14 : CBSI WRITER WARS : Anatomy of a Hot Book By Mark Cook
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Anatomy of a Hot Book: By The Numbers
Images of Joshua Middleton’s Batgirl #23 Cover B variant were first posted on April 26th, 2018. Our first glimpse of the beautiful artwork that would eventually grace the cover of this poorly performing title was enough to convince more than a few customers to bite. Customers placed the first recorded eBay presales on that same day. It started with one from Canada. Then, five from Michigan. Five more from the same Michigan retailer. In total, twenty-eight books were sold after the release of the image, at an average price of $7.63 shipped. For a book that would later sell for $30+, that’s not a bad buy-in. For most of these sales, the shipping cost more than the book itself. Only 4 sales offered free shipping.
The next day, 18 books disappeared from eBay (most with free shipping). 16 books the next day (most with shipping that was more expensive than the book). Overall, the price dropped a bit to 6.92 and 6.97 shipped respectively. Both of these days featured multiple sales from only a few sellers.
Even fewer sales the next day. It seems as though either consumer interest or available options were drying up. 10 books sold that day. A total of 72 books had been sold since presales started. Was this going to be it for this book? Or, was it a sign of changes to come?
11 books sold the next day ($6.89 average shipped). Only 2 books the day after that ($6.85). 5 the next day ($6.88). 7 after that ($6.99). Up to this point, sales for the book were not living up to its cover image. While it was selling (97 books since sales started), it seemed like your typical Cover B variant. Prices weren’t rising and talk about it had died down. There were still 20 days before books were for sale in comic shops across the country.
It’s clear now, looking back, that this was the time to stock up on this book. The cover image had already been released. It was already talked about on several g+ group pages. Multiple copies were available for cover price or less, even after FOC passed on 4/30. If you didn’t invest at this time, you really only have yourself to blame.
The fact that the book did not heat up right away and that many different sellers were willing to jump into the presale game for this book (Note: far fewer would do the same for the Middleton Jabberjaw variant that came out the week after) only added to the “under the radar” nature that the book enjoyed for a good amount of time.
On May 4th, comic book and pop culture fans everywhere celebrated May the Fourth Day. When the day was over, 10 more copies of Batgirl 23 were gone ($7.38 average shipped cost). The next day was Cinco De Mayo. An even larger portion of the population celebrated this holiday than the one the day before. Comic book fans/speculators were obviously busy stuffing their already fat faces with chips and salsa, burritos, and chimichangas because I cannot find a single sale for this book on this date. That’s a pretty hilarious side note, as there had been sales every single day before that since the image was released.
Apparently, a few sellers spent the day with their carne asada in one hand and their phone, mouse, or keyboard in the other, because prices would soon start to rise. On Seis De Mayo (May 6th) the same number of copies (10) of the Batgirl 23 variant were sold on eBay at a similar average price ($6.91). Then, two things would happen simultaneously. As prices rose, fewer sales occurred.
5 copies sold on the 7th ($7.62 average). 1 copy on the 8th ($7.90). 3 copies on the 9th (a whopping $10.48). Strangely, sales then stopped for four days. When they started again on the 14th, prices had climbed even further (a jaw dropping $14.32 average, another 3 books sold). 129 books had sold and there were now only 9 days until its release date.
Another day with no sales on May 15th. Sellers held firm to their increased prices and customers temporarily refused to buy.
Several more single digit sales days followed. 2 books sold on the 16th ($16.99). 1 book on the 17th ($27.48!!!). Some were realizing that only a few days before they could have bought two or three copies of the same book for the prices they were seeing now. Palms were starting to sweat as the feeling of possibly missing out started to sink in. We all know what affect that feeling can have on sale prices.
One week to go before release date. Batgirl 23 variants at cover price on eBay were long gone. On the 18th, the average shipped price would dip to $16.99 on the sale of 2 books, but it would never again finish below the $20 mark.
4 books would sell on the 19th, at an average price of $24.74 (high of 28.99 and a low of 19.99). The day after that saw only 2 sales, but with a low of 28.99 and a high of 33.99. Quite a few eBay sellers were now the ones with sweaty palms and heart palpitations. They could not escape the voices of their mothers calling down to the basement from upstairs, “Where did you go wrong?” They were kicking themselves (with their tightly fastened velcro shoes) because they could have sold for so much more had they only waited.
May 21st had arrived. The Monday before the book would be released. It was the last day of slow sales for quite some time. Prices remained the same. 4 books sold. The average price for the Batgirl 23 variant to be shipped to your door was $31.50.
May 22nd. Many comic stores around the country received their comic shipments. Some opened them with joy, at the possibility of profits yet to be made. Others opened them with gritted teeth and a pulsing vein in their forehead. They had to follow through with their agreement to sell a book for cover price that was now selling online for 10x that. A small few did what they always do and posted up their new books for cover price without even bothering to look at what they were currently selling for. Needless to say, those books did not last long.
Sales pretty much exploded the day before release day, helping the price to drop. 30 books sold at an average shipped cost of $22.07. Some sold for as high as $31.16 and some for as low as $6.98.
174 books had sold on eBay before the release date of May 23rd. 165 would sell on May 23rd. Like the previous day, this day saw a wide discrepancy in prices too, as some seller either refused to jack up prices or never knew what they could get until it was too late. The average price on release day was $21.79.
The next day saw the sale of 69 more books ($25.69). A few undercutters showed up, but not enough to affect the price, as it continued to climb.
Friday (May 25th) saw fewer books move (36), but another increased average price ($26.61). I was so up to my neck in eBay sales that I almost considered giving up writing this article, but I’m fascinated by numbers and the crazy sales of “hot” books, so I pressed on.
Sales doubled on Saturday and prices went even higher. 72 books sold. Average price of $27.67. The inevitable question of whether to hold or sell started to creep into the minds of those with books still in hand. They were enamored with the red hair of the character featured on the cover, but they could also not deny their love of the color green and the potential for making money (or at least avoiding losing money).
Sunday the 27th. Some people went to church. Others went to their computers. 48 books sold ($29.89 average price).
Monday. 30 books sold. $30 average.
Tuesday. 32 books sold. $28 average.
The consistency was fabulous. The prices remained great. Fear was lessened and all seemed right with the world. Could it continue?
Wednesday. A week after release. Still, 33 books sold. $28 average.
Thursday. 19 books sold (uh oh!). $31 average (whew!)
Friday. 29 books sold. $30 average.
Saturday. How long could the streak continue? Undercutters nowhere to be seen. 14 books sold. $39.27 average.
Selection is drying up. Most people who wanted books have bought them it seems, but prices still remain firm.
Sunday. 7 books sold. $38.64 average.
That brings us to Monday, June 4th. 14 books sold at a $41.47 average shipped price. I don’t know where the price will go. I sure hope it is up, as I am holding onto two NM copies and I have two kids that will one day want to go to college. Haha.
To sum up, 740 recorded sales on eBay of the Batgirl 23 Cover B variant. The total average cost, including shipping, is $23.35. That average price includes all the books that were presold for well below current market prices. As fewer and fewer copies go up for sale, I expect the price to climb even higher. We won’t ever really know the print run, though we will be able to make guesses. It’s a great cover, one that many are going to want to get slabbed and put in their PC. I look forward to seeing how it performs in the weeks and months to come.