Why is it Difficult to Sell a Comic Book Collection?
Updated: 5 days ago
So you're ready to sell your comics. What's your first thought? Are these books valuable? How can I get the maximum amount for this comic collection? This is an interesting thought that's usually followed by a completely contradictory mindset. That thought usually has to do with the comics you have being extremely heavy and taking up a good amount of space (which is very understandable). Now how do you get rid of these heavy comics quickly and get your space back while getting the maximum amount for them? These are two completely clashing thoughts.
If you want to sell your comics for the maximum amount, then you need to think to yourself that it isn't going to be an easy process. You'll need to spend months or years selling them individually online. Depending on how many comics you have, this will become a full-time job (especially if you're not experienced in selling comic books). Now you need to ask yourself another question when considering this. Is my time worth all this effort? The minimum wage in the USA is $7.25 at the moment, and if you spend hundreds of hours trying to sell comics, then you might make less than that! Doesn't that mean that you're better off working a regular job rather than putting all your effort into these books? Especially when you consider that an average comic long box weighs 45-50 lbs (my hernia is proof of that). This is a question only you can answer for yourself.
Now, you think to yourself that you're ok with putting in all the effort of selling them online. Next, you need to learn about grading a comic (use our guide on whether it's worth grading your comics). You also need to learn about the process of selling them online before even listing any comics on eBay, hipcomics, or any other selling site/app. Once you've familiarized yourself with the process, you need to understand that every sale will not be perfect and there will be issues when selling your comic books online. Certain buyers, might not agree with your grading (especially if you're new), some buyers might want to return an item for many reasons, and others might want to send low offers in hopes of getting a steal. These all make selling comic books online very difficult or tedious for some.
The other option you might think to yourself is to consign your comic books online. This might sound like the best option, however, most consignment shops aren't interested in books that have little value to them. They have enough people asking them to consign low-end books, and can't be bothered with making such an effort to make 20-30 percent on something with a low value (many consigners will charge 50 percent on low-end items if they take them). Some shops only want graded comics for consignment as they want to prevent any returns on items that aren't theirs.
So you're thinking to yourself that maybe you can pick out the good comics and sell them online while taking the remainder to a local comic buyer for a bulk price. This sounds like a good idea on paper, however, you need to consider that if you pick out any expensive books from the collection, it might render the remaining books nearly worthless. So maybe you can't sell your comics using such a method unless you're ready to take a major loss on the lower-end books.
The final option you have is to take everything to a local comic buyer. There are plenty of ways to approach this. The first option is to pack everything into your car or van and take it to a local comic store or pawn shop. We highly advise against this. Doing this will lead to you being more likely to sell your collection because you'd rather not take them home (and go through the process of unloading them and putting them back into your home or storage facility). Most stores who have frequent walk-in sellers know that the ball is in their court and you're a captive audience, so they'll usually lowball you.
The alternate option is to have someone come to you and pay you a bulk price for your comic collection. Now, this option might sound unappealing to many, however, you need to consider all of the options proposed. Comics are heavy and take up a good amount of room. The profit might not be worth the effort of selling them individually. Consigning comics isn't usually feasible, since most consigners aren't interested in lower-end books. If you consider all that, then this option might be the best for selling your entire collection of comics. You might not get as much for them, but if you were to find a local, reliable comic book buyer (do your research on them), then it will get rid of all liability while getting instant cash. Please note to NEVER use Craigslist when looking for a buyer as it can be filled with scammers. The benefit of having an honest buyer come to you is that you have no obligation to sell to them since the books haven't been moved. If you feel like the buyer is being dishonest, then you can always move on to the next one.
Comics are an amazing medium that many people have bought at least once in their lives. Some buyers bought more comics than others and it ended up compounding. If you're in that boat, then just consider all your options before selling. If you need any kind of tips on how to sell your comics, then please feel free to contact us for any free advice you might need. We can also give appraisals free of charge. Please note that any advice on this article or any personal advice we offer to you is just our opinion and should not be used as your sole means of research. Please do thorough research before selling or buying anything online.
What Advice Can We Offer if You Want to Sell Your Comic Collection Individually?
So you're ready to sell your comics, but you need to get the maximum dollar for your collection. It's understandable as life can throw a few hurdles at us all and sometimes we might need cash to get us through these obstacles. If you're someone who needs to get the maximum amount for your collection, then there's no doubt that you need to split it up and sell everything individually. Consider it your new full-time job.
The first bit of advice we need to stress is to LOWER YOUR STANDARDS. Let's use an example.
You find a small collection of comics and in it, you find a Spider-Man 1 (Gold Cover, 1990). You then take to the internet and look on eBay to see that the gold barcode edition is selling for thousands if it's graded at CGC 9.8. Your heart skips a beat as you think that you're sitting on a goldmine of comics. This is exactly where the brakes need to be applied. First, you need to check and make sure you have the EXACT version that's being sold on eBay. The regular direct edition of Spider-Man 1 and the barcode edition are not worth the same amount. The direct edition was printed in the hundreds of thousands and the barcode edition was exclusive to Walmart and there only seem to be a small handful of that version. You also can't compare a graded comic to yours, because there's a huge price difference, and chances are extremely likely that your comic is not a 9.8. Finally, you need to look up SOLD prices, not ASKING prices. If you do all this, then you'll find that the Spider-Man 1 Gold Direct Edition ungraded only sells for about $5-15 online. Factor in fees and you'll most likely clear a few dollars when you sell it on eBay.
It's understandable if you need money to try and maximize your profit on a collection, but if you need to get the most out of your collection, then it's highly recommended that you do all the research and work required. We recommended learning how to grade (we have a grading guide here), and if your comics are worth grading, then you can send some of them to CGC. Expect a long wait to get your books back, but once they're returned, you can consign them to many online shops for a 20-30 percent fee. You can also try to sell them on eBay yourself. Please know that most comics aren't worth grading and you'll most likely have to sell your comics ungraded.
When selling your comics on eBay, the formatting is completely dependent on you. If you want to sell them quickly, then it's recommended that you auction the comics. If you want to get the most money possible, and can wait, then you can use the Buy It Now format. Just be realistic with your pricing. Just try to be wary while selling on eBay, especially with expensive books as scammers are all over the place.
You should also research shipping rates as they're constantly changing. Be sure to do a good amount of research as you don't want to lose money on postage. You should also look into how comics need to be packed when sent to buyers. Shipping comic(s) (graded and ungraded) in bubble mailers with no protection is highly discouraged as it's likely that the book(s) will be bent or damaged and you'll be out the money for shipping and the issues you mailed.
Finally, try to factor your time into how much you're trying to make on the collection. If you're putting too much time into selling individual comics, then maybe it's time to consider selling some in lots online (we find selling sets or runs of certain titles to be a good method). You might not get the same amount as selling the comics individually, but you can at least get rid of a group of books at once. An example of this would be if you have a run of Wolverine from issues 15-50. You can probably just put them all together in one lot on eBay, and find a buyer who's looking to fill in a gap in their collection.
If you're still confused about selling your comic book collection, then we can offer any free advice/opinions you might need. Be sure to call or email us with any questions you have. Please note that any advice we offer should not be your sole means of research and we take no responsibility for any of your items/collectibles. We highly recommend being thorough with your research when selling anything online.
Common Scams to Avoid When Selling Your Comic Books
Now you might be thinking that selling your comic books seems like a lot of work, but you have time and you're up for it. Before you start selling anything, here are some tips on what kind of scams to look out for whenever you're ready to sell your collection. Please note that these are just what we've seen over the years. There are more scams out there, so be sure to do more research. We'll start first with what scams to keep an eye out for when selling your comics in bulk.
When trying to find buyers for your entire collection, be careful using certain venues such as Craigslist. You might have some buyers contact you who are willing to pay much more than anyone else, but they'll only buy the collection if you ship it. This is a huge red flag, as most buyers on places on Craigslist who want you to ship the item are scammers. They will most likely want to pay using PayPal. Once they receive the item, you'll find out that the PayPal account used to pay for the comics was either a fake, or they will open a case and get their money back.
Continuing with our previous entry, you might post your comics on Craigslist and get some buyers who are interested in your collection. They might make you a very good offer before coming to you. Once they arrive, they'll completely change their tune and offer much less. Please be careful as this is a very common bait and switch scheme that many buyers will use to get their foot in the door. We'll go to sellers all the time who tell us that someone made an offer higher than ours, but in the end, the "buyers" didn't show any kind of money or buy anything at that price. To make things easier for yourself, when selling your collection as a whole, you should avoid selling on venues such as Craigslist, and only have reputable buyers come to you. Do your research.
When doing your research on comic dealers/buyers, you might see some that have great reviews, but when they arrive, you'll notice that the reviews don't match the person who is coming to you. This is most likely because this person has paid for fake reviews. The comic book industry is filled with underhanded tactics, and many dealers aren't above paying for reviews to build a reputation. Please be careful as MANY comic book dealers will make it seem like they've built a great name, but if you dig deeper, you'll see that they have a terrible reputation within the comic community.
This one's easy, but some comic book buyers will tell you to mail your best books to them and they'll make an offer after they've received the books via PayPal or check. If you get anyone offering this, then just avoid it. Except for one or two big-name buyers (Lone Star Comics is usually a safe bet), most buyers are going to ask you to send your very best, most expensive comics, so they can tell you they're worth nothing and offer you pennies on the dollar. This will leave you with the low-end books you didn't send them. It will also put you in a position where you have to sell your best books to them without much of a choice (you're a captive audience).
Some buyers will try to purchase your entire collection, but when it's time to pay, they'll try to give you a check. If they're going to pay using anything but cash, make sure they have a great reputation. Checks can be stopped before they clear, so you don't want to take them as payment. In the end, cash is king. You should make it clear before anyone comes to you that you want payment in cash only.
Next, we'll look at all the scams and pitfalls to avoid when selling comics individually (specifically online). Here are a few tips to consider, as selling online can be much riskier than selling the collection as a whole. Generally speaking, selling in person is easier as you can be selective, but if you put your comic(s) on eBay, then it can be hard to refuse a sale.
When selling on places like eBay, be very careful. If you sell anything expensive, make sure to always put signature confirmation on the packages you ship. eBay requires all items above a certain price to have signature confirmation. Some buyers know this and if they see that you forgot to add this to the package, then they'll just open a claim saying that they didn't receive the item. They'll then most likely win the claim as you didn't follow standard eBay policy.
Sometimes when selling online, you'll get some buyers who will claim that the item was damaged and then request a refund. You will most likely have to accept the refund. Please be careful when accepting a refund for an expensive item, as a common scam has the buyer sending back an empty box. The delivery confirmation will show that item was received back to you and eBay will determine that you need to send a refund, even though the buyer kept the item (there's no proof that the box contained the item). To avoid this scam, be sure to open any returns in front of a postal employee. This will allow you to have a witness, and make it much easier to file for fraud. Please note that if someone has pulled a bait and switch on you and swapped your comics with a lower-grade (or restored) book, then you'll most likely be unable to do anything.
This next one has happened to us recently when selling online. What someone will do is use a fake address and/or eBay account to buy items online and eBay will recognize these as fake, but usually, it will be too late. eBay will send you a message telling you that the item was purchased using a fake account, and you need to call the post office to get it back. In most cases, you won't be able to get it back and you'll be out the item and the money. This one is very hard to stop, as you don't know who has a fake account. Sometimes the easier thing to do is to only sell to buyers who have a good feedback score, especially if it's an expensive item.
Expensive items can attract all kinds of scammers, so if you're selling any comics that are worth some money, please be careful. That being said, don't ever use apps such as LetGo to sell anything expensive as it can attract thieves and people who just want to steal your item. If you ever meet with anyone to sell an expensive item, make sure it's in a public place, like a parking lot that has cameras. This will make it much safer for you. Sometimes it might be a good idea to just go to a coffee shop where there are a lot of people and witnesses in case things go south.
Some online buyers will ask you to mail comics to an address other than the one listed by eBay. Please make sure the address you're shipping the comics to is verified by PayPal or eBay, because if it isn't then there's a chance that the buyer can open a case saying they didn't receive the item and they'll most likely win. This one can be tricky if you're shipping several packages and aren't thorough because it can be easy to miss.
Finally, here's what to keep an eye out for when selling at comic book conventions. Some of these might not necessarily be scams, but we still advise using caution.
When selling at a convention, make sure you do your research and price your comic books a few days before the convention. This will allow you to keep your prices up to date and keep you from selling anything too cheap. Keeping up to date with prices is important because the market fluctuates and sometimes a comic that's worth $50 is worth $500 tomorrow (movie announcements can usually do this). This brings us to our next point.
If you're new to the convention circuit and you're starting with smaller cons, then it's likely that all the local dealers will vulture over your table. They'll most likely come to you and try and buy your best comics before anyone else and leave you with the low-end books. This is very common, and what usually happens is that a new dealer will sell their best books for cheap to the veteran dealers. Those experienced comic dealers will then take the same books and mark them up at their booth for 2-10 times the price they purchased them for. Please be careful because if this happens, then you'll likely think you did well at the beginning of the convention, but the rest of the con (and future shows) will be horrible as you won't have anything good left to sell. Some veteran dealers make a living off cleaning out inexperienced dealers and marking up their books.
Watch your booth closely and be careful about the placement of expensive comics. Theft is very common and most conventions don't have any kind of cameras. If you get a book stolen, then you're most likely out of luck. We recommend trying to place your small camera at your booth to watch areas that have expensive books. Also, be sure to put anything expensive in areas that can be easily seen. We find that putting the best books up high is a good idea. Also, have 2 people working your booth to make sure someone is watching the front while you're reaching for something that requires you to turn your back (it's also helpful for when you have to take a bathroom break).
This has happened to us in the past. Someone will come to your booth and start buying a lot of expensive stuff and use a credit card to pay. They will then open a credit dispute and claim they didn't make the purchase. This used to be more common, but with chip cards, it's become slightly tougher to pull off. That being said, it's still completely possible that someone tries this, so be careful when taking credit cards, because you don't want to lose the item over this. You can try to only take cash at conventions, but these days many convention-goers expect dealers to take credit cards, so you might lose sales if you're cash-only.
This last one can be tough, but it goes in hand with number 3 of this portion. Theft is very common at conventions and some people have learned a lot of very tricky tactics to steal books from people. Some will work in teams to steal from dealers. One person might distract you and ask you to see something off the wall, while the other person goes into your box and helps themselves to a few books. Other thieves will act like they put a comic back into the box but slip it through the front area of the box where there is an opening. This will allow them to put it into their bag under the table. Try to tape up the fronts of your boxes to keep this from happening. Also try to go online to do your research, because sometimes people will have pictures or descriptions of common convention thieves that could help you keep an eye out.
We're going to add an extra one to this portion of the list. Sometimes you will see people walking around the convention trying to sell comics to dealers. Be careful with this, because sometimes the sellers will be trying to discreetly unload stolen merchandise. If you purchase anything stolen, then you will have to give it over to the police and you'll be out the item and the money. Try not to buy anything from random people walking around the convention, even if it sounds like a good deal.
Selling your comic book collection may sound like a major hassle based on this article, but if you educate yourself on all the pitfalls that come with it, then you'll be prepared for anything. If you need a free appraisal or advice on your comic collection, be sure to give us a call, text, or email. Please note that any advice that we give is just our opinion and if you want to buy or sell anything, please do more research and educate yourself properly. If you're ready to sell any of your comics and just want to cut out the hassle, give us a call and we can offer a fair price for your entire collection.