Saturday, March 19, 2011

Market Spotlight: Comp Copies!

So I took a trip to Half Price books, which is something I do quite often.  Half Price is a wonderful source for a trade paperback whore for several reasons.  First, I'm most interested in out of print trades, and the out of print stuff is most likely to filter through.  People generally aren't sick of the new stuff yet.  It's the old gold that ends up at Half Price.  Generally tattered and abused old gold, but whatever.

Secondly, the stock tends to rotate more than your average local comic shop.  The books are priced to move, so they do.  Half Price actively encourages customer selling, so they tend to cycle through more material than an LCS.  In my area, we have Big Brain that maintains a used section that works much like Half Price.  But that's rare, and they don't rotate nearly as much or as often as your average Half Price location.

Thirdly, neither the patrons nor the staff at Half Price have a single solid clue about what actually trades for what in the secondary market.  You would think that basic internet access would allow Half Price to do quick research and determine that certain trades are actually valuable on the open market.

The reality is that Half Price either doesn't check prices or doesn't care.  It's a blessing and a curse.  The bad news is that when you're selling books to Half Price, they aren't going to offer more for your items that probably deserve it.  The good news is that they will quite happily offer copies of Thanos Epiphany for $8 on their shelves.  That works for me.

My last trip to Half Price sent me home with a Titan edition of Books of Magic Vol 4: Transformations.  I've made money on several different BOM volumes, most notably Vol 3: Reckonings.  Transformations isn't a particularly good draw in terms of The Game.

So why buy it?  Mostly because it was a Titan edition, and I can often sell them at a premium.  Titan is basically just the UK division of DC.  Cover dress is usually identical, with the only difference being a "Titan" logo, in this case featured in the upper left hand corner of the book.  I suppose I'm seeing extra action on Titan editions because they aren't sold here, and therefore more rare.  Some folks just need to have one of everything, and if you want a Titan edition in the US you usually have to pay for it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a sheet of folded paper tucked into the front cover when I got my book home.  John Ney Rieber is the writer on Books of Magic, and it was a letter to him.

"Dear Mr. Rieber,


We are pleased to enclose the Titan edition just published under license from DC Comics"

The letter is signed by Marc Hirsch, coordinator of International rights.  And the back of the letter features a chain of DC comics icons standing on each other's heads.

Basically what I bought from Half Price yesterday was a Rieber comp copy.  It's just one of the perks of working for DC comics.  You get your negotiated rate, and they send a few copies of whatever you worked on.   I have a book personally connected to its author, and documentation to back up the pedigree.  Kinda neat.

So what's it worth?  I don't know.  To be honest, I've never seen a comp trade come up available for purchase.  In my particular case, I don't think it adds overly much to the monetary value of my book, because John Ney Rieber does not carry "superstar" status, although he's a fine writer.  It would be different if this were a Neil Gaiman comp, is what I'm saying.

But it does carry some value, of course.  If you really love the Books of Magic series, then owning a copy of a book previously owned by the author offers a sense of connection to the work, and that's pretty special.  Not bad for $5!

- Ryan

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