07th Jun2019

eBuying Comics: Week 20

by Ian Wells

ebuying-comics-header

So a few weeks back I put out a call asking for readers tips for buying and seeling comics on eBay. I recevied a resounding no replies, so I have sought advice from everybodies favourite technical friend Google instead. This is going to be dissected the results I found from typing ‘Top 10 tips for selling comics on eBay?” into the world famous search engine. What I discovered in  my research ranged from really indepth, step by step approaches to rather matter of fact almost blassae stuff. I mean how many people in the world use eBay to buy and sell comics? It will be good to look at a varied cross section of people and see how many are pulling in the same direction when it comes to thier top tips. Firstly I will recap with the tips I have given so far in my twenty weeks of this blog.

  1. Make the use of recycling packaging materials.
  2. Make you pictures count.
  3. Write detailed descriptions.
  4. Mention Smoke Free Home/Pet Free Home.

The first article I came across in my research was fom geeks.media. This article goes real deep on the ins and outs of selling comics on eBay. What I like most about it is that it makes the point that selling comics can either be viewed as a hobby or a serious source of income. Really I could encapsulate the whole point of this blog by saying my top tip is “Why are you selling comics on eBay?” Is it a hobby nothing more than a bit of fun or is it a serious pursuit of monetary gain? Are you selling to clear out space or to cash in on what is popular? I believe all of these questions are worth taking into account before going down the rabbit hole. Because answering one way or the other will have an immediate effect on your next step. When I say this article goes deep it would be unfair to site this as a criticism. It is written by someone who is a self confessed collector of many years who is now looking to make a substantial income from selling comics. If your like me, someone who has brought and sold a number of comics on eBay you may find the opening tips as rather obvious.

The first tip is a list of items you will need to get started, the first being on the list being bags and boards. At first I disagreed with this inclusion as a top tip but then I tried to look at it from all angles. Depending on where you buy your comics they will not always come bagged and boarded. If you are then flipping them straight away you will need these two items. Like wise unbagged and unboarded comics could be purchased for your own collection then sold at a later date. You may store your comics with higher quality bags and boards than the ones you wish to use when selling comics. Currently I am fortunate enough to just have accquired spares of both over the years. In my time selling I haven’t yet factored in the cost of bags and boards but is now something to consider when my supply runs out. Other items mentioned as important to getting started are envelopes, making use of both hardbacked envelopes and padded envelopes. I use both, the sturdy ones for single issues which I also bag and board both the front and back. If I’m low on boards I will use one board in the bag and a thin card on the otherside. Trade paperbacks go in padded envelopes again with some type of card front and back. Like me he also makes mention of being able to recycle card from his place of work which is always a bonus. He makes the point also not to scrimp on purchasing the envelopes. I have brought five packs of both varities from Poundland and never had any issues with my shipping. Equally you can trackdown 10 pack bundles, 50 pack bundles and more on eBay so shop around.

The second main tip on offer is a list of good places to source comics to then sell on. As this an American based writer things like craiglist and thrift stores stand out to my English way of thinking. Personally I have had success from picking stuff up at car boot sales but not turned a massive profit on them. Mainly I am selling parts of my collection to make space for more comics or I am upgrading from a trade paperback to a hardcover collection. Since I started this blog I would be more inclined to go out purposfully looking for items to buy and resell. But I am not talking laying down crazy money just for blog content. I’m talking more like going throught 50p bins at comic conventions looking for unmined gold. I think with comics being as popular as they are right now the chances of finding gold at a car boot sale or online are slim.

When the article gets onto the art of actually sellling comics there are only three main steps: Take good photos, name your product correctly and be honest in your description. I agree with all three but for different reasons than given in the article. He says he stands his comics up and photographs them bagged and boarded. Where as I have always had better results unbagged and laying flat. Currently I am working on a new backdrop which I hope will make my photos pop more. Also I have everything I have an eye on selling already photographed. I just set aside time one weekend set up an area with good light and just conveyor belt all my comics. There is nothing worse than going to sell something and not having a photo ready. The few times I have doen thise I’ve never been happy with the outcome. When it comes to naming listings if you are selling Daredevil #150 say that, don’t just say ‘Daredevil Comic.’ I always name check the publisher too in my title. With Marvel having so many reboots it is worth putting the year in there too. I would suggest not point volume numbers as they can put newer collectors off. At times if a comic is famous for its creative duo I put thier names up there two. I often hear it argued when comic readers are young they follow characters, as they get older they follow creators. So mention them if you think it will help sell yor comics. As for being honest that is a given for whatever you are selling, whether its comics, clothes or kitchen utensils. You can always suse your photos to show off any defects in the comic without going into wordy descriptions. While the writer stresses that bein honest leads to return cosutumers and a good reputation he makes very little mention of grade and condition, which is key to comic collectors.

The second article courtesy of toughnickel.com is much more centred around condition. But it also had more points I disagreed with. This article had seven tips but I don’t think the numerical listing was in any order of importance. They are:

  1. Know how much your comics are worth.
  2. Learn how to grade comics.
  3. Limit the stress of grading.
  4. Find out what sells.
  5. Take high quality pictures.
  6. Learn how to use image hosting.
  7. Invest in comics for future selling.

So point five I have already discussed and I don’t think number six is an essential component to selling comics on eBay. Combining the second and third points grading your comics for sale is very important. As for actually learning to grade comics that is dedication, hard work and professionalism. There is no way via eBay to confirm your grading credentials. Now I really want to pick somebodies brain about this so watch this space. I had read a fair bit about grading comics and probably doubled my knowledge when reseach for this blog started twenty weeks ago. I never feel 100% confident giving my comics a high grade. to be safe I always go down one or two to ensure customer satisfaction. You also have to consider as I discussed in Week 5 that some collectors are more comfortable with the numerical grading system and others with the lettered version. In my Week 5 blog I listed both versions of grading along with a simplified version of what to look for at each grade. However in over simplifying how you grade comics you run the risk of misgrading your comics. Which is why I think the articles third point is a pratical practice but it is not explained in the clearest manner.

The writer states a comic with a defect smaller than your finger nail on the cover is regarded as ‘Good’. However they make no mention of interior quality for a ‘Good’ grade. They simply state ‘Good’ comics are what collectors will call ‘readers.’ Making the same statement for ‘Very Good’ graded comics. I would argue the older the comic you are hunting down if you don’t want to spend ridiculous amounts of money setteling for ‘Very Good’ or ‘Good’ is a reasonable option. To a degree you can apply the same thinking to selling a comic at these grades too. If for example you have a comic from last year already down graded to ‘G’ or ‘VG’ then realistically you aren’t going to get a big income on it so there is no point pricing it as such even if it is a newer key issue. The article then goes on to kind of throw in the towel when it comes to selling higher graded books. For Fine Minus to Fine Plus the writer suggests being honest in your description. State you aren’t a professional grader, essentially putting all the pressure on the buyer to go on what you have told them about your item and decide whether the grad reflects the price. After their second top tip was learn how to grade comics they say if you are selling a ‘NM’ comic you have no authority as an amateur to grade your comic as such. With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I listed last week I know for a fact I only read them once, but I don’t know how they were treated in the shop beforehand. To look at they still look like the day I brought them. Rather than call them ‘NM’ and having to defer to a prefessional grader I simply called them ‘VF+’

Finding out what sells kind of speaks for itself if you are in the loop of comics and comic book related media. For someone who doesn’t know a key issue from a dud then the internet can be thier worst enemy. If they are lucky enough to have say a Avengers #4 the internet is firstly going to tell them how important an issue it is. At this point I would assume someone who doesn’t know about comics is going to know about grades. They are going to see a high price quoted online and their little eyes are going to light up! Point one and point seven are the ones I have most trouble with. I have said on this blog several times grades and therefore price are subjective. Who is right who is wrong? There is a huge difference between knowing what your comics are worth and accepting what your comics are worth. Which brings it back to why are you selling your comics? If you are just spring cleaning a cut price will get your stuff sold quicker. Obviously I’m not saying you should drastically undercut a highly sought after comic just to be rid of it. But be realistic. You may know what sells but there as to be a market for it. A situation I came across when I was selling my copy of New Mutants #98. It may be more realistic if you make any sort of profit on what you originally paid for it compared to valuations you see online.

Now the phrase ‘Invest in comics for future selling’ fills me with dread. Firstly comcis are made to be read and enjoyed, not for monetary gain. Comments like that are what started the speculator book which saw the bottom fall out of the comics market in the 90′s. eBay itself is a more manageable micro version of the speculator boom what with all the movies making characters hot property. Prices are going up and up every time a movie is made. If your lucky enough to already own key issues from the past you are fully entitled to cash in. But with high orices8and high grade comics  being a popular commodity I wouldn’t get into selling comics expecting to make a massive income. The high end stuff is for people with disposable with a high risk/reward strategy. For me comics are for reading and providing escapism. Making money from them is secondary, even tertiary as I would rather my sales went to people looking for a good story.

I am still looking for top tips from every day folk selling comics on eBay, whether your new to it or an experienced head. Maybe I can compile a master list of tips in the future. Lastly remember if selling comics online appeals to you ask yourself why before you go forward.

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