Book Flipping – the Robert Galbraith / J.K. Rowling book hits Ebay!

This week, I turned $83 into $620 all thanks to J.K. Rowling.

This past week the world learned that J.K. Rowling wrote a mystery novel under the name Robert Galbraith. Ron Weasley would have been proud by the not-so-tough-to-crack deception. Upon learning of this ruse, the Rowling Readership hit the online stores and drove it to the top of the seller’s list.  Very few hardcovers were to be found, of course, as the print run was reported low. On Ebay, I read one description that listed the North American first edition as being 10,000 (an expected figure for a debut author, but of course certainly low for Rowling).

The Cuckoo's Calling - book flipper's dream come true.
The Cuckoo’s Calling – book flipper’s dream come true.

Upon reading about the Rowling/Galbraith Identity news on Sunday morning, I saw an opportunity. It’s called Book Flipping! Or, more seriously, bookselling. It’s what book scouts and booksellers do – obtain those books at a low enough price to garner some income when sold back to another person or store. They are looking at short-term increases and possibly long term holds – my guess is short-term is preferred. I’m certainly not a professional bookscout or seller, but I have enough experience to know that this type of book – a novel under a pseudonym of a world famous writer – is instantly desired by almost every muggle who likes to read.

So, last Sunday morning, I got in the car and faster than you can say Corman Strike, I was at Barnes and Noble at 9 am, the time they opened.

Hi, how are you, Book Clerk, you poor soul who is not yet aware of the Rowling Book Storm that is soon to land on top of his head. The phones – put those on silent because they will be ringing all day!

I found my copy upstairs in Mystery.  Check the copyright page – first printing, first edition – great. Then, went downstairs to the cash register, where 2 copies were already set aside as I had used their online ‘pick up’ feature before leaving on the 20 minute drive to the store. So excited I was that I had 3 copies in hand, it didn’t occur to me to see if any more copies remained. My mind was already writing my Ebay Item Description (‘free shipping!’ ‘first edition, you bet!’).  Instead, I paid and left. I used to work in a bookstore in the early 90s, so I can sympathize with bookstore employees when a sudden “flash mob” like book event happens – people come in or they call and are puzzled when a book isn’t available. Whether it’s true or not, I imagine the rest of the day for the Barnes and Nobles employees was spent explaining that they were sold out of The Cuckoo’s Calling. I did tell the clerk after my purchase why these books were important (at least from a collector’s perspective), and I’m not sure it hit her just then, but I’m sure it did later.

Cut to Sunday evening. Time to auction these off. It’d been awhile since I listed anything on Ebay (the site has long ago stopped being fun and affordable to use  with the fees but I don’t rely on it for income – perhaps it’s easier for those professionals who use it).  I upload a couple of photos, fill in the item description and then decide the most important thing – price.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is instantly a unique collectible. Written by the mega-selling author of the Harry Potter books, it is a hardboiled detective adult story.  Is this book a collectible for mystery buyers or for Harry Potter fans? Or for literary fans who may believe that Rowling’s talent will only continue to grow thus cementing her standing as one of the most beloved storytellers of the 21st century.

Not knowing anyone in the book scouting business to get advice, I listed my first copy conservatively – $85 for bidding or $115  for Buy It Now.  Other similar first editions were starting at $50 but I hadn’t seen anything selling yet for over $150. I listed my item, and almost immediately it sold. I knew I was onto something.

The next night, I listed copy #2 (all three were first editions, first printing). I took new pictures because I don’t believe in reusing same photo on three different items, even if they are the same book. Again, book sold immediately at $145 – I had listed it a little higher as I was seeing some $200+ auctions for the same book. Prices were increasing but still some auctions were ending at 75. Others were still ongoing and climbing slowly.

The third night, after seeing three books going for more than $400, yet still seeing many more in the $200 range (why I have no idea), I decided to aim higher. $450 was my buy it now. I put a starting bid at $300 so it could have easily gone that route, taking 7 days for a number of bids and maybe it would have climbed past $500, maybe not. Did I want to spend 7 days checking my Ebay account every five minute? No. With the Buy It Now option, though, one person did step up and buy my copy. For $450.  I wasn’t shocked. Not after seeing other items prices, but I was puzzled, though, why others who were bidding on the same book in the price range of $500 wouldn’t jump over and start in on my Item.  Today the same searches on ebay “Cuckoo’s calling” brings up a large variety of prices, although it appears they are all steadily increasing.

For the non-collector, paying $450 for a book is a foreign concept. They may think  “hello, the second printing will be out soon and then this stupid book will be, like, everywhere!  And, yes, the same text that is in the first edition will be in the second edition and in the electronic versions as well. I get it. But the first edition is that first public outing to readers, the first vote of confidence by a publishing house (I’ll leave the debate about the wisdom of publishers for another day). Obviously for the well-know author, a first edition is to be followed by multiple printings based on sales that occur throughout bookshops, grocery stores, Costco, etc.  Nothing special, right?  But that first edition book by an unknown author is something different.  If it catches on, the small print run and high demand will drive up the price for those who want to collect that item that existed before anyone was aware of it (even if it is that they purchased this first edition years later).  It’s a marker of sorts, especially for a first-time author or for a bestselling author’s pseudonym.

Today, five days later, I still see a similar price range for The Cuckoo’s Calling (from $200-$600). My advice? I think anything under $300 is a good deal, of course. Past $600 is iffy,  in my opinion, but only because I’m not sure of the actual print run and what the longterm value will be. I would say for serious first edition collectors, it’s still probably a safe bet both for the mystery book collectors angle and the J.K. Rowling fan-base. Two groups vying for the book for different reasons. I would not be at all surprised if the North American first edition/first printing settles in close to $1,000 this month or next. I couldn’t guess where it might plateau.

I am happy with my venture. I sold three books. After fees, I cleared just over $600.

As of this evening, there are approximately 80 books actively listed.  Where are the rest – tucked away to be sold later or, gasp, on someone’s nightstand being read at this very movement, the value decreasing with each turn of the page, each crease of the spine. The horror!

I usually do not buy books by author’s that I don’t read. I don’t read J. K. Rowling (or Galbraith) but this was an opportunity to make some dough which could be put to some good uses (other books? maybe. Or, more likely, bills).  Had I misjudged the demand (unlikely) I would have been stuck with 3 books I had no interest in. If you buy first editions with the hopes they will increase in value, you better know your market, and if you don’t, then just buy what you like, so you won’t be so disappointed to have ‘that book’ on your shelf, no matter what Ebay thinks.

(btw, I realize this post is all about books as collectibles and doesn’t even discuss the quality of the book by J.K. Rowling. It’s a weird hobby/career, book collecting or dealing. One obtains some book at some ungodly amount and then sets it on his or her shelf, never to be touched again!  The “Robert Galbraith” book’s pages could have been blank and I, having not cracked any of the copies I scooped up, wouldn’t have had any idea. Obviously, the best part of books is what the author provides – the stories and characters, drawn to such a degree that we forget our own lives or we find answers or questions that enrich our lives. A book’s real value isn’t how many dollars we might declare it to be  but whether what is between the covers has provided us with a valuable experience. That is subjective, of course.)

Excerpts from the Alec Baldwin English Language Dictionary

Noted linguist, actor, CapitalOne spokesman Alec Baldwin this week provided a preview of his self-titled English Language Dictionary, following confusion among Americans over the real meaning of the word “queen.” Mr. Baldwin promises to update all editions.

From the upcoming Alec Baldwin English Language Dictionary:

Queen: 1. (noun) somebody who’s just above, not having any necessarily sexual connotations.  2,(adj, queeny): aboveness. ex. “I know women that act queeny, I know men that are straight that act queeny, and I know gay men that act queeny”; not a definite sexual connotation, or a homophobic connotation. 3. (adj. queeny) A non-slur adjective if used by an open-minded registered Democrat. A slur if used by anybody else.
Twitter. 1. (noun) social medial platform popularized by its simple design and restricted word count per post. 2. (noun) Celebrity meltdown software, often used by well-known persons to reveal their true emotional intelligence quotient through verbal bullying and homophobic/racist rants.
CapitalOne customers can purchase Baldwin's reference book at a fair. 28.99% APR.
CapitalOne customers can purchase Baldwin’s reference book at a fair. 28.99% APR. In stores never.

In 2011, Mr. Baldwin’s passion for language and words was revealed after being booted off a plane over the matter of the challenging cell phone game  Words with Friends. Baldwin remains an avid player. From the ABELD:

Boot. 1. (noun) Footwear covering the ankle and sometimes lower leg.  2. (verb) to remove from an area a superior person or persons, often an actor or actress.
Cell-phone. 1 (noun) an electronic device used to communicate via voice, text, or electronic mail, generally used with no consideration for surroundings.  2. A gaming device for grown men and women in confined places, usually in first-class on airplanes.

When interviewed by the online blog Gothamist Apologist, Mr. Baldwin stated that since being misunderstood so frequently by the American public and some of the press, he believed a dictionary was needed. “Whether it’s ‘little pig’ when talking about my daughter, or ‘queeny’ about a sloppy reporter, what I say doesn’t mean what everyone thinks it means.”

The publisher of the Baldwin Dictionary stated in a press release they expect copies to be available this Fall, unless a small vocal minority protest, then they will pull the book.


Murder Trials are Hilarious – CNN’s 360 and the George Zimmerman Trial

Anderson Cooper and panel share a laugh while discussing a murder trial.
Anderson Cooper and panel share a laugh while discussing a murder trial.

Watching CNN’s Anderson’s 360 lame news program and realized the obscene, never-ending circus-like manner in which Dr. Drew and Nancy Grace treat criminal trials has carried over with great efficiency to Silver Spoon’s program. The panel on Monday June 24th included: Sunny Hostin, Jeffrey Toobin, Mark Geragos, Marcia Cross.  I recognize three of those people – two of them, Geragos and Cross, lose big trials. Toobin has been a CNN stooge since the early 90s. No idea who Sunny Hostin is, but she would be advised to separate herself from this collection of legal experts.  My quick transcription of a segment of 360 where the legal experts host have a moment of levity because, of course, the trial of George Zimmerman has been going on for sooo long. It’s a game for these creeps, easy ratings. Meanwhile, it’s real life for the Martin and Zimmerman family, as well as the jurors.

Geragos: …”It may resonate with a bunch of trial watchers who are looking for a lot of pizzaz but remember, what we’re talking about here matters very little. It only matters what the six women in that jury box think. Given what I heard at last, and read, about the jurors that are in there, I’m just not so sure that the prosecutors tact here is an effective one.

Cooper: And ‘trial watchers looking for pizzaz’ I assume you’re referring to everyone else on this panel.


Geragos: I wasn’t going to say it’s 3 to 1,  ex-prosecutors, or versus the lonely defense lawyer.

Cooper: You know, Mark, we’re doing this all week. You’re starting off by pissing off everyone on the panel. That’s not the best way to start off the week, Mark.

Geragos: I’m kind of on the other coast. I’m safe.

and they go to break. There’s more laughter near the end of their discussion in a follow-up segment. Don’t worry, folks, your news media has a sense of humor!

Maybe someone should do a segment on Toobin’s baby mama drama and laugh it up. I’m not sure why reporters and panelists can’t provide information and commentary about a serious issue without the need to be funny. Not everyone can be a comedian.  There is a time and place for jokes (late night television or in your own home, off mic). We learned that rule today easily enough when Zimmerman’s stupid attorney began his opening with a knock-knock joke.  Whether you are in the courtroom or on television, it might serve one well to remember that no matter what your opinion is of this case, people’s lives and well-being are on the line: the defendant and his family, and the family of the young man who was shot.

If there is a Hell, there should be free parking for all these cable news talking heads.

Holmes v. Cruise v. Scientology v. Who Cares v. ObamaCare v. Blog Bait

If I don’t post about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes getting divorced, who will?

As we all know, on Thursday, the Supreme  Court stuck up for Obama on his ACA (ObamaCare). A day later, Katie Holmes dared to divorce the most popular Scientologist ever. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Here’s why: Katie Holmes is an unskilled worker. If you have seen any of her movies/television shows, you know this. She flaunts it. So, without a real job skill, she is and was always at risk of falling below the poverty level, living a hellish life without proper medical coverage. So, five years ago, this untalented hottie does what she needs to do – marries the first dude who asks her, and whammo! she has health insurance as a married woman to the hottest dyslexic ever born  – Mr. Tom Cruise, High Priest of the Church of Scientology and Movie Star.

This college drop-out can now leave her husband, confident that healthcare as a single, unskilled parent can be obtained cheaply with the federal government’s help.

She has sexy sex with the Movie Star, has a kid, but still finds no time to learn an employable trade. Instead, she relies on her marriage to keep her secure, to keep her health coverage. I bet they were in a PPO plan, spending her free time pushing a stroller around.

Finally, along comes ObamaCare. Katie sees a light at the end of the tunnel. That light tells her she can leave her husband, and not even work, and still possibly be covered! Praise the Lord!

Katie follows the court cases surrounding ObamaCare, understanding very little of course, but knowing very well that the law is not settled and won’t be until the Supremes review the case. She is not sure why a R&B group is involved, but she waits.

Then, last Thursday, Chief Justice John Roberts is all “ObamaCare is Here to Stay Forever, Americans, so Get Used To It!  Unless Politicians Repeal It Later!” And Katie Holmes doesn’t hear the second part and so is like “Thank Xenu, Obama and Roberts, I’m outta here. And I’m taking my baby! I can get affordable healthcare without being married to this weirdo!”

So, if you want to blame Obama for ruining the country go ahead. But know this – he also ruined the Holmes/Cruise marriage by insisting on healthcare for all, even unskilled workers like Holmes and her stupidly named space baby, Suri.    Will Election 2012 kill ObamaCare and lead Holmes running back to Cruise?Maybe – if TMZ has anything to say about it.  If it’s repealed, look for Holmes to marry soon – to anyone, solidifying her status as a benefits whore.

What Does a Bus Monitor Do? (answer: possibly nothing)

After reading the story of Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor, now now rich old lady as donations pour in, I wondered why there was even a bus monitor on board of this bus.  I found this job description for bus monitor for another school and it seems simple enough: help kids cross the road, keep order on the bus, help with safety drills, keep order on the bus, and, oh yeah, keep order on the bus.  Now, Karen Klein has had, as we say, a very bad week. Nobody deserves to be treated that way. Those 4 kids are brats raised by parents who probably don’t have a clue what their kids are really like. They’ve since offered lame apologies but they won’t live this down for a long time.

Again, nobody deserves to be treated that way, and I have no information how good/bad a bus monitor Klein was, but I wonder several things about this story and the purpose of a bus monitor.

1) Where was the bus driver during the bullying of this bus monitor?  If he/she didn’t know what was going on – why not? I’m old enough to say “in my day” and “in my day” we had only the bus driver – a twenty-something named Cindy (and one named Sue, I think) and somehow they kept everyone in line all while driving. Nobody stepped out of line.  Way to go NY bus driver!

2) Why didn’t Karen Klein stand up, move to the front of the bus and get the bus drivers’ help (ie, stop the bus, go back to the kids and take away the camera, and separate the kids).  Has she been asked this by the media? If not, why not?

3) If the bus monitor’s paid job is to keep order and prevent altercations, what skills or training is she given to prevent or discourage behaviors these kids demonstrated?  I would suggest none.  Being a kind old grandma isn’t an excuse for doing a poor job. Obviously a bus monitor is probably not exactly the most exciting job and those who do it have their reasons (part-time income, maybe a fan of the film Speed, who knows?).

4) Respect – As we know through countless reality shows, adults don’t respect adults, and kids often don’t respect adults – perhaps this disrespect has increased or perhaps it is just more openly demonstrated due to mass media/internet. In the school system, we see awful kids and we see awful teachers and administrators.  In the school system, it’s difficult to get rid of bad teachers (thanks, in part,  to unions’ brilliant policies, but that’s another topic). So, perhaps kids learn that it doesn’t matter how godawful you are,  how disrespectful you are, you’re likely to keep your job and remain a paid employee, or remain a student or bus rider (under the threat of a lawsuit against the school).

So, did Karen Klein command the respect from the kids from her first day on the job? Or for all the other days of the fifteen years she worked as a bus monitor?  If not, why not?  Did the kids see her job as a bus monitor as nothing more than an adult getting paid to ride the bus and do very little to keep order? Did they not understand the importance of her job? Or to the kids,  is she just one more adult in the school system who is literally just along for the ride and nothing else. I don’t know.  Again, those kids are scum and she didn’t deserve it but I wonder why this happened.

In high school, I’ve seen substitute teachers brought to tears on day 1 because whatever training they had, it didn’t include managing a group. Weakness is discerned pretty quickly by kids, especially teenagers, and they will pounce and make lives hellish for new and substitute teachers. Full disclosure: I don’t know that I could cut it but I know when I’m in over my head in situations and I know how to yell “bus driver, stop the friggin’ bus! I am outta here!”  It doesn’t make it right, but ignoring the ugly side of human behavior doesn’t make it go away.  Give teachers and bus monitors the skills to manage a group OR the wisdom to remove themselves from the situation before it reaches the level it did on that bus with Karen Klein.

Rule #1: it won’t always be like this on a bus. Don’t believe me? Go see The Sweet Hereafter. Or Speed. Or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.


One final point 5)  – Camera phones.  Parents, did you know there are cell phones out there without cameras?  (or cameras with no storage so that your kid can’t record an impromptu juniorized version of A Clockwork Orange).  What is the reason you give when you tell your more reasonable peers you had to get Skippy or Buffy an iPhone 4 ? For safety? Not true. So your brat can call or text you their every move? Or is it so your brat likes you a little bit more?  For hundreds of years, kids commuted to and from school without the hardware they carry now.   A fancy cell phone is not any better in protecting your kids than a regular, practical phone.  In fact, it’s worse. Kids don’t have good judgment and here you give them a phone that allows them to take photos/videos of anything or anyone, access most everything on the internet, and to chat with anyone on the planet.  And all they have to do in return is answer your phone call or text as you ‘check in’ on them.   So, when you treat them as if they have great enough judgment to carry around a $500 phone and behave responsibly, don’t wonder too much when it all falls apart and they reveal themselves to be the uncontrollable little monsters they are.


Ronan Farrow Is Sooooooooo Smart

You might have seen this story about Woody Allen/Mia Farrow bio-kid Ronan Farrow tweeting a severe diss to his Allen:

Oy vey!

Maybe well deserved. For many, Woody Allen is straight-up creepy and unfunny. For others, he is just straight up creepy and funny. And for some, he is not creepy, but still funny.

I’d say Ronan has every right to tweet, given the basics of his family history (ronans’ dad left his mom to begin a new relationship with ronan’s adopted sister – mom and and were never married but still, weird. throw in child abuse accusations for more drama).  Anyway, Twitter is where it’s at. That’s what smart people do – tweet (#getafuckinglife). Every mention of Ronan says how smart he is and he obviously is – he started college at age 11, and, later, was a Rhodes Scholar (#dork) and now does a bunch of important stuff with the government (speechifying and global community organizin’) – we all know when you want to make a difference, working through the State Department is the way to go (#circlejerk). Just ask Syria!  Although, if he was so smart, he would have invented Facebook.

Back to the tweet and what it reveals to anyone with a pulse:

1. He’s mad at Daddy. Not because he remembers being hurt by Daddy, but also because he has been raised by his Mommy/Mia Farrow (aka Mother Earth) to hate him.  Nothing new here. Eventually one might get tired of a parent telling you what to think (or you get upset realizing that you’ve been programmed – right or wrong, it’s still annoying). Plenty of people are raised by a single parent who hates their ex because they ran off when one of the kids. I read about it all the time on Slate’s Dear Prudence. Of course, most single parents don’talso adopt a kid every week, which goes to point 2.

2. He is probably increasingly more aware that his mom is a little crazy and so that just makes his situation more frustrating, raising the anger level.  The most likely reason he went to college early was to get away (#bitchbecrazy)!  Mia makes Brangelina look childless, she adopts so many kids.  Like Woody Allen, Mia Farrow is apparently a homewrecker, having started an affair with a married man, Andre Previn, a fancy-pants musician. Farrow got pregnant (#devilspawn), and Andre left his wife for her. Something the media doesn’t talk about.  So, if you’re Ronan, and you’ve read Wikipedia, you’re thinking, ‘shit, my dad’s a creep, and my mom is an angry little hypocrite. FML!”

3. Posting on Twitter means he KNOWS it will reach Woody Allen (#passiveaggressive).  In a weird way, he is communicating with his dad and nobody else. He has not heard of email, I guess. Not really knowing anything about their whole family drama, I wonder how much communication they have or had years ago after visitations ended (#miniseriesplease!).  Of course, the tweet is  a joke his own dad would have written years ago.

3. Ronan Farrow is about 25 years old. Why now with the Twitter?  Maybe he’s new to Twitter so he’s catching up on all his witty one-liners’ about his old man (#woodyismypops). If he was soooo smart, he would save all this shit for a tell-all book, called Dreams of My Father 2: Payback’s a Bitch Named Soon Yi!  (btw, does Ronan talk to Soon Yi? Uh, probably not). But alas, Ronan has been appointed by the Obama Administration to assist in issues related to the youth and so what does that leave any government official, but loads of time to tweet and work out their personal issues online, 140 characters at a time. When Government Officials tweeet, what could go wrong (#anthonyweinersweiner).

Who knows what Ronan was thinking. I think if my Mom changed my name to ‘Ronan’ I would be pissed about it forever. And if I was a boy genius who grew up to be a BORING fucking diplomat, I’d probably start spending time on Twitter, also. Exhibit A: Ronan firing up the U.N. about youth issues.

That’s right kids – this guy’s fighting for you! All Together Now: “Let’s Go – Children! Let’s Go -Children!”

Good luck, Ronan!  (#unfocusedblogpost)