If you've been collecting comics for years, you may come to a point in your life where you need to get rid of some or all of your collection. It's something no comic book fan wants to do, but it's something they have to do whether they're strapped for cash, out grown some of the series they used to love, or whether they're just out of room where they live. Getting rid of your series is something that can be very hard, especially when it comes down to actually giving your cherished books to someone else.
About a year ago, I was faced with a problem. I was out of room for comic book storage. I had two choices: I could get rid of some comics to make room for new ones, or I could try to put comics in another part of my house, which could result in many arguments and me sleeping on the couch. Since I highly value sleep and being in a happy relationship, I chose to finally get rid of some of my books. I didn't know what to do, at first. I wasn't sure where to sell them or what to actually sell. Of course, I could have made this whole task of getting rid of my comics easy by just donating them. However, I wanted to get a little cash since I put so much money into purchasing them in the first place. It took a little while to figure things out, but after I did, selling my comics didn't become the horrifying experience I thought it was going to be.
1. Ignore Your Unreasonable Side
There's going to be a voice inside your head that continuously screams at you. It doesn't want you to sell your books for a plethora of ridiculous reasons. At the same time, your collector mentality will kick in, and this is where you start making excuses. Just let that pesky voice know this. No, your X-MEN run from the late 90s will never be worth anything. No, you don't NEED those numerous copies of SUPERMAN #75, and no, it won't become your retirement fund. No, your grandkids won't become billionaires and be able to live off selling your copies of RAVAGE 2099 in the year 2099. Take a breath and keep your mind clear if you really want to start downsizing your collection.
2. Deciding What to Sell
In my case, this was pretty simple. I look at it the same way I look at series when I cut my pull list at my local comic shop, which we discussed back in June. My first task was to see what books I had in my collection that I just didn't care for. I'd flip through and ask myself, "when's the next time I'm actually going to want to read IDENTITY DISC or COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS?" If the answer to said question was "never," then I was ok with letting go of the book(s). The second thing I did is look at what series I "double-dipped" with. If I owned the collected trade for a book and the single issues, this was a book I felt more comfortable with selling to some random person. On the bright side, there were quite a few easy picks. I'd be flipping through my short boxes and say to myself "why did I ever buy this in the first place? This book sucked!" So for every book that was tough to let go, there was one that was a no brainer.
3. Overstreet is a Terrible Gauge for Actual Worth
The Overstreet Price Guide is a book that comes out every year that tells you how much your comics are supposedly worth. Here's the thing with Overstreet, those numbers are meaningless to someone getting rid of their books. Sure, local comic shops and vendors at conventions can use it because people are coming to them to buy books, so they can afford to set the prices. If you don't buy FANTASTIC FOUR #292, someone will eventually, and that someone is me. I could always use a third copy. In reality, the market sets its own prices, depending where you're selling. The world of retail and Overstreet don't apply to you, sorry. Do you want to realistically gauge how much your books are going for? Go on eBay and look it up. You have the actual market at your fingertips.
4. You Won't Make Your Money Back
When I first started selling my books, this was the HARDEST thing to get over. I'd prepare a solid run of 50 books and think "I spent roughly $150 on this volume of 52, so I should easily make that back, right?" Wrong. If you're selling your books to make room in your house, then you must remember it's not really about the money. It's about making room. Sure, there's cases where you can sell a series for as much as ten times as you paid for it, like the first few issues of BATMAN or the first few issues of SAGA, but overall, you'll be lucky to break even. The sooner you can accept that, the easier it will be to part with some of your books. If you're anything like me, then a good chunk of your collecting started or got a bit heavier during the 90s comic craze, and as we all know, those books are barely worth the paper they're printed on, for the most part.
5. Selling to Local Comic Shops
I worked at a comic book store for 5 years. The first year I worked there, we bought comics from our customers. The number one complaint I heard was "you guys are ripping us off." The problem isn't that we're ripping people off though. Customers just don't understanding how retail works. First off, the book people brought in to sell the most was SPAWN runs. SPAWN #1 being the most common. Because the comic sold 1.7 million copies, it's not considered rare, by ANY stretch of the imagination. Sure, the issue is 21 years old now, but since every comic shop already has numerous copies in their back issues and again, 1.7 million copies exist, it's not worth much. The same goes for most comics during the 90s, especially from Marvel and DC. They're just not worth much.
Aside from that example, you have to remember that comic book shops have to make money in order to stay open. Let's say you just want to sell your copy of SPAWN #1, and a few of the online pricing guides have it selling for $6. You can't expect to get $6 for the book because your LCS will make $0. In fact, you'll be lucky if you get $3 because aside from the LCS having to make money, there's no guarantee they'll be able to sell it. So, your copy of SPAWN #1 will most likely just collect dust in the back issues. Sell to your LCS because you want to help them out and you understand that both parties need to profit in the long run.
6. Selling Online
When I finally bit the bullet and started selling comics, I did it all online. It was and is a very satisfying experience. You reach a much wider market than you would anywhere else, and overall, it makes you feel better about getting rid of your books because you know they're going to someone who cares: another collector. The process, as a seller, is much more in depth and a tad complicated if you plan on selling through an auction site like eBay, but it's worth it in the long run. You get to learn about the fascinating and overly frustrating world of shipping and become accustomed to putting together medium flat rate boxes from the USPS. In my eBay experiences, the most fun aspect of selling is watching people bid (or sometimes "not bid") on your items. It adds to the excitement in getting rid of your books, especially when they beat out your expectations. And if you're selling your books, you're going to want to find the fun in things as much as possible.
If selling your books is something you plan on doing to make some extra room, some extra cash, or just for the heck of it, then this is the best way to go. Keep in mind that your books aren't worth as much as you think they are, and you probably won't make the money back you spent on the comics, but deciding to sell your comics isn't supposed to be easy.
Have you ever tried to sell your comics? What's something in your collection you wouldn't mind selling?