Connecting the Dots

CONNECTING THE DOTS: eBay no longer effective as comics pricing tool

EBay may no longer be the definitive resource for pricing comics for sale or gaging the market for buying key books both on- and off-line.

In the height of the speculation boom, the sheer volume of books being bought and sold made eBay a valuable tool for the pricing of comics. However, as the market has corrected, in some cases even dwindled, eBay no longer represents a true snapshot of the comic book market. It is still a resource, but diversifying a collector’s tool kit is a better strategy.

With a larger sample of sales, eBay once provided effective portraits of comic book buying trends. Long held is the notion that the price of a comic is what a buyer is willing to pay for it. However, with fewer sales on eBay, low outlier “buy it now” sales and lesser viewed auctions become more prominent in the sales matrix, thus potentially obscuring a book’s true value in the market.

Perusing current listings on the platform, one will find books languishing at boom prices, while market-appropriate copies move at faster pace. While this may demonstrate that a market does exist for certain books, nevertheless, retailers and dealers still use eBay to price their books for sale in their stores and at shows, at times choosing to refer to the high-priced current listings on Bay, rather than the more accurate sold prices. While this pricing strategy has always been utilized, this mindset ultimately hurts both buyers and sellers more than ever.

While pricing books at actual market may seem obvious, there are sellers that refuse to capitulate and adjust their prices. A seller may have purchased the book at the height of the market and would rather maximize their profit or not sell the book at a loss. While the book may languish at this price for a time, ultimately it will be removed or discounted. (Caution: It’s almost never effective to admonish or criticize an eBay seller on their prices in an attempt to get them to lower their prices.) There are also heavy volume sellers who are too lazy to realign their prices to market. Of this, I was a culprit until I removed 400 of my books from my eBay store.

Currently, eBay still remains a resource, but employing additional online analysis and valuation tools will make hunting and price comparison more effective. While subscription-based tools such as GoCollect and GPAnalysis and others offer good estimations of value of comics, each has its own strength; using multiple resources is more beneficial.

Therefore, the prevailing wisdom is diversifying your toolkit and seek out other markets to find the best value for buying and selling books.


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    January 19, 2024

    Great article, this topic should be considered by buyers and sellers alike.

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    Skot Whitman

    January 19, 2024

    Ebay last sales only show up for the last 3 or so months, so pandemic era pricing shouldn’t be effecting last sale prices. That said, what does affect last sale prices is listings that were technically completed. So if someone buys a book and then cancels, that information shows up in the sold/completed listings data. I didn’t believe that was really happening until this morning when a late night sales was canceled, I looked in the sold completed listings and sure enough the book that sold and was canceled is show there. This is bad, because it creates a false impression that can affect the market. So it’s very easy to manipulate. I could list a book and have a friend buy the book, then cancel the order. It will show up on eBay sales data and the next person looking at the data for that book will think it sold for more than it did… because in reality it didn’t sell. That said, apps with price guides are also inaccurate. Folks have to remember, the goal of an app is the sell you an app, not an accurate price guide. Apps do not scrap data from all places that sell comics, just the ones they can get the information from. There’s also other factors to consider with apps. Does an app that is scraping data on sales include the shipping? Because like it or not, that a fair amount of the price paid for the book if it’s bought online. Also, it’s impossible to have a completely accurate price guided regardless of where it’s from. No app or other guide will have some of the largest venues books are sold in contributing to the sold prices collected. A LCS isn’t reporting their prices sold on books. Conventions, large or small are selling books and again, none of that sales data is being included in these apps or other price guides. Facebook or Instagram sales are also not being included, unless the app has access to that data, nor are one on one sales between collectors via DM’s. The fact is there is no accurate way to price books unfortunately. It’s all just guess work. Having a price in mind that you are willing to pay and hoping someone is willing to part with it at that price is basically how it’s has always been and will continue to be. There can not and will not ever be a “magic bullet” for accurate pricing on books… unless someone creates a way to get that information from LCS’s and convention sales added to the data they are scraping from online.

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