"I'm sure you realize I did not know,
had never even heard of, such
within the human heart, or mind, or history."
Ich bin sicher, Sie verwirklichen, daß ich nicht wußte, nie sogar, solche Angelegenheiten innerhalb des menschlichen Herzens oder Verstand oder Geschichte gehört hatte.
Je suis sûr vous réalisez que je n'ai pas su, avais jamais même entendu parler, de tels sujets dans le coeur humain, ou esprit, ou histoire.
Soy seguro usted realiza que no sabía, nunca incluso que había oído hablar, tales materias dentro del corazón humano, o mente, o historia.
Sono sicuro realizzate che non ho saputo, mai neppure avevo sentito parlare, tali argomenti all'interno del cuore umano, o mente, o storia.
Philip K. Dick, 2/16/75
EBAY AUCTIONS OF 2 autographed BOOKS BY PHILIP K. DICK: a comparison of bidding patterns and final price data (ph1l1pkd1ck4sale)
dr. claudia krenz (nov 04)
People tell me they want "dear claudia" letters for their collections, that they will buy what they can afford, that they have no idea what the letters are worth in money, and that I should let the "market" determine the "price." One such person sent me data from a November ebay auction of a "signed" copy of UBIK, which, he said, indicated I had been "lucky" when I had, in October, sold my "autographed" copy of MTS. While I do not know whether autographed book price data are pertinent to letting markets define the *real* price for "autographed letters," I present data from both auctions below.
Appendix A lists the ebay URLs and raw bidding data for the two auctions, the first for my autographed copy of MTS 1 and the second for the signed copy of UBIK. 2 I use A, B, and C to indicate the 3 people bidding on MTS--and a Q (?) to indicate those bidding on UBIK (since it was a private auction, bidders were not identified and so the number of different individuals bidding is unknown: they could have been the same as those who bid on MTS--or not). Discounting automatic bidders, which ebay does not publicly record, the maximum sample size or number of bidders was 3 for the MTS and 18 for the UBIK auction.
As shown in Table 1 below, both were 7-day auctions: The MTS auction began on Sep-27-04 (00:00:00 PDT) and the UBIK auction on Nov-10-04 (16:56:01 PST); the MTS auction ended Oct-04-04 (00:00:00 PDT) and the the UBIK auction, Nov-17-04 (16:56:01 PST), indicating ebay did not close either early because of sniping fears. The MTS auction was in the pound--because ebay.com was down but ebay.uk was up at the time of posting--and the UBIK auction in the dollar. The MTS auction had 14 bids and the UBIK auction, 18. I organize the bidding data in the table below by time, with a horizontal line indicating the different days on which bidding occurred.
The 1st bid on MTS occurred on its first day and the 1st on UBIK, on its second. The modal bidding time on MTS was during its last hour--12 of 14 bids--and on UBIK, 8am--7 of 18 bids; the modal day for bidding on MTS was its last day and on UBIK, its second day. The distribution of bidding on the MTS auction is highly skewed and, on the UBIK auction, nearly uniform. In summary, on the MTS auction, most bidding occurred on the last day of the auction, mostly during the last hour. On the UBIK auction, however, only a rough quarter of the bidding occurred on the last day, and no one bid during the last hour.
The difference in the final bids for the two auctions was about $550 (obviously, 360 GBP is worth fewer dollars today than it was in October).
Differences in bidding patterns and quantitative outcomes between the two auctions are striking: they could be within the normal range of variation for such data. particularly given the small sample sizes. Bidding patterns in the MTS auction are consistent with the common lore about sites like ebay (interested bidders wait until the last minute). The final hour of the UBIK auction, in which no one bid, obviously doesn't fit this pattern.
The price difference is unlikely due to the falling dollar since the two occurred within a month of each other, with nothing calamitous like a stock market crash between them. There was, however, the U.S. presidential election: that this was relevant is doubtful since any resulting concerns about increased deficit spending and trade imbalances would--this is a s.w.a.g.--translate into those with money looking for non-currency investments (which would suggest a higher final cost for UBIK--the opposite of what occurred). Similarly, the condition of the autographed books does not explain the price difference, because the copy of UBIK was in better condition than the copy of MTS. Another possible explanation for the price difference is marketing: the only pictures on the MTS auction were about the object being sold whereas, on the UBIK auction, they focused more on the business selling the object (or it may be that "autographed" is a catchier word than "signed").
A more parsimonious explanation of the difference in auction outcomes is that the copy of MTS was both autographed and, unlike the UBIK copy, inscribed. If so the distinction may be simply quantitative, 15 more words in his hand. Or it may be qualitative. I can't remember if doing so was his idea or mine ... but I bought the book used--his first language editions had lapsed out-of-print--mailed it to him, and he mailed it back with an ironic reference to the letters he was writing me while I was writing a U.S. academic thesis about him at a time, 1975, when only the French accorded him critical respect. However, given the small auction sample sizes, any interpretation should be proffered cautiously, and we must conclude that more data are needed ... a yet more parsiminous interpretation has been sugged by others with greater expertise than I: that the UBIK Philip K. Dick signature was a fake, not by his hand.
Table 1. Two recent ebay auctions of autographed Philip K. Dick books
Appendix A: Raw data as organized by ebay (by bid amount)
1 Philip K. Dick autographed copy of Martian Time Slip (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=6121453987). Public auction data:
C GBP 360.00 Oct-03-04 23:59:55 PDT C GBP 360.00 Oct-03-04 23:59:17 PDT C GBP 360.00 Oct-03-04 23:58:10 PDT C GBP 360.00 Oct-03-04 23:56:47 PDT A GBP 350.00 Oct-03-04 10:56:02 PDT C GBP 303.33 Oct-03-04 23:56:14 PDT C GBP 244.44 Oct-03-04 23:55:34 PDT C GBP 202.22 Oct-03-04 23:54:40 PDT A GBP 200.05 Sep-28-04 17:42:18 PDT B GBP 161.00 Oct-03-04 17:24:39 PDT B GBP 151.00 Oct-03-04 17:24:30 PDT B GBP 121.00 Oct-03-04 17:24:16 PDT B GBP 101.00 Oct-03-04 17:24:00 PDT A GBP 90.00 Sep-27-04 10:58:04 PDT
2 UBIK by Philip K. Dick SIGNED 1st FIRST EDITION (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=6935650607). Private auction data:
? US $113.50 Nov-17-04 15:46:03 PST ? US $111.00 Nov-17-04 13:31:00 PST ? US $96.00 Nov-17-04 12:18:47 PST ? US $88.00 Nov-17-04 10:31:30 PST ? US $85.00 Nov-17-04 12:18:36 PST ? US $70.00 Nov-16-04 05:18:02 PST ? US $65.00 Nov-16-04 03:15:14 PST ? US $65.00 Nov-16-04 04:15:49 PST ? US $60.00 Nov-15-04 10:52:50 PST ? US $57.00 Nov-15-04 22:19:14 PST ? US $55.00 Nov-15-04 08:31:54 PST ? US $50.00 Nov-11-04 08:00:11 PST ? US $48.00 Nov-15-04 08:31:44 PST ? US $42.96 Nov-11-04 08:13:12 PST ? US $33.99 Nov-11-04 08:13:04 PST ? US $25.98 Nov-11-04 08:12:38 PST ? US $22.99 Nov-11-04 08:12:29 PST ? US $12.00 Nov-11-04 05:58:04 PST