New "Dealing with eBay" FAQs are up

Sharon Biederman sbiederm at
Sun May 29 13:23:36 EDT 2005

Scot and John,

    I think the problem lies with trying to make one rule that fits all
collectors and all cases.  First, the FAQ will be primarily of interest
to new collectors.  John may find a few tidbits of information that are
useful, but as a longtime collector, he has already made hundreds of
purchases on ebay and knows how to find a bargain.

    Second, even experienced collectors define acceptable purchases 
differently.  Aside from the ubiquitous designation of "first edition" by
ignorant sellers, it seems to be that most ebay disputes will
involve condition. As a collector, Scot, you sought out copies that were
Very Good or better.  The chances, therefore, of being disappointed on
ebay were relatively high.  Only a minority of ebay sellers carefully
describe the flaws in their MLs.  Some provide pictures that are designed
to conceal defects. On the other hand, there are many collectors that are
much more concerned with scarcity than condition and tend to overlook

    So, if a copy of Men in War, for instance, turns up on ebay in
a dust jacket, two collectors might both choose to bid $100 on the basis
of seeing only the front of the DJ with no additional information from
the seller. Upon receiving the book one might be outraged that the rear
endflap is missing while the other thinks he got a steal.  Beyond telling
buyers to get as much information as possible, there are really very few   
absolutes.  Assuming the amount of money involved is not substantial
(which is the case with most MLs), trial and error can actually work out
in the buyer's favor.  However, for condition-conscious collectors, ebay
is a place to tread gingerly and they may wish to purchase from
established booksellers.  


 On Sun, 29 May 2005, Scot Kamins wrote:

> John,
> Your comments could form their own FAQ: "Is eBay a good place to buy  
> books?"
> Having said that...:
> >
> >
> > Re: "If I see an error in an eBay Modern Library book listing,
> > should I notify the seller?"
> >
> > That section is fine, but it is important to note that
> > you should NEVER contact a bidder regarding a potentially
> > misleading auction they (he? she? heshe? shehe?) are bidding
> > on - auction interference on eBay may get your account
> > suspended.
> You raise an interesting point here, which I'll start as a separate  
> thread: Ethics and eBay Book Buying." Watch for it on a mail server  
> near you!
> >
> >
> > I do find the overall tone of the FAQ somewhat curious -
> > not really taking into account that eBay is a global,
> > chaotic yard sale - and that is OK!
> >
> > These are not professional book dealers for the most part,
> > and any auction you win might end up being a disappointment,
> > and if it does, it is probably not because the seller is a
> > fraud and evil.
> I'll emphasize these excellent points in the relevant FAQs. Thanks  
> for bringing them up.
> >
> >  I have acquired hundreds of titles
> > for well below what they should have sold for - primarily
> > because of the lack of knowledge of the sellers and poor
> > descriptions.
> So you role the dice a lot? Are there factors you see in the listing  
> that leads you to believe that you've found a bibliophilic diamond in  
> the rough?
> >
> - Scot Kamins

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