Town's End Comics

Top 3 things I learned in my first 5 months of selling graded comic books

I have some solid data and experience now that I have been doing this for a while. It’s been a steep, but fun learning curve. Any mistakes I have made along the way I have tried to learn from them. I am grateful for the awesome comic book community for welcoming me and for giving me solid advice. I hope what I have learned will help others thinking about getting into the business.

Of the top two non-auction selling platforms, Shortboxed wins over MySlabs (most of the time)

There seems to be more eyes (internet traffic) on Shortboxed, at least from a frequency of sales. The convenience of listing; shipping; simple fee structure; and it’s free and informative comparable sales information that helps determine real Fair Market Value (FMV); make Shortboxed a winner and clear innovator in this space. See my data-base comparison video here.

After five months and 113 books sold, 84.96% were sold on Shortboxed (14.04% on MySlabs). Fees for MySlabs average 11.87% (Shortboxed is a flat 10%).

Note: I do not yet (nor may never) sell on auction sites.

Buyers with ridiculous low-ball offers are frustrating

First you should know I take great pride in actively pricing my books at, or very near, Fair Market Value. I often use multiple pricing sources to validate my pricing. I am not in the business to gouge collectors. That said, all of my lowest graded books are priced with zero margin. That means it’s priced at the point that I will make no money on the sale, I will only recoup what I invested in it (cover price, cleaning/pressing, grading, shipping). I don’t include the shipping materials in the price, so actually I am losing some money. So, when I price a book at $35 dollars and a seller sends a low-ball offer of $20, then meticulously edges up the offer in single-dollar increments, it gets real frustrating real fast. I get it. Part of the fun is getting a deal, and I’m happy to give a deal when I can do it, but after the 5th rejected offer take the hint! Either buy it at the set price or go away! (Yes – I have on occasion raised the price of the book on the fly to send the message. And it has worked for some.)

CGC grading of Modern-era comic books is broken

This is a common theme I see on many of the accounts I follow on the various social platforms. The griping from fellow comic book collectors is mostly anecdotal, but I have the data to pretty much prove it. The strength of the data is based on the assumption that the condition of my 10k (mostly of the Modern age) comic book collection is consistent. I have two discrete sets of data points to compare that show the CGC grading of modern comics is broken. The first set of data comes from back in 2018 and 2019, when I started my comic book selling journey. I did my research, learning how to ship comic books safely and then sent 84 comic books to the CGC for grading. IMPORTANT: I did NOT clean, nor press any of these titles. When the books started to come back, I launched my video series on CGC Unboxings on YouTube. The grades that came back were a pretty-wide spread of grades (see data table below). 16.67% were graded 9.8.; 29.76% were at 9.6; and 14.48% were 9.4. If you totaled all comics that came back ABOVE 9.0, you saw that made up 73.81% of total.

The second set of data comes from this year, when I picked up my comic book journey after taking a break. So far, I have received back from the CGC 278 comic books, but this time each and every one of them was professionally cleaned and pressed. The condition of the books had to be notably better, right? And that means the CGC grades would come back better too, right?? Wrong. Only 15.47% have been graded at 9.8, that’s -7.75% fewer than the first batch from 2019. 19.06% have been graded at 9.6, which is -56.11% few than 2019. It’s not until you look at 9.4 grades that you see positive results (17.27%, which is 10.37 more than 2019).

(Continues below.)

Watch one of the worst unboxings ever! The box of pain!

When you compare all comics graded above 9.0 it is a shocking wash. This year, 73.75% (205 out of 278) were graded 9.0 and above. That compares to 73.81% from 2019. That is a .06% difference.

So true believer, based on the assumptions that the overall condition of my collection is consistent, and that the cleaning and pressing DID improve the condition of the comics, CGC grading is tougher now than it was in 2019. Based on 2019 results, I would have expected at least a 10% bump in grades based on the cleaning and pressing.

Thanks for reading the post. Please like and share it if you found it valuable. Listings for Town’s End Comics can be found on Shortboxed and MySlabs. Please subscribe, like and follow on our social accounts (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Odysee, and Tik Tok). Check out the catalog and read more about my comic book collecting journey on the blog.

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