How Much Should You Expect to Get for Your Comics?
This is the million (or hundred) dollar question that many people ask themselves. How much should I expect to get for my comic books? Please note, that this is a generalized article, and it will not specifically tell you how much your comics are worth or how much they will sell for. This article will tell you what you should come to expect when selling your comics in regards to personal monetary expectations.
We see this all the time. Someone finds their old comic books (or other collectibles) from when they were a kid. Or quite possibly, a loved one has sadly passed away and left their family with an inheritance of comics. Many times, people in these positions will go online and search for the comics they now own on eBay and see asking prices of $20-30 for a Death of Superman (issue 75) comic book and think they have now come into a gold mine. They have 20 of these books, which adds up to $400 just for the one group. They then look through the remaining books (let's say they have 500 comics) and think that the books are all worth between $10-20 which means they are sitting on $5,000-$10,000 for their collection of comic books. Sometimes they will also see prices of comics that are graded so their price expectations go even higher. Why stop at $20 for a Superman #75 when they can get $100? It only makes sense, since that is what the comic is selling for as a CGC 9.8. They will next call comic book buyers in their area and ask them for the higher end of the price spectrum only to be disappointed when not a single buyer shows any interest.
This is where we need to put on the brakes. Let's start by saying that asking prices on eBay are not what the book sells for. Sellers online can ask for whatever they want for an item. It does not necessarily mean they will sell it. I might have an issue of Avengers from the 1990s that is completely random and has no significance, but I feel like it's worth $50, so that is what I will list it for. I might list it for that because I think the movies are popular and surely the comics are all valuable. This is however a completely wrong way to think. Just because there are sellers asking for a certain price on comics, doesn't mean that this is the value. The value is dictated by what the item sells for consistently. Just as a point of reference before we proceed: DO NOT USE PRICE GUIDES. They're usually inaccurate and should not be used as a measure of value.
The best way to know how much an item is actually worth is to go to eBay and research the sold listings (there is a way to check this). After you see the sold prices, subtract the fees eBay takes and the amount of labor you will pay yourself (this is important). After all that you will get the actual price the comic book sells for. Let's continue using the Death of Superman (non-black bag) comic book. You will see many sellers asking for $30 (ungraded) for this comic, but the book consistently sells for between $5-10. Now, let's subtract the $1-2 eBay will take from fees and the labor it will take to ship the book. In the end, you're left with much less than what you initially expected.
Now we need to understand that there is a great deal of labor involved with selling comic books. An average comic book long box weighs between 40-50 lbs., while a short box weighs between 20-25 lbs. If you're selling comic books online or at local conventions or flea markets, then you absolutely need to account for this. A local flea market might net you $100-300 for 8 hours of work, but you have to lift quite a few heavy boxes. Trust us, this is much worse than it sounds. The reason we say this is because the average white-collar American makes about the same amount for 8 hours of work, but does not need to lift extremely heavy boxes to do so. The question you need to ask is: what is your labor worth? We sometimes find ourselves working so many hours that we make less than the US minimum wage.
What we lastly need to consider is space. If you have a good amount of comic books, then you need to understand that they can take up a massive amount of space. We have seen basements, attics and closets full of comics. Spaces that could have been used to store other, more practical belongings. If you are paying rent or a mortgage and storing something that is taking up space in your dwelling, then you need to consider how it might be a waste. And if you are paying for a storage unit, then you need to understand that the price you are paying per month in storage fees can add up very quickly. An example is if you are storing comic books in a storage unit and paying $250 a month for 3 years, then you have spent $9,000 on storage. Are the comics worth it? We find in most cases they are not.
The sum up this article, most comic book sellers need to understand that while some comic books may have value, almost all of them are not worth the effort and time needed. That being said, if you have any kind of expectations when selling your comic books, then it might be better to lower them (sometimes drastically). If you don't then you might be setting yourself up for a difficult road filled with disappointment. What sometimes happens is that buyers will not offer what you want, and in the end, you will have to sell them yourself to get the price you desire. This will lead to you putting a great deal of your personal time and labor into comics that aren't worth it. The first thing you need to ask is, what your time is worth, not what your comics are exactly worth.