Newsstand vs. Direct Editions

by Norman Robinson III

asm-361-195x300 Newsstand vs. Direct EditionsI typically update the spreadsheet for my collection annually. I was doing the yearly inventory and came across an interesting surprise. Now, the list is very old and I only haphazardly update it once a year or so. By update what I mean is,  I check prices to track my loss or gains and clean up any partial data or inaccuracy.  I review relevant details to see if I missed anything. Low and behold, three newsstand editions that I had forgotten in my inventory jumped out from a price point and higher return standpoint. This was music to my ears, and I wanted to sing “Joy to the World..!” Well, needless to say, I was a happy X-mas camper. Further, upon update of the prices, I was pleasantly surprised that these mid-grade books were selling at what appears to be a premium.

Yep, I owned three of these beauties and did not even know it. The grades were only around 7.0-9.2 so we are not talking big money here. However, I felt the need to expand on the difference in price between newsstand edition and direct edition. The books in question were all Amazing Spider-Man volume one. What do these newsstand books return? Further, how do they compare to their non-newsstand brethren? Finally, are these books more secure and safe as investments because of rarity?

direct-edition-300x116 Newsstand vs. Direct EditionsNewsstand vs. Direct Edition

Back in the good ole’ days, comic books were primarily purchased in small stores or discount shops. You could buy them at Woolworths, Walgreens, K-Mart, just about any small store that had a few spinning racks. Back in the day, they were everywhere. The publishers began to realize in the late Bronze Age that it could be more lucrative to direct edition comics to specialty retailers. At that point, the industry changed focus and let these newsstand issue subscriptions slowly die on the rack over time. The ramifications are a built-in rarity and low print run on newsstand editions after 1985.

The three books to review are Amazing Spider-Man #238, Amazing Spider-Man #300, and Amazing Spider-Man #361. These are the first appearances of the Hobgoblin, Venom, and Carnage.  Let’s compare these three books and compare and contrast them to direct edition books. Further, let’s track the last two years of returns for these newsstand edition keys.

asm-238-newsstand-198x300 Newsstand vs. Direct EditionsAmazing Spider-Man #238 newsstand

The first appearance of Hobgoblin is no small book to own. Hobgoblin has some interesting qualities as a villain, not the least of which is that he is not the Goblin. This book usually has a Tattooz insert and sample. This is often lost and not in the book, earning it an incomplete rating and crushing any profits in its wake. This book was a father and son team up with John Romita Sr. and Jr. doing art with Roger Stern as the writer.

asm-300-newsstand-195x300 Newsstand vs. Direct EditionsAmazing Spider-Man #300 newsstand

This book has been written about more than any other Modern Age book and needs no introduction. It has to be the most popular book in the Modern Age. Created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane in 1988 it is the first full appearance of Venom.


Amazing Spider-Man #361 newsstandasm-361-195x300 Newsstand vs. Direct Editions

Carnage is the nemesis to Venom. He first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #361. This book was written by David Michelinie and the art was Mark Bagley. This book has been very popular in the last two years or so. The cameo of Carnage in Venom the movie was simply beyond weak and left a lot to the imagination. Scroll forward a few years and we have Venom 2 out (eventually). This has stoked this book into one of the most popular of the Copper/Modern Age. 




1-Year Returns

Title Grade Newsstand Price Direct Edition Price Return % Newsstand/DE
Amazing Spider-Man #238 9.6 $535 $530 -18.3%/+31.5%
Amazing Spider-Man #300 7.0 $575 $430 +20.4%/+50.2%
Amazing Spider-Man #361 9.6 $299 $203 +.8%/+8.8%
  9.2 $200 $130 +35.6%/+1.8%

spidey_xmas3-713634-189x300 Newsstand vs. Direct EditionsConclusion:

Apparently, within the same grade, the price can vary by as much as $145; however, the returns are greater for the direct editions. This is a bit odd and requires additional research. By my limited research notated above the premium paid for newsstand-editions is roughly positive +29% on average. However, I believe this is substantially undervalued. Especially for books printed in the 1990s or late 80s. So check your inventory and maybe Santa will surprise you. Perhaps the issues you haven’t checked in years will wind up being a newsstand issue! Merry Christmas!

FOOTER_Comic3-scaled Newsstand vs. Direct Editions

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Randy W DeBower December 20, 2020 - 3:05 pm

Perception in the market seems be that newsstand editions are scarce in comparison to their direct counterparts although pricing for them “officially” doesn’t confirm that. By “officially I mean that Overstreet, GoCollect and CPG only show the “usual” suspects having substantially higher values. Those newsstands being Spawn #1 and Spider-man #1 Gold edition etc. Overstreet hasn’t ever acknowledged any appreciable difference, on all other books but they are usually behind the curve on these things. I could see that HIGH grade newsstand books could command higher values due to the fact that their distribution method lends itself to lower grades in general. But higher pricing on mid-upper grade books seems wrong since that’s probably the typical grade you’d find on a racked newsstand copy. Of course the market will sort this out in due time and I may be proven wrong. I personally have all of the newsstand issues in the article, and more than one of each too. –So I really do hope we see a price spread on these and other keys from the 80’s and 90’s!! From what I’ve seen so far, I’m sure there will be many more articles to follow reporting on this trend. I’m glad GoCollect is on top of this!

Norman Robinson III December 26, 2020 - 3:39 am

I agree with your well-written paragraph. However, I am happy to have a lag on the newsstand copies “officially” as that provides time to buy more. In fact, anything in the 90s that is newsstand and key is a good grab on the cheap. Nam

Derrick Burress December 20, 2020 - 5:51 pm

It is even more so with Newstand 9.8 Secret Wars 8. They have sold recently for $8-900 for a newstand copy vs $400 for direct.

Norman Robinson III December 22, 2020 - 5:51 am

I was struck by a drastic shift in newsstand issues from 1985 on. I am sure there are better prices in the future. At least I am betting there are. Nam

dave stevens December 21, 2020 - 1:43 pm

Your numbers are just flawed. Newsstands sell for more but are not always noted as such. It is possible to find newsstand for DE price, but a smart listing can flip for a good amount more. I should send my 9.8 newsstand to be graded…

Norman Robinson III December 22, 2020 - 5:49 am

Well, all my numbers are off the site and I have been fairly successful with them.
That said, everybody has an opinion. Thanks for reading. Nam


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