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. 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.

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