Different Ways to Sell Comic Books and Collectibles: Part One

by Joseph Overaitis

092622C-1024x536 Different Ways to Sell Comic Books and Collectibles: Part OneOne of the greatest problems collectors and investors have is deciding how to liquidate all or parts of their accumulation of comic books. Collectors can try to believe they do not have to liquidate any of their books, but eventually selling will become an inevitability, be it because of space or a major life event.  The question then becomes how you sell your books. This is part one of three parts that discuss avenues available to sell your comic books.  Part one will focus on methods of selling comics yourself.

1. eBay: The King

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Format

Most of the people reading this have either bought or sold something on eBay.  eBay is an online auction platform that allows entities to sell their items from their home or business.  The only thing the seller needs is something to sell and an account. eBay allows the seller to sell an item for a fixed price or online auction with or without a reserved price.

Item Range

eBay allows users to sell any legal comic book that they own. This can be a filler copy of a very common comic all the way to a million-dollar copy of Action Comics #1.  eBay provides the format and leaves the item range up to the seller.

Fees

eBay states that the fee to sell comic books starts at 12.9% of the sales price of the item plus $.30 per item up to $7,500. Any amount over $7,500 will be charged a fee of  2.35%.  There are additional fees that the seller can incur for going over the limit of items listed or to increase the appearance of their listings.

Benefits

eBay is one of the largest selling platforms online.  eBay had 138 million users in 2022. Sellers do not have to create brand awareness for their owner corner of the comic book selling universe.  Instead, they rely upon eBay’s brand awareness among consumers to attract them to their listings.

Negatives

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Sometimes a benefit can be turned into a negative.  Many sellers are drawn to the site.  This creates competition. Buyer searches reveal the same issue in the same grade, thus forcing some sellers to cut their price to sell an item if they want a sale. Some dealers have reported buyers who bid on multiple items in auctions and then want to cancel those items that went for the higher price.

Another issue is that eBay only provides the platform.  The listing, shipping, and customer service all fall upon the shoulders of the seller.  Disputes can arise that the seller must handle carefully.  Too harsh a treatment can result in negative ratings that could impact the number of buyers who will respond to the seller’s ads. In contrast, handling the situation too leniently could result in many taking advantage of the seller’s goodwill. It is a delicate balance to walk.

Trends/Tricks

Many raw comic book listings state that the seller is not a grader and thus they do not attempt to grade the book.  Grading is a talent that requires experience. Even then, two people may state the same book in a different condition.  That should not preclude the seller from taking many pictures and describing some of the flaws that the seller sees.

The seller can still indicate that they are not a professional grader, but this type of description better explains the pricing of the issue.

2. Facebook: Internet’s Garage Sale

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Format

Facebook groups that deal with the hobby have flourished.  Many groups allow sellers to advertise their comic books for the rest of the members to purchase. Other sites have “raffles” where bidders can purchase chances to win the book offered. Live streaming auctions also are very prevalent on the platform.

Item Range

There can be a wide range in the type of items offered in these groups.  Very few high-dollar items go up for sale or are available in raffles.  Many of the items that do come up for sale are, at most, a couple thousand dollars.

  Fees

There are no real fees for these items.  That is the reason many people choose to sell on Facebook. Some sellers even try to save shipping costs and possible taxes by allowing only local buyers who pay cash.

  Benefits

Any sale involves minimal costs to the seller.  Even the shipping costs can be rolled into the price. Sellers see that as a way to get the most bang for their buck.

Negatives

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Many catfish sales are reported in these groups where the sellers get paid by buyers and disappear.  Sellers also indicate that they experience issues when buyers state that shipped items never arrived at their destinations.  Sellers also have to deal with problematic pick-ups where they can put themselves in personal danger.

Raffler participants hope that the people holding the raffle are legitimate.  Some may be legitimate but still may face a backlash from buyers who believe something wrong has occurred. Insults are fired from all parties involved and even from bystanders. Facebook can be considered the wild west.  In any event, if something goes wrong, the only possible assistance available is self-help.

Trends/Tricks

Many more of these groups are appearing online.  The economy is declining and sellers are trying to scrape as much profit out of their comics as possible.  Facebook can be a great place to maximize one’s profits, but that comes with an increase in risk exposure.  Newer sales platforms mean a lower pool of buyers.  The potential for fake bidders and problems with the completion of the sale are always present.  On these newer platforms, the process to fix these problems lies squarely upon the buyers and sellers.

3. Comic Book Shows: Temporary Store

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Format

Renting a space in a comic book show allows in-person sales to a very specific target market.

Item Range

Anything goes, here.  The range, though, should fit the target market.  Million-dollar books should rarely be brought to a show out of fear of loss.

Fees

Vendors can always expect to pay for the table. That cost is present at all shows.  Additional fees such as utilities, admissions, and advertising fees may also be incurred.  Always read the fine print of the contract.

Benefits

Shows allow the seller to know their fixed costs, for the most part, in advance of the event.  In addition, comic book shows bring together a group of buyers to the seller instead of the seller having to find them. Some of these buyers are ready to spend money and this is a nice captive market to sell.

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Negatives

A bad convention may bring plenty of people but very few buyers.  The fees may also be so high that the seller must make numerous sales to break even. Match the comic book show with the comic books that will be brought for sale to maximize their sales potential. High-end comics at a small local show may only be taking up space.

Trends/Tricks

Sellers are sharing costs by having more than one person selling at the booth.  This means that they coordinate the items they are bringing so that there will be no competition among booth mates. Sharing allows vendors to fill in gaps in their offerings by having more than one person bring items.  A silver age collection at a booth with another vendor who focuses on modern variants may bring in more customers than if only one type of comic is present.  More eyes also provide for better customer service and theft prevention.

4. Local Comic Book Stores: Quick Cash

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Format

Seller finds a brick-and-mortar store and brings in their items to sell.

Item Range

Better items bring better prices.  Bring in common issues or high-end items at one’s own risk.

Fees

No fees to sell the items.  The offer given may be at a discount to the FMV for the books.

Benefits

Quick offer for quick cash.

Negatives

Stores have overhead expenses.  They will factor in their costs and the ability to sell the books when they give an offer.  Some of these offers may be fair while others may be less than fair. Sellers must remember the risk belongs to the store owner.

Trends/Tricks

Sellers should go to the stores they frequent.  A relationship already exists between the seller and the store owner.  This relationship can be leveraged to receive a fairer offer than if a mercenary-type approach is taken by going to unknown stores.

Selling a book to a store owner will also let people know where they stand with the store.  A very poor offer may show how the store views the customer and sometimes that is a good thing to know.

5. Apps: The New Frontier

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Format

eBay-like platforms that sell items with a click of the finger. Live streamed auctions also are common on these apps.

Item Range

No limits exist on most of these platforms.

Fees

Most of these apps sell for a lower commission fee than on eBay.  Some of these sites also charge a fixed percentage as a handling fee. Please read the contracts to see what the seller is expected to pay before using those apps.

Benefits

A new use of technology brings certain comics to a very specific target audience that uses those apps. These apps also allow the seller’s personality to be reflected on a medium that appreciates this type of reveal. Entertaining viewers draws eyes and buyers.

Negatives

Some of these apps are very new.  This means fewer people are using them than more established means like eBay to sell items. Fewer buyers may mean less competition for items.  Even fixed sales on these apps require a feeding frenzy type of events that make buyers’ fear of not participating impact their choices. A lack of buyers results in lower prices.

Trends/Tricks

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Entertaining customers is one way to bring eyes to a sale on these apps.  Many buyers talk about unique experiences with peers.  Sometimes a fun experience is enough to bring new eyes to an event.  Sadly, in this economy, these eyes may just be lookers who want to be entertained but never will make a purchase.

Finally, apps are a new trend among a hobby that has not caught on with older buyers who have disposable income.  Sellers should research other auctions on these apps to see what type of buyers are buying to pick good choices to sell.  Selling high-valued items when no one wants them may not be a good expenditure of time.

Sellers who want to be on the cutting edge sometimes have to take risks and selling on some apps with fewer participants than more established sales methods may be reflected in the results.  Put in the time and research that particular app to eliminate these possible negative outcomes.

Conclusion

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Selling items by oneself is the most common means to liquidate items.  Sellers control the process in an attempt to maximize their returns.  The more control the seller has in the process, the better equipped they are to eliminate unnecessary costs.  The method sellers use for their transactions is reflective of the type of sale they want.  Sometimes, sellers want to maximize profits and are willing to wait and take their time.  Other times, quick cash is needed, thus, the seller will sacrifice some profits to expedite the process.

The one constant in these types of self-service transactions is increased customer interactions.  Any problems that exist will usually fall upon the seller to remedy.  Many sellers never factor in this “cost” in the sale, only to complain later on about a bad buyer and the time spent dealing with them.  Local comic book owners have long known that sometimes one has to accept a bad customer to make a sale and that not all sales transactions go well. As a result, sellers who rarely deal with consumers may not want to go this route.

Next on Tap

Many people do not want to deal with buyers.  These sellers have accumulated a great collection/inventory of books and now want/need to sell them.  The next part of this series will deal with where one should go if they want to sell their books but do not want to handle the sale.

Want more 101 on Comic Selling?

000080221A_Games_2-Footer Different Ways to Sell Comic Books and Collectibles: Part One*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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