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How to Deal With Downsizing Your Comic Book Collection

There comes a time in every comic book reader's life where they have to get rid of some comics. When this happens, they're going to have to deal with some less-than-favorable outcomes.

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

Remember when we all thought this was our retirement plan?

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.

We used to give lone children to the local salt mine... to mine some salt.

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.

When I'm not looking at "haunted" dolls, I'm selling old runs of X-MEN 2099. Yep, TWO 2099 references.

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?

Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a writer, podcaster, blogger, tweeter, and feels pretty good with how he ships things on eBay.

50 Comments
Posted by darkbeam

Lol I hope I never have to deal with this,but I probably will since both of my closets are filled with nothing but comics.

Posted by thanosrules

This is a fantastic article, @inferiorego! I have an outstanding "To Do" List item: "Figure out which comics to sell"...which encompassed all the things you speak to above.

Thanks, Mat. You have given me the courage to act on this task. ;)

Posted by kennybaese

I didn't really start reading single issues of books until shortly before the New 52. Now I need to start buying long boxes and organizing stuff. I went through some of the single issues I have around and I definitely found a good chunk of stuff that I need to get rid of (I'm busting down my single issue collection to either on going or past runs that I find particularly important to myself personally). This helps a ton.

Posted by BradyDale

I've been selling comics on Ebay in lots of about 150 each. Sometimes they go kinda okay but mostly they are terrible.

Any thoughts on how many comics are optimal to sell at once? It's convenient for me to sell a box at a time (roughly, 150, in a short box), but maybe I am shooting myself in the foot, moneywise. Should you just do whatever you have in ONE title at a time? It just seems like a lot more work.

Posted by Wolverine08

NEVER selling my comics! *Runs away shaking fist*

Online
Posted by inferiorego

I didn't really start reading single issues of books until shortly before the New 52. Now I need to start buying long boxes and organizing stuff. I went through some of the single issues I have around and I definitely found a good chunk of stuff that I need to get rid of (I'm busting down my single issue collection to either on going or past runs that I find particularly important to myself personally). This helps a ton.

Store books in short boxes. It's easier to move around.

I've been selling comics on Ebay in lots of about 150 each. Sometimes they go kinda okay but mostly they are terrible.

Any thoughts on how many comics are optimal to sell at once? It's convenient for me to sell a box at a time (roughly, 150, in a short box), but maybe I am shooting myself in the foot, moneywise. Should you just do whatever you have in ONE title at a time? It just seems like a lot more work.

Man, you ask me on Twitter AND CV?

I usually just sell runs of volumes, even if it's 70 books. 150 will be a lot because that's 2 medium flat rate boxes. 1 medium flat rate holds around 80 bagged and boarded books. I always keep shipping in mind.

Edited by impossibilly

@bradydale: What's shipping run you on that amount of books? I ask, only because I've noticed high shipping costs cut into how much people will bid.

Posted by TheFirstLantern

I only just started my collection and have 214 on a bookshelf that signify issues from February to October and I have 16 from this month so far. My dilemma is getting a box and selling just one issue I don't like, The Lobo Villains month issue 3-D one. Should I sell it? Should I get a box?

Posted by weenman1

My advice:

1. Sell what's of high resale value on Ebay paying special attention to current market trends and what's being optioned for tv or film. You have to time you sales properly.

2. I keep only what I absolutely cannot live without ( yummy fur run, love and rockets 1, preacher preview, logan's run Mark Jeweler variant etc. ) and limit it to 3 long boxes.

3. There are torrent everything else.

Posted by SFX87

No No No No and No

Posted by inferiorego

I only just started my collection and have 214 on a bookshelf that signify issues from February to October and I have 16 from this month so far. My dilemma is getting a box and selling just one issue I don't like, The Lobo Villains month issue 3-D one. Should I sell it? Should I get a box?

Bag and board and get short boxes. Keep your comics in amazing condition so you can enjoy them in the future.

Posted by LiveForever

Very entertaining article Mat.

I'm a relatively new comic reader (I read them as a kid then started up again about 3 years ago). From a cumulative 4 or 5 years of collecting, I already feel like I have too many. It gets harder to justify when I don't have to pull out that old single issue anymore, and I can just read it on my iPad. I don't know how people who have collected for decades do it.

Literally this week I had the epiphany that I'm going to start going digital on more series. This is in tandem with my LCS really letting me down a lot lately with under-ordering and books in poor condition. I'm gonna stick with Batman, All New X-Men, New Avengers, and Hawkeye so someday I'll have the full runs of each.

Posted by Oscars94

I'll just use mine to build a fort.

Edited by Xwraith

For some reason, every time I drop a series, I want to sell the issues I already have.

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Edited by Mucklefluga

Aw yeah Hitler issue!

Edited by kazekaine1

one of the few digital advantages

Edited by mtrakos

id rather burn them for heat in a "End of days" situation. Never sell.

Edited by danhimself

yeah I went almost completely digital because of space....I had to cut myself off at 12 long boxes....now I only buy issues that I feel are important...like I got all of the variants of Walking Dead 100 and 115...that was the last physical book that I bought....my problem like stated in the article is that my collection that I started in the early 90's isn't worth crap so it makes it harder to get rid of

Posted by HeckTate

I enjoy selling parts of my collection online (mostly through ebay). It allows you to set an asking price which people will (ideally) add to, but it also allows you to market however you chose to instead of trying to sell through a shop where it will likely sit up on a wall or behind a counter. You can make sure that "first print" or "near mint" or whatever your selling point is is right in the header or byline for your item, rather than hoping it just happens to catch someone's eye.

Posted by joeparks1

This is very informative. I myself have been accumulating/collecting comics since I was a kid in the early 1970's. Got serious in the 80's. And am another that bought copiously during the 90's boom. I haven't been buying for a few years, but I now have a huge collection that has become unwieldy. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 boxes long and short.They basically will not fit anywhere in my house but the finished garage. Now I have some Ideas as to how and what to get rid of. That run of West Coast Avengers from the late 80's can probably go.

Edited by Grey56

Hmm, what is this 'downsizing' word you speak of? Sounds like a principle of business acumen during a recession.

Edited by CuddleBear

Posted by sparty-dbq

I just toss a bunch of my older books out with my recycling every few months. If I want to read it again it's probably on Marvel Unlimited by that point anyway.

Edited by ThomasElliot

How uncanny your write this article, as a friend of mine and I were just discussing this a week ago.

He went ahead and bit the bullet and told me all about it.

There's one particular shop we love that will buy a box by the pound.... 25 cents per pound. That not half bad if you're someone like me who has a s**t-ton of junk from the 90s... just fill those boxes up w/ the worst of your collection and sell it by weight. (However, I still have to imagine I could make a few bucks more if I just did a yard sale and made a sign that said "All comics in this box 25 cents EACH").

However, where my friend got really pissed and offended was when it came to his Walking Dead collection. He had first prints, in excellent condition. He bought issue 1 a couple of years ago for nearly $300. And he had at least the first 10 issues (though I think he had more). Our favorite LCS offered him $500 for the WHOLE SET. He was flabbergasted. Look, on ebay, with ACTUAL bids, WD issue 1:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/THE-WALKING-DEAD-1-CGC-9-8-GRADED-IMAGE-COMIC-BOOK-WHITE-PAGES-1ST-PRINT-2003-/161151953561?pt=US_Comic_Books&hash=item258567aa99

28 bids, up to $1700!!!!

Now, I know, my friend's copy wasn't CGC graded, so he can't expect top dollar. And yeah, the LCS is going to lowball you big time, that's expected. But $500 for the ENTIRE SET of 1 - 10? When the first 3 issues alone are easily worth $2K on a buyers market?

My friend left and drove to a different LCS. That store took a look at his Walking Deads and offered up $2K... and they still bought other comics out of his collection as well.

So the moral of my story.... you're junk: Let it go. Your good stuff? Don't back down, hold out, and shop around. Though, I have a hard time understanding why my buddy didn't go the eBay route. He easily could have made twice as much.

Posted by sagejonathan

I started reading about 2 1/2 years ago. My first long box is almost filled and I dread the day I will need to get rid of my books.

Posted by girzaznot

I have had some bad experiences with buying and selling comics on eBay, more good than bad though.

I was the only bidder on a set of 120 Green Arrow comics from the 90's, got it for $20 or something like that. The seller was some punk kid who said he would not ship them to me because they were worth more than that. Needless to say i reported him.

As far as selling goes, I tried single issues, runs, TPB's, and maybe it was just the series I had, but I had to list them multiple times until they sold. Some didn't even sell after 4 listings. My advice is make the listing worthwhile and attractive so that you get activity. Although my sample size is low, I had best luck with complete runs of single issues.

Posted by Lvenger

I recently had a heated argument with my mother over comic book storage space and though it's resolved for the forseeable future, your article has come out at a particularly relevant time for me. These tips are massively useful for when I may want to downsize and sell off some of my collection to make space. I'd heard about the whole not fully making your money back tip already given retail prices and availability of comics but your points about selling online to a wider market and deciding what you'd want to read again in the future is really useful advice. Thanks for writing this article Mat!

Posted by Shallbecomeabattoo

I do this quite regularly. Once a year, I go over all books i have (I am a trade waiter and do not own many single issues) and ask myself what I want to reread again and again. Just a month ago I parted ways with 50 trades and hardcovers and got good money for that, which went straight into new books.

So, yeah, I don't see where comicbook fans have an issue with that. I could never part ways with stuff I loved, but the mediocre let downs? BEGONEWITHTHEM!

Posted by IDontLikeBirds

I'm doing the complete opposite right now. I had been collecting comics from the late 80's to mid 90's, then my LCS closed down. A few opened up in it's place, but none ever stayed open that long, and it was difficult ordering comics through catalogs at the time, especially from American Entertainment. Eventually I started to stop collecting as I wasn't getting new issues for months and then years. I got older, and the hundreds of comics I had were just collecting dust, plus I had bills. So, I wound up selling them all. So many years later and being a responsible adult, I work multiple jobs, manage my money and though there still isn't a LCS for a good thirty to forty minutes away, I'm at least able to get digital copies and now back to physical copies through sites like TFAW and back issues of what I once had off of ebay. I just barely filled up a short box for the first time in over a decade, and it felt satisfying.

Posted by SlamAdams

I always try to convince people to donate them. When I gave away the bulk of mine, I threw something up on craigslist and ended up finding an English teacher trying to get teens from a juvenile detention center to read. And there is always children's hospitals especially ones with extended stay kids who need stuff for them to do.

Edited by GrenadeFlow

Great article. Its the fourth point that makes me not want to get rid of my old books

Posted by TheAmazingImmortalMan

I'M NOT SELLING!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by NoahMcnasty

##I buy large collections from people and then keep the books I want and sell the rest on ebay. so needless to say I have a huge back log of books to sell, but when I am only selling each book at either a dollar or less that will just prolong the pain of packing up a dollar book and shipping it for more than the person just paid for it. so if you have some key books sell those individually otherwise sell in lots. as this article says overstreet is worthless. go to ebay and check the sold listings for what you have. there you can find out what you have is selling for. if you do decide to sell on ebay you need to use bomb proof packaging because it seems as though the usps like to stomp and throw your packages as many times as they can before it reaches it destination. in short be prepared to take a loss on most things from your collection if it isn't a key book. variant covers are the devil and only retain their value if the regular 1 is a key issue. you can buy a siege 1 variant 1:200 for about 15 dollars right now so do the math. one last thing then im done. cgc. don't like it because you have guys in a building far away from you telling you the grade of a comic. while you never see the process. grading is subjective so why do people you never see get the final say on your book.

Posted by inferiorego

I always try to convince people to donate them. When I gave away the bulk of mine, I threw something up on craigslist and ended up finding an English teacher trying to get teens from a juvenile detention center to read. And there is always children's hospitals especially ones with extended stay kids who need stuff for them to do.

If I was more of a financially stable person, that would be the way I would go as well.

Posted by RazzaTazz

I usually just go for the donation route. I find someone that wants to read them and just give them away.

Posted by SuperSlayin

I think I could part with my Batwing and Ravage 2099. Yes. I actually own the first 13 issues of that abysmal comic

Posted by nintendork666

There's quite a bit of junk in my collection I need to get rid of. Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by mattwing87

Selling comic books is just too much work. Plus I am a sentimentalist so it would be really hard for me to sell any of mine. I was able to sell my AvX issues and Wolverine and the X-Men issues but it took forever and I didn't get much for them. Vintage Stock gives 5 cents for comics no matter how old or new it is or the condition. It really sucks when you're selling $4 New 52 issues and they give you a nickle for them :(

Edited by RulerOfThisUniverse

--> DIGITAL! <--

Edited by Queso6p4

I definitely appreciate this as I've had arguments over my comics with my wife more times that I would have liked (i.e. any). The steps you outline are practical, straight to the point, and work. The picture captions are an added bonus. It would be awesome to be independently wealthy enough to afford infinite storage for books, but sadly, we're not Nicholas Cage. I actually had to leave the bulk of my collection literally on the other side of the country when I moved to Washington state. They're in a friend's basement, which is horrible I know, but I'd rather them be available than throw them out/give them all away. Said friend came through at the last minute and offered to let me store them there. I'm definitely planning a road trip to rescue them in the near future.

@rulerofthisuniverse said:

--> DIGITAL! <--

Although the thought of this pains me, it may have to be inevitably done. I'm trying to buy more trades to mitigate having so many single issues.

Posted by AllStarSuperman

--> DIGITAL! <--

yeah....

only comics I don't care about is Justice League 7-17 and the last 2 issues of Spider-man Torment

Posted by Gotham331

I just recently donated a lot of my old comics to a local elementary school. I figured I wouldn't get much if anything for them, so why not give them to some kids who might actually enjoy reading them. Or coloring on them.

Posted by Smurfboy

I have the very first issue of Wolverine (1st series); signed by Stan Lee; CGC 9.2. I paid $300. Not sure if I can let it go. It'll be hard. :(

Posted by hairiel

I've only started reading comics since last year after my interest in them was brought about by The Dark Knight Rises movie. Here in Singapore, there are about only about 4 to 5 comic shops over the entire country/island and the prices of comics are really expensive. The cheapest store which I regularly visit sell US$2.99 issues at S$4.8 and US$3.99 at S$6.4. Immediately bought the New52 Batman run by Scott Snyder which is now definitely my favourite batman series, other than the black mirror story arc. Got hooked on buying single issues from my LCS weekly especially with the NEW52 and MARVEL NOW making it so accessible for new readers like myself.

Of course i fell for the whole idea that the value of #1 issues would increase overtime. So I bought every #1 from the MARVEL NOW shakeup. Now, the problem is that I live with 6 other family members and I share a room with my two elder brothers, space is SERIOUSLY limited. Hence I made a call to sell off all my single issues and keep my hardcovers. Just like Mat stated in the article, the HARDEST thing for me was definitely the idea of not making back the money I spent on the comics. I just tried my luck by listing my comics on eBay and soon a local guy got in touch with me. He wanted my entire NEW52 Batman run, and damn I was so emotionally attached to that series that I nearly said no. So after much discussion, I sold it for S$350. After calculating, I spent a total of approx S$230 on the whole run, so I made about a hundred bucks.

And YES I know, I could have sold it for alot more in the future or online. But to be honest, I was glad I sold it off. I have all of the HCs from the run, so re-reading the series will not be an issue. I've sold off some of my MARVEL NOW #1 issues on eBay for prices which are below cover price but not too low of course, now to sell off some more in order to make space for other things in my life.

Posted by ChocolateFrogs

Can I double-up on two-comics to a bag and board when selling a storyarc on ebay? Or do buyers expect one bag and board per issue?

What kind of prices should I expect to sell a storyarc for? Is selling a storyarc viable or do people look for the whole run? (I want to keep my Wolverine and the X-Men 1-8, but feel like selling the AvX tie-in as a set and #19-29AU as one too. Would the collected coverprices be reasonable, or should I take off a dollar or two for each issue and sell at a fraction of the cost?)

As for downsizing, I've done this a little and am about to do so again. Some of it I'm donating, but some of it I want to sell if possible. This article was really helpful!

Edited by weenman1

@sfx87: with such an in depth response comicvine should hire you to blog for them.

Posted by snarkybits

I have various issues of Spawn.

I would not be heartbroken if they were sold for $5 for the lot of them.