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Tue, March 2nd, 2010 at 1:58pm PST

Comic Books
Augie De Blieck Jr., Columnist

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ADVENTURES ON eBAY

Sunday, 21 Feb:

If I remember correctly, Sunday is the best day of the week to start and end an auction. So I'll give that a shot by putting up three auctions later at night, around 11 p.m. That gives the West Coast time to finish dinner and check eBay next Sunday night before the auctions end.

The three auctions are for the first 12 issues of "Planetary," "The Authority," and the Busiek/Perez "Avengers." I had them handy and I already have their hardcover reprints. That’s all I need. The issues are thus superfluous and, theoretically, worth a few bucks towards my on-going project to update my home theater set-up. In other words, I'm trading books that have sat in boxes over the years for something I'll use every day for years. Seems like a good idea.

I get worried with eBay, though. People can be persnickety with "grades" and "conditions." I want to purposefully downgrade the comics just to play it safe, but they really are all near mint, often read once or twice and tucked into bags and boards for years afterwards. Am I risking something here? Will I get negative feedback, the bane of eBay? Hope not.

Monday, 22 Feb:

One bid across three auctions so far.

I did another (though non-comics) auction before this one, so I know the drill: nobody bids until the last minute, hoping against hope that they can get a steal of a deal. This, of course, is exciting as a buyer and frightening as a seller. I agree with whoever once said that an eBay auction shouldn't end until nobody has bid for three minutes. All those people who snipe at the last minute would be handed their lunch, sellers would make more money and post more auctions, and eBay would earn bigger commissions.

Then again, eBay hasn't done too many smart things in the last few years. For a big example of this, check out their acquisition of Skype, in which they bought the company but forgot to buy the code. Whoops.

Got an email question from someone asking about the condition of the comics. What the -- ?!? As it turns out, I did forget to include that information in two of the three auctions. Stupid mistake! I cut-and-pasted the info from the first to the second two, and accidentally deleted that crucial line along the way.

At least eBay lets you answer those questions on the same page as your auction, so others may see. This works up until the last 12 hours of the auction.

Tuesday, 23 Feb:

Two bids across two auctions so far.

Kinda wish I had put a minimum sale price on these auctions now. I'd rather lots don't sell, rather than go for $3.00. It'd be cheaper.

One of my trouble spots as an eBay seller is that I don't have lots of experience with shipping items out through the post office. The last time I did this a couple years back, I was selling DVDs, for which I had bought a batch of bubble wrap envelopes cheaply and knew the price of shipping in advance. DVDs always weigh about the same, from disc to disc. I also sold those on Amazon, which enforces a basic shipping cost to charge.

So I set the shipping price at $5 for these auctions. If I use boxes I buy at CVS, I know they'll cost $2.29 plus tax each. Shipping will be a little more with media mail. So I'm probably losing a dollar an auction. In bigger auctions, I offer free shipping to help excite buyers, but that's suicide with these smaller auctions. Shipping costs would eat up half the final price.

I could buy bubble wrap mailers, too, since these lots are fairly small. They cost about the same, though, and likely won't reassure any buyers that I care about their newly-won items' conditions.

Still, if these auctions finalize at 98 cents, all I'm doing it going through a lot of work to throw 36 comics out in the mail. On the bright side, look at the material it gives me for Pipeline!

Wednesday, 24 Feb:

Two bids across two auctions, but the "watching" needle moved ahead a bit.

"Planetary" and "The Authority" have 98 cent bids so far, with multiple people watching them: 16 and 7, respectively. Looks like "Planetary" is the more popular auction.

All I have to do is tough this out for until the weekend and then the prices will start to budge.

Friday, 26 Feb:

Skipped Thursday due to illness.

Didn't find anything helpful this morning. All three auctions have bids going right now. None of the auctions have made it over a dollar. Even crazier, one of the auctions has two bids and yet the price hasn't budged up yet. I don't get that one.

If all three auctions sell at these prices, I'm going to be losing money on this round of auctions and will officially find it easier to toss long boxes full of crappy comics into the recycle bin. Because if the good and popular ones don't sell, what hope has "Aquaman?"

I also wonder if I didn't cut myself short. In the case of "Planetary," for example, I have a few issues past #12 in my collection. They're a bit disorganized, but would it have been smarter to find those other six issues and make the auction for issues #1 - #18? Perhaps the perceived value would have been greater?

Did I just choose the wrong books? Are Warren Ellis/John Cassaday/Bryan Hitch fans not the types to patrol eBay looking for deals?

I'm surprised that most of the interest in my three auctions is for "Planetary." For some reason, I thought "The Authority" lot would be more interesting to people. Right now, I have 16 watchers for "Planetary," and 7 on "The Authority." I have to believe that'll translate to the final bid on Sunday night being higher on the former than the latter. Maybe people are sick of "The Authority"-type comics? Maybe Cassaday is a hotter artist than Hitch right now, given how little non-cover comics work he's doing these days? Maybe it's the lack of both the second Absolute edition and over-re-publication? I don't know. Just spit-balling here.

Oh, and it's still snowing outside. It's been snowing for two days. It's beautiful stuff to look at, but awful stuff to drive back and forth to work in. I need one of those "work from home" types of jobs. I don't really ever want to leave the house. I'm not social. I'd be fine with the UPS man being the person I have the most conversation with on a daily basis, after my wife, of course.

Saturday, 27 Feb:

Big change today, as "The Authority" pulls out to $5.50 after three bids. This gives me hope, with less than 24 hours to go.

Tomorrow, this will all be over, for good or bad, and a lesson will have been learned and a column will have been written.

If nobody bids until the last minute, then, why bother with a seven day auction? Why not just do a three day auction? I guess it's a matter of advertising. People "watch" auctions they might be interested in. By letting the auction run those four extra days, more eyeballs will find them. I haven't been keeping track of it, but I know the number of eBay users watching my auctions has increased steadily over the last week. Maybe I should have gone with a ten day auction and really stressed myself out thinking about it?

Sunday, 28 Feb:

The prices started kicking up on this last day of the auction, as I knew they would. No doubt this is partially from people who only search for auctions that are ending "today," combined with those who have been watching and are now starting to bid.

90% of the auctions came at the last minute, literally.

Final cash intake: about $50. Postage comes out of that. Thankfully, I have two boxes I can reuse, but I'll likely have to buy the third to ship this stuff out. Not sure what the postal rates will be on first class mail, but it's probably $5 or so. We'll see on Tuesday when I ship out. Two of the three buyers had paid by the time I'm writing this. (The third paid up by the time I woke up Monday morning.)

In the end, the profit will be enough to buy a couple of Blu Rays for the home theater. Or maybe I'll just pick up a couple hardcovers with it.

Is it worth all the effort of digging this stuff up, spending a lunch hour going to the post office, etc?

Nah, not really. And it means that anything that isn't marquee stuff is really going to drown me. I could put a complete run of John Byrne's "Namor" up on eBay tomorrow, and I doubt I'd get more than $10 for it. Ditto something like Dixon's "Birds of Prey" run, which has a couple of high-priced single issues along the way. I've been pondering what to do with these "Ultimate Spider-Man" issues for years, but eBay frightens me now, as does the lesser interest in those books today compared to two years ago.

Do I press my luck and try putting up "The Walking Dead" #1? Or do I wait for the TV series to hit the small screen? And, then, do I just auction off the first issue, or do I package it up with the first 6 or first 12 or even first 24 or 50 issues? Too many questions, no solid answers. Go with your gut, I guess.

Next time I use eBay, I'm going to be a purchaser. There are great deals to be had on the site. I've used it before. I can remember picking up a complete run of "Silver Sable" comics for less than a buck an issue once. (Remember Marvel's "Epic" pitch a few years back? I briefly considered it. Read these issues. Gave up.) I picked up a large run of great comic magazines from the 1980s for dirt cheap a few years back.

Yeah, eBay is a buyer's market, unless you have something CGC graded and "hot."

In the meantime, I think I'll put up a couple of higher end books on Amazon. I have better luck over there, plus I get to set the price and wait for someone to buy it. I don't have to worry about it selling for a dollar over there until I price it at a dollar. And with Amazon setting the shipping costs, I don't need to worry about someone claiming I'm profiting on the shipping costs. (I'd agree with them -- that's wrong. But I've never done it.) The drawback with Amazon is that it isn't friendly towards lots of comics. You can get rid of a hardcover book there, but there's no single ISBN for "Ultimate Spider-Man" #1 - #12, or anything like that.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • There's concern centered around Apple's recent removal of some 5000 boobs apps from the App Store.

    The theory is, aren't comics just as bad? Won't Supergirl's short skirt and belly shirt be pulled from the store, too? Is Wonder Woman's new "Blackest Night" costume too much for Apple? Is Power Girl certain to lead to DC's banishment from the App Store?

    It's an understandable concern, and one I've brought up in Pipelines past, but I don't think it's a worry here. Why not? Check out John Gruber's analysis for one theory that this is more a branding play than a censorship one. It's not short, but it covers everything and makes a lot of sense.

  • Happy Tenth Blogiversary to Neil the Alien, the original comics blogger. Think a happy thought about Doctor Strange in his honor today. The man began blogging before the permalink was invented, people. That's cool.

  • The Nick Simmons Plagiarism thing: The first joke I cracked when I heard about this last week was along the lines of, "How can you tell? All manga looks alike."

    I didn't really go public with that one because, yes, it's unfair and somewhat stereotypical of the old guard of comics fandom. There's a vast difference between "Lone Wolf and Cub" and "Revenge of the Mouflon" and "Nausicaa," for example. I didn't want to get the nasty emails from people who didn't read the disclaimer next to the gag.

    But then Nick Simmons wrote in his own "defense" yesterday:

    "My inspirations reflect the fact that certain fundamental imagery is common to all Manga. This is the nature of the medium."

    I was joking. He's saying, as a defense, that all manga looks alike, so you can't blame him if you think he may have made his manga look like other manga, if that's what you think of those "similiarities" that aren't tracings but homages of obvious images that all manga share.

    So Simmons' defense is that he's not a plagiarist, but an uninspired and unimaginative hack of an artist?

    Simmons shares a P.R. firm with Tiger Woods, doesn't he?

I said I was going to review more of Jason's work, and I will. It'll just be next week now. Sorry for the delay, but eBay sucked the wind out of me this week. And I still have boxes to pack. . .

I'm selling comics. I'm Twittering, photoblogging, and blogging..

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TAGS:  pipeline, nick simmons, ipad, ebay

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