Comic Book Buying Mistakes Made by Collectors

by Joseph Overaitis

070122A-1024x536 Comic Book Buying Mistakes Made by CollectorsMost of our writers read and respond to comments.  Many of the writers even base articles on those comments.  We try to meet the needs of our readers.  Over and over, though, the comments on this site seem to share one mistaken belief… That this site and most of the articles are written only for investors.  This fallacy will ultimately lead to comic book collectors making big mistakes and costing them the opportunity to maximize their collection.

Mistake #1 Ignoring Articles Supposedly Written for Investors

Misidentified Target Audience

Every article written on this site is for comic book hobbyists.  Articles are written for investors and collectors! Collectors and investors co-exist in the same market and their interactions impact each other.  Last year an article was published informing hobbyists that they may want to target Avengers #9 because it contained the first appearance of Wonder Man.  Recently Disney announced a new project that will feature the character.  Investors took the advice to maximize their return on investment opportunity.  The problem is, what did this article mean to collectors?

What Investors Know Can Hurt You

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Articles that are presumed to be written advising investors of possible guidance should be carefully scrutinized by collectors and vice versa.  The article may present a good reason for why buying a book now may be better than buying it later to add to the collection.   Funds are limited and adding a book at a discount is always advisable. You may have more desirable books on your list, but if a collector wants to ever add a book, the time to do it may have a short shelf-life.

Demand was low for the first appearance of Wonder Man, so collectors should have been all-in on that book sooner than later. The article’s review of the data demonstrated that raw books should have been targeted in the 6.0-8.0 range as the best targets for investors because they were undervalued.  If a comic book is undervalued by investors, then it should be of great interest to collectors who want a book in the highest condition they can afford.

Collectors’ Take

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Collectors have specific targets to add to their haul. That does not mean collectors can ignore investors and investment articles. If a collector wants to add a book, they should have a plan.  Buying what is emotionally enriching is nice but the purchase may be even better if it comes at a bargain.

Collectors who focus on first appearances have to understand where the buying opportunities exist.  Avengers #9 was a great opportunity for a collector to add a book on the cheap then if they ever hoped to add it. Now, that addition will cost a lot more because investors and collectors are flocking to the book.  In addition, look for articles about books dropping in price.  Remember, you may be paying an investor to add the book to a collection. Would it not be better to add it at a discount?

Mistake #2 The Market Report is for Investors

Market Report Not Only for Sellers

The GoCollect market report is one of the greatest collector’s tools that is ignored by the majority of collectors. Collectors wrongly assume that this list is like a stock ticker.  This list is thus ignored because collectors are not concerned about “investment news”.  The Market report is probably one of the greatest tools that a collector could have in their arsenal and yet many go into battle without it.

Devil in the Details

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The Market Report is a tool that can be modified to present the data in a format the user needs.  Collectors do not use it because it is perceived to be an investment tool, but they should learn to use it to their advantage.  Books that are on the move may be so for all the wrong reasons.  Investors talk of buying on the dip to increase the potential for a good return on investment.  That should also be the goal of collectors.  Books that are dropping in FMV may thus present good targets for the collector with finite funds.  You may not buy at the lowest FMV but every bit saved helps you add more books to your collection.

If there is more than one book on your list you have to be very resourceful. You can say you don’t mind paying over the FMV for a book, but if you do that long enough it will impact the number of books you can add to your collection. The Market Report assists collectors in knowing what is happening in the hobby.  Finally, those cover price books you always think of adding “one day” may skyrocket in price the next.  Seeing these books on the uptick may influence your decision to get them at the cover price or dollar bins at your LCS before investors scoop them up.

Collectors’ Take

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The Market Report presents you every day with books that may be highly volatile because investors bet on the wrong book.  Brian Michael Bendis and MCU fans may have wanted to add New Avengers #7, but the book was out of their reach.  Now, collectors can add a 9.2 copy for only $54 dollars.  That is half the price that the same copy could be purchased only a year ago.

Buying opportunities are displayed for collectors so they can add target books at a discount. Sadly, most collectors ignore these opportunities.  Remember, being a collector does not mean you have to pay more for target books.

Mistake #3 Collectors buy what they like so they don’t need to know the data

Sentimental Value not Included

Social media is full of hobbyists stating one should buy what people like and can afford.  This statement then absolves the buyer in most cases from making mistakes.  Most frown upon overpaying for books but justify it if the book is desired by the collector.  Collectors have the burden of emotions.  Collectors think with their hearts when they make a purchase. Sadly, the rush of buying a book may overwhelm a buyer’s ability to exercise some financial restraint.  Investors know this and use it to their advantage.

Populations Matter

GoCollect census population should be the second tool used by collectors to prevent them from overpaying for a book.  Collectors should know how common a book is when they search for it because that could influence the price you pay, as well as when one should buy the book.

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One can not go to any show or on eBay and not see an early Amazing Spider-Man issue for sale.  Now look for a Lev Gleason Publications Daredevil Battles Hitler #1, published in 1941. There is one eBay sale listing this book for sale.  That copy is graded at 1.5 and is listed for $5,800.  A 9.2 copy of Amazing Spider-Man #129 can be purchased roughly for that price.

A collector who loves both war comics and first appearances would know where their money should go based upon the numbers alone. Sellers use the population and Market reports to assist them in selling books.  Buyers have access to the same numbers and should use them to add to their collection in the most efficient method possible.  A good collector should know more about a book than a good investor because of their passion, but sadly, many believe passion will overcome a lack of knowledge.  Sellers take advantage of that flaw.

Collectors’ Take

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Collectors should always check the GoCollect census to see how rare the book is in the wild, but also how many times it comes to market.  Daredevil Battles Hitler #1 is not only a rare book but highly sought after by collectors because of the date it was published and the Hitler photo cover.

Collectors should realize that they are not alone and review how often these books come to market.  Investors know this information and will take advantage of it and yet collectors will search for books but not know this basic information.  How often a book comes to market will dictate when one pays above or below the FMV. Leave emotions at home until after the deal is done.

THE BIGGEST MISTAKE ….COLLECTORS ARE NOT INVESTORS

I see this all the time. Collectors are not investors.  Most collectors are not interested in selling their books for profit so that makes them different from an investor. Collectors buy from their hearts.  They are passionate about their books.  Each book is a prized asset that sits in their collection as if it was their child.

Collectors make an investment with every purchase, yet very few collectors realize the actual cost of their investment. Both collectors and investors purchase from the same pool of books in the market, but somehow the reasons for the purchase differ from how collectors and investors look at the cost of their purchases.

Investment Means More than Money

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Collectors will chase books and sometimes overpay when they find their targets.  Collectors will also spend great amounts of time adding to their collections.  This may be a great hobby for some, but for others, it may take away from time they can spend with family and friends.  The Angry Girlfriend copy of Amazing Spider-Man #14 is a legend among collectors.  This book demonstrates one collector’s priorities and how they impacted their life.

Divorce attorneys hear many cases where a collector’s obsession with their hobby is mentioned as a contributing factor to the breakdown of the marriage.  This is usually caused because collectors are always collecting and never liquidating their collections.

Car collectors have whole garages built with hydraulic lifts on their property to display their acquisitions.  Comic book collectors can have rooms dedicated to holding books.  This is an investment of space and financial resources.  Collectors must always evaluate the size of their collections and if what they have warrants the price of that space. Sometimes that price is only the cost of heating, cooling, and maintaining the humidity of the room. Others will pay a price in a relationship that will cost them even more than money.

Sad Truth

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The hobby is an investment no matter how one looks at it. There will come a time when the size of a collection becomes unattainable. Collectors will be forced to liquidate some parts of their collections.  Congratulations, because now the investment side of the hobby is apparent.  Hard choices will have to be made.  Make them with your heart, but do not ignore the brain.  Treating each treasured comic book like a child is nice, but never let it come in the way of what is truly important.

Collectors’ Take #1

There is always a price to do something.  Collectors tend to ignore the price they pay because of the emotional attachment they have to their books.  Ignoring a problem does not mean it does not exist. Many collectors pay a large price for their collections.  Collectors become obsessed with their collections and ignore the prices they pay for their hobby.  Sadly, sometimes the realization of the true price comic book collectors have paid comes too late. Collectors may be forced to look at some books as investments and liquidate them to preserve the balance of their collection.  Lose the battle to win the war.

Collectors’ Take #2

No matter how hard collectors fight it, one day their collections will be sold.  This is inevitable. The collection may finance the purchase of a new house, help a collector during retirement, or pay for a child’s marriage. Ultimately, the collection will either be liquidated because of the death of the collector or passed down to their heirs.  The books will be looked upon as only an investment either way.

The reason I mention this is because of a case where a collector’s family member lived in a state of poverty in order to preserve and maintain the collection of a deceased relative.  The collection was ultimately sold, but the price paid by that family member to preserve the collection of the deceased family member was high.  Instead of viewing it as just objects that brought the person enjoyment, the collection took a life on to its own. The emotions associated with a collection caused this family member to suffer in real life.  Collectors should realize this and make sure that their family members know what truly is important in their lives.

Final thought

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Collectors are important members of the comic book community. The site’s name is GoCollect, not GoInvest.  Collectors buy and maintain their books with a passion.  Surgeons keep emotionally detached from patients because they do not want to make choices based on the heart and not the head.  Collectors need to detach themselves from the process to make better decisions. Collectors should be shrewd and buy like an investor and leave the emotions at the door.

Sellers prey upon the weak buyers. Shill bidding is a common problem online because certain bidders give away how far they are willing to go to get books.  The first and last initial is included when one is the highest bidder.  Buyers who use the same site then become identifiable as the easiest marks, the passionate collector.  Collectors leave themselves open because of the emotional attachment they have to their books.

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GoCollect is a site for collectors and investors.  Data and information are provided to equip readers so that they can make informed decisions on the hobby.  Collectors and investors travel in the same world and deal in the same books.  Ignoring information used by sellers only comes to the detriment of collectors.

This blind spot will only prevent collectors from making their collections the best they can be if done correctly. Finally, remember – being a collector does not mean overpaying for the collection.  Passion has a price.

Want more advice about collecting and investing?

Annual_Membership_Footer Comic Book Buying Mistakes Made by Collectors*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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13 comments

Kenloi July 3, 2022 - 9:01 am

Great article. There are crossovers on the accepted boundaries. You are right about collectors spending vast amounts of time finding the right book primarily by travelling to and fro. I see it as a way to explore the surrounding areas of a targeted comic shop but always on an eye for eventual profit. I also try to read every comic i buy, as it can give you clues on possible cold leads inside the actual story other people may miss.The result another cheap comic with potential down the line. Investors i expect do analyse all the free data they can, for a more considered purchase. The 25 year rule i have permanently inscribed on my forehead. Whether its valid or not. If cover price or acceptable price i find it fun to speculate occasionally but not to sell short term. Make sense of that….

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Joseph Overaitis July 3, 2022 - 10:08 am

On the point as well and insightful. It amazes me most people never actually read the stories and yet try to get insight in the investment side of it. Collectors have the edge on them LOL

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Matt Kennedy July 3, 2022 - 12:33 pm

This might be the most important article ever published on this site.

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Joseph Overaitis July 3, 2022 - 1:56 pm

Matt

I thank you. People always forget the collectors. They are the life blood of the hobby. Many successful investors know what collectors want and many successful collectors I know try to keep ahead of the investors. The two are and will always be what drives the hobby. Keep up the posts and let us know what you think because this article was written because of a comment that said we ignore the collectors. LOL we actually try to write for our readers so let us know what you think and we will put the work in to bring you more relevant articles.

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bsc249 July 3, 2022 - 1:12 pm

Good stuff as always Joe, however, I am going to slightly disagree with you 🙂 I am a collector but I read the market reports to basically see which books, that I wanted, that I can now scratch off my want list… Take New Avengers #7 for example. You pointed out it can be had for half the price of its recent highs but that is still 10x higher than what the book could have been had for, prior to investment speculation. Collectors should already have had that book, if they wanted it. They had years to get it, many times in a dollar bin. Heck it’s listed in the ’21-’22 Overstreet guide at $3 because that info predates investor speculation. Investors didn’t care about that book or even know about the book till some movie trailer or press release.
Sadly, I am developing a Love/Hate relationship with the MCU. I love the movies and seeing my favorite characters on the big screen and yes, what my collection has become “worth?”. I hate what its doing to my ability to collect books that I love because investors drive up market speculation based upon a press release and movie trailer, not an actual story, plot, artist, writer whatever a collector truly enjoys in a book.

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Joseph Overaitis July 3, 2022 - 1:53 pm

BSC

I agree with you that people should have added that book BEFORE it jumped in price but many people take different approaches to collecting. I put off buying books for a collection years ago because i could not afford them and instead jumped at lower priced books I could afford. The problem is the lower price books still can be bought for pennies but those higher price books are sometimes beyond ones reach. I strongly believe the market report should be used by collectors to avoid my mistake. LOL years ago I could have added that ASM #1 for maybe a few hundred to a thousand dollars in VG condition but now I will be lucky to get a page for that amount LOL.

I want you though to keep up the posts because people assume this site is full of investors. They never realize that it is also full of collectors and it is collectors that will ultimately keep the hobby going!

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Randy Barb DeBower July 3, 2022 - 3:54 pm

Good article!! A GREAT many of us don’t fit SOLELY in the investor OR collector category. We bought comics at cover price to enjoy and picked up back issues we missed to fill in our runs. –Or sometimes because we heard of something particularly good we missed out on. All the while we felt we had something to enjoy, with the intention of selling it for a decent profit someday. After a while we had a nice library of comics to re-read at our leisure. We’d watch the market and sometimes sell off an item or two, usually using the money to pick up more new stuff or maybe a treasured back issue we’d set our sites on when it was out of reach. Whether you fall into either the collector or investor category –or even if you’re the “CO-VESTOR” (that’ll never catch on!!) it’s the thrill of the chase that makes the hobby ( and investment!!) FUN!!! Having great resources to help us not overpay, makes the hunt more enjoyable particularly when prices reach unparalleled peaks!!

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Joseph Overaitis July 4, 2022 - 8:35 am

Randy

I ask that you please keep on posting. Your comment was perfect and I liked Co-Vestor term. I know of die hard collectors that always want to trade up and yet they hate thinking of themselves as investors. That might be a happy medium for them LOL

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Jeffrey July 4, 2022 - 11:58 pm

An article I’d like to see is, “What defines a rare book?”. It’s difficult to say what a rare book is now-a-days since anything can be bought on the internet. In the old days, a book was rare if it was difficult to find at shows/conventions. Now, almost any book is readily available. For example, I own West Coast Avengers #35 of which only 10 are graded. Does that mean it’s rare? Most likely “No”, so what is a rare book? [Yes, I understand 1st Batman and Superman comics are rare. Question is geared towards more modern comics].

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Joseph Overaitis July 5, 2022 - 11:39 am

Jeff

A great post..And now I have another topic to write about LOL

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Dave Stevens July 6, 2022 - 12:25 pm

There takes a good amount of knowledge to determine what makes a book rare.
When there is a lot of desirability and a low census, that is the go-to, but there are also books so rare that few know about them. Avengers West Coast 35 fits the “this book isn’t worth slabbing” category, but an ebay search will show many copies, especially overlooked in lots, sets and runs. The Golden Age, and especially the Atomic Age have low numbers on many books and, for the most part, that is rarity, but funny animal comics, for instance, are vastly overlooked and have low numbers because the value doesn’t necessitate grading.
When books are rare and desirable, prices skyrocket. When they are rare and not that desirable, you can get away with a steal if you like it. Rare books are more common than you think, haha. That’s the depth-of-knowledge part.
I collect a lot of GA romance books and for the most part, those are very tough, ESPECIALLY in grade. Those considerations are important as well.
You also want to be concerned about warehouse finds. True Life Secrets is a title where almost every issue is rare, except for arguably the best, most desirable cover: True Life Secrets 23 where a man’s hand holds a string of pearls and the featured cover lady says something like “Just what do I have to do to get those?” The implications are strong and it is a classic cover, but it isn’t the most valuable book in the run because they are not that rare, even in grade. Most collectors or investors of “comics” don’t know a lot about the golden age and probably haven’t heard of this book, or title.
Educate yourself to what you like, use industry data, like copies ordered, and figure out what books are rare, or rare for their era, another important consideration.
Spawn 1 is getting decent money now, as is Spider-Man 1 and X-Men 1 despite sky-high print runs. I remember hearing 15 years ago, or so, that anyone that wanted a copy could get a small pile, after the glut of the 90’s, but grade still matters so there is still value, despite the books not being rare. At all.

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Patrick July 13, 2022 - 8:31 am

Always enjoy the articles here. One problem – collectors drive the hobby – there were no investors in 1970, 80 etc – the investing part is when slabbing came to be and people started to – buy a comic without reading it or desiring too. I sm unbelievably researched and shocking – I know the characters through years of reading and sharing with my friends – one thing u missed – as a collector – I recently bought an ASM 14 with no back cover for $500 – it would be a VG without – you know why? I did my research and found someone who was sad they couldn’t slab it cause it would be incomplete etc – I could not care less – and over time, people want low grade cause there are many more collectors than investors – if there wasn’t the hobby does like depression era glass. Thanks for the insights just sharing

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Joseph Overaitis July 13, 2022 - 7:18 pm

Patrick

Love the comments. I have to politely disagree because there were a few back in the 70s and 80s who did view these as an investment, but not the degree that it was today. a local pawn and gold and silver shop used to have coin collectors who traded in their comics for baseball cards and other perishable investments. i learned a lot about collecting and investing from some of the guys I met there as well as my LCS.

Collectors are the back bone of the industry. They are needed by investors. Rarely do you have investor to investor sale. Instead investors are looking to sell to collectors because they will pay for what they want. Slabbing came into being because of the disputes. PS your ASM buy was a great one either as a collector or investor. As a collector you put one in on an investor though because if they would have done their research they could have seen other books like that selling for top dollar and if they thought long term they would have slabbed it. Instead you got it for a song. I ENVY YOU!!!! THAT WAS A GREAT DEAL!!!!

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