We're about to go all over the place in the old and retired style of the Movie Profiles & Premiums newsletter with a lot of e-commerce stuff and a treat towards the end for classic movie fans.
Site Odds and Ends
First up, I've created yet another site targeted to the classic movie fan. FindOldMovies.com is a simple site that fills a need, at least one I had, so maybe one you had too. FindOldMovies.com is very similar to my ClassicMovieSearch.com site, except that it is a customized Google Search Engine including only sites that sell Classic Movies on DVD and DVD-R.
Everything from the microseller of otherwise impossible to find DVD-R titles up through sites like Sinister Cinema and Grapevine Video, all the way to more general outlets such as the Warner Archives and Amazon.com are included. It's really raw at the moment, but the Search Engine is up, so just enter that title you've been looking for or your favorite actor and see what shows up. ClassicMovieSearch.com is for finding articles about classic movies while FindOldMovies.com is for finding the movies themselves.
New on this site, Immortal Ephemera, is a page I created specifically to highlight all of the articles posted about movie books. It includes links to all of my book reviews, interviews with film book authors, and even articles that aren't focused reviews but make prominent mention of specific books alongside the main subject. The Movie Books page is on the main menu of the site, but kind of hidden, only dropping down if you hover over the Movie Reviews link.
The title says a Hundred Hubs, but actually I've only reached 96 as of this writing. I have created ten new hubs since I last mentioned them to you and those are listed immediately below:
What's the Right Price?
I recently had an item pass on eBay that really got me thinking about price. Price isn't what I want, price is what you'll pay. When I'm dealing with movie cards and collectibles, as I do in over 90% of my online transactions, I completely grasp that preceding sentence. Harry Rinker has recently posted several articles on Worthpoint relating to pricing in the Antiques and Collectibles field.
I replied that I use a mix of those parameters to establish my price.I've got it pretty easy actually. I know I can get $3-$5 for any movie star card or small collectible. It might take a long while, but I know, eventually, that a fan of Sally Eilers, or whomever, will come along and happily pay me $4 each for every item I have featuring her. I also know that $4 pretty much always exceeds any perceived value of most Sally Eilers' cards, but that with the fees and time it takes for me to list each individual item online it's not an unfair price to expect an Eilers' fan to pay and as soon as they find me they'll pay it.
My bargain items are typically in the $8-$15 range. These are items that are usually worth about--$8-$15. The seller hits a wall here though. While multiple people are willing to pay $4-$5 every day for something worth about a buck at most, you're going to be waiting a long time to get someone to go $25 for an item perceived to be worth $15. The trick in pricing those $8-$15 cards and collectibles is to know how much demand each star has so you're not sitting with a ton of unsold goods but at the same time so you're not totally cleaned out of all the good stuff and left with the junk (cherry-picked). I keep my head above water by sliding that scale.
Recently I found a box of CDs. My personal belongings. I'd gone fully digital with my music for several years now and thought I'd already sold off all of my CDs, but apparently I saved what looks like my good stuff. The past few weeks I've been creating lots of 7-10 CDs, grouped by band, and pretty much just blowing them out at eBay auctions starting at $9.99 with free shipping.
First observation about selling groups of used CDs vs selling vintage collectibles: whoa, different ballgame!
While the life has been sucked from eBay auctions (I believe this is actually our fault more than theirs, but that's another article!) it was interesting to see that the party's been snuffed out in different ways for different stuff. An eBay seller can track both the views and the watchers on individual items. No, I can't see who you are, it's totally anonymous, but if you click to Watch an item it registers as part of a count that I can see on the backend.
All it takes for a vintage item to get caught up in a bidding frenzy is two interested parties. A bid and a single watcher could bring a haul (not that it does so much anymore). I recently listed a vintage photo of an old time wrestler at a $9.99 minimum and was reasonably sure it'd go for more than the minimum after just a couple of days when it had a scant 10 views but a healthy 6 watchers! I don't think I'd ever actually seen such a high percentage before. Typically when when of my vintage movie items is going to get bid up it has 2, maybe 3 watchers. That's all it takes. (The photo went for about $35).
But these CD lots, wow, 15, 16, 18, 22 watchers! I never see those numbers on vintage items. I wouldn't want them actually, they'd probably scare me, alert me to the fact that I missed something and bring on that fear that I'm about to give away the Holy Grail! Used CDs, eh, I didn't care, I just wanted to flip them for some cash. My $9.99 lots went for between $20-$32, about $2-$3 per CD on average. Not the King's ransom that the watch count had led me to believe.
While I was listing the CDs I came across one that struck me as rare. This was a rare live disc by a group called Samson. I was going to include it with one of my lots, but figured I'd check Amazon and eBay to see if it was worth anything first, and sure enough prices indicated that it was. Amazon prices began at $49 and change, while eBay had just four of this particular disc with prices starting at $27.99 Buy it Now. I listed mine at auction starting at $9.99 with free shipping. Guess what. It passed.
So this CD, "worth" anywhere from $28-$49 and up couldn't entice a single buyer at $10 postpaid.
What's it worth then?
Apparently mine's not even worth $10.
I'm going to try it again this week, if anyone asks I'll reply in the comments and let you know how it went in seven days or so.
Speaking of eBay and E-Commerce
My good friend Hillary DePiano of The Whine Seller e-commerce blog has just published an eBook for us. Hillary writes, "The problem with most of the advice out there is that it assumes you're looking to become the next great retail force," and then she goes on to name the strengths and weaknesses of several selling platforms and sites which can bring success to sellers of unique antique and vintage collectible items. Hillary was kind enough to use the Immortal Ephemera Store as an example in her section about the Ecwid ecommerce solution so I wanted to thank her again as well as link to both her Whine Seller post about the book and the eBook itself, Beyond Amazon, eBay and Etsy: free and low cost alternative marketplaces, shopping cart solutions and e-commerce storefronts, available for just 99 cents on your Kindle!
Classic Movie Fan Bonus
I wanted to plant a little reward at the end if you're a classic movie fan who doesn't really care about ecommerce yet has suffered through the last two sections. Thank you! This video was spotted courtesy of yet another Twitter friend, @missidalupino, and is really worth the half hour of your time if you're a Golden Age Warner Brothers' fan.
While the introduction is a bit much the interview with Daniel Bubbeo, author of The Women of Warner Brothers: The Lives and Careers of 15 Leading Ladies with Filmographies for Each really provides a nice capsule of the book. I had to laugh when Bubbeo does his best to talk up Kay Francis, but the host, who pretty obviously just heard of Kay when Bubbeo mentioned her, moves the conversation to Bette Davis instead.
I have a copy myself, and while I enjoyed the content I do wish that for $39.95 McFarland could have used a little better glue in the binding--all of the pages of my copy have come loose and it's pretty much a mess to page through now. I don't know if I just got the lucky copy or what, anyone else have this title, and if so, is yours holding together?
Update, February 2014: I guess I did have that lucky copy. The author of The Women of Warner Brothers, Daniel Bubbeo, spotted this post, reached out and very kindly sent me a brand new (and inscribed) copy of his book. Thank you again, Daniel!
Just in case you missed it, once again, here's the gigantic 285 image 1951 Artista Del Cinema Photo ID Guide.
And the final 13 cards have now been listed at auction on eBay, ending next Tuesday night, July 12. If you managed to read between the lines in my pricing section you should know why I've selected just these 13 of the 285 items to list individually at auction. The names: Gene Kelly, George Sanders, Deanna Durbin, Orson Welles, Frank Sinatra, Carmen Miranda, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney, Jr., Judy Garland, Lou Costello*, Dale Evans*, Lucille Ball, and John Wayne.
*What a strange set: It boasts a Lou Costello and a Dale Evans, but does not include Bud Abbott or Roy Rogers!
If this were eBay:2006 I'd expect to move 10 or more of these next Tuesday. Five years later I'm crossing my fingers, shrugging my shoulders and wondering how it's going to go!