Buying Comic Book Mistakes Part 1

Two of the craziest statements I have heard since I started collecting comic books are:

  • Only buy comic books you enjoy
  • Buy comic books in the best condition you can afford

These two ideas are perpetuated by dealers who are living in the past, before the free flow of information provided by the Internet. Let’s pick apart these two absurd statements.

Stupid Statement #1 – Only Buy Comic Books You Enjoy

I am going to cover myself here and say that if you are only a reader of old or new comic books and don’t care at all about the potential value of your books, then the statement above is okay. I have only run into a few people in my entire life who are only readers, but I know there are thousands out there, especially people who only read new comic books off the stands. A good friend of mine in college who placed our orders to Westfield Comics each month was one of these people. As a side note, he made me a lot of money because you told me about great books and artists that were coming out – we won all around! If you are only a reader of old or new comic books, you must read the next section!

Okay, with that out of the way let’s look at everybody else. The above statement completely discounts the love of collecting in general! There is a certain enjoyment in finding rare books or getting a great deal on comics you otherwise wouldn’t care about. If you want to have a collection that can pay for itself, you must be willing to get comic books “you don’t like.” I was never a big Spider-man reader, but I have bought several books that sold for large profits because I knew what I was looking for. Was I taking a risk? Yes. But it paid off. Have I lost some? Sure. Did I leave the hobby because of my losses? No, I took it in stride and moved on!

If you are going to be a successful collector you have to be willing to buy comic books that you don’t “enjoy.”

Stupid Statement #2 – Buy the Best Condition You Can Afford

Think about this for a second. Mr. Comic Book Dealer says to you “only buy comic books you enjoy” followed by the statement “oh, but get the best condition you can afford!”

See how ridiculous this is? Come on, if you are really a reader a coverless but complete comic book is fine. Heck, why go any better than good condition?

If you were to follow this crazy advice, you as a reader would be buying a lot of “fine” condition comic books, one of the worst purchases in all of collecting! The readers don’t want them, and unless it is so old a fine copy is one of the best in existence, investors don’t want them either. If you are a reader/collector only, I would recommend exactly the opposite. Save yourself a bundle and buy the lowest condition book you can stand.

If you are a collector/investor then stupid statement #2 is out from many directions. You need to have an exit strategy before you buy. Good and very good condition comic books are valued by smart collectors and readers because the are more affordable. They also know they will retain some value since they can sell them in the future to fellow collectors and fans trying to complete their run of a series. This expands your sales market. Be careful not to overpay for lower condition books because you will be selling to bargain hunters in the future.

Your next market for buying it the pure investor/speculator or the serious collector/investor. If you are buying comics with thoughts of selling to this market, you must concentrate on high grade books. Notice I didn’t say the best condition you can afford. Once again, if you purchase a fine condition book you have limited your target market. Investors aren’t interested and savvy readers won’t pay the grade premium. If you get an unbelievable price on the books you can make it work, but be very careful. Have your exit strategy ready.

Whether you are a reader/collector only or are an investor and plan on selling in the future, read and heed these warnings. I think it will help you out in the long run and potentially save or make you some money.


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