can't seem to find where I listed those first few books in any of the newsletters.
So we're just going to start near the beginning, and analyze. Sound good?
Alaskan Tales by Russell Annabel
I looked this one up on amazon and the title is actually "Alaskan Adventures."
This one does not actually seem to be sky-high; eBay has a Buy-It-Now copy for $25. Amazon has one copy going for as high as $44.53. I think the publisher comments from amazon say enough:
"Russell Annabel was one of America's most outstanding and gifted outdoor writers; in fact, Ernest Hemingway said Annabel was "the finest outdoor writer" that he had ever read-an endorsement most writers can only dream about! Annabel started writing of his adventures in the Northland in the 1930s and continued writing until the late 1970s. Follow Annabel and his mentor, Tex Cobb, around in Alaska as they face enraged grizzlies, trophy Dall sheep, marauding wolverines, and mad moose. No other writer has ever been able to capture the spirit of adventure and hunting in Alaska like Russell Annabel. This book was an instantaneous sellout, in print less than eight months. Not surprisingly, it is now hard to find and much sought-after.
Alcoholics Anonymous 1st Edition (2nd Ed is becoming rare).
We've talked about the AA "Big Book" before..this one can be pure gold, especially if you get a first edition. Even second and third editions can be quite valuable. A third edition is on eBay now with a BIN of $150; a first ed. is there w/ a BIN of $695. In fact, I'd say if you see any AA book, grab it first and ask questions later.
Why are AA books so collectible? Well, it's a combination, I suspect, of the club having so many members, maybe a little intrigue and secrecy, and simple demand for the first editions which are scarce. Add it all up and you get collectibility (if that's a word).
Aleister Crowley: The Man: The Mage: The Poet by Charles Richard Cammell (1st Ed) (#769)
Yes, this book was on the thread, but I'm not sure why..it looks like it's going for $25 on amazon. But I'm glad it came up, because try dropping just the name "Aleister Crowley" into eBay's search...the guy was an occult-ish magician -- per wikipedia, he was "a British occultist, writer, mountaineer, philosopher, poet, and yogi," and books by and about him go for from various prices up into the hundreds and up to $4777 (is someone playing a magic joke there with the "777" in the number? Anyway). (Why wikipedia doesn't call him a magician, when all these books seem to define him as such, I have no clue. Maybe one of you all will enlighten me).
Magic and the occult tend to sell well with books, and this guy seems to have the magic touch. Let's be on the lookout for his name.
Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators by Robert Arthur
These appear to be a children's series book, some of which have healthy values, around $50 - $445 values (the former is a lot of 7; the latter is a single book in the series that must be very rare; "Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in The Mystery of Monster Mountain."
Alice in Wonderland: The Illustrated Modern Library edition
Here is a bit I found about this Modern Library title while googling around (from "The MODERN LIBRARY By Henry Toledano":
"The other interesting illustrated Modern Library is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I did not know of this title's existence when the first two editions of my Modern Library Price Guide were published. That is how scarce this particular book is! The fact is that Alice in the illustrated Modern Library was probably an accident. Some of you will know about the two volume boxed set of Alice and Through the Looking Glass put out by Random House. The first in the set is colored, whereas subsequent editions are in black and white. Anyway, some of the colored books were left over and the initial decision, I believe, was to use these extra books as a Book-of-the-Month club bonus. However, there was not sufficient number of books for this and instead they were published in the Modern Library... A fine copy of this book might run retail as high as $500!"
All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed by Neil Clark Warren (eharmony.com's founder)
OK, maybe I am missing something here but I couldn't find a book by Warren under that title. There are other books by him on amazon and eBay, but not under that title. So go figure. If any of you know any different, let me know. :-)
Well I don't want to end on a down note, so let's go to the next one..
A Mathematical Theory of Evidence by Glenn Shafer
That's what I'm talkin' about. 1976. 4 copies on amazon. The lowest price is $99.95; the highest is $598.78.
If you want to nose around and read more about why this book is so valuable, or at least what it's about, you can go to http://www.glennshafer.com/books/amte.html. I'm going to say that it appears to be a book for computer science/"AI" (artificial intelligence)/statistics wonks. And I mean that with great respect. The site says "The author was an assistant professor at Princeton University when the book was written."
The site notes that the book is no longer in print, but you can get it on demand in microfilm from ProQuest. No wonder paper copies are doing so well. When's the last time you fiddled with the knobs of a microfiche machine? (And here I'm thinking there's probably some difference between microfilm and microfiche, but if I look it up I'll never get this issue out).
4) Flip of the Week Contest
I enjoy your newsletter very much. I have a flip of the week. It is just a funny story.
My husband is a network cabling technician and his work partner just got his MBA. He is moving to Texas and had a bunch of stuff he was going to throw away. My husband, knowing that I hate to see stuff just thrown away, said we'd take it for him and donate it to the Salvation Army.
There were a lot of books from his recent schooling and some from his bachelor's degree he received about 5 years ago. I decided to see if any of them were worth anything, but didn't have a very good outlook that they would be worth anything at all. I looked all the books up on half.com and to my surprise, a lot of them sell. I put them on that night and by the next morning I had sold $85.00. That was last Thursday.
As of today (Friday), I have sold $197.33 worth and still have quite a few on half.com. Looks like it pays to take people's "junk" they are going to throw away. It made me $197.33!
So sorry for the delay. Wow that's a great story! I especially like it because you saved some stuff from going into landfills, and made decent money to boot. :)
As you discovered, textbooks can be great -- I look for them while I am out but try to only buy recent ones (within past few years) to resell. There are some exceptions, including classic textbooks that don't get updated that often. When in doubt, esp if the price is right (ya gotta like free), grab!
Thanks so much for sharing. Even better, you won the contest! :-) The ginormous yellow tote bag will be coming your way..pls send me your mailing address.
Oh and may I share your letter in the issue, no name or if you want to supply a first name only?
Thanks so much! To add to the story, I am now up to $226.88 in book sales from this! I always try to pick up recent textbooks at yard sales. If the books aren't too cheap (I think if they are $1+ it's not too cheap, haha),
I'll call my mom and she looks up the isbn for me. That way I know if it is worth it or not. I live in Fayettville, AR where the University of Arkansas main campus is located, so I find a lot of textbooks here! I have made some good money off of textbooks, but I was excited about these too, because they were headed to the landfill!
I am so excited I won. I haven't had much time to put things on ebay as I am graduating from med school next week, but can't wait for things to slow down, so I can get some more stuff from auctions and yard sales and make some extra money to pay off my loans! I have made my way through school without having to have a full time job to pay the bills by making extra money off of ebay & half.com. I couldn't even begin to think about the amount of money I have made! I love it!
Have a wonderful day and thank you so much for your newsletter. I have been meaning to order some of your books, but with school, money is very tight! Maybe after I start working I will be able to do so!
Wow...a doc! That's great! Good for u for going to med school. And yeah..selling on eBay is a great way to help pay the bills! But u'll no doubt be making the big bucks in a few years. :)
Ginormous yellow bag etc coming soon..
Everyone, keep those entries coming for next week! And don't forget, send in your FLOPS too! If you want. We don't even need to know who you are.
5) Reader Mail
Secret Product Sources is now only $8.95, down from $39.99! Buy it from here if you want:
Secret Product Sources
or cut and paste http://www.yardsalers.net/secretproductsources into your browser.
This one also comes with an mp3/audio download so you can listen to it from your computer or any device that plays mp3 files.
More from Sky-High Cookbookville: $2136 Cookbook Outed
Our friend who sold the mysterious valuable cookbook for over $2000 recently gave me tho go-ahead to give the item number of the auction, and to use photos from it.
Once you see the photos, I think you'll immediately know why it was so valuable, but if you want more info about it and what made it special, plop the item number into the eBay search and read all the details.
May we all be so lucky as to find such a gem!
Thanks again to the eagle-eyed subscriber who provided this to us.
So you never know. I can add about garden books, tho many of you may know this, flip through them and look for quality illustrated plates of flowers or other flora. Those can be very valuable.
I got a letter a while back from Kevin of Coupon Cabin. Though I have sat on it a while, I figure, what better time than now to post it, with everyone dealing with skyrocketing food prices? And other prices? So here it is:
Coupon Cabin: Online Shopping Resource
I just came across your blog and I thought it would be a good idea to clue you in one of our clients who I thought might be of interest to you given the fact that they’re saving consumers, families and women a significant amount of time and money in regards to online shopping. Maybe you can check out this website and comment about it.
CouponCabin.com (www.couponcabin.com) is a leading online site for consumers trying to find the best deals and coupons. I know you’ve already wrapped up your holiday season, but thought that CouponCabin.com and founder Scott Kluth might be a valuable resource to you on future online shopping stories and ultimately your audience.
Here are a couple great examples of statistics/trends that might be of interest:
In September, CouponCabin.com visitors spent $6.2 million using 754,000 coupons and saving a total of $486,000 CouponCabin.com represents savings and coupons for more than 800 retailers – up 25 percent compared to 2005
The top 5 coupon categories hit by CouponCabin.com visitors in September were:
Women’s Apparel (169,376 clicks)
Home & Garden (151,146 clicks)
Baby, Kids & Toys (146,091 clicks)
Men’s Apparel (133,253 clicks)
Electronics (101,622 clicks)
Kevin, Media Relations Manager (for CouponCabin)
OK, people, that's it for this issue. In the next issue we'll talk more about eBay Live, discuss "A Book that Looks Like Nothing" -- more books from the list but also why they went for that much; and other stuff you're gonna have to tune in for. :-) My request: If you want me to analyze a type of item or niche (or service, or what have you), please email me at email@example.com.
Have a great (and profitable) week, all!
*** end of Reader Mail **
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That's it for this issue. Until next time! - Julia
Questions about My eBooks Ordering
You can certainly purchase from me directly, as can anyone. Most of my ebooks are now available via the website's bookstore at www.yardsalers.net/bookstore. Any others you have questions about, all you have to do is email me and let me know which ebook(s) you want, if you are a subscriber and thus eligible for the discount, and then PayPal me to my PayPal id at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be tweaking and updating the ebooks page on my web site soon.
Do you have a Flip of the Week? I'd love to hear about it! Email me at email@example.com and let me know.
Nonfiction Books that Sell for $50 - $250 on eBay:
I am always open to reader articles, so if you want to write about something relating to yard sale-ing and eBaying, just flag me down! I will of course give you credit, using your eBay ID, web site, or any other contact
eBooks by Julia L. Wilkinson:
[All my ebooks are offered at 1/2 price from their regular prices to the subscribers of this newsletter. If interested in any of them, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
- How to Spot Fakes: email me!
Blogs, Blogs, and More Blogs
Check out My amazon.com Author Blog
Those of you who just can't get enough of my writing (are there any of you?) will be happy to know I now have a new blog on amazon.com. Amazon.com has created an "author blog" tool for authors to...well, blog. You'll see it if you bring up either of my books on the amazon site, but for good measure, it's at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1593270550. (Scroll down to "amazonConnect").
My TypePad Blog, "Bidbits"
You can also check out my typepad blog, "bidbits": bidbits
Do you have your copy of Julia's book, eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks?
It's available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. If you do want to order the book, I'd appreciate if you'd support Yard Salers and
eBayers by using my affiliate link below.
Copyright 2007 Julia L. Wilkinson
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Publisher, Julia Wilkinson, author of the award-winning "eBay Price Guide." and "What Sells on eBay for What"
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