Friday, October 27, 2006

Oh, my God! I'm DONE!

Well, mostly.

I just finished getting the last of the non-English cards up into the Store. I now have lots of Italian, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese and Korean cards up for sale. The last ones up were Italian Legends cards from "Lot 4" - one surprise was that Moat is worth in the $60 range. Who knew?

Anyway, I am ecstatically happy to have all that work finished! All that's left to do is deal with Josh's Dungeons & Dragons books, and decide what exactly I'm going to do with the black bordered Chinese 4th Edition cards I bought that arrived yesterday.

I opened up 21 of the 36 packs, and have some good cards in there. A couple of Serra Angels, a Birds of Paradise, a Sengir Vampire, a few other highly-sought-after cards. I also took 15 packs, set them aside unopened, and put them up in the Store asking $15 apiece for them. I have no idea if I'll get it or not, but I'd rather start high.

I'll put one of those packs up for auction, starting at $0.99, on Sunday and see what happens. Once I have a better feel for the Foreign Black Border (FBB) market, I'll know what to do with the cards I opened up.

Well, it's time to head off for a well-deserved break from Store business. The Boys and I made an apple pie, and it's baking as I write this. pie......

Monday, October 23, 2006

Arabian Nights - Old Man of the Sea

All of Alan's complete sets have now sold, leaving only the individual Arabian Nights cards that haven't yet sold (about 30 of them still to go).

So, last week I decided to start listing the Arabian Nights cards one at a time at auction. This would serve two purposes. First, to finally sell these cards. Second, as previously mentioned, I really believe that sales pick up if I have something flashy up for auction, so I think that having some Arabian Nights cards out there will draw in traffic - and maybe even sell some of the remaining of Alan's cards at full Store price!

Last week I listed the Bazaar of Baghdad, a rather popular Land card from that set. I had listed it in the Store at $225, which is a bit on the high side for that card, but it was in really great shape. The final bidding price was $174.50 - about 20% lower than the Store price had been, but at least a decent price for a single card.

This week I have listed the Old Man of the Sea. Originally in the Store for $55, we'll see what it ends up at by the end of the auction - I started the bidding yesterday at $0.99 and it has one bidder and three watchers so far. This is kind of a cool card - you can use this Creature to take control of a Creature from another player. This card has never been reprinted again since the Arabian Nights set came out.

If you remember your history lesson from yesterday's post, you know that the Arabian Nights set was only printed in English. It was also the very first expansion set to Magic: the Gathering, and so had the smallest print run. That makes all the cards from that set rather rare in the world. PLUS, since they came out so long ago, and in such a time before Magic became such a world-wide phenomenon, many of the original cards got pretty beat up, leaving very few cards in Mint or Near Mint condition. That's what makes Alan's collection so remarkable - his cards were kept in REALLY great shape!

On another note - I decided to try for that unopened box of Chinese Fourth Edition booster packs. I was willing to go as high as $135 for the box (plus the $9.50 for shipping). I was outbid, and wasn't too stressed about it. Later, though, the seller made me a "Second Chance Offer", since he apparently had more than one of these boxes available. This allowed me to buy one at my maximum bid price if I wanted. Heck, yeah! So, winging its way to me tomorrow by UPS should be a nifty box of valuable cards. And I know they'll be in Unplayed, Mint condition because the packs haven't even been opened yet! Only one person on eBay seems to be selling these packs, and they're asking $22.00 for one booster pack. I just bought 36 of them in the box for substantially less per pack! I think I'll try auctioning off at least one unopened pack and see what I get. If I even get $5 per pack I'd turn a profit! And the earnings could be even more if I open some packs up and sell the cards individually. Sounds like fun!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The French Renaissance

Okay - a rather odd post title, I admit...until you read what I have to say.

Today I finished getting the last of my French Magic: the Gathering cards up. The majority of them come from a Magic expansion called Renaissance.

In order to fully explain this I need to give you a little background info. If you're a Magic person already, you can probably skip these next couple of paragraphs.

When Magic: the Gathering started, it was only printed in English. The first versions of the game, now known collectively as the Limited Edition and separately as Alpha and Beta were published with black borders around the edges of the cards. When these cards were reprinted under the name Unlimited Edition, the borders were changed to white. Precedent was then established that the first time any card was published, it would be with a black border. This precedent was then extended to the first time any card was published in any given language, it would be printed with a black border. So, for example, when the next edition, Revised Edition, was released in English and also, for the first time, in Italian, German and French, the English cards were printed with white borders (because they had been previously printed in English). But the Italian, German and French versions were printed with black borders. In many cases now, these other language versions of these cards sell for more than their English counterparts because of the black borders. Normally, if all else is equal, non-English cards sell for less, it has been my experience.

As a side note, Revised Edition also "cycled in" some cards from the expansion sets Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends. Since these cards had previously been published in English under these sets with black borders, they still fit the precedent to have white borders in Revised.

Okay, now here's where it starts to get a little funky. When it was decided to move on to the Fourth Edition of Magic, Wizards of the Coast wanted to "cycle in" some different cards from Arabian Nights, Antiquities, Legends as well as The Dark and also planned to return some cards that were taken out of the set for Revised (notably Ironclaw Orcs and Twiddle). The problem was that these sets were not published in any non-English language (except for Legends and The Dark which were published in Italian). As a result, cards that were going to be "cycled in" to Fourth Edition had never been published in German, French or (for the Unlimited, Arabian Nights, and Antiquities cards) Italian with black borders. So, to meet policy, they couldn't be printed with white borders along with all the rest of the Fourth Edition cards until they were first printed in those languages with black borders.

Enter Renaissance. Released only in German and French (and in a scaled down version, Italian), this expansion set printed the cards that they wanted to "cycle in" to Fourth Edition with a black border. These cards also bear whatever the appropriate expansion symbol for these cards from their original appearance (a scimitar for Arabian Nights, an anvil for Antiquities, a column for Legends, or a crescent moon for The Dark). So it might seem just by looking at the cards, that they came from those original sets, only in German, French or Italian.

As far as I can tell, I am the only person on eBay with any Renaissance cards up for sale. That makes it extremely difficult for me to price the blasted things! Is a black-bordered with expansion symbol Bird Maiden in French worth as much as one in English from the original Arabian Nights? Almost certainly not. But is it worth more that a white-bordered one in English from Fourth Edition? Almost certainly so.

Another problem - how to market these? Technically they are Renaissance cards. But most people don't know about that expansion! The closest English equivalent is Chronicles - a set published as a companion to Fourth Edition, printed in English and then Chinese of all things a year later, that reprinted many cards from the earlier expansions with expansion symbols but with white borders. It would be dishonest to imply that a card from Renaissance was actually from Arabian Nights, say - even though that's what it looks like.

Another issue is that I have been unable to find, anywhere, even at Wizards of the Coast's official Magic: the Gathering web site, a rarity listing for this set (that is, which cards were "common" and "uncommon" or even "rare") which is information I usually include in my listings. I finally settled on using the rarity from Fourth Edition, since that I could determine.

All in all, it's very perplexing. I settled on including the words "French", "Chronicles" and "Renaissance" in my item titles. If I'd had more room I would have included "Arabian Nights", "Antiquities", "Legends" or "The Dark" for whichever set the card originally appeared in.

By the way, for the sake of historical completeness, Fourth Edition was also the first one to be printed in Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. These, of course, had black borders, since they were being printed for the first time in those languages. I am eyeing right now an auction for an unopened, factory sealed, box of Chinese Fourth Edition booster packs. That's 36 packs (each containing 15 cards) of cards with black borders that sell for more than their white bordered English equivalents (double or better in many cases!). If it sells for a reasonable price, it could turn a healthy profit. I may well try to buy it.

Yeah, yeah - I know, I know - I swore I wasn't buying any more. So much for that!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Josh's cards are up!!!

Okay, the final cards from my friend Josh's collection are now in the Store. All I have left to get up are several non-English cards (first up - French!). I rediscovered several non-English cards from Alan's collection, so I guess my claim of "Lot 4" being finished was premature :-(

Several good sales lately, including a few of Alan's "commission" items. I'll be pleased when the last of them sells, and I can get Alan the rest of his money!

Toward that end, I put up one of them, the Bazaar of Baghdad from Arabian Nights up for auction this week. This card was in the Store for over $200, and I'll be very happy if it gets bid up that high. It's up to $132.50 as of this writing, which makes me happy!

On a completely unrelated note: the Nucleic Acid methods first exam which I was sure I bombed wasn't as bad as I feared - I actually got an 87/100 - amazing! The class average was 67%, with a high of 91, so I didn't do too shabbily at all!

Well, it's off to bed, now - far too many late nights these last few days, and I have Cell Culture lab in the morning. Ugh!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Lot 3 is finally done!


Lot 3 is completely finished and up in the Store. Thank goodness! Now I only have Josh's cards to finish and a whole bunch of non-English cards, and I'm done!

In other news, the third (and final) Collector's Edition went up for auction this past week, and ended up selling for $576. Less than I'd like, but it's gone - and went for a good deal more than someone else's which sold a few hours before mine (for somewhere between $300 and $400). The other person limited themselves to US only, so I got the international market (it was won by a gent from the UK - hiya, Paul!)

I have decided that the number of sales from the Store does in fact increase when I have something tempting up for auction, so I think I will keep auctioning off big ticket items one at a time to draw business in. This past weekend sales were brisk, while last weekend (when I didn't have one up) I actually had a 24-hour period with no sales whatsoever!

Another update: my Philippine scam artist tried to feed be some bull$#it story. Here's his quote: "Hey there. Sorry for me not being able to complete our transaction. I'm unable to transact using paypal because I have been suspended for no apparent reason! I called paypal and told them about thisand they told me I have reached $5,000 worth of orders. The thing is, the only purchases i have madeusing this shitty system are the card that i have ordered from you and Nike 2nd hand shoes. Damn thispaypal. And all the while they're claiming that this damn system is 100% safe!" Never mind the fact that another seller had the same problem with him for two other cards. Never mind the fact that he (under another eBay ID) tried to scam me out of another card.

Anyway, I got my Final Value Fee back for the Alpha Mox Pearl, and tomorrow I should be able to get the one back for the Library of Alexandria (I could get the Mox back earlier because he responded to that Dispute, but he never responded to the one I opened for the Library, so I have to wait until the 8th day after it was opened).

Well, that's the latest and greatest. Tomorrow hopefully I'll be able to photograph the cards from Josh's collection that still need it, and then by this time next week I'll have them up in the Store as well.

Final Note: My Biotech courses go all right. Instrumentation is so far VERY easy (I've done all this stuff in my undergraduate job and even taught some of it myself), Nucleic Acid Methods is easy lab (again, all done before) but tough lecture (LOTS of memorizing - I HATE memorizing). I got 29/30 on our first quiz, but the first Exam (1 week later, without getting the quiz back first) kicked my ass. Cell Culture is interesting (lecture is VERY cool) but the lab is tedious. I've already decided that a future in Cell Culture is NOT for me. Actually, I'm nowadays thinking that a job doing instrumentation, or better yet, scientific Technical Writing would be great for me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Lot 4 is finished!!!!!

Today I finally (FINALLY!) got the last of the Lot 4 cards up into the Store. I am so incredibly excited! Can you tell? Of course you can.

Of course I still have some cards from Lot 3 and some from my friend Josh to get up, but I'm not letting that get me down right now. The fact remains that all of Alan's cards are finally, finally (and, did I mention, FINALLY) up. Woo-hoo!

Two other bizarre points to share:
  1. for a brief period of time today I actually had $0.00 in sales for the past 24 hours. VERY depressing. Friday nights and Saturday days are usually my best sales times. I don't know what's gone wrong!
  2. I believe I may have a copy-cat (or it's one of those cases of synergy that happen in life and it's just one big coincidence). There's another Store on eBay now which seems to have been opened back at the end of August (at the earliest) called "Mary's Magic and Miscellany." Seems VERY similar to my Store's name, don't you think? I will have to admit, though - hers had great alliteration.

Anywho, time to get back to my Happy Dance.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Very odd experience - eBay = Big Brother?

Okay, so I'm prepping the last batch of cards from Lot 3 that I wanted to get up tonight, some cards from the Eighth (8th) Edition. I had the one uncommon card (Hibernation) and several Rare cards typed up, in the upload queue in Turbolister (which, by the way, I HIGHLY recommend for anyone who sells a lot on eBay, Store or no Store).

When I clicked on "Upload All", they all went up fine, except for Hibernation. When I clicked on the alert icon for this item, it said that it appeared I was offering a method of payment not acceptable to eBay.


I didn't change the payment options on this file at all! It was identical to the others. This made no sense. I tried clicking a few things off then back on to see if that fixed it. Nope. I deleted that file and made a new one for Hibernation. Still no luck. Finally I tried to list the thing directly at the eBay web site, instead of through Turbolister. When I got to the final page, I got the same message.

Okay - think, Don. Where are the two places that payment options are listed? In the Payment Options section (which was the same for all of these items tonight) or in the Item Description. What was different in the Description? The first two paragraphs - where I list the card's name (with my sometimes snarky adjective) in the first paragraph and the card's text in the second.

Okay, so one of those two paragraphs is probably causing the issue. I delete the second paragraph. Same message.

I return the second paragraph and delete the first. Message goes away.

OKAY - this means that the snarky adjective must be the culprit (since the card's title shows up in the second paragraph as well - plus I have a version of Hibernation from Urza's Saga already up with no problem).

The adjective? "Green-zapping". I now know (thanks to Google) that GreenZap is another web-based money-transfer something-or-other. In other words, competition of PayPal. Since PayPal is an eBay company - well, of course they don't want you using GreenZap! And my snarky adjective was just close enough that their alarms went off.

I'm not sure what bothers me the most about this - that it took me so blasted long to figure out and fix the problem (the listing now says "Green-hosing" instead), or that eBay is so Big Brotherish that they actually can analyze the text of my item description and find objectionable material that quickly. Rather frightening, really!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Son of a &^$%#

It's been a pretty crappy day, all told.

Okay, I already documented my problems with the audiobooks this morning. Here's what else has gone wrong:
  1. The "cursed" Collector's Edition only went for $588, significantly less than either of the two times when the winning bidder failed to pay. At least this time the buyer has actually paid for the item.
  2. Only 24 of the 51 audiobooks up for auction sold, for less than $30 total by the time fees are taken out. Not such a great week there. And I still have to go through and edit the remaining 27 audiobooks to add the number of cassettes and run times.
  3. The absolute worst, though needs a few paragraphs for itself:

I'm the victim of an apparent scam artist in the Philippines. I got really excited when a buyer purchased the Alpha Mox Pearl for $550, and even more excited when they immediately paid with PayPal - with $50 for shipping for some reason. WOW! I left positive feedback, printed my packing slip...then another order from the Philippines - this time for the Library of Alexandria (one of the commission items for Alan) for $250. I sent an invoice, saying that there would be no additional shipping, as I could include the two cards together. Only later, after there was no forthcoming payment, did it occur to me that maybe the two Philippine purchases weren't actually the same buyer! D'oh! I checked, and sure enough, it was a new user, with 0 feedback. Now I started to get nervous. Large purchases from new users smell fishy.

Later my fears were shown to be founded. PayPal emails me saying that the $600 was apparently fraudulent. It was taken back from my account. Then I double checked and discovered that although the two items were purchased by different user names, they both showed the same shipping address.

I then noticed the "first" buyer (the one who "paid" $600) had other feedback as well. It looks like s/he "bought" two high-priced cards from another seller. I quickly emailed that seller to let him know what had happened to me, in case PayPal somehow missed his payment. Hopefully he hasn't already sent the cards.

Which brings up a point that scares me - if this hadn't happened on a Sunday, there's a very real possibility that I would have packaged up and mailed off that $550 card before PayPal got back to me about the fraudulent funds. And I would have been out a lot of money! Oh, so sorry!

And there doesn't seem to be a way to get my Final Value Fee back on these items until the requisite amount of time has passed for them to be listed as unpaid. Hopefully since PayPal is an eBay company, the two talk with each other and this user will get their accounts shut down and that will expedite matters.


I'm off to get the Boys to bed, then return to my dungeon to edit 27 audiobook listings and package up a dozen or so shipments to take to the post office tomorrow.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day?!

Audiobook problems

Well, today I received an email from a potential customer commenting that with all of the audiobooks I have for sale, I should really have the number of cassettes (or CDs presumably) listed in the description. This was actually the second person in a month to say this - and as a result of the first one, I have added that information, as well as the approximate run time, to any additional audiobooks my Dad's sent along to be listed.

The problem is that as a non-audiobook listener, I just didn't really know what all information would be useful. I included title, author, reader, and whether or not it was abridged. It never occurred to me to add number of cassettes/CDs and run time.

Well, anyway, since this was the second person to actually say anything, chances are good there are a larger number of people who have been irked by the lack of this info and have NOT commented, and in fact maybe not even bought because of it.

SO, this morning I have been going through all 81 listings, adding that information. And in so doing, I came across some problems:
  1. There were actually 12 audiobooks I thought were up in the Store, but weren't. I did a little digging (not too difficult with the meticulous notes I'm keeping on audiobooks to make sure I get the right amount of money to my Dad) and discovered that these were put up for auction one week, didn't sell, and I forgot to relist them in the Store. This happened back at the end of May. So for 4 months now no-one could have bought them even if they wanted to! Anyway, they are up now. One of them I discovered had the wrong title/author/reader info even, so even if it had been up, it wouldn't have been correct!
  2. Many of the listings hadn't yet been edited to include international shipping options, so I was able to fix that at the same time.
  3. I couldn't edit any item up for auction which has a bid on it. I knew I wouldn't be able to change the description, but I thought I'd be able to add to it. No dice. So, those 14 items (out of the 51 I have up for auction this week) remain unchanged - but, hey, they're selling - so maybe it's not that big a problem there.
  4. Any of the ones up for auction that DON'T sell will have to be edited AGAIN when I relist them in the Store. Massive pain in the buttocks.

I have developed a new policy on audiobooks in the Store due to the increased Store Listing Fees at eBay. My new policy with the audiobooks is simple - any listing that would end during the week and automatically relist gets put up for auction instead. All auctions now start at $0.99. My Dad told me when I started this that he'd be happy if he got $5 apiece for these. I've sold so many now at well above that price that I think he (and I) can afford to let a few go for less. Besides, just because the bidding starts at $0.99 doesn't mean that it won't go up from there!

Anywho, I now have to go make flashcards to memorize the structures of adenine and his siblings so I can memorize them in time for my Nucleic Acid Methods test Tuesday night. Ugh!