Rare Book Monthly

Articles - June - 2010 Issue

Sniping at eBay

Jbidwatcher

The home screen for JBidwatcher.


By Tom McKinney


This month in Young Blood, I actually did not make any purchases. I did attempt bidding on eBay twice, but have failed to win a lot yet. I've been checking my MatchMaker results on a daily basis, and keeping notes of what I'm interested in, but I've been busy!

So, I thought I'd try bidding on eBay this month rather than using Abe, or "Buy It Now" off eBay where available. MatchMaker found me an English/Dakota Indian Dictionary from 1917, and that was my first bid. It had a starting price of $29.95, and when I found it, it'd been bid on once up to $30. I noted the auction end date of the 23rd and planned to return then to bid.

In the meantime, I've been downloading and trying out various eBay tools to see what I like, what I find useful, what works, what doesn't. I am a Mac user, so the way I started out was searching Google for, "eBay tools Mac." I know based on conversations with my dad, that serious eBay collectors use programs to enter a bid automatically, and at the very last possible second of the auction (called sniping). So, that was the first thing on my agenda. I found a couple options for eBay sniping for Mac users. First, the free solution, is called JBidwatcher. It is still in active development but the most up-to-date release was stable for me.

The other solution I tried out is called Auction Hunter. It's obviously an app for buyers, and it allows you to monitor auctions you're interested in for bidding purposes, or you can use it to just observe and store data for future reference. I downloaded it because it has a built-in snipe feature. The software carries a price tag of $29.95, but it is shareware, so I actually still have not paid for the software, and am in the middle of the 30 day free trial.

These two eBay auction helper programs offer very similar functionality. I was personally just looking for a sniping program, and both can do that fine. Both allow you to track auctions, although Auction Hunter offers a few more bells and whistles to potentially better organize them. I would say that Auction Hunter gets the nod for ease of use, mostly because JBidwatcher, upon first launching, prompts the user with a large amount of settings (the majority of which I ignored, with no problems). And depending on how much bidding on eBay you plan on doing, the $30 for Auction Hunter could likely pay itself off fast. Amusingly, I used each application to attempt sniping on a single item a piece, and in both cases, another buyer came in and sniped even more effectively than me. I learned then that sniping is not a done deal. And I also went back to my sniping apps to look at my settings. Auction Hunter has a time setting whenever you choose to snipe, and I had set mine initially at 30 seconds, which appeared to be too long. Changing JBidwatcher's sniping settings requires going to Preferences in the File menu, and then choosing Sniping there. My next sniping tests will be of 10 seconds, and then probably 5. I can already see a problem arising, as my Internet connection hiccups at times, and an untimely win during the end of an auction could be costly.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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