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 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!

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