Sunday, January 16, 2011

Market Spotlight: Blog Edition!

How I Made Money On My Lunch Break

There's a Half Price Books sitting right next to the Chipotle I frequent for lunch.  Popped in there on my lunch break this evening and found a well-loved but serviceable copy of Nightwing Vol 2: Rough Justice and a really nice copy of Hunt For Oracle.  Which means I made about $40 on my lunch break.

Half Price Books is a TPB scout's best friend.  At your typical comic shop, they are ordering the new stuff and just praying that it sells.  In Minneapolis, Big Brain Comics is the only shop I know of that buys out of print book material for resale.

At Half Price, you can stumble onto absolutely anything.  The stock doesn't cycle all that rapidly, but I can promise you those Nightwing books weren't there last week.  Or I would have bought them last week. It's certainly worth poking your head in there a couple times a month just to see what treasures might have slipped into rotation.

Oh, to be a Half Price book buyer.  Good lord, the damage I could do then!  I think if I worked for a comic shop and could get word around that the shop was buying TPBs....I don't think it's out of the question that I could be worth $30,000 a year to them just buying out of print trades.  My big "problem" is finding the damn books at all.  If I had people coming to me with stacks of these things, well, the mind boggles.

Incidentally, Hunt For Oracle has some pencils by Greg Land that I expect most comics art critics would turn their nose up at, but I love it.  This is before Land really fell in love with that lightbox.  It looks good to me!

Adventures in CGC!

I suppose it was inevitable that I would become interested in getting some trades graded by CGC.  You don't see graded trades very often, but it isn't hard to imagine a future in which these are highly sought after collectibles.  As the market becomes more comfortable with collected material, I think you can project that the birth of the trade market could and probably should act a lot like the Golden/Silver Age market down the road.

What I'm saying is, a big piece of the reason why Action Comics # 1 is so expensive is because when released, nobody perceived it as a collectible.  Nobody bagged and boarded their books in 1938.  You rolled it up, carried it around in your back pocket, borrowed it to 6-7 friends before you ever saw it again, and Joey literally tore out page 7 and blew his nose in it because he couldn't find a tissue.  And then eventually your mother threw it away because it was useless clutter, you turned it in for the war effort, or you burned it because Frederic Wertham told you it was awfully naughty.  So there simply aren't that many around any more, and what's left is usually in exceptionally poor condition.  That's why Action # 1 is so expensive.  That and the fact that it launched Superman and superhero comics.

Well, when TPBs were first released, they were perceived as reprints with no collectible value at all.  You read them with enthusiasm, you set your coffee cup on them, and put a big fat moisture ring on the damn things.  You borrowed your Sandman Preludes & Nocturnes to about 6-7 goth chicks, which was a good idea, because it got you laid by four of them.  You don't even want to know what that stain on page 14 is at this point.  And the next time you move, you're not even going to box it up and bring it to the new place, it's going into the garbage.  And that's why that Sandman first print Preludes & Nocturnes is eventually going to go for big money if it's in premium condition.  Because Sandman is going to stand the test of time, just like Superman.  And when people go back, yes, they will chase the floppies, but those did make it into bags and boards.  Those trades (and Sandman basically created the trade market, just like Superman basically created the superhero market) are going to be the crown jewel of collector's hearts because they started out as "junk".

So yeah, I'm starting my adventures in grading the trades.  Don't know how it works, don't know how expensive it's going to be, don't even know if they really do it. I know they have done it, because I've seen CGC slabs on stuff like Predator Vs. Magnus, and even on some thicker books like Wonder Woman: Challenge of Artemis.

I emailed CGC enquiring about the rules regarding trades, because there is nothing on the web site that mentions trades.  I did that multiple times, actually.  I have received no response, which is top flight customer service if I've ever heard it.  A guy comes to me asking how he can send me a stack of money, I usually take the time to listen.  But I'm weird that way.  Apparently CGC has better things to do.

Anywho.  I dropped off an eclectic quintet of books at Hot Comics & Collectibles on Wednesday: The Complete Bojeffries Saga, Walking Dead Vol 1 (1st print), Resident Evil Collection Vol 1, Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast, and Sebastian O.  HC&C is going to send those out for me.

That Walking Dead trade is pretty thick at six issues.  My guess is that CGC kicks it back without grading it.  It would be nice to get these things clarified before one sends a book away for months on end, but then there's that communication issue, see.  Very curious to see what happens, how much I get charged for the service, and if CGC is even in the same zip code as me on grading.  I'll keep you posted on the results when I get the books back.

Cowboys & Aliens Is Over.  For Now.

I've been buying copies of Cowboys & Aliens over at Instocktrades for $1.50 per and selling them for $20-$30 on Amazon.  Apparently that game is over, at least for now.  It's been over before and come back.  This was so overprinted when it first launched I'm surprised that I was ever able to sell it for any price. 

The point is, your arbitrage opportunity is over. The book is sitting at less than $10 right now, which makes it useless.  I wouldn't back up the truck now thinking there's still room to sell if at $10.  Your margins get ugly as the selling price gets cheaper, and I don't think the market's done going down.

It wouldn't necessarily be a horrible idea to have a couple copies at $1.50, though.  When the movie hits, there could be hype, and demand could outstrip the supply again.  Your exposure is so minimal at that entry point, you're obviously not going to lose your shirt on a couple of copies.  I mean, the movie's got James Bond in it, for Christ's sake!

If I were a betting man, though, I'm betting we're done forever with selling that book at $30+.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Awwright Ryan!

Now this is something that I like to see: a Market spotlight laid out right in front of me that I can peruse at my own leisure - since having to go back to the right specific point of a podcast can sometimes be a pain in the ass.

Some thoughts:

I've noticed that there seemes to be a fair number of Half Price books locations listed in the Pacific Northwest and I was thinking about hitting some of them the next time I am on a road trip through the region, but I was wondering if they only sell used trades or do they also get in remainders of other stores/retailers unsold and unread books?

Those early Nightwing trades are a bitch to find, eh? Since you put me onto them I have become aware of just how scare they are out there and how various shop owners wish they could reorder them for their stores.

I am not really comfortable with the whole CGC thing in comics in general - I understand why you would consider investing in it (ie your motivations for it) but I feel that the CGC phenomenon has only really benefitted the contingent of comics enthusiasts who wish to take part in the more 'extreme' aspect of comic investing, those who would choose to play in the deep end of the comics-as-investment pool. I guess I will just never be happy with the thought that people are encouraging other people to seal their brand new funny books in plastic just because their one copy of a book with a print run of 50,000+ came off the printers assembly line with its staple a bit more centered in its navel and a a few less blemishes than its brethren.

I tried to order Cowboys and Aliens from instocktrades after you first mentioned it but to my chagrin, they are only in stock for those living South of the 49th Parallel: they only ship to locations in the continental US. D'Oh!

Really though, the writing has to be on the wall for this book and its likely short shelf life as an "arbitrage" opportunity, since amazon has it listed as being available as a pre-order which will be released this February, 2011. And as you are always want to point out, those of us who sell on amazon (.com, . .ca-ca, or otherwise) should do so knowing that once abook comes back into print, your window of opportunity has shut ... and shut on your fingers if you are not able to move your books in time.

-Web Wreckage Stephen-