Thursday, September 29, 2011

Market Spotlight!

It's been too long, Cabin Weekend really derailed blogging and my prep for Chronic Insomnia # 205.  Oh well, on with the show!  Some items that have recently caught my attention:

Conan HC Vol 0:  Born on the Battlefield
ISBN:     159307980X
SRP:        $24.95
Amazon min:    $45/$80

This is a really strong opportunity, because these Conan books fit a very predictable pattern, and there's a history of earners from this particular line of books.  It's the usual story, where a niche but fervent audience seeks out the best and most desirable material.  Hardcovers are nice but expensive, which works in a Gamers favor both ways.  People want the material the most, but retailers are less apt to order it, because it entails more financial risk.

If you've got an exceptional copy, I don't think $75 is out of the question, which puts you in that very cozy 3:1 profit/entry ratio I'm always looking for.  I really don't even mind 2:1 on this one, for a couple of reasons.  First, I'm extra confident I can make a sale on this product.  Secondly, I think the odds are good that even if I'm 2:1 now, I'll be better than that by Christmas.

Here's a little tip:  come holiday season, your higher priced items pop with ease.  It's often necessary to slash prices in summer, but when somebody absolutely has to have that deluxe signed Spawn slipcase for their husband, they will pay the going rate for fresh, quality product.

Just as an aside, your earners now for that Conan HC series are volume 0,1, and 4.  Volume 4, Hall of the Dead is especially in demand right now.  I think you can score $100 or more with that book currently.

JLA Titans: Technis Imperative
ISBN:           1563895633
SRP:             $12.95
Amazon min: $15/$40

I haven't sold this book yet, so I'm not sure if I trust it yet.  It certainly looks good on paper, though.  It's certainly got age in its favor as a 1999 release.  Many items from the mid-to-late 90s eventually crawl into some form of profitability.

As I type this, the money seems to be tucked into the high end of the condition spectrum, which is not unusual. If I saw this at my LCS in really nice shape, I'd feel comfortable paying cover.  Hell, I'd feel comfortable paying cover for just about any TPB in great shape from 1999.  They're hard to find, and increasingly preferred collectibles.  I snap up any old collected edition if I see if its in pristine condition, because I'm pretty sure I'm going to retire on my CGC graded editions.  More on that in a bit.

Doom Patrol Vol 4:  Musclebound
ISBN:      1401209998
SRP:        $19.99
Amazon min:    $35/$40

So, we covered The Painting That Ate Paris a couple weeks ago, and that has certainly worked out.  I bought a copy of Volume 2 a few days ago for $18, posted it for $50, and it sold inside of six hours.  It's really quite odd that DC has let these modern classics go out of print, but I certainly advocate taking advantage of the situation for the (I'm guessing) brief window of opportunity available.

The thesis is pretty simple.  Doom Patrol is a Grant Morrison favorite.  It's probably never going to land on the Diamond Top 300 chart again, (unless somebody makes a movie?) but a steady stream of emerging Morrisonites are going to be interested.  If they can't find the book at their LCS or Barnes & Noble, it's feeding frenzy time.  And that's what we've got going right now.

Musclebound is currently sitting at around the $40 mark, which is only 2:1, but I think it's such an easy sell right now it's probably worth it.  Again, check in periodically to see where supply is at on Amazon.  If things really dry up, I can see something like this commanding $100 until DC finally wakes up and goes back to press.

My Retirement Fund
I've been experimenting with sending books to CGC for grading.  When I started, I wasn't even sure that they'd accept them, and I was deathly afraid that they'd reject anything thicker than a four issue collection.

What I've discovered is that CGC readily accepts trade paperbacks, and the holders are able to deal with some fairly thick editions.  I'm not crazy enough to send them anything as extreme as say, X-Men: Zero Tolerance, which is thick as a phone book.  But I sent them Avengers: Under Siege, which is a bit of a monster, and they graded it without complaint.

I should honestly keep my mouth shut on the issue, because I'm giving away some pretty powerful milk for free, while simultaneously creating my own competition.  The problem is that I am in the words of Malcolm Gladwell, a Maven.  So I just can't help myself.  I'm going to retire on the profits secured sending my high end trade paperbacks to CGC, and if you're smart, you can as well.

It's really a perfect storm of opportunity.  When released, these books were not perceived as collectible, and as a consequence very little survives of any age that isn't dog-eared.  Just sitting on a shelf is often hard work for these books.  The perception of TPBs has shifted to the point where it's obvious to anybody paying attention that they are the preferred format of a strong and growing segment of the comics market, and they are just now beginning to ascend as collectibles.

Start cherry-picking now, folks.  Anything old with sharp corners, a nice spine, and lays flat will work.  It's better if it's a Batman book, and it's better if it's a first print/first edition.  I'll say this about my grading results from CGC - they're very fair, and I'm a tougher grader than they are.  I used to feel bad about posting my trades on Amazon as "new" unless they were pristine.  What I recognize now is that I shouldn't have been selling those books, I should have been grading them.

I just sent my four best copies of Miracleman vol 1-4, and earned a pair of 9.6 grades, one 9.4, and one 9.2 for my copy of Olympus.  Now, Miracleman is a pretty known commodity at this point.  It's also well known in 2011 that the TPBs are even more scarce and collectible than the floppies, because the legal issues appear to have halted the printing press on more collections.

But if you look at the CGC census, you'll notice that Miracleman # 1, which is not particularly scarce, and not particularly valuable, has been graded no less than 460 times.  The first collected edition, Dream of Flying, has been graded a grand total of 4 times.  Friends, Romans, Gamers - we are WAY ahead of the curve on this one.

I've just received my copy of Dream of Flying back with a CGC 9.6 mark.  I don't really know what that's "worth", because the market is in its infancy.  I know this - if you offered me $1,000 for it, I wouldn't take the money.  Mind you, I'm not claiming I could get more for it at present on the open market.  Frankly, I think the open market is currently too stupid to know what it's looking at.  I'm saying that I think it's worth far more than $1,000 in less than 10 years, and it's harder for me to find a high grade copy of that book than it is to keep the one I've got.  But it can be done.

Keep looking for those shiny, perfect little trades.  Get them graded.  Nobody else is doing this right now, bless their hearts.  Now is the time.  Happy hunting!

- Ryan


Web Wreckage Stephen said...

Oh Ryan, this post was such a sweet piece that pulled out of me a mixed bag of feelings. All I can say here in "mixed company", is that I suspect that you are leaving yourself open to a very rosy view of the future of higher end graded TPB demands. Not that you shouldn't be doing what you are doing in case you are right, but I can easily envision the big two seeing demand for collections and going back to an identical copy print run to cash in on any future demand.

Along these lines, I remember an official comment from Marvel in the last year along the lines of 'we should have the copyright issues for reprinting eclipse Marvel man stuff cleared up in the next year or so'. If that happens, expect more collected editions of that stuff than you would need to wipe the asses of a small sized city for a few years...

Finally, up here in land, I have been finding copies of those prized Doom Patrol tpbs here, there and back again and how many have I moved at budget prices? zip. Nada. Goes to show that even online, border lines can make quite the difference.

PS. did you see that they have added Kirkman, Capullo and Wagner to the guest list for Emerald city? Woo-Hoo! Wonder if at least one or two of your fanatic fan base might make their way down there?

Chronic Insomnia said...

I will be the first to admit that I'm about 1,000 times more bullish on the future trade market than conventional wisdom says I should be. All I can say is that in 1977 Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corp and pretty hip to tech said "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." I'm right on this one. You'll see. You'll all see, mwahhahahhahahah!

Incidentally, I wouldn't worry about the long term of the Eclipse books even if Marvel does sort out the Miracleman legal rights, any more than I would worry about the Marvel Masterworks books ruining the value of Amazing Spider-Man # 1, or a new edition of Huckleberry Finn crushing the value of a first edition. If these are perceived as collectible, (and I say they already are) then the Eclipse trades remain desirable.

- Ryan

Detroit Dave said...

Hey herms,

First, my apologies for the long comment, but I've got a lot to say. I've been listening to your show for about a year and a half now, so THANKS for all the entertainment. You two turds make me want to take the gun barrel out of my mouth while I'm at work for an hour or so every week, so I really appreciate it. I listen/read every week, but I just had to post when I saw a Ken Olsen comment! My dad worked for DEC for about 20 years, so I know all about Ken, and his ill-fated "No PCs!" mandate. Ryan, through Market Spotlight (which DEMANDS to be put back into the podcast...I'll never listen to Heartlight the same again), you've introduced me to the secondary trade market. I've been collecting comics for about 22 years (I'm 36), and for the past 6 or 7, I work part time in the LCS I grew up going to (and still go to). We're a typical, old school shop, with LOTS of OOP trades, about 300 boxes of back issues in store, no computer, etc etc. The shop is archaic, but I love it, as do most of the regulars (Owner has been in business for about 27 years, though 2012 could very likely be his last year in business). Anyway, "we" (really the owner, but it's easier to say we, so suck it) have made a great profit on CGC books over the past 10 years or so, having bought a collection of untouched comics from the Golden Age through current (about 200 half boxes worth, if I recall). I'm telling you all this redundant BS b/c I know about the comic market, and about CGC market...but I never knew trades to be sought after/collectible, until I listened to you tell us about them in market spotlight (and then scream like a girl when an "Albino" spider came near you). We recently picked up a collection of untouched 1990s comics from a personal collector who, like many, tried his hand in investing and failed (we literally have a short box of Spawn #1s, unopened cases of X-Force 1, about 50 Death of Supermans, etc etc). Most of this stuff is from 1988-1998. While there were a few gems in the collection (Crow, Cry for Dawn 1, multiple unread copies of all McFarlane Amazings), to me, the best bet at a quick profit was in the roughly 2 long boxes of unopened/unread TPBs we had. They're mostly DC books, lots of Batman, all 1st print books, etc. I told the boss that I could sell them on Amazon. He was apprehensive at first ("I'd have to sell them for half cover price on Amazon!"), but I talked him into it. So, long story longer, I've taken your advice, and am now selling his (and some of my gems I've found) books on Amazon. So thanks again for the info. Now, I have a few questions, b/c I've only moved about 5 books in about 3 or 4 months. Can you give a new seller any advice selling on Amazon? I've tried to describe the books to the best of my ability, and I priced them cheaper than everyone else's "new" price, but I'd like to get more movement on them. Also, NONE of my buyers have left me feedback, which I feel is part of the problem. I've sent emails asking if they're happy with the books (everyone is), but they don't drop feedback. What gives? I didn't know CGC started doing TPBs, so I'm DEFINITELY going to send some of these books in. Where do you advise trying to sell CGC TPBs? On Amazon, I feel we're in a good position, b/c we've got WAY less than cover price in these books, so even getting 1.5x cover is a score for us, and I feel it's totally possible. I just don't know if there's something I'm overlooking. I have quite a bit of experience selling stuff on EBay, but Amazon is different enough where I'd like to pick your brain for advice.

Thanks again for the hours of entertainment (you should make the 1st 50 or 100 podcasts available for download, btw), and keep up the good work. Oh, and I'd totally take a dolphin over a raccoon. Just saying...

--Detroit Dave

(PS Sorry about Calvin!)

Chronic Insomnia said...

I told you Ryan. A Dolphin is a heck of a lot sexier than a Raccoon. In my mind it's really a no-brainer.

Thanks for the comment Detroit Dave, and I appreciate the Calvin remark, he is missed.

Michael "The Thomas" of podcasting.

Chronic Insomnia said...

Couple things. Detroit Dave, a sincere thank you for taking the time to write that letter, which is much appreciated. I love the market bit and get the warm fuzzies when somebody out there "gets it" and is helped by it.

Would you send me a very quick note to, so I can respond via email? You've got a lot of good points/queries, and I'll tackle them all in a reply that way.

Also, I think I could come around on the dolphin thing. I just don't know how it works, really. I've got the raccoon basics down cold.

- Ryan