Subject 12: The Cost of Collecting
Something you might want to ask yourselves “is this the right hobby for me”? I'm not trying to scare anyone off. It's a serious question new collectors/investors need to ask themselves… At some point anyways.
As individuals, our method of collecting is as unique as our personalities. We all have different theories and formulas we use to buy and collect. No one method is more right or correct than the other, just different. We use whichever works best for us. Now sometimes that might be because it’s the way you've always done it or because you just never found a better way. One thing is for sure, to do it correctly it takes time and money.
Trey has mentioned on the podcast several times, “Wednesday Warriors” really need to factor in the time they spend, gas and running all over town snapping up books. Is flipping books on eBay for 7 to 10 bucks really worth the time and gas you spend, minus online selling fees? He’s right, It's probably not cost effective to drive in circles buying 3 and 4 dollar books to sell for 10 bucks shipped. Investing in comics is way more expensive than many people realizes. There’s a huge additional cost in this hobby beyond the price paid for books. Bags and boards, storage costs, air conditioning bills in the summer. It really starts to add up. If you slab books then send them out to be graded, the cost can really get up there. It’s just things you should start being mindful of when it comes to collecting. In your investing, you need to factor in all those additional costs to understand what your real investment is. Comic collecting can be a very expensive hobby. Which is why many collectors sell on eBay and other online websites. It helps subsidise the habit… I mean hobby.
For some, selling on eBay is a great way to make extra income. For other’s it’s a way to clear out books you just don’t want taking up space. Something every collector should consider is selling a book on eBay or similar sites, just once. To get a better understanding of the whole process if nothing else. It will give you a new perspective on how much time and effort some sellers put in, or don’t in many cases. We've all got a story of a seller that's comes up short.
Mistakes are sometimes a good thing. A costly one will teach you more than you realized. Something as simple as under charging for shipping is a great learning experience. Having the post office lose a book you didn’t insure is another fun exercise if you've never experienced it… Not really. Playing the game from both sides of the table, dealing with the same problems, it's actually helped me become a better buyer. More understanding anyways.
Personally, the art always will be the major draw to comics. It will always outweigh the financial side of things for me. Being an art snob has been pretty instrumental in keeping my personal collection small and manageable. The speculation and investing side, not so much. I’ve got more books than I’d like wasting space. Many of those books will never hit and others are still a long ways off from making any real money. Which is something you might want to consider when investing. How much time/money/space can you sacrifices to your comic investment. That answer is going to be different for everyone.
Time is money. It’s true. Most people have busy lives. Work, family, whatever, doesn’t matter, your time is at a premium. You should probably start considering what that is worth. It takes a lot of money and risks to invest or flip books and do it right… And even if you do everything right, it doesn’t mean it will be profitable. Nobody likes to lose, however as your grow older and more seasoned you’ll understand “acceptable losses” and “cost of doing business”. Every transaction has the potential to go from profitable to a full lose, that’s the gamble. IF you’re not interested in losing once in awhile, this isn’t going to be the right hobby for you.
You need to factor in everything to make sure you're really profiting from your investment… If that's your only goal. Stuff like seller fees, paper, printer ink, labels, tape, packaging material, space for storage, long boxes, bags and boards, shipping boxes, sales tax, business licenses, paypal and eBay fees… I’m sure there’s things I’m forgetting which just goes to show you there’s more than just the original cost of the book factor into your investing. It's probably better to just look at it as a loss all the time, an endless sinkhole of money. Which is why it helps if you're a collector first.
If money is your only motivation for comic collecting, you really need to ask yourself, is this really worth it?
With that I leave you. I'll be back in mid September with something new and hopefully worth reading. Till then.