Last week I detailed for you my "bulk" strategy for investing in comics. I have other investing strategies that I use frequently, but before I cover any of those possibilities, I want to take some time to cover strategies for selling your comics. This is an area where I see extraordinary naiveté on the part of most collectors, and I really would like to get you wised up before you sink your hard-earned dollars into old comics.
My first observation is that you're never going to get rich buying new comics. When you buy comics off the newsstand, your primary goal should be reading and entertainment. As a general rule, the new comic that you buy from a dealer for $2.50 (cover price) immediately drops in wholesale value to about 10 cents, the minute you leave the shop. That happens because most comics dealers don't handle broad lines of back issues, and simply don't want anything back from the past few years. To induce them to buy back your relatively new comics, you're going to have to accept a price that will allow them to put them in their 3/$1 bins. That price is usually about a dime.
Clearly, if you are taking a 96% drop in value the minute you buy an item, it can't be classified as an investment. What you're buying is entertainment, with potential residual value. If that sounds harsh, it actually isn't at all. It's rare that anyone ever made a dime of residual value from going to a movie, or a rock concert, or a sporting event. Those are things you do for enjoyment. Comics are unique in that you not only get reading enjoyment, but also the potential for future recovery of some of your cost. That's a pretty darn good deal, if you think about it.
As most of you know, once you've starting accumulating comics, they breed like bunnies. You start off with just one long box, but pretty soon you have a closet full. Eventually the sheer bulk of your collection starts to get to you (and your family), and you start to consider selling your comics. My advice to you is don't sell! I really mean it. I buy more comics collections than anyone in the country, and I see more people being foolish than I could ever count. Those poor fans succumb to momentary pressures in their lives, and dump their comics long before they've become scarce enough to command a premium. This is the worst thing you can do! Hold on to them. Store them. Time is your friend! The older your comics get, the greater the rate of return when you sell.
The most important consideration in selling comics is selling by the single piece, not the bulk load. As a general rule, comics less than 20 years old are difficult to sell by the piece. Comics over twenty years old become easier, and comics over 30 years old have great potential for single item sales. What makes this so critical is the "spread" between" single item and bulk prices. As a general rule, you'll get five times as much selling by the piece, as selling bulk. This only becomes worthwhile, however, if you have the patience to wait until the time is right.
If you've waited, and your comics are now 30 years old, how do you sell them? Well, you're very seldom going to get a per piece price selling to a comics dealer. Selling to other fans is your best bet. This used to be quite hard, as it could only be done at conventions, or through classified ads. Today, however, fans can reach other fans via the Internet. Already eBay has become the largest single marketplace for comics in the world. In addition to eBay there are Amazon.com, Yahoo.com, Krause.com, and many other public sites where you can either auction, or fixed-price sell your comics. Even if you have older material, however, you still won't achieve full price guide prices when selling to fans via these sites (fans are looking for bargains, too...). A reasonable estimate is that you can get 50% of guide (or slightly better) via one of the online sites.
The drawback to these sites is the hassle of selling. Comics dealers regularly put up with creating listings, waiting for payment, packaging, and shipping hassles. Don't underestimate how much aggravation this can be when selling your comics online. The reason why dealers pay you less, and charge more, is that they have to deal with these sales-related issues. If you want to eliminate the middle man, be prepared to take on the grief he helps you avoid. Selling online is potentially very rewarding, but be sure and first establish if you have the personality to do the job. Procrastinators need not apply!
Next week, I'll give you some tips on how to sell at comics conventions, and also expand on my strategy for maximizing your rate of return when selling your comics collection.
Please send your e-mails to
your letters to:
Mile High Comics, Inc.
Attn: Chuck Rozanski
2151 W. 56th Ave.
Denver, CO 80221