I had a disheartening reminder today that this business & hobby we all love can be quite cut throat sometimes. And while this story isn't much of a threat to our weekly readers as you're probably advanced enough in your collecting to avoid this pit-fall, it may help someone that stumbles onto our humble blog, as the new owner of an awesome collection, from making this same mistake.
About a week ago I received an email from a very nice woman with a list of comics she had for sale. The list was mostly modern & copper age stuff, but it had most of the key issues you'd want from the period. Think New Mutants 87, 98, Marvel Graphic Novel 4, Bat Adventures 12, ASM 238, 298, 300, X-Men 266, Hulk 271, 340, X-Factor 6 etc. I skimmed the list and saw those keys and others and told her we'd be happy to review the collection in person & make an offer.
We set up a meeting and she brought the books by this weekend. After some small talk, before I even got to look at a single book, she mentioned that there were 3000 books, well there were 3000 books, but she'd sold 15 of them so there were now 2985. RED FLAG ALERT! If you do this long enough, someone saying they sold "just a few" or something like that, will send a shiver down your spine. Why? Well, in all my years doing this, I've never heard of someone selling 15 books that were in the value arena of an alpha flight # 2, shadow of the bat # 10, or an avengers # 361. And they never sell them to a guy that just needed to plug a hole or two in a run he's finishing. No, sadly, in every instance they were cherry picked.
Don't get me wrong. There have been instances where someone has brought us 50 books and 1 of them is worth more than a quarter, and we'll try to just buy that 1 book. But when you're talking about a large, several thousand book collection, I always try to give the seller a fighting chance and at least make a fair offer on the whole thing. After all, if you have 3000 books, with 50+% of the value tied up in the top 20 books, and you take those books away, you aren't left with much.
You may think this person exists, but I've yet to meet the seller that wants to keep 95% of their large bulky collection that has 5% of the value. So my warning is this, if you have a large collection that you've inherited, found, acquired, etc., PLEASE, get several opinions on it before you sell a single book. Odds are that at least one of the people you speak with will be honest with you about what you do or don't have, and simply asking more than one person could save you thousands of dollars.
Trust me when I tell you that I took no joy in looking at the list of books that the seller had already sold today, or in listening to the amount that the person they'd sold them to paid for them (less than $100.........ouch). It's never fun to have to tell someone they've gotten ripped off.
Before you think I'm on a crusade or something, I'll fully admit again that there are certainly times that we've gone after a single book or a few books from a collection. The difference is we try to pay a fair price per issue on those keys if we're doing that, and we very rarely do that with a collection that is sizable. We know we're the experts, so rather than letting the seller's dig their own graves, and have them set the prices (which they may as well pluck out of the air), we try to let them know some real world values before making offers in those circumstances.
And while I know it's not technically "criminal" to give someone less than $100 for $1500-2000 worth of books, it's definitely wrong. And is a practice we choose not to participate in. I look at it like this. We may be able to make some quick $ on an uneducated seller from time to time, but it's not right, and sooner or later that stuff comes back to bite you in one way or another. This business is all about reputation, let one person get ripped off like that and start telling anyone that will listen about it, and you'll be in hot water real fast.
So be careful people, take your time, get multiple offers, check some prices on eBay, buy an Overstreet; shoot, just go to your local book store, buy a coffee and read an Overstreet. The few hours of research you put into this could save you a huge lump of regret.
And one last thing. This is not a cleverly veiled attempt to get you to sell US your books because we're so great and noble. Honestly, if you live in California, Texas, Iowa, etc. I think you're probably going to get a better offer from someone that can look at the books in person rather than us, in Georgia, or another online retailer.
Why? The # 1 reason is that we have to take your word for it when it comes to the condition of the collection, and as a seller of comics I've learned that there are only a couple of things that people ever say about condition when they're trying to sell me they're books. 1.) they're in perfect condition 2.) they're in the original plastic. 3.) they look brand new, etc. etc. That may all be true sometimes, but I believe WAY MORE in what I see. And I'm sure most dealers do too, so selling in person is the best chance you're going to have to get the most amount out of the dealer or collector that you're trying to sell to, and if it's good stuff, they're going to know they can pay more.
Ok, that's all for now, sell safe people!