Thursday, December 29, 2011

Market Spotlight!

Haven't done one of these in awhile, let's see if I remember how to do this.  Oh yeah, I guess I just riff on secondary market stuff I've noticed recently.

Here's an interesting one, and - brace for it - this has nothing whatever to do with trade paperbacks!

So I'm ambling about the closed comics listings on eBay, because that's where the real learning is done; wandering about, poking one's nose where it doesn't belong, for no other reason outside of curiosity.  Whilst ambling I discovered this listing, where some crazy bastard actually dropped $62 on a beat up copy of a counterfeit comic book.

Now, these things can get a little dodgy.  No way of knowing if any money actually traded hands.  Just because the listing closed, doesn't mean it really closed.  But there's every good chance that this actually happened.  What makes it extra head scratchy is that right now you could probably make an offer and score on this fully authentic Cry For Dawn # 1 in a much more attractive 9.4 grade for about $150. 

I just can't get over that sale, because it has absolutely nothing going for it.  Sure it's beat to shit, but at least it's fake....  I'll pop for $50 on that all day long!  What the hell where they thinking? 

Some other items catching my attention:

MPD Psycho Vol 6
ISBN:  1593079966
SRP:    $10.95
Amazon Min:  $80/$80

In point of fact, volumes 3-7 of this series all seem to be out of print and scrambling toward some degree of profitability, at least on paper.

I have a hard time trusting this.  Part of the problem is that I've never made one nickel on reprinted manga in my life, so there's the novelty of it.  Part of the problem is that this feels spiritually akin to some of the all ages digest scenarios that have burnt me several times in the past.

I've seen J2 digests and Mary Jane digests climb for the stars on Amazon...but I've never been able to capitalize.  Whatever the min is, some items just don't seem to command more than half cover price.  The audience will simply do without rather than pounce on an expensive book.  Now, I'm rational enough to recognize that what happened with Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane two years ago has little to do with what I can expect from MPD Psycho material now.

If you look at the closed eBay listings on the series, there's no heat there, either.  I don't trust it, is what I'm saying.  Having said that, the SRP is $11, so if this thing is for real, you're looking at margins north of 7:1, and that's awfully tempting.  Awfully tempting.  If you can find this thing laying around your LCS, I might snap it up and see what happens if you dangle it for $50.

She Hulk Vol 7:  Here Today
ISBN:    0785129660
SRP:      $14.99
Amazon Min:   $18/$25

This whole series has been kind of a rock star this year.  I've had multiple sales on Volume 2 and especially Volume 9 recently.  So it comes as no surprise to find Here Today poking its nose out for a whirl at profitability.

It's not unusual to see prices cycle, but I've noticed that this whole She Hulk business has been particularly volatile.  A few days ago this looked like an even juicier peach.  It's still pretty good, though.  And the only reason why the low "new" condition bid is sitting at $25 is because your not-so-humble scribe is under-selling the book right now trying for the quick flip.

Let's talk about that for a second.  There's several schools of thought on maximizing profits, but I'm in the "when in doubt, get your money and get out" school.  I picked this up today at Hot Comics from the 50% off shelf, which means that I got it for about $8.  Now, my book is brand new in very nice condition.  I'm looking at the Amazon listings, and the lowest of the used is sitting around $18, but there's a nice sounding "like new" book at $20.  The lowest price on the "new" chart when I got there is about $40.

First impulse for many is to slap it up there at $39.99 and let it ride, and that's not a terrible plan.  What I did is calculate what a 3:1 would look like, calculate my ability to replace the book, and gauge the volatility involved, and how confident I was about selling the book in the higher echelons.

What I did was post it for $24.99 looking for the quick turnaround.  Am I selling myself short?  Perhaps.  I don't have a history with this book, so mostly I'm dealing with unknowns.  But at $24.99, I'm making a nice margin, and there's another copy sitting at Hot Comics for $8 if I need it.

"Why didn't you just buy both", says Faithful Reader?  Because I'm not in the business of getting in deep with any book until we have a relationship, and I have every confidence it will be waiting for me if I need it.  Yes, even after publicly announcing it.  I have six readers, and none of them frequent Hot Comics.

The strategy is:  get in dirt cheap, make a nice margin, plow it into the next thing.  That book that looks so pretty on Amazon with the $80 price tag on it is doing you no favors until somebody pulls the trigger on it.  It's all a loss until you sell it.  That book you bought for $10 and flipped for $30 goes into the next thing and makes another $20, and another $20, and it doesn't take long before those boring little trades are completely outshining that $80 book collecting dust on your shelf.

Having said that, the wise Gamer also makes distinctions about perennials and the truly scarce.  You don't blow out your copy of Batman: Legacy because you can't replace it.  I can find another copy of She Hulk Volume 7, easy.  I can't drive to the LCS and expect to find X-Men: Zero Tolerance sitting there.  So when I've got something good, scarce, with a history, then yes I'll make my customer pay for the privilege.  But I don't think I'm ever going to lament making $15 off a She Hulk volume, ever.

Starman Omnibus Vol 1
ISBN:  9781401216993
SRP:    $49.99
Amazon Min:   $45/$45

Obviously you're not making money on this right now buying at full retail.  Not yet, in any case.  But do any of you remember when the Batwoman: Elegy HC was sitting at cover price and I told you it was going to $60 in six months?  Well, I lied.  It got there in three, because min for a new copy is up to $56 and will continue to climb.

Same thing with Starman Omnibus Volume 1, which now appears to have gone out of print, and let the feeding frenzy begin.  This is legendary stuff in an attractive format, and I don't see this going out of style...ever.

DC may go back to press on this at some point, but I don't see that happening in the near future.  It's a thick book with a smallish but fervent fan base.  DC is not going to trip over themselves to reprint this, and in the interim, profit city.

It's a steep investment at full retail.  Do I think this book hits par ($100) or better by this time next year?  Yeah, I do.  If this is resting at your LCS, watch the market and don't wait too long.  Worst case scenario?  You've got about 12 hours of the best damn reading you'll do all year.  Starman is something special.

Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor signed edition
ISBN:   9781607064831
SRP:     $124.99

I mention this because I pre-ordered one from Amazon for about $65, and I can't imagine an easier called shot.  Rise of the Governor is the first in a trilogy of Walking Dead prose novels, and Skybound is offering a limited quantity of signed editions in a handsome little slipcase.  The regular HC is regularly priced at $25, the deluxe slipcased edition is $75, and the signed edition retails at $125.

I don't think it too controversial to claim that the Walking Dead property has some legs.  I don't know how many copies were signed, because there's no way I'm breaking the seal on my copy.  I do know that there will always be more people looking for this than have it.

I don't know if I advocate spending full retail on the item, but luckily, you don't have to.  This is still available for around $75, and I believe it's a steal at that price.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ryan Lee and his Pillows are in need of your help!

Good friend and fan of the show Cody Carey made this hilarious video about the fate of Ryan Lee's pillows.  We love it when fans do stuff like this for the show.  Thank you so much for making us both laugh harder than we have in a while and also thank you for grossing us out a little.  We can only hope that people respond to this and help Ryan's poor pillows before it's too late.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Market Spotlight!

How about a trio of Marvel books, and an interesting case study this week?

Hulk/Thing: Hard Knocks
ISBN:  0785115765
SRP:      $13.99
Amazon Min:   $22/$30

This is a bit dodgy, as it barely scrapes 2:1 at full retail.  I can't imagine a super strong demand for it, either, but then again I am staring at a 2:1 so I guess we're experiencing a little interest.

This is a classic example of Marvel squeezing a little extra out of the turnip by turning a 4 issue mini into 4 issues plus an old reprint, and not even a particularly in demand Hulk/Thing barney.  (It's Marvel Superstars # 1)  I think they would have been better served by throwing in Fantastic Four # 12, or # 112, but what do I know.

I would avoid paying full retail for this unless it goes higher, but I'd feel pretty safe with a discounted copy.  I can't see Marvel going back to press on this, so supply should stay relatively scarce.

She Hulk Vol 9:  Lady Liberators
ISBN:  0785141146
SRP:      $14.99
Amazon Min:    $22/$38

Of course we've already observed a couple of these volumes pop from the Slott end of things.  It wouldn't surprise me to see the entire series enter a comfortable place of profitability.  It reminds me quite a bit of the Nightwing phenomenon, where a second tier star with a cult following hits that sweet spot where a niche crowd is looking for the material, but not in droves to spur a new edition.

If the copy is in nice shape, I'd advocate paying full retail for Lady Liberators.  Don't panic if it cycles down, either.  Nightwing does the same thing, bouncing up and down.  Target a reasonable price and let the market catch up with you.

Daredevil: The Devil Inside & Out Vol 2
ISBN:   0785122419
SRP:  $14.99
Amazon Min:   $26/$54

We've seen quite a few of the Bendis volumes dry and up then shoot for the stars, and now it looks like Brubaker is taking his turn.

The thesis is pretty strong on this line.  Quality run, quality creative team, demand should stay very strong for this book.  Decent chance your local retailer has a copy of this laying around, and it's an easy buy at $15 and below.

Morning Glories Vol 1 HC
ISBN:   9781607064305
SRP:     $39.99
Amazon Min:    N/A

Image has recalled the original print run for the book, because one of the pages was erroneously issued with no dialogue.  Some of the biggest sources are complying with the recall.  Amazon is waiting for the corrected editions before distributing product, and the same goes for DCB Service.  A good portion of the smaller retailers will send the error books back as well.

Some, but not all.  I was able to score a copy of the "bad" edition this afternoon.  It will be uncontroversial to assert that the error editions will be the most scarce.  What's unclear is whether that means anything regarding the value of the book.

Similar problems have plagued items like the first Bendis Daredevil Omnibus, and the the old Captain America: Classic Years slipcase collection.  Both of those items are quite valuable, but I haven't noticed any consistent premium placed on the scarcer error editions.

The secondary trade market is in its infancy, though.  Just because there's no premium now doesn't mean that future collector's won't be making those distinctions.  I'm not suggesting that you run out and back up the truck on a stack of $40 hardcovers waiting for the market to catch up with you.  But for me, I'm a card carrying Morning Glories fanatic, and I'm pleased as punch to have the original edition in my collection.  Anything else is just gravy.

- Ryan