Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection - Part 6

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

OK, we've been through the first four ways to sell your comic collection in Part 5 of "So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection" - got four more to go and then we'll wrap it up.

5. Selling Your Comic Collection At A Comics Convention
Or This Can Be Easy Or Hard - Your Choice

Pros: Easy if you have a small collection that you can take around to dealers.
Cons: Hard if you have a large collection - to the point that you rent a booth at the con and take offers.

The great thing about schlepping your books around a con is that you have multiple dealers to look over your books and provide you with competitive offers. We are talking about 3 to 4 small comic boxes at most and also assume that you have a cart or dolly to bring them around the convention floor. After you receive 10 to 12 offers, you know what your comics are worth to the comic book dealer community. Go back to one or two of the dealers and let them know that it is between them and a couple of other dealers. They may ask you to get their best offer and come back - that's fine but it is better if you can get their best offer. By all means though, deal honestly. Don't say that Dealer "B" has offered you $1000 for your collection when they haven't.

For small collections, this might be the best bang-for-your-buck-and-time scenario as all you are out is the admission fee to the con and a few laps around the dealer's room.

Larger collections are tougher to hoist around the dealer's room and you might have to make appointments for dealers to view your collection at your hotel room - PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS UNLESS YOU KNOW THE DEALER VERY WELL - THIS IS EXTREMELY UNSAFE.

The other way to sell your large collection is to rent a booth at one of the larger 3 or 4 day shows. Better have your calculator handy because if this isn't a local show, you are going to have travel expenses - i.e. gas, hotel, meals, etc. Regardless, you are going to have to pay booth rental and maybe someone a few bucks to help you load in your collection and set up PLUS you have to be there all three days to sell your books (remember, your time is hopefully worth something to you). You are also going to have to price the books and that takes a TON of time. At the end of the show, you will need to blow out the rest of the books that didn't sell (and the majority of them will not sell) to another dealer.

Bottom line on comic conventions is that they are great for selling small collections, not so great for selling large collections.

6. Selling Your Comic Book Collection To Another Collector
Or Very Hit Or Miss - Feast Or Famine...

Pros: Easily the best money you can make for the time spent
Cons: Very difficult to find a collector that will buy your whole collection

Selling your comic book collection to a comic book collector will make you the most money by far. Why? Simply because a collector is not buying comics for resale - they want them for their collections and they will pay a higher percentage of graded guide for your comics. If you are trying to find a "comic book collector", you obviously go where the comics are - i.e. comic book shops and comic conventions. If you have a very high-end collection with lots of key comics then you might want to check the ads section of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide as there are a number of high end collectors - not just dealers - that advertise there.

Trouble is, very few collectors want to buy a whole collection unless it is just a few books. You can forget selling a large collection to a comic book collector - almost never happens. Reason is that you might have a few books they want but you probably have a ton of books that they don't want. And the last thing you want is a collector cherry picking (i.e. picking out the good stuff) your collection and leaving you with next to unsellable merchandise.

Again, great for very small collections - impossible for large collections.

7. Selling Your Comic Book Collection At A Flea Market
Or The Most Exasperating Way To Sell Your Collection

Pros: Flea Market booth rental is usually very, very cheap.
Cons: Very few comic book buyers go to Flea Markets PLUS remember, your time has value.

*** Sigh *** I list this as a way to sell your comic book collection but it is probably the worst way to do it. Face it, most flea market attendees are looking for something other than comics. Fortunately, the booth rental fees are usually cheap so you are down to how much time you want to spend trying to sell a bunch o' stuff to a bunch of folks that don't want your stuff.

Now BUYING comics at a flea market can be great - you can usually talk the prices down to dirt cheap. Trouble is, there aren't many comics at flea markets.

8. Sell Your Comic Collection On Your Own Website
Or Now We Are Talking Major Time Expenditures

Pros: You have complete control on how your merchandise is presented and the prices you want to charge
Cons: So many that they can hardly be listed but the #1 "Con" is that you will invest huge, heaping vast amounts of your time to get it going AND maintaining the site.

Builidng a website just to sell comic books is great IF you are a comic dealer and can get an effective site done on the cheap. If you do not have website building skills you need to run in the other direction as fast as you can. This is not the place for you just selling one comic collection.

Alas, all is not lost. You might want to check out one of the online store builders like eCrater or eBay ProStores. eCrater is totally free and they host the photos so it is a great way to run your own e-commerce storefront. eBay ProStores does charge you something like 1% of the total amount of the transaction AND a monthly subscription fee depending on what store level you chose. These are just two options as there are several out there.

What you need to decide is a) how much time and money am I going to put into this thing and b) is my collection worth that time and money? At this point, who knows? You just might want to jump in with both feet and get all crazy with selling comic books as an avocation. If so, then welcome but PLEASE understand that selling comic books is an extremely detailed-oriented business. It takes years of experience to get where you can operate effectively - goodness knows I have made a ton of mistakes both in buying and selling comics. But you learn from your mistakes just like any other profession and you get better over time.

Summing It Up
You Have The Tools Now....

Hopefully, this series of blog articles will get better with time - the goal is to provide those who have comic book collections - and not a whole lot of comic book knowledge - with awareness on how to sell them. It can be a daunting task but hopefully these articles will make it a little easier.

If you read all six of the articles then you are aware of the following:

1. The tools and techniques used to assess a comic book collection's worth.
2. Different venues where you can sell your comic book collection.
3. Different types of people to whom you can sell your comic book collection.

It really comes down to this: After assessing your comic book collection's value, how much time are you willing to invest to get the most money possible from the collection OR are you more interested in getting the quick - but lesser - buck and saving a ton of time? This "time is money" concept has been belabored for sure but at the end of the day that is the bottom line.

We hope you have found some value in these articles - regardless, we would appreciate your feedback so we can make them better.

Monday, September 16, 2013

So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection - Part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6

OK, you've gone through assessing the value of your collection and you've got it in good shape presentation-wise to sell OR you have at least spent an hour or so reading these posts - you are invested. Now it's time to figure out the best payback. Let's start with the first four options to sell your comic collection listed at the beginning of Part 4 of this series.

1. Sell Your Collection To A Pawn Shop
Or Get Your 15 Minutes Of Fame On Pawn Stars

Pros:You might get your "15 Minutes of fame"....most likely not
Cons: DON'T DO IT!!!!

Rick Harrison, the star of the mega-hit TV Series Pawn Stars said in a TIME magazine article a few years ago - and I paraphrase - that he could not understand why some people took collectibles to a pawn shop when there are so many resources on the internet to figure out the value of an object. A pawn shop does not deal in comic books on a regular basis and so they are going to take a crazy conservative route and give you next to nothing for your collection REGARDLESS of what your collection contains. Why? Because most pawn shop operators don't know diddley about comic books. Pawn shops know about precious metals and guitars - well, a few more things than that - but they don't usually deal in comic books because people don't regularly try to pawn them. Heck, they might not even make you an offer for your collection. This is a dead end....

2. Take Your Collection To An Auction House
Or Don't Scratch Your Ear Or You Might Win Your Own Stuff!

Pros: If the right folks are there, you can get some decent bucks in a short amount of time
Cons: Not so good if no comic dealers or collectors present on the day your collection is being sold.

I took a load of comics to an auction house one time and it turned out very well for me - pretty much sold 10 boxes of junk for over $600 - I was thrilled.... I was also lucky as all get out. Why? Because I sold it in a relatively small community - Asheville, NC - and didn't do one whit of marketing.

So here is how you stack the deck. Run Craig's List ads for about a month prior to the auction being held and do it in a category where comic books are being SOLD. Go to any comic shop within a 100 miles and tell them that you are selling a collection at an auction. Post on Facebook or any other social media website and tell the world about your auction. Find a comic book forum or TEN and make posts about your collection. In other words, let your imagination run a little wild and GET THE WORD OUT!

This can be a pretty good option if a) you have a decent sized collection of at least 100 books, b) the books have some value but no "key" books (you do remember Part 2 where we discussed "key" books... don't you?) and c) you don't want to put a lot of time into it. Remember, most auctioneers charge a 20% sellers premium so take that into account before you haul your books before the man with the gavel.

3. Selling Your Collection To A Comic Book Dealer
Or Quick, Easy But Not Always Painless

This the best way to go if you know next to NOTHING about comic books. Selling to a comic dealer can also be the best way to go if YOU DO KNOW A LOT about comics. Your pain as the seller is that you have the bunch of paper in boxes that is taking up room, items you have no interest in and the constant nagging by someone related to you or supposedly a friend of yours is taking its toll....you just want rid of the #$*@! things! Comic book dealers have established channels to move product - they may have a brick and mortar store, one or more online websites or selling venues and probably set up at comic conventions. Comic dealers who have been in the business for awhile have also built relationships with other dealers and collectors so they also are in position to buy comics with others in mind to whom they can sell them quickly. In other words, comic dealers have the infrastructure in place to BUY your comics and sell them - it is what they do.

Comic dealers - just like in every profession on the planet and like every human being on the planet - come in all types: Ones that deal in only the most expensive books, ones that deal anything they can get their hands on: Very old to brand new and everything in between. There are some that deal in only brand new books or books that come out only in special editions like variant covers. There are dealers that deal in only CGC graded books. You get the picture. There are comic dealers that are so honest that they report their poker winnings to the IRS and there are a very few that you want to avoid at all costs. But by in large the majority of comic dealers will treat you pretty straight up - the last thing they want is for you to go on Facebook or Twitter and start yelling to the world that so-and-so comic dealer is a jerk. Like any other profession, reputation is a big deal in this business. If you are taking some time with this and shopping your collection around, ask the dealers if they sell on eBay and if so, what is their seller ID. You can then check their feedback and see if they are what they say they are. One of the things I do on every collection I buy is ask the seller if they felt like they were treated with respect during the negotiations - yes, sounds corny but I do it anyway.

Comic book dealers want to obtain collections for the least amount of money possible - that's logical as why would they want to do otherwise? The main advice here is to do as much due diligence on your collection's value as you feel necessary before negotiating with a comic dealer. As a comic book dealer myself, I don't want to sound as if we are a bunch of shysters nor am I implying that we are the bastions of all that is true and virtuous. All I am saying is that we will always try to negotiate the lowest possible price to obtain a collection and to do otherwise is pretty much idiocy on our part.

Now, if you went to the trouble of purchasing a copy of Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and meticulously cataloged your collection and came up with some figure of say $5000 and then think that you are giving the comic dealer a great deal with an offer price of $4000, you are going to be disappointed. As we have discussed in previous articles, comic dealers have a lot of overhead costs and if they routinely buy collections at 80% of graded guide prices, they will be out of business very quickly. Expect an offer from a comic dealer of around 20% to 40% of the collection's value depending on what you have - it very well could be less than 20% if the amount of really salable books is small. If you have a collection of high grade key books that are all CGC graded, you probably aren't reading this anyway - but if you do have such a collection, you may expect significantly MORE than 40% of graded guide prices.


4. Sell Your Collection On eBay
Or Makes The Most Money But Takes The Most Time

Pros: A zillion eyeballs see your wares.
Cons: Takes a ton of time to eBay stuff correctly - i.e. scan the books, grade them, write descriptions, collect payment and ship the merchandise.

eBay is a good way for people that KNOW comics well to sell their collections. But I have to get on my soapbox here. People that choose this route or setting up at a flea market forget one very, very important item: Their time HAS to be worth something. I once bought a collection from an individual that was not pleased with my offer and said he would just probably eBay 'em. As I was thumbing through the collection, I asked him "What do you do for a living?". He replied that he was a consultant. I went "Wow, bet you make over $50.00 an hour". He chuckled and said something on the order of "Try northwards of $100 an hour". After a couple more hours of looking through the collection, I said to him "You mean to tell me that your time is worth over $100 an hour and you want to spend your valuable time eBaying this stuff". His faced dropped and he got a sort of a sour look on his face - a little later we said our goodbyes. Long story short, he called me back within a few days and accepted my offer. But I digress....

Selling your collection piecemeal on eBay means the following: a) you know how to describe and grade comic books, b) the value of your collection makes it worth spending your time to set up eBay auctions and process them when they are complete, c) you know how to pack and ship comic books properly and d) you are in no hurry for your money. I have been consistently selling on eBay since 1997 and believe me, you learn something all the time (mainly about all the fee and rule changes) - this is a topic I could write ANOTHER six-part series about. Hmm... might do that one day...

Now if you know nothing about comics, you can still eBay them. Just be sure to say how many books there are, what time frames they are from (e.g. 70 books from the 1970's, 100 more from the 1960's, etc.), provide some data such as what titles and issue numbers are in the collection - i.e. things you can legitimately and honestly say about the collection without knowing much about comic books. Make sure that you have adequate disclaimers that pretty much say that you know nothing about comic books and just want to sell the lot as is - no returns. Put up as many photos as possible. Potential buyers may want to know a lot of specifics, especially the grades of books that they deem valuable. You might send them photos of the books they are interested in but again, tell them that you know nothing about comics and the books are being sold "AS IS". Some of the best Golden Age books price wise that I ever bought was from a person on eBay trying to get rid of estate items - didn't know beans about comics but the pictures were decent and it was worth the risk.

Cannot emphasize this enough: Selling your collection on eBay all depends on how big your collection is, how much it is worth AND how much of your time you are willing to spend.

OK, We have four more methods of comic collection selling to cover in Part 6 of "So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection" and a summary to boot so hang in there!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

So You Want To Sell Your Comic Book Collection - Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 5 | Part 6

The Nuts And Bolts Of Selling Your Comic Book Collection
Or "Time To Get Serious And Make Some Bucks!"
So now armed with the knowledge of the previous three parts of this series, you are now ready to learn the best way to sell your collection.

Here are the ways that you can sell your collection - they are listed from the easiest to the hardest:

1. Take it to a pawn shop
2. Take it to an auction house
3. Sell it to a comic dealer
4. Sell it on eBay or on some other online venue
5. Set up at a comic convention
6. Sell it to another comic collector
7. Set up at a flea market
8. Build your own website and sell your books there

We will go into each one of these options in detail including the pros and cons of each one in Parts 5 and 6 but first a little more info to help you in the process of selling your collection.

Be Honest With Yourself And Your Comic Book Collection
Or "Trying To Make A Silk Purse Out Of A Sow's Ear Will Definitely Annoy The Pig..."

Look, if you have a handful - say 30 or less - of comics that you dug up from your ex's closet and they are books published 1990 or later, aren't bagged and boarded and look very well read - do one of three things: 1) Take the books to the nearest comic shop WHILE you are doing other errands and see if they will take them off your hands for a couple of bucks, 2) take them to a children's charity as long as the books are child appropriate or 3) go back to the comic shop and just GIVE the books to them.

Now if you have a 100 books that were published prior to 1980, are nicely bagged and boarded and appear in nice condition, then by all means take them to a comic book dealer and see what they will offer you.

If you have 5 long boxes of comics, again take them to a comic book dealer and let them offer you a price. Most likely, the dealer will ask you what you want for them. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU TELL THEM A PRICE!!! THIS IS NEGOTIATION DEATH!. Don't believe me on this? Then go watch a few episodes of Pawn Stars and watch how the negotiations go. If the pawn shop folks are interested in the item(s), they will ALWAYS ask what the seller wants for the item and the rare times they get a little flummoxed is when the seller says something like "I don't know, what do you want to give me for it?"

So that is what you should do - i.e. ask the dealer what they are willing to pay you for the collection. If they won't give you a price, thank them for their time and take your collection with you. If they ask what you are going to do with the books, tell them that you are shopping the collection around. If they ask you to call them if you ever decide to sell, don't call them. Instead, give them your contact information and let them know that you are in no hurry to sell the books but if a good offer comes around, then you would be willing to part with them.

Now watch the dealer's body language - it will tell you a lot. Very slight nervousness usually means that the dealer wants the collection and doesn't want it to slip away. Indifference means that they are not all that hot about your collection OR they are capital challenged and don't have the funds to make the deal OR they are a pretty good poker player. Usually, a dealer has enough cash in the bank to purchase a small collection so if it is something they can make a decent margin on, they won't want it to walk out the door. We are getting ahead of ourselves a little bit as we will discuss selling to a comic dealer in greater detail in Part 5.

If you don't have a comic book dealer in your area - go online and find one that might give you an appraisal. You will have to supply a ton of information but at least it will give you some feedback that you can use. Here is one link of an appraisal service that you might find helpful. You can always go to Walkin' Willie's Comix and drop them a line about your collection.

The bottom line is that you have to determine if you have a collection that has value - i.e. one that is worth selling or one you just need to get shed of and move on. Remember Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 provided you with that awareness and the tools you would need to figure out if your collection has tangible value. One last thing before shopping that collection around...

Comic Collection Prep
Or "Lookin' Good Always Helps The Bottom Line"

Just like a fresh coat of paint is the #1 thing to do when selling a house, having a collection that looks good can mean extra bucks. By now, you have established whether the collection can bring in some cash. You either used a copy of Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, gone online at ComicPriceGuide.com or have received opinions/appraisals from a comic book dealer. OR you may be a longtime comic book collector that knows the craft.

Now dress up that collection by making sure that each book is freshly bagged and boarded. It costs around $9.00 to $15.00 - and your time - to bag and board 100 books. Bagging and boarding is very important because it protects the books from any further damage. Books that are not bagged and boarded will damage quickly. Again, assess your collection to make sure that spending your time and $9.00 per hundred will still leave you with plenty of margin. The collection pictured above is a nice looking collection - very nicely bagged and boarded. Also, it is strongly recommended that you use the 3M Removable Tape to tape the bag flap - it comes in a blue box and has the same adhesive as the Post-It notes. You don't want a prospective buyer getting into a wrestling match to try to open a bag so as to inspect a book.

If possible, use brand new comic boxes - if you need help in obtaining supplies, you can find bags, boards and comic boxes at eBay or BAGS Unlimited can hook you up.

Finally, put the books in alphanumeric order - if the books are bagged and boarded and in order it helps a lot as a dealer likes to have a collection where all he has to do is take to a comic convention ready to go. That can definitely influence the price - and if the dealer wants the collection or not. If a dealer sees that they will have to put in very little sweat equity to get it ready to sell, it could very well be the tipping point to make a deal happen.

There is one dealer that does the southeastern convention circuit and he buys more closeouts than any other dealer that I have come across. He will have five tables at one-day shows and three booths at the big 3-day shows. He has a lot of collectors at his booths all convention long because he has so many books for pretty low prices. HOWEVER I won't go to his booth except to chat if he isn't busy because there is absolutely NO order to his merchandise. I'll be darn if I am going through 100 comic boxes to try find something that I can buy to sell when the books aren't in order. He's a great guy but I haven't bought anything from him for over 13+ years.

This last step isn't necessary if you have a small collection of 200 books or less but if you have a large collection of several thousand books you are trying to liquidate, then the dealer you are trying to sell to may or may not want to spend the time to try to figure out what all is in the collection - they might just do a random pull of every box just to see what is generally in there.

Again - and it cannot be emphasized enough: Your time is worth SOMETHING so figure out how much time you really want to spend preparing your collection for sale.

Part 5 of "So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection" will tackle the first four options listed at the beginning of this post for selling your comic books. Stay tuned as the best is yet to come...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection - Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Marketplace Demand
Or "Hey These Books Are In Great Shape But Nobody Wants Them"

We gave the examples of the Action Comics #1 and the Detective Comics #27 that sold for BIG dollars. There were two reasons given earlier that sort of infers a third and that is a Key book in high grade = HIGH MARKET DEMAND!

Now before we give an example of where there is NO market demand, first a little background. Back in the mid 1980's, baseball cards got very, very hot. People that knew absolutely NOTHING about baseball cards starting buying wax boxes and complete sets by the thousands. The idea was that these cards would be a huge hedge against inflation and parents would be able to put their kids through college with the "sure thing" appreciation that these cards would bring. Well......it didn't work out that way. The baseball cards in the late 1980's were vastly overprinted - WAY more than what the normal market demand would allow. As a result - with very, very few exceptions - sports cards printed in the late 1980's to today have very little value.

So, the baseball card speculators saw that older comics were going up in value and so they started buying the new comics coming out thinking the same thing - the values would go up and NOW the kid's college education would be paid for - YAY! Well, again - not so fast. This was the era of "HOT" books - hot artists, hot writers and everything was just hot, hot, hot! But it wasn't. Marvel produced a brand new X-Men series in 1991 and the first issue had five different cover variations. There were over 8 million copies of this new X-Men #1 printed - one of which is shown here. Trouble is, there are not 8 million X-Men comic book fans - at least not that many modern X-Men fans. Almost ALL books between 1990 and 1995 were vastly overprinted to account for all the speculators.

The speculators saw the bottom drop out due to no demand and moved on and the result was that the comic book industry imploded and almost died. It used to be that 300,000 copies was a nice healthy print run for a book - now it is more around 40,000 today FOR A VERY POPULAR BOOK. Books that were mega-hot back then such as Gen 13 #1 from the mini-series used to go for $30 to $40 each - now you are lucky if you can get $3.00 for one. Another example was the "Death Of Robin" story arc in Batman where fans could call DC on a 900 number and vote on whether The Joker would kill Robin (not Dick Grayson but the second one - named Jason Todd who was a bit of a smart alek) or let him live. Well, the "Death" voters won out and lo and behold, The Joker did poor Robin in.....and the value for those four books that made up that story arc went through the roof. Mothers were gladly shelling out $200 for a complete set for Junior when those books printed. Now? A dealer would be lucky to get $40.00 for a complete set.

I would estimate that easily 95% of the collections that I am offered come from books published between 1990 and 1995 - yes that is right: 95%!!!!!. I am not saying that books from that period are low quality (although a WHOLE bunch of them are), all I am saying is that there is ZERO demand for those books. I have been offered collections in which the comics were very neatly bagged and boarded and I politely told the owner that I would not take them even if he gave them to me because there just is no demand for the books.

Comic Book retailers got a little smarter after 1995 and only ordered enough books for their subscribers plus a few to put on the rack. Therefore, collections that consist of books printed from 1996 to present CAN have some value because of their lower print runs.

However, here is a rule of thumb that has next to NO exceptions: Any book printed in 1990 to present with a grade less than Very Fine (8.0) is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS and that is about as pure and simple as I can get it.

Here is another rule of thumb that has a few exceptions: Any book printed prior to 1975 and is complete with no pages missing and cover intact has SOME value - might not be much but it WILL have some value.

We are getting close to finishing your "prerequisites" - only one more to go....

Um...How Many Comic Books Are We Talking About?
Or Size Matters But Not Always In A Good Way.

Here is another one of the those rules of thumb that have exceptions. Generally speaking, the larger the collection, the lower the price per book that a comic book dealer will be willing to pay. Now, if it is a collection of 1000 mid to high grade books from the 1960's or earlier, comic book dealers will probably pay anywhere from 20% to 40% of graded guide price depending on whether or not there are any key books and what the condition of those key books are. If it is a collection of 200,000 modern books (usually, these big collections are comic book store closeouts/liquidations), then you the owner of this massive collection can expect around 5 cents to 10 cents per book if that much. Large collections mean that the comic book dealer is going to have to spend a LOT of time and sweat equity processing these books, storing them and yes, selling them. They will not want their money tied up for a long period of time. PS - the photo at the above right is a collection of around 2900 to 3000 comics.

Usually, a comic book dealer will offer a price where he or she can get their money back within a one to three month period - that is their thinking and most likely that will come up in the negotiations. Don't worry, that's the dealer's pain, not yours. Whatever you do, DO NOT let a comic book dealer offer to buy just a small part of your collection. The dealer will pick all of the "good stuff" that has value and leave you with a bunch of worthless paper that no dealer would want. If you are going to sell to the dealer, sell the WHOLE collection, not just little bits and pieces. However, I remember one dealer when offered a 500 book collection of which they only wanted 10 books tell the owner that if you let me buy these 10 books, I'll give you $200 but if you make me take the whole thing, I'll give you $150 - kind of funny but generally speaking, sell the WHOLE collection especially if you are not a comic collector - be done with it! We will talk more about selling to comic book dealers in Part 4 of this series.

Again, size matters but not always. Whew, this exhausting - but necessary - education is just about over.

Wrapping Up The Due Diligence
Or You Have Gained Awareness, Grasshopper!

The first three parts of this six part series was intended for those who have a comic book collection but don't know anything about comics. What it did not do - or even come close to - was provide a complete education on comic book collection valuation. That would take a 50 part series and still might come up short.

What this series hopefully did thus far was give you some awareness of how the worth of a comic book collection is determined and like my dear friend and business/life coach, Harvey Smith always says, "Once you become aware, you cannot become unaware". Sounds trite but think about it for a long, long time - I swear you will feel like something crawled up your back when you really, really get it. Hmmm...sounds like another blog article...

Part 4 of "So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection" will start covering your options on selling your comic collection and what the strategies are to maximize your selling price. But PLEASE remember, your time has value and it amazes me how many people forget that very important part of the whole equation. Let's put it this way, I would rather spend two hours roughly figuring out the value of my collection and make $300 dollars than spend two weeks time carefully cataloging my collection and making $600 dollars. Parts 4 through 6 will go over that time spent versus return gained in detail.

Friday, September 13, 2013

So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection - Part 2

Part 1 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Are There Any "Key" Books In The Collection?
Or "When The Older Is Better" Rule Just Doesn't Work!

Key comic books are milestones in a comic book title or milestones in the whole culture of comics. Usually, a key comic book contains the first appearance of a character, the death of a character, the first comic book work of a particular artist, the first comic book written by a particular writer or a just a major event in the comic book world. You may have read about the Action Comics #1 that sold for a record $2,161,000.00 (that's right - OVER $2 Million) or the Detective Comics #27 that sold for $1,075,000.00. The reasons is that a) they were the very first appearances of Superman and Batman respectively and b) they were is high grade - or very fine condition (there's that "condition" thing again - be patient, we will explain everything).

Key books toss the "the older is better" rule of thumb out the window. Here's an example: Action Comics #69 is a nice old book from 1944 and in Near Mint minus condition, the value of that book is $2200.00 - Not bad at all. But Amazing Fantasy #15 (at right) published in 1961 has a value of $175,000 in Near Mint minus condition!

But the Action Comics #67 is 17 years OLDER than the Amazing Fantasy #15 so why the huge price discrepancy? Because Amazing Fantasy #15 is the very first appearance of The Amazing Spider-Man. It is one of the most "key" books in all of comic lore and is intensely sought out by collectors. If you have one of these babies in your collection, you need to really take your time in selling the collection. Again, Action Comics #67 is a nice old book but there is nothing "key" about it.

I know, I know - you want to get to the part where you get all the info about how to sell your comic book collection - well, you ARE starting to get that information now as it is SO important to know what you have - and knowing what you have means knowing how to value a comic book collection. If you don't have a clue as to what you have, then you are starting out behind when it comes to negotiating a price for your collection. So if you want top dollar for your collection, you need to keep trudging on and "delve into the weeds" - i.e. the details.

Condition Is King!
Or My Kingdom For A Comic Book With No Flaws!

If you have two identical books - say you have TWO Amazing Fantasy #15 copies (lucky stiff!). Well, they should both be worth the same, right? Not necessarily. The condition of the book(s) is critical to determining the value. Assessing the condition of a comic book is called grading a comic book. You can go purchase a copy of The Official Overstreet Comic Book Grading Guide and get a thorough education on grading comic books or you can Google and come up with a ton of links about grading comic books - here's one at Nostalgia Zone that is brief and gets to the point.

Basically, here is the 10 point scale for grading comics:

10.0 -- GEM MINT
9.9 -- Mint
9.8 -- Near Mint / Mint
9.6 -- Near Mint +
9.4 -- Near Mint
9.2 -- Near Mint -
9.0 -- Very Fine / Near Mint
8.5 -- Very Fine +
8.0 -- Very Fine
7.5 -- Very Fine -
7.0 -- Fine / Very Fine
6.5 -- Fine +
6.0 -- Fine
5.5 -- Fine -
5.0 -- Very Good / Fine
4.5 -- Very Good +
4.0 -- Very Good
3.5 -- Very Good -
3.0 -- Good / Very Good
2.5 -- Good +
2.0 -- Good
1.8 -- Good Minus
1.5 -- Fair / Good
1.0 -- Fair
0.5 -- Poor

Obviously, the higher the grade, the higher the condition of the book. So let's say that one of our Amazing Fantasy #15's is Very Fine (8.0) and one of them is Very Good (4.0). If we go to our trusty Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide and look up the values of the books, the Very Fine (8.0) copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 goes for $56,000.00 and the Very Good (4.0) copy of the book goes for $7400.00 - that is a huge price difference and the ONLY reason for that difference is the relative condition of the two books.

A Very Fine (8.0) book might have a few very small stress lines on the spine and maybe a micro-tiny crease at the corner of the book while a Very Good (4.0) book might have numerous spine stress lines and large diagonal creases at the corners - might have some ink wear at the edges of the cover and the staples might show some discoloration.

You do not have to be a grading expert but you do have to have some awareness. If you choose to sell your collection to a comic book dealer, please understand that they will want to buy the collection for the lowest possible price - as well they should. This is their business and there are a lot of hidden costs for dealers - mainly in the time it takes to process a collection so it is ready for sale. They might have to bag and board the whole collection, price it and if they are online dealers, they will have to scan the image and put it up on their website or eBay with a description, etc. It IS a lot of work but that is not your pain - it is the dealer's pain BUT they are taking all of that into consideration when they are trying to come up with an offer for your collection. I am digressing here somewhat but the point to these first three articles is to help you, the person that wants to sell your collection gain some awareness of how comic collections are valued - especially those of you who are NOT comic book collectors.

Now as an aside (and more digressing), I have edited this blog article because I previously said that ALL comic book dealers will try to downgrade your collection - that is simply not true and to all the honest dealers out there I do apologize. But comic dealers are human beings and some of them will sense either consciously or subconsciously how much awareness you have and deal with you accordingly. I will discuss negotiating with comic book dealers in more depth in Part 4 of this series.

Oh by the way - the image of the X-Men #95 that is encapsulated in a plastic holder to the right? Well that is a book that is 3rd party graded much like coins, stamps and baseball cards are third party graded. The absolute #1 3rd party grader is CGC - i.e. Certified Guaranty Company, LLC. Dealers and collectors send their books to CGC and they are evaluated and - for a fee of course - graded, encapsulated and shipped back to the owner. We won't get into that at all but if you do have CGC comic books in your collection, there is a site where you can see the value of CGC graded comics and that is GPAnalysis.com - they have a history of every CGC book that has been sold from a variety of venues such as eBay, Heritage Auctions, etc. and you can get a very good idea of what some of your CGC books are worth. Usually - but not always - CGC books in high grade - 8.0 and above - will sell for more than a book in the same grade that is NOT CGC graded. Let that sink in for a little while....

So now you know that condition is king - two of the same books but in different grades (i.e. condition) will sell for different prices - it is that simple.

We have one more part to go until we start talking about HOW to sell those doggone comic books and that part will cover marketplace demand and how the sheer number of books in the collection can affect the value of your collection - that is Part 3 of "So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection"...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

So You Want To Sell Your Comic Collection - Part 1

Turning stale old colored paper into bucks!

Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Do you own a comic book collection that you want to sell? Want to get the most money you possibly can for it? Well, whether you have painstakingly put together a comic book collection for the ages or you just lucked into one and know next to nothing about comic books, this six part series of articles will give you the lowdown on not only how to SELL your comic book collection but how to get the MOST MONEY for your collection. Each article will be posted daily so the whole thing will be wrapped up within a week.

If you are a grizzled veteran of the comic collecting wars, the first three articles dealing with assessing your collection might be of little use - but a dime against a dollar you will find at least one thing you can use in the last three parts.

The main thing to remember is that not all comic book collections are created equally - i.e. the value of the comic book collection can vary wildly according to several factors. Factors affecting the value of comic books are a) how old they are, b) whether there are any "key" books in the collection (more on that later), c) the physical condition of the books, d) the marketplace demand and e) the sheer number of the books in the collection.

So before we get into "how" to sell your collections, we need to delve into the five factors above a little - here is the due diligence you need before selling your collection.

Old Counts But It's Not Everything...
Or Nostalgia Will Never Die!

Like antiques, stamps, coins, etc., the older the better. That isn't always true - nothing really is - but the older the comic books are, the more likely they will have more value than recent, modern comic books - i.e. ones published in the last 20 to 30 years. If you are trying to sell your comic book collection, one of the people you most likely will try to sell it to are comic book dealers. Some comic book dealers deal in old books, some in modern comics and some in both. The majority of comic book dealers that sell old books deal in comic books published from 1935 to 1979. Most comic books printed in that age range vary in original price from 10 cents to 60 cents.

10 cent books were published from 1935 to 1962. 12 cent books were published from 1962 to 1969, 15 cent books from 1969 to 1970 (that didn't last long), etc. - you get the picture. From 1970 to 1979, comic books off the rack rose in price steadily from 15 cents to 60 cents. Note the Detective Comics #49 from 1941 at right - only a 10 cent price tag but in Near Mint Minus condition, this book is now worth $4200 according to the latest Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide! We'll talk more about condition and the Overstreet guide a little later. By the way, if you don't want to purchase a copy of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide you can also get a free account at ComicPriceGuide.com or ComicBookRealm.com and look up the values of books online for free! The values at ComicPriceGuide.com and ComicBookRealm.com are fairly close to the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.

In each of these "price" eras, there were comic books called "Giants" or "Annuals" that cost more than the common comic book of that era. For example Giants and Annuals cost 25 cents in the 1960's when regular single issue comic books were going for 12 cents. Giants and Annuals were mostly collected reprints of earlier single issues and it allowed comic book publishers to get out more product without having to come up with new material. It worked because comics that were first published in the mid-50's could be reprinted in the mid-60's and you would have a new audience of adolescents and teens that had most likely never read the originals - and the Giants and Annuals had a LOT more pages. But we digress....

Modern comic books cost anywhere from $1.00 (1990) to $2.99 to $3.99 for comics printed in the last decade or so. So a rule of thumb - a rule with significant exceptions, examples of which will be provided later - is that the older a book, the more valuable the book.

Next up in "So You Want To Sell Your Comic Book Collection - Part 2" we will cover when the "Older is Better" rule just doesn't work and delve into the physical condition of comic books as well. As usual, comments and questions are welcome and solicited

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Bloodbath That Has Become Trade Paperbacks!

Kind of teaser/trailer title for a blog entry but it is true in the figurative sense. What has essentially happened in the comic book trade paperback business is that the customer can pretty much find any trade in print online for drastically reduced prices - that's the good news.

The bad news is that comic book retailers are having a tough time making any money off of trade paperbacks. Why in the world would anyone pay $14.99 list price at a brick-and-mortar comic book store for the extremely popular Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye when you can get it for $8.78 directly from Amazon OR starting at $3.78 for NEW copies or $4.00 for USED copies from Amazon sellers? Yep, that's right - the USED copies start at a higher price than the NEW copies...weird. Comic book retailers order their merchandise from Diamond Comics Distributors and unless they are the highest volume sellers in the world, the best discount the normal comic retailer can get is 50% off the retail price as their wholesale price - that doesn't include freight so add another 2% or so on top of that. Well at 48% off of $14.99 for the Walking Dead TPB, that comes to around $7.79 just for the COST of the book so retailers are already several bucks behind the going online price right out of the gate - can't make any money that way.

Anyway, you have heard me talk about the state of the comic book industry as it applies to me and my business at comic book conventions here and here. When I saw a LOT of dealers at conventions blowing out BRAND NEW Marvel trades at $5.00 a pop (i.e. the "The Bloodbath" that I alluded to in the post title), I knew I had to get out of this part of the business and get out in a hurry! The other "epiphany" was when customers would come to my booth with an Amazon printout of prices for the books they were wanting to buy and asking if I could match Amazon's prices...obviously I couldn't without taking a substantial loss.

Now you might be thinking that the Walking Dead deal above was a "one-off" - i.e. the exception that proves the rule. However, if you are a long time comic collector, YOU KNOW that IS the rule. Just for kicks and giggles, listed below are the Top Ten July 2013 Trade Paperbacks and Graphic Novels in Quantity Sold as reported by Diamond Comics Distributors. The prices from Amazon are as of 9/9/2013 and most likely will change over time. These are BRAND NEW BOOKS for goodness sakes!

Publisher Description Retail
1 2 Marvel Hawkeye: Little Hits, Vol. 2 $16.99 $12.68 $8.93 $9.53
2 10 Dark Horse Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part 2 $10.99 $9.08 $6.29 $6.29
3 7 Image Saga Vol. 2 $14.99 $11.70 $8.43 $5.99
4 22 Image Saga Vol. 1 $9.99 $8.48 $5.70 $5.00
5 47 Marvel Black Bolt: Something Inhuman This Way Comes - One Shot $7.99 $7.75 $7.75 None
6 8 Marvel Kick-Ass 2 Prelude: Hit-Girl Hardcover $19.99 $17.48 $13.40 $14.48
7 20 DC Comics Fairest Vol. 2: Hidden Kingdom $14.99 $11.48 $7.24 $8.09
8 3 DC Comics Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach - Deluxe Hardcover $29.99 $22.11 $16.48 $14.52
9 17 Image Invincible Volume 18: Death of Everyone TP $16.99 $10.59 $6.99 $8.09
10 4 DC Comics Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan - Deluxe Hardcover $29.99 $22.11 $13.40 $13.40

OK, enough of this exercise - be on the lookout for a six-part series coming up that might help some of you make a nice little chunk of change! First part will be out later this week and all parts will be published within a week!

As usual, comments/questions are welcome and solicited.