My friend, and blog editor, Chip Reece knows that I buy and sell comics on the side to make some extra cash and to put books in my collection. He suggested that I write an article about how I go about searching for issues, what I use for pricing, and how that pricing ties into the StashMyComics database. So I’m going to go through my process somewhat and explain what I use to help price the books I find.Generally what I like doing is digging through a store’s back issue stock and pulling trending books, or books that are undervalued in guides. If you’re out searching for these kinds of books, don’t be afraid to go through a store’s entire inventory. You never know what you may find out of order, or that another customer has stashed in a run of New Warriors to hide until they can come back. Also, don’t be afraid to ask about boxes that are behind the counter or still have lids on them on the floor. A lot of my best finds came about simply because I asked if I could look through them. But, you’re probably asking, how do I know what books are trending?
eBay is the biggest factor to knowing what’s trending. Just take a look at sold listings and you can see what people are buying and what they are paying for it. The Overstreet Price Guide (OPG) is a great starting point for pricing, and I will always use it’s numbers for an a good idea on Golden and Silver Age, but once you start edging into Bronze and especially Modern books, Overstreet can’t keep up. Being an annual price guide, it just can’t stay current on what becomes hot. One mistake I’ve seen people make is using the OPG as a bible. In lots of cases the guide is on the money, but very often it isn’t. Using eBay to see what books are actually selling for is crucial. For instance, X-Force #2 is in the OPG as a $3 book, but has until recently been found in quarter bins. After the news of the Deadpool movie and Rob Liefeld telling people not to sleep on X-Force #2, the book started cracking $20 on eBay. This example leads me into my next point.
Keep an eye on the movies. The past couple years has seen a trend that any announcement of a characters introduction into a movie causes their 1st appearance to rise in price (excluding some Silver Age and older books). The 1st appearance of Apocalypse has seen a steady rise over the past few years from dollar book to a comfortable spot at $20. After X-Men: Days of Future Past teased Apocalypse’s appearance in the next film, his 1st appearance skyrocketed, commanding more than $60 for raw copies. Rocket Raccoon’s 1st appearance also saw a dramatic increase in demand and price, which in turn caused the book to raise from $50 in NM in last years guide to $500 in the most recent Overstreet. (Which has, by far, been the biggest jump I’ve ever seen in a one year span.) In fact, just about every main character from Guardians of the Galaxy saw their 1st appearance grow in price thanks to the movie. Except for Drax, since his 1st is also Thanos’ 1st appearance, sucks to be him.
If you have a smart phone, keep a list of trending issues on it in the notes function (everyone’s phone has this right?). Being able to access the list quickly and easily will make searching boxes faster which will enable you to get through a store’s stock easier. One thing I do for every book is memorize the cover, especially the top of the book. Once I have the title and cover memorized, I no longer need to check the list on my phone as often.
So how does that all tie back into the StashMyComics pricing database? Well, our prices are reliant on users like you. The ability for any user of SMC to suggest pricing changes for issues allows to have dynamically updating price points for books. The system is not perfect though. We have had members send updates on prices for books that don’t make any sense. For example, a book that has always been $1.50 in the database and suddenly jumping to $100 when nowhere online is the book selling for that. I tent to think that someone is trying to use the pricing to make their collection look better or to show a noobie buyer the price to try and trick them, but that kind of tomfoolery is usually caught pretty quick. The admins work hard to ensure that the database, whether it’s pricing info or just general info about issue, stays current and up to date.