EP0029: How to Save Money on Graphic Novel Purchases

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Adam Graham discusses how to Amazon Pre-order, Comixology sales, eBay, and more to get the best possible deals on your comic book purchases.

Transcript Follows:

Find out how to get the best price on your comic book purchases, straight ahead.

Welcome to the Classy Comics Podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.

Back in Episode Nineteen we discussed ways where you could read comic books for free, but for many people they want to own them, they want to actually buy and own their comics, and so we’re going to talk about how to get bargains on comic books and on trades. We’ll start with the obvious in regards to newer trades or trades that are coming out, is to pre-order the books on Amazon if you know for example that you’re going to want to read a book that comes out at the end of the year. Pre-order it now. You won’t get charged by Amazon until it’s time for it actually to be purchased. But Amazon’s got a pre-order guarantee which means that if the price goes down between now and when you actually have the book shipped out to you, you will get charged the lowest price and that can be a really nice benefit. I ordered Volume Five of the Silver Surfer – it was, I think, more than a year before publication and the publication date got changed and they added two more Issues to wrap it up, so I put in my request on a six-Issue trade, it became an eight-Issue trade, but before it became an eight-Issue trade the price dropped from nineteen dollars to ten dollars so I only ended up paying ten dollars for a brand new trade. And I had similar experiences ordering some of the Titan Doctor Who comics where I got significant savings by pre-ordering the new trade in advance. Now that’s for just getting a new trade. What about other physical comics and trades, order trades? I will go ahead and talk about them both from physical perspectives as well as the digital version.

Now, as I’ve stated in a previous podcast I really prefer trades for reading comics, but occasionally I get individual Issues. And there are reasons why I will get the individual Issues, uncollected stories is one reason. Sometimes they’re not collected just because the series wasn’t viewed as popular enough, or just the company made a decision. I have, for example, Issues 72 to 100 of Spider Girl because they stopped doing trades for her comics with Issue Seventy-Two and I wanted to read the whole series. So, I have all Twenty-Eight of those physical Issues. Sometimes a company’s license has expired – you’ll see this particularly with a lot of the old Marvel trades where you’ll see, for example, that they skip where they’re collecting all the Issues of Marvel Team Up or Marvel Two and One, the team up books with Spider Man and The Thing, respectively. You’ll see some Issue numbers not included, and the reason is Marvel often teamed its license properties with its in-house superheroes in order to boost sales for both. But when a license expires they can’t reprint the book, so thus there was an Issue of Marvel Two and One which featured The Thing teaming up with Doc Savage, as well as the Spider Man comic featuring the same. And those books were not collected; however, you can still buy used copies of the Issues offline.

Another example are Pinky and Brain comics or the comic series for the movie Condorman. These were all obscure things I could not get in a trade and so I went hunting for the actual paper existing comics. I will say on uncollected stories, it’s probably a good idea to be 100% sure that they’re not – or as sure as you can be – that they are not going to be issued as a trade. There have been some cases where I have been like, I’m getting these because I want to read them and they came out as a trade anyway.

Some places to find either these older trades or these out-of-print comics is, you can try eBay. eBay is just great, I think people use it for various things but there can be a very good selection of out-of-print comics as well as some trades. You do want to be careful because sometimes you can find a used trade cheaper on Amazon than you can on eBay. So, you want to comparison shop, but it’s a good place to start. One thing that’s nice about eBay is sometimes people will get into a situation where they need to sell a lot of stuff and they sell it in lots, and that is where I really got big into collecting. Someone was selling a bunch of their old Showcase Presents books, they’d just collected an accumulation of these and I bought several lots of them for seven, eight dollars a book. Then they retailed about fifteen to twenty per book, and that was such a good deal and I got so many trades to start and I continued on from there. But you can look for those lots if you’re really looking for a wide variety. If there’s a lot of comic books, a lot of comic trades, it’s a fantastic way to get started or to extend your collection – provided you’ve got the room for it.

You also do want to check your local library or comic shop, and it will really depend on the quality of both. One challenge with a modern comic shop if you’re looking for, say a specific series, is that comics can be so serialized. When I’ve talked about comics being written more for the trades, it leads to a situation where if you buy a random comic it may just be Part Two of a six-part series. So, it can be a challenge if the comic shop has a bunch of those. But you can find some rare treasures in there. One series that I liked to pick up either in the library of comic shop, if they have it, is the second series of Marvel’s What If series, which examines other universes in the Marvel multiverse where different comic events occurred differently. Volume One of the series which began in the ’70s has been collected in trade paperbacks, but no effort has been made collect Volume Two. So, if I see a Issue from Volume Two in a library, comic sale or in the comic shop for a good price, I tend to pick that up.

One of the websites I’d recommend is mycomicshop.com which is actually Lone Star Comics in Texas. It has a very large, searchable database of comic books and trade paperbacks and I found some pretty rare comics I haven’t been able to find anywhere else, and generally at a quite reasonable price. They have flat rate shipping, so it’s pretty affordable to ship to, and like I said I do not have any business relationship with any of these companies. So, I’m just referring to what I’ve used and what I’ve found helpful. So, mycomicshop.com is actually very helpful and they have a lot of sales and clearance items – not all the time but you can check on the pretty frequently and get some good bargains that way.

There are some bargains to be had on Digital Comics, though not quite as many as you would think. You would think, for example, that the cost of a digital comic would be less expensive than the physical copy because they’re not having to print it or ship it. All they have to do is send out the files, which most of them could be pretty easily adapted from the physical comic work they’re doing. But no, they are actually priced exactly the same on the first day of release which is different than, say for books. Generally you pay less if you’re buying a Kindle book as opposed to the hardback copy, but it’s not usually the case when individual Issues are released. Sometimes with trades it will be a less expensive and generally the price will come down a bit over time. Most DC titles on their original release as individual issues will be $2.99 and in several months that will drop down to $1.99 for the digital issue. So, you can get some savings just by waiting.

There are also a couple of unlimited comic services that are worth some discussion. There is Comixology Unlimited and Marvel Unlimited. Marvel Unlimited was the first unlimited on the scene and Comixology came along and they started out first by bringing in a lot of the companies outside of the Big Two to offer books for sample and have grown to quite a library, particularly when Marvel offered a selection of its own books as part of Comixology Unlimited. I think the important thing to remember about both services is that while they do offer you an unlimited right to read books in their catalogue it’s not like you can read every single Issue of Black Panther if you’re subscribed to Marvel Comics and Marvel Unlimited, or Comixology Unlimited for that matter.

Generally, particularly with Comixology, each particular series you can read the first book or maybe the second book in the series and the individual issues that are the equivalent thereof, but if you want to read beyond those first couple of volumes then you need to buy the books. So, the first ones are included free and then the second you have to pay for. That sounds strangely like a narcotic dealer’s business model but I digress. So, you do have to understand that it is unlimited in one way but not in another. If you’re looking specifically for the Marvel books, the Marvel subscription is a better deal because they tend to cover just more Marvel Comics, and their annual pass runs at $69 a year, which is not a bad deal as long as you understand the limitations and can deal with that.

Comixology Unlimited is nice because it does also give you a discount on all Marvel dark horse image, IDW, Dynamite comics of ten to fifteen percent off all books, and that’s a good feature. Marvel actually, for their Unlimited, has a comparable feature but it’s $30 extra per year. Comixology Unlimited is $5.99 per month.

Now in terms of getting other bargains on digital comics there’s a few things you can do. The big thing is to watch Comixology for sales, and they have those pretty much all the time. The big ones to really plan for and look for are their ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ sales, as well as you’ll have a company like DC or Marvel put almost all of their books at 60% off, and that way you can not only get trades you want, you can also get some uncollected Issues. Like on one of those sales I was able to pick up the entirety of the 1972 Super Girl series which is not being collected in a trade anywhere, and is usually a $1.99 an Issue for, I think like 60% off. So, watch Comixology.com for sales.

Now, if Marvel is holding a sale on Comixology it will often be undercut by Amazon for the Kindle. I do not know why Amazon does this but they will often lower the price below what Comixology is charging. So, if you have a Kindle or Kindle App, check Amazon when you see something that’s on sale from Marvel and you may be able to get a better deal on Amazon for it.

Alright, well that was my kind of brief breakdown of different ways to save money. Important websites were mentioned including eBay, mycomicshop.com, Comixology and Amazon. We’ll be back next week to reviewing comics. Send your comments to classycomicsguy@gmail.com; follow us on Twitter @ClassyComicsGuy and check out the website classycomicsguy.com. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham, signing off.

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