The value of nothing.

§ August 5th, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on The value of nothing.

Finally…finally…got around to doing something with those four or five long boxes’ worth of comic book collections that were basically just dumped on us. I didn’t have any time to deal with them when they were given to us, and I didn’t have any place in the back room where they wouldn’t be completely in the way, so I just piled ’em up behind the counters in our trading card area and said “I’ll deal with them later.”

Now, “behind the counters in our trading card area” is not an appropriate comic book storage area, I realize, but at the time, that’s the space I had, and that’s where they went. And not just one collection, multiple collections. “Sigh, another box of comics dumped on us…well, put ’em with the rest of them, and we’ll get to them eventually.”

‘Course, things being what they are, this is what happens. I need to go to the trading card area, to pull out boxes of singles for someone, or to get a set or two out of one of the cases. I have to maneuver around the boxes to get to anything behind those counters. I think “Gosh dang it, I have to do something about these stupid comics.” Then my work day continues, and I have other, more important things to do than go through a bunch of comics we didn’t really want in the first place, and so there they sit, out of sight, out of mind until the next time I have to get into the trading card cabinets. Which, to be frank, isn’t that often, which is the other part of the problem…since those collections aren’t constantly in my way, they remained low priority.

I realize this may not present me in the best light, but surely some of you folks out there have had a project or two to do that wasn’t exactly pressing, that wasn’t going to pay off for the effort you had to put into it, but sorta needed doing anyway. The kind of project that makes you think, “I’ll get to it eventually,” but you have other things that need doing, like, I don’t know, shaving the cat or arranging your socks by color, that are more important.

Anyway, like I said at the beginning, there, I finally got around to doing something with them on Saturday. The County Fair is going right now, so a lot of the townfolk are attending that rather than patronizing their local small businesses, leaving me with a little extra time to attend to those unloved, forgotten funnybooks. Well, the Bangles are playing there, and I heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend that REO Speedwagon is playing, too, so, really, how can we compare?

The ultimate goal with those comics is to dump ’em all into our bargain bins near the front of the store, which, you may be asking yourself, “Hey, why didn’t Mike just do that from the get-go, instead of bein’ all lazy?” Because, Ian, there’s some minor level of processing that needs to be done first. We need to make sure they’re all bagged…we have a box of used (but still good condition…we throw out the gross ones) comic bags taken off comics from other processed collections that we use for the bargain books. The comics that are already bagged need any preexisting price stickers removed or blacked out. We also need to get rid of the books I wouldn’t even sell in the bargain bins — torn, worn, cat pee, that sort of thing. The flip side of that is pulling out the books that I don’t want to sell in the bargain bin because they actually do have some value, or maybe we just happen to need them in the front of the store right now, and this saves me the trouble of digging our copies out of the storage room. For example, out of the books I was looking through, we needed a handful of Batman, Flash, and Silver Surfer books. Nothing major, nothing expensive…just run of the mill issues that we were missing up front and hadn’t yet been restocked.

Also, when I said these books were about four or five long boxes’ worth, that was just an equivalency. They didn’t come to us in long boxes…these books were in beaten, hammered brown cardboard boxes, or computer paper boxes, and the like. They were awkward, not easily stacked, which makes me wonder why I didn’t get around to the books before this. Except for the fact that the ugly, ungainly boxes just encouraged me to think “I really don’t want to deal with those right now.”

The reason I bring this up — and there’s a minor point to all this, somewhere…I’m circling around it, hopefully landing soon — is that there have been an awful lot of abandoned and dumped collections lately. You might remember this collection with its 117 copies of The Falcon and whatnot…but there have been several collections where we buy a handful of books from the person, refuse the rest…which end up being given to us anyway. Or, in some cases, we go through the collection, find nothing we want, and the person doing the selling tells us “Well, I don’t want to store them anymore, so you can have them.” It’d be nice if these were boxes full of, say, Adventure #247, but usually it’s the same ’90s X-books or Superman books or Valiant/Image books or whatever. Stuff we’ve seen plenty of, stuff we have plenty of, stuff we don’t want more of…and yet, there they are, dropped in our laps.

I realize that we’re our own worst enemies in this…we could very easily say “No, take the comics with you, we don’t want them.” We have said this, particularly in cases where the comics were obviously in unsellable condition. But, if it’s just common, low demand books, in relatively decent shape, we figure we can just use them for the bargain bin and take them in. But the sheer number of collections we’ve acquired like this lately — probably the other reason I’ve put off dealing with them, due to the overwhelming amount of books — has me curious. It used to be that if there was a collection we didn’t want, or even just a portion of it, the person would take those comics back and move along, either putting them back in storage or taking them to another store. If we didn’t value the books, the seller would sometimes take the position of “These are collectibles, I collected them, they must be valuable!” — and take them to another store to try to move there.

But today…maybe it’s folks moving out of the area due to the local increase in housing prices, dumping their collections because it’s less stuff to transport. Or after holding on to the comics for so many years, they finally realize they’ll never get anything for it, and rather than recycle the books, they’d dump them where they think people would appreciate them. Or for any number of reasons…but the collection dumpings are all from the result of people realizing their comics are worth nothing, or resigning themselves to the fact that they’ll never find buyers, or just deciding a large comic book collection is no longer something they need in their lives. One or two incidents of collection-dumping every once in a while is one thing…several in the space of the year is a little worrying. Almost certainly just coincidence, but that still seems like a lot of people in a short timeframe all deciding their comics were no longer of value enough to keep, either as a collectible or as an artform. I know I’m overthinking it, but it’s a curious trend, at any rate.

At least our bargain box hunters will be happy with all the new stock we’re getting.

The last few days:

  • Had a Giant-Size X-Men #1 in the case for all of about 5 minutes before it sold ($85 in Good to Very Good condition).
  • Sold three copies of Batman: The Killing Joke first printings…to the same guy.
  • Related: had a report from the San Diego Con that someone was selling one of the Killing Joke reprints for thirty bucks…compared to the $15 or so we sell our first printings for. That seller claimed it was a rare edition of the comic, and I can’t really argue that…I never see reprints of Killing Joke in collections. It’s invariably the first print, with the green logo.
  • Employee Aaron reported that a kid going through the bargain bins pulled up a comic and told his friend “Wow, look at this rare comic!” The book in question: Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. God bless that kid.

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