16 June 2007

Miriam Young. Jellybeans for Breakfast (1968)

Miriam Young. JELLYBEANS FOR BREAKFAST.Parents’ Magazine Press, New York [1968]

Current Selling Prices
$150-$300 /£80-£160

Probably more famous in the world of ebay book trading than 'The Da Vinci Code.' A copy revealed for a second at a library sale would probably cause a life threatening stampede. Miriam Young (1913- 1974) wrote other stuff but this is the one everybody wants. Not impossible to find for slightly less that $100 but most copies are poorish ex library reprints at that level, often with many faults. Hardly anyone mentions the plot but deep excavation found this summary in a blog and I can't quite remember where:
'It's the story of a couple of cute tykes who fantasize about all the fun stuff they'd do if they were free from their parents and their teachers and all the usual everyday constraints. They'd ride their bikes to the moon. They'd go barefoot all the time. They'd live in a treehouse in the woods. And they'd eat jellybeans for breakfast. '

Miriam Young hailed from San Francisco and her books were aimed at little girls. These girls (and a few males) have now grown up and want the book - the excellent ebay bookseller blog has identified these buyers as a niche market:
Fond memories are what drive this buyer. A man, now in his 50’s, is looking for a book from his youth. Maybe it made a big impact on him and influenced a career decision, or maybe it was an adventure story that captivated him. A woman in her 60’s is remembering cuddling up with a parent or grandparent reading a favorite book. She wants to share this experience and this particular book with a child in her life.
The nostalgia buyer is not concerned with finding a book in excellent condition, especially if the book is to share with a child. While doing research, I came across this question to a seller of a $150 eBay book auction:
“I had no idea this was a rare book. I read this book over & over when I was a child & only want it to read to my granddaughter. Is there an old beat-up copy that’s still readable available for an affordable price?”
Yes, even "old beat-up" copies sell. Sometimes the buyer is looking for a particular binding. In many cases this is an ex-library book. Here’s another quote I came across online:
“I’ve recently been reunited with my favorite childhood book . . . We never had a copy, but got it out of the library every week. When I grew up, no one could remember what the book was and it took a year to find the name, then another 10 years to track down a copy.”

Do you think money was a big issue for him after waiting ten years to find that special book?
Selling to this market can be very profitable. Many of these buyers are baby boomers or grandparents with high disposable incomes. Selling to this market can also be rewarding. It is not unusual to receive a grateful letter from someone who has been reunited with a fondly remembered book after a long search. Selling to this market is easy. He is not usually a serious collector and does not expect proper terminology and a certain level of expertise.
Knowing which books the nostalgia market is looking for is the problem. Research is the solution. You can do your own research in closed auctions on eBay, or you can buy research from others. Books sought by the nostalgia market tend to fall into two groups: picture books for the younger child and fiction (chapter books) for the young adult. Three examples of books sought by this market - •Lazy Liza Lizard by Marie Curtis Rains • Bulldozer by Stephen Meader • Jellybeans for Breakfast by Miriam Young.

Will probably do 'Bulldozer' tomorrow - it sounds like a boy's book; we have already done Lazy Liza Lizard. Our ebay book colleague above has identified a market that doesn't need bookseller's 'expertise' or their detailed descriptions and in fact would probably be put off by them. Forget octavos, foxing and endpapers with this crowd, 'retired from the library' and 'much cherished' are what works for them.

VALUE? I have seen people asking $500 for this book but so many copies have surfaced that is now a $100 book and twice that for a nice one. However, as noted above, it is not really a collector's book but a boomer nostalgia book. Because boomers must have eveything they want and, 'like, yesterday' it can sell on a Buy it Now at around $100 - often a reprint in regrettable condition ('with expected imperfections.'). One guy at ABE has a copy at $400+ but seems to think it was published in 1905. Outside of books I think the title "Jellybeans for Breakfast' means, or has come to mean, something - possibly mad, hyped up or delusional. Not sure. [ W/Q **** ]

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