How I sold my comic books (and why)

How I sold my comic books (and why)

It's fun to meet readers for coffee or lunch. It used to seem a little strange that random strangers knew so much about my life, but nowadays it just makes conversations easier.

People always want to know about three things:

  • How's Kris, my ex-wife? (Answer: Kris is fine. We see each other often. I help her with tech stuff and share my Portland Timbers tickets with her and her boyfriend. She gives me pickles.)
  • How are the cats? (Answer: The cats are also fine. They all live with Kris. They're getting older and fatter and lazier, as cats will do.)
  • How's my comic book collection?

The answer to that last question is actually vastly more complicated than the answers to the first two. You see, I've (almost) given up comics completely.

Background
IMG_1218

I'm a life-long nerd. As part of that affliction, I've been reading comic books since, well, before I could actually read. Some of my earliest memories are standing in front of the spinner racks in the grocery store, looking at comics while my Mom did the shopping.

During grade school and high school, I built a small collection of comics. As I grew older, I added to it. Eventually, I stopped buying new stuff and simply focused my attention on the older titles that I remembered from when I was a kid. Then instead of building my collection forward in time, I went backward — from the 1980s to the 1970s to the 1960s to the 1950s.

By the time Kris and I split up, I'd amassed nearly ten thousand comic books. Then a funny thing happened during the divorce. My urge to collect disappeared. (My therapist has some thoughts about this…) I no longer felt the urge to acquire more comics; in fact, I wanted to get rid of the ones I had!

A Cunning Plan

Though I'd decided to get rid of my comics, I took no action. The task seemed daunting. I wanted to pay somebody else to do it, but nobody seemed interested.

Last February, a couple of things happened. First, Kim had shoulder surgery and was off work for several weeks. (It's tough for a dental hygienist to clean your teeth if she can't lift her arm!) Second, she decided she'd like to generate some side income — not just to compensate for her lost wages, but also to save for future adventures together. This gave me a cunning plan.

Lois Lane #11“Here's a way you can make some extra money,” I told her one morning over coffee. “You know all of those comic books in the back room? If you sell those for me, I'll give you 20% of the proceeds.”

Kim seemed mildly interested.

“How much are they worth?” she asked.

“I don't know,” I said casually. “Probably $75,000. Maybe more.”

Suddenly, Kim seemed very interested.

While she spent the next couple of days recuperating in a recliner, she surfed the web, trying to learn about comics. “It's like learning a foreign language,” she said. She read about the impact of condition, the desirability of certain titles and issues, and the different methods of selling the books. “This is going to be a lot of work,” she said.

“I know,” I said. “I know.”

The Sad Truth

Although my comic book collection probably cost me roughly $75,000 over the years (and maybe more), the only way to get that much money out of it would have been to spend a l-o-n-g time selling each book. The idea gave me the heebie-jeebies (and Kim hated it even more).

This is the sad truth about collectibles: The values listed in the price guides are irrelevant (and basically worthless). A collectible is worth what somebody will pay for it — nothing more.

There are generally two ways to sell collectibles: quickly or for top dollar. You cannot do both.

  • If you want the best price, it takes time and effort. You have to list your collectibles individually on eBay or somehow find other collectors. It's slow going.
  • If you want to sell quickly, you can — but you won't get much money. You'll end up selling your treasures as a group, and probably to a dealer. The dealer will pay you a fraction of what you could get if you took your time.

I knew all of this going into the process. But because I was giving Kim a 20% commission to do the work, I let her make the call. “You can take a long time to sell this stuff and you'll get more money,” I said. “Or we can just sell it all at once and get less. It makes no difference to me.”

And here's the sad truth about my collectibles: It really made no difference to me. Whereas these comics had once been a core piece of my identity, they'd become a burden. I'd lugged them from the Canby house to the Oak Grove house to the apartment in northeast Portland to my new condo in Sellwood. I was done. I felt no need to possess them. I wanted money instead.

Cashing Out

So, Kim and I worked together to sell the comics.

First, we contacted an online comic dealer. I gave the company a rough estimate of what I had: about 7,500 comics, mostly superhero, mostly from the Bronze and Silver Ages of comics (meaning from 1958 to 1983). The company said they were interested. “Give us a complete list and we'll give you an offer,” they said.

Ugh.

IMG_1217
Kim and I spent many hours at the storage unit sorting comics…

After the equivalent of an entire workweek, Kim and I had sorted and inventoried all of the comics, and submitted the list to the company. The company sent us an offer. We accepted. We shipped the comics to them. They sent us a check.

 

That makes it sound so simple, but it was a hell of a lot of work. Ultimately, it was worth it.

 

When we sold the comics online, we held back about forty of the best issues — things like Amazing Fantasy #15, Showcase #28, Fantastic Four #1, and so on. One of Kim's patients at the dental office runs the largest antiques fair in the Northwest; when she told him about my comics, he invited us to come sell them at his event. So we did.

On a sunny July morning, we met with a couple of the dealers. They oohed and aahed over my collection. “These are nice books,” said the first dealer. “They're not in the greatest shape, but they're nice books.” (When I collected, I intentionally collected comics in average condition.)

“How much do you want for them?” asked the second dealer.

“I think they're worth $15,000,” I said. Both of the men nodded.

“They are worth $15,000,” said the first dealer. “That's a fair price — in a store. But I need to mark them up. I can't pay that much.”

“How much could you give me?” I asked.

The second dealer looked through the stack. “I like these old Lois Lane books,” he said. “I could give you $6,000.”

“That's not enough,” I said. “How about twelve.”

“No no no,” he said. “Like my friend said, we need room to mark these up. I could go to $6,500, I think.”

Kim and I conferred in whispers. “What do you think?” she asked.

“Still too low,” I said. “I think we should ask for eight.” She nodded.

“How about sixty-eight?” she said. As I groaned inside at the miscommunication, the second dealer agreed. (Afterward, Kim and I laughed at the mix up.)

So, we'd managed to get rid of the bulk of my comic collection and net $25,000 for it. But there was still work left to do.

In early August, I started to sort through my stuff at Kris's house in preparation for our garage sale. There, I found a few thousand additional comics. (Plus the huge collection of graphic novels I already knew was there.) I groaned inside. “I'll never get rid of these,” I thought.

But I did.

IMG_1647
Sorting through my graphic novels…

During the weekend of the garage sale, one man paid $500 for all of my graphic novels (far far below retail value). And at the end of the sale, another man stopped by on a whim. “Do you have any comics?” he asked. I gave him a funny look. How did he know? I led him back to the storage shed and showed him.

Related >> Garage sale tips

“There's about three thousand comics here,” I said. “A lot of them are junk. But many of them aren't. There's a bunch of Marvel and DC from the sixties and seventies. I know for a fact there's a Teen Titans #1 in here somewhere, for example.”

The man's eyes got big. “How much do you want for all of these?” he whispered.

I thought for a moment. I was tempted to pay him to take them. Instead I said, “I don't know. How about a thousand bucks?”

The man's eyes got bigger yet. “Really?” he said. I nodded. “Omigosh,” he said. “Thank you.” He shook my hand. He drove off to get $1,000 in cash and then loaded the boxes into his Ford Mustang. “You've made another collector very happy,” he said as he drove away.

Only you have the power to absorb all heat!

In Conclusion

And that's the story of my comic book collection. I truly believe it was worth about $75,000 — if I'd had the time and the patience to piece it out. But I didn't. Instead, Kim and I opted for the “quick” route. But even the quick route took four months from the time we started the project until the time we finished.

In the end, it was worth it. We netted $26,506.34 for over 10,000 comics and maybe 100 hours of work. Not bad.

Kim used her 20% to pay off some bills she'd accrued while out of work after her shoulder surgery. She also set some aside to rebuild her car fund. I took my proceeds and used them for two things: to fund our recent Alaskan cruise, and to start our shared “Dream Fund”, which we hope to use to buy a beach house somewhere warm.

I hope the real lesson here is pretty clear: There's a h-u-g-e burden to accumulating stuff, even if that stuff is “collectible.” Collectibles cost money (often, lots of money). They take up space. They're a mental weight. And unless you want to just throw them in the trash, getting rid of collectibles can be a hassle.

Long-time readers know I've been waging a war on “stuff” all my life. I'm pleased to say that victory is in sight! Now that Kim and I have moved in together, our combined possessions fit into my condo — plus a small nearby storage unit. And neither of us has any collectibles. (I kept a handful of comics because I'd like to read them, but not because I have a compulsion to own them.)

Who knows? In time, we may not even need the storage unit.

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FI Journey
FI Journey
7 years ago

JD, you may be weirded out by how much random people know about you on the street, but your ability to tell personal stories is what makes you such a great blogger. This post is just a continuation of your great story. Glad to see you winning your war on Stuff!

Anne
Anne
7 years ago
Reply to  FI Journey

I was just going to say the same thing. This is the reason J.D. is a popular writer. We all enjoy personal stories of struggle and success.

Rosmary
Rosmary
9 months ago
Reply to  Anne

You are the best i wold love to get a book from you! I sell books to and wold love to grow up like you did!?

Brian
Brian
7 years ago

I have a small collection of comics, maybe 500 that I have been hanging on to. I have tried to sell them a few times and have found the same issue. I have now began to share them with my children.

Nick
Nick
5 years ago
Reply to  Brian

hey man I know im 2 years late but do you still have those 500 comic books?

Adam
Adam
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick

hi Nick

I also have about 800 comics and i want to sell them.

Are you interested?

Michael
Michael
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick

I’ve Just Started to Sell My Comic Collection as Well, I Have a Few Hundred…

shane
shane
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael

I have a huge collection of comics including the a few from first series of x-men, x factor, and such. if anyone is interested. It was my brothers collection and he recently passed away. He always told me he could never sell them but when he passed it was my problem. So as I’m finding out, this is goign to be a huge problem.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
7 years ago

$75K into $25K? Ouch!

Couldn’t they be put on Amazon and let them sell themselves, even at a slower pace? I’m thinking if they take a year to sell, that’s a 200% return over the base price. Way better than a 1% savings. Or a $50K/year part time gig (shipping things once/twice a week).

I’m wondering about this because I have to get rid of many many books (currently at a free storage, so no hassle there) and I’m debating whether I should open an Amazon store or dispatch them wholesale.

After reading this, I’m thinking definitely Amazon.

dave
dave
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

what can you buy with a few cents dripping in every week?

Melissa
Melissa
7 years ago

I just wanted to say that your answer to Q1 made me giggle on public transportation this morning. I, too, find pickles to be an acceptable form of currency.

Also, I am always excited to find out that the PF bloggers I read are MLS fans! I’m a DC United fan, and Portland is on my bucket list of stadiums to visit. Next season might be tough with the World Cup, but hopefully soon!

dumb one author
dumb one author
7 years ago

……. really? 75k on comic books? I think the author is brave for admitting his stupiditiy. An example of american decadence. A fool and his money……..

Josh
Josh
7 years ago

Pretty insulting and uncalled for. A lot comic book collectors don’t buy comics for the money. Most want a few minutes of escapism by reading an entertaining story or nostalgia. If a person reads comics on a regular basis he can amass a huge collection that does get burdensome. So what if he didn’t make a profit. It’s not always about money.

dave
dave
6 years ago
Reply to  Josh

thank God that there are still people like you who know the worth of a hobby. I LEARNT to read by purchasing comic books and I went on to university and a teaching qualification. Comics opened up my mind to astrology,genetics , biology,cloning in fact , to so many areas from the age of 5 (1960’s) when other kids were stuffing there faces with candy bars and concentrating there efforts on being the “man” or the big bully, thank God for comic books. The author and artists especially are creative people not just takers but givers, givers of a view… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
7 years ago

You need to keep in mind that this is the cost spent on one person’s hobby over decades, starting in middle school! How much money would one spend on 30 years of eating out? Or going out to the movies? And with that there is nothing to be seen. The only difference is here, we have a tangible item and one can estimate how much money was spent over decades and how much you can still sell it for. I have European friends who are well off and the money spent on wine or on art is rather high–definitely above… Read more »

dave
dave
6 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

Your comments are totally correct. Apart from one thing…I am from England, U.K., I started looking at and buying comics from around 5 years old in the mid 1960’s. They opened up my mind to what can be and what a person should not be…mainly an egotistical,selfish, greedy, bullying person. Sadly all the latter I mentioned are part and parcel of the world today, most probably because the perpetrators of these undesirable attributes never read a comic book in there lives. I had , and my three brothers had a substantial collection of American comic books and we were damn… Read more »

pog
pog
5 years ago
Reply to  phoenix1920

American Decadence:)
Silly comment to make!
I live in London England and feel swamped by the all the stuff in my flat.
Some of it collectible items I’ve amassed over the years.

I suppose that’s Western decadence 🙂

dave
dave
6 years ago

the comic books were a better investment than stupidly smoking or drinking or eating your money away

Erik
Erik
1 year ago

He didn’t spend $75k on them; that’s roughly what they were worth at full retail prices (i.e. what you would expect to pay, buying all of them individually at a comic book store).

Sam
Sam
7 years ago

Do you really think the collection was “worth” $75,000 or is it worth $75,000 because that is how much money you put into it. Collectibles are weird, you have to find the right buyer at the right time and during that time you have to store them and maintain the postings on ebay, etc. I myself, have a variety of collectibles. Mostly I buy stuff that I like and I will use, sometimes I get a bargain/sometimes I don’t but the enjoyment is worth it. And most of what I buy I use, meaning art (its on my walls and… Read more »

Jean
Jean
7 years ago

Thanks for this timely post. I belong to an organization that is having a rummage sale for a fundraiser and I am required to donate a specific dollar amount of items. This has me going through my house and looking at what I have, and if I really need it. I’m acutally considering donating my wedding china (divorced, no kids). I also have a single aunt who has hoarder tendencies and is now in a nursing home, so the family is having to clean out her house. That also has me thinking about getting rid of stuff so someone else… Read more »

Marie
Marie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jean

What on earth kind of adult organization “requires” a certain dollar value as a contribution? That sounds like high school or sorority nonsense.

Phill
Phill
7 years ago

i loved this article! Reminds me of my NASCAR diecasts. I had about 20 cars that SHOULD have been worth close to $1500. I took $40 to simply be rid of them. Couldnt stand lugging them around and packing them up anymore. Great job, JD! Happy adventuring!

Anna
Anna
7 years ago

I think the biggest thing to remember from this post is that a collectible is worth whatever someone will pay for it…so when you’re ready to sell, keep that it mind. Your own idea of what something is worth is often very different from what the potential buyer’s idea is.

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
7 years ago

The bulk of my sister’s beanie baby (and other randoms) collection was disposed of after her divorce as well. Never thought of the two as connected until you mentioned your therapists’ comments…

Deborah
Deborah
7 years ago

JD’s therapist’s comment resonated with me too. I lost interest in collecting – and virtually all acquisitions beyond the basics -after my divorce. I think the reason is simply being happier. I’m slowly disposing of those decades of collectibles. And every time a box or drawer gets emptied or a blank spot appears on a wall or shelf, I feel lighter and freer. I’ll never be a minimalist – at least not of the only-100-things type – but I surely do like the contented feeling that comes from a calm home without clutter and excess.

dave
dave
6 years ago
Reply to  Deborah

I agree totally with what you have said. My wife divorced me because she could! After 10 years of marriage she just said she did not want to be married anymore.The excuse sucks but in this day and age as a man I had to let her go…sad thing is she took the children , mainly because she could get rehoused easily. I’m left with debt and no money but I had only 2 choices..die or carry on living so I chose the latter. I have a comic book collection which meant the world to me and I also collected… Read more »

corners
corners
6 years ago
Reply to  dave

Your children will be grateful you made the choice to live on. My father was almost in the same exact situation but made the wrong choice.

That wrong choice ends up being a burden around your childs neck till they are strong enough to take it off,many wont succeed. Every fathers day and holiday will be a reminder to them,especially if they are still of school age.

Keep on kicking butt by living on. Life always gets better some day, the bad days only make you wiser.

Dallas Morales
Dallas Morales
5 years ago
Reply to  dave

Dave,

please feel free to contact me if you want to.

I have been a minister for over 31 years and I also buy and

I also buy and sell collectibles.

Thanks,

Dr. Dallas Morales

mike
mike
7 years ago

To really understand this story only as it relates to comics you have to understand the comic market. I find collectors to be like gamblers, where they tell you the big wins but truly forget all their losses and sunk costs. I collected for over 20 years 1980-2000ish, I am 42 now. During that time I worked 7 years in a comic book store. The comic market peaked in late 80’s through mid-late 90’s. Prices escalated like they did with the card market, people were paying top dollar for a diluted product for new comics produced in high #s and… Read more »

Rail
Rail
7 years ago
Reply to  mike

Mike really nailed it on how the internet has changed the antique and collectable market. I know of antique dealers that used to come to the Midwest 30 years ago and buy up huge amounts of “stuff” at farm sales and household auctions. They would take the “stuff” back to the coasts and make a tidy profit. Now the internet has shown that nationaly there are much larger amounts of “stuff” out there and some things aren’t so rare as thought. Some things like crockery and furniture have taken a big dive in price since the 80’s. Baseball cards have… Read more »

mike
mike
7 years ago

Also everything is going to digital comics now, the uptick on digital sales are huge. Although it will never be the same for me.

Sandy
Sandy
7 years ago

I am laughing (at myself) while I read this article. My parents were cleaning out their house and my dad had a ton of old records because he used to work for a record company in the early 60s. I just knew the records were worth something so I said I would take them off their hands. I have now bought 1) a record player to make sure the records have no skips and 2) a book listing LP values. I have also discovered that trying to list the LPs online is a giant pain in the rear. So far… Read more »

Carla
Carla
7 years ago
Reply to  Sandy

Why did it cost you that much? My ex (and good friend) has been selling his huge jazz collection online for a while and it hardly cost him anything. Its time consuming but he has benefited from it.

Peter Brülls
Peter Brülls
7 years ago
Reply to  Carla

AS he said, he bought a record player and a pricing book.

The collection he got for free.

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
7 years ago

Yesterday I cleaned out my old iPhones that were all sort-of-broken-but-mostly-working and sold the three of them on Craigslist for $350. I probably could have got more for them, but, like J.D., I felt that $350 in the hand was worth more than $500 in a drawer sitting there because I didn’t want to take the time to figure out how to fix them or what the best price to sell them each at would be. Now I want to list my second car for sale. I’m not sure if I should try to wax it and fix the power… Read more »

tracy
tracy
7 years ago

We sold a used car a few years ago. I priced having some minor repairs done plus oil change and maintenance to see if it was worth it. I think we spent $300 and increased the price by $600, so it was worth it to me. Also think people like knowing the car was looked at and had an oil change so they don’t have to do that from the start. Good luck!

PawPrint
PawPrint
7 years ago

Storage unit. Uh-oh. You haven’t been reading Mr. Money Mustache lately. 🙂

Your comment about lugging around all those comics for years reminded me of how my husband paid his ex-wife $50 for a cast iron wood cookstove when they divorced. We moved from OR (with moves to 3 houses in OR) to CO to ID and then sold for $50 because I wasn’t moving it again. Thinking back, I’m not even sure why the heck we kept that thing after the first move. A relic of back-to-the land dreams, I guess.

J.D.
J.D.
7 years ago
Reply to  PawPrint

I loathe the storage unit. I’ve paid it through the end of 2013. My goal is to eliminate it within the next three months. Also, there’s a funny addendum (in my opinion) to this story. Kimberly is a very practical woman. She collects nothing, and she hoards nothing. When I was in Ecuador recently, I did a bit of shopping. Her birthday is this weekend, and Christmas is coming soon. Plus, I just liked some things — like blankets. I bought two of them. They were a colossal pain to cart about the country, but I thought they were beautiful.… Read more »

Amy
Amy
7 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

JD – a couple of thoughts based on your blanket purchase. Sometimes, a beautiful piece of workmanship is a joy to acquire and use….if you actually use it. I tend to not buy pieces like that (due to cost) but I would like to change that, to ensure my home is aesthetically pleasing and comfortable to me. Too little stuff and your home will look and feel barren (in my experience anyway). Too much and it’ll be a disaster. Perhaps a ‘one comes in and another goes out’ policy would help you? You can find the balance between your love… Read more »

A-L
A-L
7 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

Were they alpalca blankets? If so, I would definitely replace some of the ones you currently have. I got one while I was in Ecuador and it is so warm, yet light at the same time and doesn’t take up nearly the amount of space that a similarly-warm blanket would. Plus, there’s an emotional tie to it as well (the memories of your trip to Ecuador). If your other blankets can’t say the same, maybe they should be the ones to get the boot.

Barb
Barb
7 years ago
Reply to  J.D.

a day late and a dollar short but I’ll second Amy. Somethings are worth buying just because YOU LOVE them. They require no other justification. As a quilter, the fact that you already have a target quilt will not deter me from sharing a handmade one. Thats my first point. My second is that most beautiful, well made things that we love are usable. So my collectibles from Europe include things like quality italian pitchers, hand blown glasses that we use every day, wrought iron bookends that are easily seen. SOME stuff is meant to be loved, cared for and… Read more »

AJ
AJ
7 years ago

Thanks, J.D.–this is a great piece. Sure, you lost out on some money by taking the quicker route to getting rid of the comics, but the sense of relief you must have felt when you no longer had them burdening you must have been priceless. People often confuse the sentimental value an item has for them with the monetary value it has for someone else, which is especially easy to do with collectibles. You have to be able to look past your own fondness for something and be realistic about what that thing is worth to another person who doesn’t… Read more »

Gary LaPointe
Gary LaPointe
7 years ago

I’ve got a collection about double your size (but you’ve got a bit more old ones). I’ve sold about 10% and it’s a lot of work. I’ve auctioned at both eBay and MyComicShop and gotten some good prices for a lot of sets and individual issues, but I’ve got a lot of not so great prices too. I think I’d have been better sending most to MyComicShop but I started at ebay, now I just use eBay for the stuff that they don’t want at MCS. They’re collectibles, they’re a hassle to wrap, to ship and to photograph (a collector… Read more »

mike
mike
7 years ago
Reply to  Gary LaPointe

It is a hassle selling them individually. I only did with high value comics on ebay back in the day. Also you don’t want the negative feedback so I tended to undergrade the comics so they got a better comic then what they were expecting. I traded in about 16 long boxes back in 97 for a life size han solo in carbonite made of fiberglass, in retrospect, probably the best thing I did.

Gary LaPointe
Gary LaPointe
7 years ago
Reply to  mike

“in retrospect, probably the best thing I did” that made me laugh out loud 🙂 The grading is an issue too. That’s my benefit in auctioning at MyComicShop is that THEY do the grading and from the shopper’s standpoint they don’t even know they are from me, so it’s the store’s rep, not mine. I have to reasonably estimate the grade (but if i’m off it’s not a crisis, it’s their grade that matters) before I send to them and enter them into the database) and wait for approval; they’ve always been approved) but if I’m sending them 20 auction… Read more »

mike
mike
7 years ago
Reply to  Gary LaPointe

Thanks I might check that out. I still have about 10 boxes of trades/gns and another 15 long boxes of bronze and modern, besides my silver age collection. I just don’t know if I could part with some of my favorite runs by different writers and artists over the decades. Of course I probably would get rid of them over some of my favorite pieces from my star wars collection.

Jon Maroni
Jon Maroni
7 years ago

J.D. This is my first real encounter with your blog and I’m impressed with your honesty in this post. My wife and I are waging a similar war on stuff. My vice is old video-games. I just recently sold a bunch of my old games (not nearly comparable to your comics in terms of volume)and it was hard to see some of it go. However we have taken the money and thrown it toward our student loan debt. The prospect of being debt free is way more exciting than those old games were. Nevertheless I feel your pain.

partgypsy
partgypsy
7 years ago

Now I don’t feel so bad about my husband having 3 or 4 long boxes of comics, plus about a shelf of graphic novels. Our 10 year old daughter has gotten interested in comics, so he loans her comics in batches for her to read and return. So I feel it was a good idea that he held onto them.

Brooklyn Money
Brooklyn Money
7 years ago

You can pry my books out of my cold, dead hands.

I have one Ikea Expedit bookcase full. That’s the most I’ll allow myself to acquire, but god do I love them.

Tracy (the Other One)
Tracy (the Other One)
7 years ago
Reply to  Brooklyn Money

The idea of a house without at least 3 or 4 floor to ceiling bookshelves loaded with books gives me hives!

However, I do try to weed out my books every couple years, so the collection grows slowly, and I try to also buy used or at overstock sites.

But still, my husband and I were just noting that we need a new bookcase because we’ve begun the double-deep shelving thing, and we’ll shortly be out of room with that.

I think, though, that this it the only thing I have any interest in collecting and accumulating.

Angulo
Angulo
7 years ago

My weakness is Lp and 45 rpm records…15,000 total at last count. All neatly stored alphabetically in plastic-lined boxes and Container store supreme crates (134 so far) In my lifetime so far I’ve only had to move them once;in 2007 when I sold my house and moved to an apartment. Right now they are stacked all across the living room against the wall plus in one of my 2 bedrooms. I’ve been seriously considering my retirement to include moving from Miami to Las Vegas to be near my few family members,and the thought of cross-country moving all that(plus my 1000’s… Read more »

Dallas Morales
Dallas Morales
5 years ago
Reply to  Angulo

Angulo,

Hey, if you ever do decide to sell this wonderful collection of yours, please let me know.

Thanks,

Dallas Morales

Rahul
Rahul
7 years ago

Funny, how the blog is titled, Get Rich Slowly and this post probably tells an opposing story. I think letting the comic books sell themselves over 2-3 years would not have been a bad idea at all. If some money was needed so urgently, they could have done some research and sold a bulk set (non-critical) to get that. A big chunk of getting rich slowly is to have patience. This is not the best of posts on this blog.

Barb
Barb
7 years ago
Reply to  Rahul

Lets remember though, that there is a cost to storing things.JD is using a storage unit and paying annually. How big his storage unit is, I don’t know. Sell things over the long haul takes time and effort that might better be spent elsewhere-even if its only taking care of listings.

Finally of course, we have no idea if the collection was REALLY worth the mentioned amount. Even if he’s had them appraised, whether average condition comic books would have sold for thrice the amount he got is questionable, I imagine.

SLA
SLA
7 years ago

Congratulations on tackling whatever demons were making you previously want to hoard and cling to stuff that didn’t enrich your life.

I’m still sad about you taking one cat to a shelter that euthanizes animals. How terrible for that cat and for the other cat you got from the divorce and then gave away. I’m happy that the cats that Kris kept at least got to live out their natural, more stable lives.

Kristen
Kristen
7 years ago
Reply to  SLA

The whole idea of a shelter is to find homes for animals whose people, for whatever reason, cannot or will not care for them any longer. Where is someone supposed to take an animal they can no longer keep? Maybe we need to do a better job as a society of spaying/neutering and encouraging people to adopt adult animals rather than always taking home a baby so that shelters don’t ever have to kill animals. It It’s counter-productive to vilify people. If someone wants to give up an animal to a shelter, it’s because they are no longer willing or… Read more »

Peter Brülls
Peter Brülls
7 years ago
Reply to  Kristen

Well, I live in a country were it is plainly illegal to euthanize an animal, so there are no kill shelters. Seems to work.

Kristen
Kristen
7 years ago

Peter – I’m all for that solution as well!

Cori
Cori
7 years ago

Just curious, did you ever think about selling the comic books when you were working on getting out of debt? Seems like that could have made a huge difference at the time and helped you pay off your credit card debt etc. much sooner – or we’re you just not ready to part with them back then?

Rail
Rail
7 years ago
Reply to  Cori

I also wondered about JD not liquidating his collection when he was getting out of debt. My Dad sold off his entire collection of 19th century tobacco and spice tins when he built a new garage. Of course my dad is as tight as bark on a tree so it was a natural thing for him to do. I would have to say that I have a collection of stuff that I probably should get rid of too, so I know that it is easier said than done!

tony
tony
7 years ago

What a great story. I think everyone have their own journey as to what they may desire or collect. I have an open mind about respecting other peoples collections or desires. I enjoy watching their eyes light up and get excited about describing every details and the differences between this collectible piece or that collectible piece. But to my untrained eyes they look the same. Or people who love to travel talks about the differences between this country or that country. My big travel experience was moving to america as a refugee from Vietnam. That experience had left me shy… Read more »

SAHMama
SAHMama
7 years ago

Yes, a collection is only worth what someone will pay for it and it’s worth nothing while it sits in your house. Until you sell it, it’s less valuable than toilet paper because it’s not doing anything for you. For years, my dad collected sports cards, autographs, and related memorabilia, along with coins, figurines, and – get this – scarab jewelry. He claimed these collections would be sold to finance my college education. Yeah, surprise, he sold none. Now he claims it will be my kids’ inheritance. Haha, very funny dad.

Mrs EconoWiser
Mrs EconoWiser
7 years ago

Have you talked to MMM about storage units? I guess he’d mention something about face punching….;-)

Robbb
Robbb
7 years ago

Alternate solution:
1. Confirm that you’ll already be itemizing deductions this tax year.
2. Calculate value of collection using Overstreet guide.
3. Record valuation on spreadsheet; print 2 copies.
4. Donate to a local charity that will sign spreadsheet & keep one copy.
5. Write off donation; save/store Overstreet guide and spreadsheet.
6. Percent of total value = your tax bracket.
7. 25-33% of market price in about 1/5 the time. Boo-yah.

mike
mike
7 years ago
Reply to  Robbb

8. Prepared to be audited 9. Hope you know the way around the audit process or prepare to pay someone to handle it. 10. Watch your deduction be refused regardless. -You might be able to sneak a small amount of comics if you stay under $500 write off for the year but after that documentation creeps up and they become sticklers. -One of my best friends tried this years ago and he is a C.P.A. He tried to write off a couple grand and this was before the rules on charitable donations got stingier. It was a big fail. -Good… Read more »

Robbb
Robbb
7 years ago
Reply to  mike

I did this a few years ago, and followed all the rules. I’ll let you and your CPA friend know how it goes.

Actually, wait… No I won’t.

Robbb
Robbb
1 year ago
Reply to  mike

Hey mike. It’s 6 years later, the statute of limitations has run, and there will be no audit. I guess I did it right and your CPA friend just did it all wrong. Poor guy. I mean… that’s his line of work and everything, right? So sad.

Jen McGahan (@JenMcGahan)
Jen McGahan (@JenMcGahan)
7 years ago

Thanks for documenting this. Collections really can suck the life out of you. This article gives hope to many about cleaning them out.

Matt Ainslie
Matt Ainslie
7 years ago

Hi J.D.,

That’s kind of what I discovered, both collecting and dealing antiques. When figuring the value, you have to add in the time and effort of selling it. It’s like buying real estate versus buying stocks; one is a lot more liquid than the other, and that affects the value.

I think I’d have reached the end of collecting comic books long before you did, if I’d ever collected them. The problem with large collections is that you enjoy each individual item less. It drives a person to collect fewer but better quality things.

Airi
Airi
7 years ago

Nice step to clean, earn and making others happy

Cindy Brick
Cindy Brick
7 years ago

I’m surprised that the word “appraiser” hasn’t come up yet. Get a good personal property appraiser who’s got certification and training, and if you’ve owned these items for at least a year, you can take full appraised value off your taxes when you donate them to a nonprofit.

I do this all the time for clients. (And yes, I’m certified and USPAP-trained. Which is what the IRS is looking for.) If I don’t feel I can give an accurate appraisal, I don’t do it.

Todd
Todd
7 years ago

I am going through a similar process with Legos I have been toting along since I was a kid. I did take the time to build and sell individually on eBay. My one piece of advice here is that if you are selling a bunch of stuff on eBay – use USPS Flat Rate/Priority boxes if at all possible. It is really nice to keep your shipping costs in line as the boxes are free and postage is predictable. I bought clear tape on Amazon super cheap and collect newspapers from the neighbors to use as box stuffing. You may… Read more »

Curt
Curt
7 years ago

Anyone have an online dealer they recommend? I need to sell my comic collection as well. I already have it cataloged, I just need a recommendation on which dealer to talk to.

Thanks!

Maria
Maria
6 years ago

I have some old comics that I had checked out and was told due to time causing discoloration of the pages they have lost value one book alone would have been of great value, I don’t know what to do from here do I try to get them restored or what? but I did see a site that will still buy them not being In good condition but I don’t know how to find them on line again maybe i’m over looking them. I need some advice.

Dale
Dale
6 years ago
Reply to  Maria

It depends on what comics you have.You can sell one page of Superman Number #1 if you have one.

RH
RH
6 years ago

Can anyone answer Curts question? Any site recommendations? What site did you use to sell your comics J.D.? Were you happy with the transaction, prices, overall? I am in the same boat, just about 1k comics. Don’t mind selling them not at top dollar, just want to get rid of them and get a fair price. And by fair I mean where they don’t just try to rip you off. Sorry to make this so comic-ey but I think a lot of people have long boxes hiding around their lives..! great article thx!

RH
RH
6 years ago

Can anyone answer Curts question (#58) above? Who did you use, JD? Thanks, lots of people need help with this particular issue ha!

Collectibles NJ
Collectibles NJ
6 years ago

As a dealer myself I will just say that there is a “collectibles bubble” that was created by the rise of eBay which basically devalued everything by 70-80%.

While the market has steadied anyone who purchased before the year 2000 will lose significant investment equity.

Carl
Carl
6 years ago

I just found this website where you can check the value of comics: http://www.comicsvalue.com

Dale
Dale
6 years ago

I find myself in the same position now.Im 54 years old and have been messing with comics since I was 4 years old in 1965.I opened a store in 1993 and now 2014 still have 7,000 books sitting behind me right now.I wont let them go fast and cheap tho. Ive been on Ebay the last 7 months and have sold about $8,000 worth on there.But yes,I can see that it will take me til doomsday to get rid of them all.

Butch
Butch
6 years ago
Reply to  Dale

Dale,
Isn’t that part of the fun selling on ebay? I have comic books (1984-1992) selling on ebay now for 3/$1.99 even thou they list for $1.50 each or more. I look at it this way, at least it’s something because I don’t want them anymore. Same with my baseball cards.

Dale
Dale
6 years ago
Reply to  Butch

Well the ones I want to get rid of are from the 80s and up mostly. I still have a box of about 100 books that I dont mind sitting around with 12 cent cover prices. X-Men #10,F.F #50 and #112,Spider-Man #35 thru #99 ( numbers skip ),Daredevil #10 and #13,Iron Man #6,8 and 9 and a Worlds Finest #17 CGC 7.0. I may end up just keeping those if I dont sell them soon.

Butch
Butch
6 years ago

I would have sold your comics for 20% commission, individually on ebay. I did that with my collection. My collection was nothing compared to yours. A comic book shop offered me $5,000 for my 250 comic book collection going back to the early 60’s. I said NO thanks. I kept a log on what I sold on ebay and sold them for $15,000. It was a lot of work but was worth it.

ben
ben
6 years ago

Your dorky comics are no use

Butch
Butch
6 years ago
Reply to  ben

What are you talking about “dorky”?
The ones I sold for $15,000?
You don’t make any cents!

SK
SK
6 years ago

JD, what online dealer did you use to sell your comic books? I have a fairly large collection I am trying to get rid of, thanks!

Dwayne C
Dwayne C
6 years ago

Is Ebay the best way to sell 70s and 80’s books.

Dale
Dale
6 years ago
Reply to  Dwayne C

The 70s books I would say yes…the 80s not so well unless you have key issues.

Butch
Butch
6 years ago
Reply to  Dale

Dale is right about the 80’s comics. I have to give them away on ebay minus a few key issues.

Dwayne C
Dwayne C
6 years ago

I looking for a auction house or buyer ,I have comic from spiderman,deadpool,guardian of the galaxy,just a few name

Suzanne
Suzanne
6 years ago

I enjoyed reading this, and had a very, very similar experience selling my indigent uncle’s 4,000+ book collection. I first consulted with a local dealer, who presented me with a very low offer of $3,000. At the time, I didn’t know much about condition/grading, key issues or bags/boards. But I knew it was too low. I then proceeded to educate myself via eBay, the price guide and grading guide, and spent a couple months cataloging, grading and putting the books into new bags with boards. The bags they were in were either flimsy, or yellowing, as the comic book preservation… Read more »

Dean
Dean
5 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

I would love to speak with you about how you “cleaned” up the collection as I am planning on doing some of this with my approx. 20k books very soon and am a bit lost.

Suzanne
Suzanne
5 years ago
Reply to  Dean

Hi, Dean. Cleaning up the collection to prepare for sale entailed much of what J.D. did. First, I sorted all of the books alphabetically by title and in number order. A lot of them were’t bagged or they were bagged with older-type bags. I purchased all new bags and boards, but didn’t necessarily change them out right away. I logged them in a spreadsheet, graded them all, and recorded the book value. The spreadsheet columns were TITLE, ISSUE#, GRADE and BOOK VALUE. Then they were ready for sale. I researched the eBay market values for the books, which helped me… Read more »

John Stacy
John Stacy
5 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

How did you package/ship the books? I have a few to sell and want to ship economically but protected.

Mike G
Mike G
4 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Hello, much like many others, would like to sell my “stack” of 1960’s Comics. Have a list, and no Superheros i.e. Superman, Flash, spiderman, etc.

thankYou,be more than Happy to give you a percentage.

Thanks, Mike

Suzanne
Suzanne
4 years ago
Reply to  Mike G

Mike – Where do you live and how many books do you have? Like I wrote previously, I sold my uncle’s collection of 4,000+ Silver Age, and some Bronze Age books, and I would be happy to consider helping you out. I sold his collection for almost $16,000, when the best offer I got from a dealer was less than $9,000. He gave me $3,000, so he made an extra $4,000 by having me sell them. It took 18 months, but now I am an expert at listing them and much faster. I could probably sell 4,000 books in 6-8… Read more »

Log man
Log man
5 years ago

I sell comic books for a living. There isn’t anyway his collection is worth $75k I wouldn’t have even payed $4k for it. Unless you own gold or diamonds no has $75 just sleeping in the garage. By selling comics in bulk you are paying someone else to sell them themselves. Most of those comics are going to be in the $1 range with a few goodies.

Frank
Frank
5 years ago
Reply to  Log man

AF 15 alone was probably worth $15k

Frank
Frank
5 years ago
Reply to  Log man

log you’re an idiot, AF 15 and FF 1 alone are worth more than $4k

Nazmin
Nazmin
5 years ago

I want to sell a book called London at night where can I sell it. It is a collectable

Dean
Dean
5 years ago

Interesting and sobering read. Also-I empathize. I am at the tail-end of a divorce. Very difficult and my heart goes out to you there. So to, I have a collection of about 20,000 books. Some of mine are from the 60’s, but most are 70’s on up. I too learned so many things from my comics ranging from science to diversity to philosophy to love. I cherish them more than words can say, but something has changed. I used to NEED them. I no longer feel that. As I started to go through things to clear out I looked at… Read more »

Jennifer R.
Jennifer R.
5 years ago

My brother is no longer into comic books and has given me his entire collection. It is about 20 to 30 boxes of comic books. I would like to sell the entire lot, but I don’t know where to begin. What is the best online site to sell the comic books as a lot?

Suzanne
Suzanne
5 years ago
Reply to  Jennifer R.

I know it’s overwhelming! The best way to sell them depends on what kind of books they are. If they are 1960s through about 1975, you will want to sell them individually. It will be time-consuming, but well worth it. Otherwise, you’ll get ripped off. If they are 1975 and up, try My Comic Shop…they are one of the biggest. I sold my uncle’s 4000 book collection and it took about 18 months to do it right. If you would like some advise, let me know. Because of my reputation on eBay, I would be willing to sell them for… Read more »

Bonnie
Bonnie
4 years ago
Reply to  Suzanne

I have a collection of about 1200 comics from my brother who past away. I would be interested in talking to you about you selling them on E-bay.

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