Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2006 Issue

Creating an Ignore List of eBay Sellers

Meaningless words make matches but waste time and lose friends.


By Bruce McKinney

Over the past year I've seen a proliferation of bogus descriptions in the eBay listings. Anyone who searches eBay for books and ephemera sees them. Some are very overblown and tend to include something close to an encyclopedia of names, terms and phrases at the end of the real description. All this crap is included simply to create matches with the random terms that people use when searching. Those searching choose terms because they are meaningful. Wily sellers subvert the searcher's logic by cramming every conceivable term in at the end of the description and interested browsers then trip over these false matches. No one expects to find appropriate material every time. However, in time patterns emerge. Frequently it is the same seller who again and again dumps the contents of the unabridged dictionary onto the final listing pages.

To these folks I say "this is your right." Then again, I too have rights and I want to sweep all reference to such sellers off my pages. I'd like an option to block sellers whose material I won't consider if for no other reason than that the terms I'm searching are rarely material to the items such sellers offer. Just as at the top of the market there may be bidders who bid only at Sotheby's or Christies but not both, eBay bidders should have the right to exclude sellers who wear out their proverbial welcome. I say let the next generation of neophytes learn first hand of some of the problems of internet presentation. For me, I've learned and now I only seek protection.

I'm a regular eBay buyer and find the service useful. There is a constant flow of interesting material and once in a while a gem. Prices are generally low. If you are a buyer this is appealing. If you are a seller you want to leave no stone unturned to attract bidders. It's absolutely understandable. HOWEVER, where do you draw the line between complete description and abusive inclusion of extraneous material to attract additional bidders? As a potential bidder I should have some control over what I see. I want an option to exclude some sellers.

Listing sites such as Abe, Alibris, ILAB-ABAA and Choosebooks all developed as paid services for sellers and free services for buyers. eBay followed a similar path although their process is different. Selling on eBay is like taking a canoe over the Niagara Falls, listing on the listings sites like paddling across Lake Erie.

In eBay's case the seller pays both listing and, if the lots sell, success fees. The financial relationship is between eBay and seller. eBay provides separate services to buyers including PayPal accounts, insurance and dispute mediation. eBay in fact seems to be continually developing tools to further convert the "wild west" of the internet into an orderly Main Street.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Gonnelli:
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    Books, Autographs & Manuscripts
    March 6th-7th 2024
    Gonnelli: Cramer, [Picasso, Chagall , Miró], Trente ans d'activité. Starting price 4800€
    Gonnelli: Futurism
    Gonnelli: Avienus, Opera. 1488. Starting price 1200€
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    Gonnelli: Goedart, Metamorphosis et historia naturalis insectorum. 1662.
    Gonnelli: Il Petrarcha con la spositione di M. Giovanni Andrea Gesualdo.
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    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [ART BOOK MONOGRAPH] DAVID BURLIUK WITH ORIGINAL DRAWING and Signed twice. David Burliuk Rare ACA Gallery exhibition catalogue, undated. CA$400 – 800
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    Toronto Book Auctions
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    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: WILBUR SMITH: THE DARK OF THE SUN. Heinemann, UK, 1965. Signed First edition. CA$800 – 1,200
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    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [MILITARY FICTION]. 8 VOLUMES SOLD TOGETHER. INCLUDING: Canada's Royal Military College. REVIEW, THE STONE FRIGATE, A HISTORY OF THE RMC… CA$300 – 400
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: [WW1] CANADIAN (C.S.E.F.) SIBERIA 1918-1919 PHOTO ALBUM. With approximately 303 original official war photographs, photo-postcards, and personal photographs. CA$8,000 – 10,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: HANS BELLMER: THE DOLL. 1995, 1st Ed. CA$150 – 300.
    Toronto Book Auctions
    ART-PHOTO-SIGNED-BOOKS-MILITARY(NON)FICTION
    March 6, 2024
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: FAN HO; HONG KONG YESTERDAY. ModernBooks edition, 2006. First edition. 4to. CA$300 – 600.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: TARYN SIMON: AN AMERICAN INDEX OF THE HIDDEN AND UNFAMILIAR. Hatje Cantz, Germany, 2012. Third edition. CA$600 – 1,000.
    Toronto Book Auctions, Mar. 6: BARBARA KRUGER PICTURE/READINGS. [Self-Published], 1978 First edition. CA$800 – 1,200.
  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
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    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
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