Nothin’ says lovin’ like Hulk from the oven.

§ July 13th, 2012 § Filed under collecting, retailing, the eBay § 13 Comments

So it can be difficult to buy things at the shop at times when people bring items in that they’ve already “researched” on the Internet, particularly when they see prices like these:

Note: the “used” copies start at $150, and work their way up into the $500s.

Now, I know this is not a terribly common item, and that the 1970s Fireside paperbacks are usually in-demand collectibles. Even in pristine shape, though, the books in the line don’t sell for that much, at least to my knowledge. We had a copy of the Fantastic Four Fireside paperback in Near Mint condition that sold for about $60, and it took forever to move it. We also had a…rather well-read copy of America at War, the Fireside reprint of DC’s war comics (and, I think, one of the most sought-after volumes from this series, next to the romance book), that sold for about six bucks.

In the past, when we’ve had copies of the Marvel Superheroes’ Cookbook, they were usually in Good to Very Good condition, and, if memory serves, we usually sold them for around ten dollars or so. Or maybe it was the Marvel Strength and Fitness book…basically the same type of book, with about the same level of demand and desirability. Basically, it’s a book that’s an interesting novelty item, but not really comics as such, and not with an excessive value.

At least, that’s what we generally believed. A quick look at one online store lists a Mint copy as being in the $150 range (theoretically, as they don’t have any in stock). And a look at completed eBay auctions shows that a couple of copies have sold in the $40 range, which may be a more realistic assessment of this item’s value:

…since this is showing what prices people are actually paying, as opposed to, as shown in the Amazon image above, what prices that sellers are trying to get.

But I don’t know…maybe I’m wrong, and Amazon sellers are turning over copies of this book all the time at hundreds and hundreds of dollars. But we have to base our pricing and purchasing on what we think we can sell it for, and what we’ve sold it for in the past, and not on what high hopes others might have. And frankly, I would have zero confidence in getting prices like those on Amazon for this copy of the book. I doubt we would have even really approached those eBay prices, but it’s all a moot point since we couldn’t come to terms on the book with the seller anyway.

Ah, well, At least Chris wrote up this description of the Marvel Superheroes’ Cookbook we can all enjoy.

13 Responses to “Nothin’ says lovin’ like Hulk from the oven.”

  • Glen says:

    My answeer to those people who have “researched” the prices they can sell things for on the internet is, “Go ahead and sell it on the internet, then.”

    If they want quick cash, they have to realize they aren’t going to get anything close to that kind of asking price, much less the actual selling price that you uncovered in your ebay research. Time = money, and in this case, immediate sale = much less money.

  • pell says:

    Mike, you reminded me of this:

    I remember thinking that if I just exercised enough…

  • Ron Freeman says:

    About half of my income comes from selling books on Amazon and I can tell you I come across books like this a lot with crazy high prices. The way to tell how fast a book is moving is by looking at the Amazon sales ranking. If a book has a sales rank in the hundreds it usually only takes a day to sell. A rank around 100K and it’s probably selling at least 1 or 2 copies a month. A sales rank of 1 million means 1 copy maybe every 4 to 6 months. A rank of 2 million, maybe once a year. Sales ranks lower than that and it’s not worth bothering (at least to me). That’s a rough gage of how fast items move on Amazon and how likely sellers get their asking price. All that info is in the item description of every item.

  • I had this book as a kid and made Hulk’s Cabbage Rolls on more than one occasion. In a pre-microwave 70s these recipes (in retrospect) required a reasonably sophisticated ability to use an “oven”.

    Anyway, I tried to re-buy this last year, and ran into the same absurd listings on Amazon. My assumption is that the same $150 copies have been on display there for ages, ever unmoving.

    Maybe something like this has some special appeal among wealthy chefs who were inspired by Owen McCarrol’s meticulous illustrations of Shang Chi serving fried rice in a Chinese restaurant.

    Someone needs to do a companion blog to the woman who cooked all of Julia Childs’ recipes and work their way through this collection of delights.

  • Martin Wisse says:

    No, this is a common Amazon “scam”. List out of print books for stupid prices whether you have them in stock or not, then when some sucker takes the bait, quickly buy a copy elsewhere cheap, then send it to the buyer. If you can’t get it in time, you’re awfully sorry but it was just sold.

    Obviously, doing this for one or two semi-rare books is not cost effective, but if you spam Amazon with thousands of such listings, it adds up.

  • philip says:

    I wonder if Amazon re-sellers are banking (ooh, puns!) on buyers either not knowing about or not wanting to do business on eBay, or not having access to any second-hand book shops. I was looking for an out-of-print Love & Rockets book a while ago and Amazon sellers were asking hundreds for it. I took a chance on a local book shop with a good used section and found it for about 12 bucks.

    Anyway, eBay is The Great Leveler when it comes to “collectibles.” It’s also why I’ve recycled or donated my unwanted comics instead of trying to get any money for htem.

  • Mikester says:

    Martin – My explanation to coworkers when they see these prices is “well, all it takes is one person with too much money to make it pay off.”

  • Snark Shark says:


  • Donald G says:

    If you’ve ever activated your Amazon Seller account (technically, every Amazon customer has one)and frequented the discussion boards set up for Marketplace sellers, you’ll find that there’s a subset who consider themselves professional entrepreneurs who want to keep the prices of used and collectible books artificially inflated beyond what the market will bear so they can get the most amount of profit on each book.

    That’s how you end up with third-party Marketplace sellers trying to sell the Marvel cookbook for around #300-$500 when it goes on eBay for $40.00.

    These same sellers are also vocally scornful of newbie sellers “lowballing” their ridiculous prices and driving the Amazon Marketplace prices for these items down to a more reasonable level.

    My trick when I was a seller with an item where the cheapest price was some outrageous amount was to start a smidgen under that cheapest expensive price (so as not to come under attack for lowballing) and then gradually lower my price for the item, until it reached what I considered to be a reasonable level. Sometimes, someone would bite before I got it down to the price I felt in my gut… or that comparisons with other sites indicated… that the item was worth.

    With most items, I compared the prices things were going for and priced my used books either half cover price or a smidgen above the lowest asking price for a given book’s condition.

  • Evan Waters says:

    It’s good to hear some of the reasons why Amazon’s used prices are so fucking insane.

    I wonder if listing fees would help.

  • Andrew Leal says:

    Mike, it wasn’t a comic, but an out of print Muppet video, for Muppet Wiki research. But I paid a seller for a “new” copy, ten dollars and change. It was new in that it was unopened… but it also still had the sticker “Salvation Army Store, 1.25.” I know sellers need to make a profit and upcharge and also consider the demand (and it still wasn’t terribly unreasonable given the original retail would have been that or even more), but still, I definitely felt sheepish. (Then again, I didn’t feel like gambling on a less than a buck used copy with tracking issues either, since I needed it for screengrabs… I’ll do that at actual Goodwill stores and such but online, if I have to pay shipping, I’m choosier.)

  • Nat Gertler says:

    I occasionally point out to people that the Amazon prices are not what people have sold their copies for, it’s what people haven’t sold their copies for.
    There’s a price when you need something in a general category (if you want a movie or a book, the Salvie Army has ’em!) and then there’s a price for the specific thing you want.

  • Bear says:

    I remember tracking down some of the Titan Comics reprints of Transformers UK stories a few years ago. Amazon sellers had them in the region of £500. I got them on Alibris for about £10 each.