Selling Your Comics: Private Sales, Resellers, or Auction Houses

Selling Your Comics: Private Sales, Resellers, or Auction Houses

There are all sorts of reasons why you might want to sell some comic books. Maybe you're moving away from the hobby and want to offload your graded books to other collectors. Maybe you inherited a collection, and you want to sell it rather than keep it. Maybe you're changing focus, and it's time to let a few keys go. Maybe you're downsizing your collection to fund a move.

Whatever the case may be, you want to sell some books, but you're not sure what the best avenue is. Should you look for private buyers to sell direct? Should you go through a reseller like your local comic store? Should you list them on an auction house like eBay or Heritage Auctions? Let's dig in and discuss these options and their pros and cons.

Table of Contents

What are Private Sales?

Private sales are simple; they're a deal you arrange with another comic fan directly. You're selling to another collector who values the comics as much as you do and who wants them for their own personal collection.

A Private Comic Book Sale

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You can find private buyers through a variety of venues, from comic forums to Reddit to Facebook to Craigslist. All you need is a way to get the word out to enough collectors that you can find someone willing to buy what you're selling.

The Pros and Cons of Private Sales

There are some benefits to using private sales as your method of choice, but a few drawbacks as well. 

Pro: You can get the most potential value out of your comics.

Private buyers want your comics and are willing to pay market rates for them or possibly a little below FMV (Fair Market Value.) There are no fees or commissions to pay, and you can potentially even get above market rates if the comic you're selling is rare enough that it doesn't come to market very often.

Various Comic Books

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Unless you have something that could sell for far more than the most recently recorded sales (like a pristine copy of something rarely seen in good condition or a high-value comic that doesn't come to market often), you're likely getting 90% or so of fair market value.

Pro: You may be able to sell niche comics for a decent price.

One of the biggest problems with other methods for selling comics is that there are a lot of issues that simply don't have much demand and don't sell very often, or at all. Local comic stores only buy what they think they can sell, auction interest revolves around the top 20% or so of comics, and there are a lot of issues that don't have much interest. Key issues sell; non-key issues often don't.

Selling a Niche Comic

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Private buyers, on the other hand, might have their own reasons for wanting a complete series run or a few one-off non-key issues that you would have a hard time selling elsewhere.

Con: It can be quite slow to find a buyer.

One of the drawbacks to private sales is that you need to find someone to buy your comics. The internet makes this easier than ever, with large forums like Reddit allowing you access to a significant audience of potential buyers, but you still have to reach the right people at the right time.

Searching for a Buyer Online

If you have common books or books without much interest in them, it can take quite a while to find someone who wants to buy them. This is why some people go so far as to hire brokers to find buyers.

Con: Private buyers offer no safety, insurance, or guarantees.

When you're contacting someone interested in buying your comics, how do you arrange a deal? With local sales, you can at least meet in a safe, public place. Online sales are trickier.

A Bad Actor

What if the buyer claims they never received the comics; do you trust them? What if you send the comics, but their payment bounces? What if they're damaged in transit? You can mitigate some risk with shipping insurance and partial payments, but there's always a leap of faith you need to take. Most comic collectors are trustworthy, but every industry has a few bad actors willing to prey on people who don't know any better.

What are Resellers?

A second option you have to sell your comics is using resellers. Resellers are usually local comic stores or larger comic stores with a national presence. They may also be individuals who maintain businesses flipping comics, buying low and selling high to a network of private buyers they know and via sites like eBay. Examples of resellers can vary and include sites like Quality Comix, Comic Connect, Superworld Comics, and My Comic Shop.

Comic Book Reseller

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Resellers generally buy your comics with the intent to sell them for their own profit. There are pros and cons to this, so let's dig right in.

The Pros and Cons of Resellers

What are the benefits and drawbacks of using resellers to offload individual comics or collections?

Pro: You can sell key comics and notable issues very quickly or even automatically via buylist.

Resellers know their business, know the going rates and offers they can make, and know how to value both individual comics and whole collections. They can analyze a list of comics or a collection in hours or days and have an offer for you in short order.

A Comic Book Collection

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Some even have wantlists or buylists where you can fill out a form saying you have comics X, Y, and Z and sell them automatically without needing to talk to anyone directly. 

Pro: You can work with a local comic store and build a relationship.

Since resellers are quite often local comic stores, you can often just take your comics into your favorite local comic store and sell to them. Sometimes, if the store doesn't want to buy, they might offer consignment space so you can still sell through them, just not to them directly.

Local Comic Store Customers

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As you build a relationship with the local comic store, they may also offer you greater-than-normal value in-store credit or better deals for repeat customers.

Con: The value you get from comics is generally quite low.

Since resellers are in it for their own profit more than they are for collecting, they have an incentive to buy low and sell high. That means you're often going to get an offer between 40% and 70% of the fair market value of the comics.

Reselling Comic Books

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If you just want to offload comics you have no interest in, and you don't care how much you're getting out of it as long as it's something, this is fine. If you want to maximize your value, a reseller is often one of the worst ways to go short of donating them to a library.

Con: They may not want to buy some or most of your comics.

Again, since resellers are in it for their own profit, they want to buy comics they can resell. They don't want off-key, low-interest books because those just clutter up their inventory and are much more difficult to sell.

A Pile of Comic Books

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Sometimes resellers have their own dollar bins or mystery bags or try to put together full series collections to sell as a whole, so they'll accept full collections instead of picking and choosing keys, but this isn't always the case. It all comes down to the resellers you find and work with.

What are Auction Houses?

You know what an auction house is. They aren't limited to in-person, gavel-whacking auctioneers and crowds of people with numbered paddles, though. The most common auction houses are online sites like Heritage Auctions and eBay since the larger the audience, the better the chance that comics will sell for a good price.

Heritage Auctions Website

There's always some drama surrounding auction houses. Many people specifically blame Heritage Auctions for inflating the prices of collectibles since the higher they sell for, the more the auction house's cut, but that's neither here nor there.

The Pros and Cons of Auction Houses

What are the pros and cons of selling your comics through an auction house?

Pro: You don't generally need to do much or any work to sell your comics.

This varies depending on the auction house. Some auction houses will just take your collection and do all the work to sell it. They organize it, take pictures, make note of any important details, and list comics individually or in lots to sell.

Comics for Sale

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Others, like eBay, basically require you to do all of that work, managing your listings and your shipping and everything in between. Some provide the full-service option only for large lots and established sellers. It varies, so be sure to investigate any auction platform you're considering using.

Pro: Sometimes interested bidders get in a bid war and drive up the sale price.

If you have comics that are somewhat rare in one way or another – maybe they're just rare, maybe they're a misprint or oddity in some way, maybe they're just currently in demand – interested buyers can bid against one another and drive up the sale price of the book.

A High Sale Price

Sometimes, people get tunnel vision and specifically want this book now and pay more than FMV for it. You never know what you're going to get through an auction house.

Con: Auction house fees can take up a significant chunk of your profits.

Resellers buy for a low price and sell for market value. Auction houses sell for whatever the comics are going to sell for and take a cut of the final sale price.

Auction House Fees

If your books sell for less than you expect, those fees make it sting even more. If they sell for more than you expect, the fees temper your expectations. It's still less than resellers, usually, but it also depends on the auction platform.

Con: You may not be able to sell some comics at market rate, or others at all.

Auctions are very fickle. If there's no promotion of an auction, you might not see many bidders. If there's not much interest while the auction runs, you're not going to see high prices or bid wars.

Various Comics for Sale

Image source: Google Images

It's relatively rare that a high amount of interest hits a comic auction these days, and the proliferation of sites like eBay means that there's a lot of information about what a comparable book sells for, so prices don't skyrocket very often. It all comes down to promotion, timing, and luck. Sometimes, those don't align, and your collection sells for much less than you would want.

Are There Any Other Options?

While the three options above are a good representation of the different ways you can sell comics, are there others you can try?


One that we already mentioned is consignment. You take advantage of the display space in a retail location like a comic shop, and you pay either to display the comics for X amount of time, or agree to pay X fees when the comics sell, or both. Consignment gives you many of the benefits of selling through retail but with the added value of selling for FMV rather than at a reseller's lower price.

A Comic Shop

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You can also search for buylists. Many comic stores have lists of comics and collectibles they're interested in buying, with standardized prices. This is basically selling to resellers, but you can browse different stores for different buylist prices and pick the best ones for different comics.

There's also always the option of donating your comics. If you aren't concerned with direct monetary value, you can donate comics to local libraries and charitable foundations and often receive a tax write-off for your donation. This might be a viable option, especially for collections that aren't graded and don't contain highly valuable or noteworthy key issues.

Our recommended option is to click this link and send us a description of your collection.

Quality Comix Comic Selling

We're comic fans first and a marketplace second, so we're usually going to give you a good quote on your collection with no pressure to sell. We'll tell you what we think the comics would sell for and what we're willing to pay to buy them, so you can make your own decisions. Drop us a line; we'd love to chat!

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