Turning to the same big names can be comfortable when you have comics you're looking to sell. The online auctioneers at eBay have spent decades building a reputation as one of the go-to places to sell pretty much anything it's legal to sell. Just because they're a big name, though, doesn't necessarily mean they're the best place to use to market your comics.
Is eBay a good place to sell your comics? Is it the best place? Or are you better off leaving them out of your plans entirely? Let's answer some of the common questions and concerns you may have.
Is eBay the Best Place to Sell Your Comics?
To start with, let's answer the simple question: is eBay the best option?
Generally, the answer is a solid "sometimes." It depends a lot on the specific comics you have, the book's interest, volume, and how much labor you're willing to put into the sales.
Using eBay has a few advantages but a few disadvantages as well. We'll go over those in greater detail later, but suffice it to say that eBay gives you a lot of conveniences and the largest audience, but it may not be the best choice for specialty and high-value items.
What are the Advantages of Selling Comics on eBay?
Using eBay to sell your comics has some serious advantages.
- For one thing, you can quickly sell pretty much anything on eBay. Bulk lots of comics worth an average of $2 each, high-value graded and slabbed comics worth thousands, and everything in between can be sold through eBay. The exception is items prohibited by eBay's policies, such as explicit adult comics. And yes, even though their policy says they allow some adult comics, they've dialed back on what's acceptable a lot over the years, and it's hard to get an adult listing to stay up these days.
- Another advantage eBay has is that the site is massive and has a vast audience. Today, eBay has over 100 million monthly users, and many possible eyes are looking for comics to buy. While people interested in specific comics, lines, or imprints may go to specialty dealers, just about everyone in the business has their eye on eBay at least part of the time. If you're going to find interest in the books you have to sell, eBay is the place to find them.
- The auction structure of eBay can also result in a comic selling for more than it usually would. This phenomenon is especially valid for relatively rare items; if multiple people want it and only your listing is available, a bidding war can drive up the price significantly. The selling price can exceed the fair market value if a buyer wants to win badly enough.
Next, let's discuss some of the disadvantages.
What are the Disadvantages of Selling Comics on eBay?
Unfortunately, there are quite a few drawbacks to selling comics on eBay.
- First and foremost, you must do all the work selling on eBay. Photos and descriptions of your item are yours to create and need to accurately reflect the item, its condition, and any other salient details. Half-hearted efforts in building your listing will almost definitely result in lower sale prices if it even sells at all.
- On top of this, all the responsibility falls on your shoulders as the seller. If the item isn't in the condition described, if it doesn't arrive intact, or if it never arrives, all of these issues result in eBay refunding the buyer and charging you for it. The buyer has a lot more protection on eBay than the seller.
- This phenomenon is still valid even though eBay has a problem with fraud. There are a lot of "buyers" out there who will claim the item didn't arrive, even though it did, and get a refund while you never see your comic again. This situation is less common with highly-rated users with good feedback, but it can still happen. You can mitigate this somewhat with priority-tracked shipping, insurance, signature requirements, and other mail verification practices, but it can only stem the tide so much.
- Anyone who sells a lot of comics on eBay will have a certain margin of error to write off lost or stolen items, just as a part of doing business. Breakage is, incidentally, why many comic vendors and private sellers won't sell high-value items on eBay. If a $5, $50, or $100 comic is stolen, it's unfortunate, but it's not the end of the world. If a valuable $10,000 comic is stolen, it's devastating.
- The eBay audience is also pretty fickle. Sometimes a seemingly low-demand book will sell near-instantly, and sometimes a popular, trending item will languish for weeks or months. Interest in specific comics can rise and fall according to pop culture trends, interest in the franchise and factors like whatever show Marvel has announced is coming next. Following trends can help you get high values out of your books, but it also means some items will have difficulty attracting interest.
- Similarly, the eBay algorithm is inscrutable. There's no telling when an item will hit a trending search and sell right away or when the algorithm never seems to pick up your store, even if similar items are trending. There are some ways to get around this, but to a certain degree, we're all subject to the whims of the algorithm.
- There are, of course, fees for selling on eBay. This factor isn't much of a drawback in most cases, though. Pretty much everywhere you can sell your comics other than a private sale is going to take some fee, and the eBay fees are generally pretty reasonable.
- Finally, eBay can take a while to get rolling. Many buyers are skeptical of sellers without a high volume of positive feedback in eBay's systems. Unfortunately, if you're not a long-term comic seller, you likely won't have an account with a lot of feedback, so you'll find many of the best buyers will avoid you until you build up a reputation. It's simply too risky for most vendors to sell valuable items to new users.
That's not to say you can't sell valuable comics on eBay! Quite the opposite. Some years ago, eBay was even the venue for a record-breaking sale of Action Comics #1, though the record has been broken again since. Of course, for exceptional comics like Action Comics #1, many special precautions are taken on the sale that you wouldn't generally consider for a $1,000 book.
What Kinds of Comics Sell Best on eBay?
You can sell just about any comic on eBay, but some will do better than others.
Which comics do the best?
- Mid-value collectors' items. At any given time, thousands of people are starting to get into and explore comics, and many are interested in getting some excellent comics for their collection. They may not have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on the premium key issues, but they'll be perfectly willing to spend a few hundred bucks on some of the nicer – but still affordable – items on their list.
- Themed Lots. A typical tactic that flippers use is buying up comics that, individually, only sell for $1 to $5 and creating themed sets to sell. A themed set is usually around 12-13 issues centered around a particular story arc, character, or author's run with a character like these. It's one way to sell 13x $2 comics for $40 or $50, making a profit on the flip. They're also a good way for newbie collectors to get an instant set of something they like.
- Bulk Lots. While it's always exciting to talk about the million-dollar sales, the reality is that the vast majority of comics ever printed (especially in the modern era) are $1 books. It's no surprise, then, that bulk sellers are delighted to sell a whole long box of comics for $50 or $100 with a minimal description as a way for comic collectors and resellers to gamble on finding something great.
- Key issues. The key issues are always in demand, no matter where they're listed. For example, Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, sells pretty regularly.
- Trending comics. Any time one of the significant players announces new media, you can expect books centering around that character to start moving quickly. When Netflix announced the Sandman TV show, Sandman issues spiked in value. When She-Hulk was announced, her books spiked. So it goes.
The most complicated comics to sell on eBay are generally individual comics only worth a low value, mainly because they're hard to sell anywhere you would want to sell them.
When a book is printed in the tens of millions, the supply is high, and the demand is low, so they languish in listings.
How Can You Get the Most Out of Selling Comics on eBay?
If you want to use eBay to sell your comics, you can certainly do so. Here are some tips on doing it well.
First, do your research. You should know:
- What your comic is, including whether or not it has any important variances.
- A rough idea of the grade, if it's not a graded comic.
- What the typical value of the book is from collectors and vendors.
- What the recently sold auctions on eBay have ended at, price-wise.
You may not be able to get total fair market value out of eBay, but you should at least know what it is.
This research helps you set your price.
Should you set a reserve price? This option is a personal preference. Some people hate reserves as an invisible penalty for not bidding high enough and believe you should just set your starting bid at the minimum price you'll accept. Others see a low price as an incentive to bid just in case and maybe get a great deal.
Next, create a compelling listing. You need a good set of photos of the comic, including close-ups of any relevant damage, signatures, or anything exceptional about the book. Discerning collectors will want to be able to assess details for themselves, and if nothing else, a vibrant and compelling picture is critical for eBay's search results.
Look at other listings for popular comics vendors and see what kinds of details, formatting, and other tricks they use to write their listings. You shouldn't copy them wholesale, but you can get an idea of what works and mimic it in your listing.
Don't forget to include all relevant details (Imprint, Character, Issue Number, Grading if it's graded, etc.) in your listing title! These are a critical part of eBay's search algorithm. Also, fill out relevant details like author, era, and genre since they're relevant to eBay's search filters.
If you have leeway, you might also consider waiting for news that would make interest in your comics spike.
Some, like popular characters and critical issues, are always in demand. Others may sell better if you wait until a movie or TV series is announced.
Is There a Better Place to Sell High-Value Comics?
Using eBay to sell comics isn't the worst idea, but neither is it the best option for everything. If you have key issues or particular high-value comics you want to sell, there are several other options you can try as well.
- Quality Comix. We've been in the comics business for over 20 years, but our passion has lifetimes behind it. We're standing by to appraise your collections and are happy to work with you! Appraisals are free, so there's no risk to you to know the real value of your comic books. You can submit an appraisal request here.
- Heritage Auctions. Heritage is one of the most well-known online auction and consignment shops for high-end collectibles and other items. They're among the best options for the most high-value books.
- Local Shops. A local shop is usually an excellent way to sell comics you don't want, but you may only get bulk rates or have to sell under fair market value. The store needs its leeway to resell, after all! You may also be able to sell through their online store or work with them on consignment.
Do you have comics you want to sell, especially vintage comics? Drop us a line; we'd love to hear from you!