Grading comics on eBay
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Want to start a thread on the subject of grading comics on eBay done may the many sellers. Anyone interested?

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Just now, Redbeard said:

Want to start a thread on the subject of grading comics on eBay done may the many sellers. Anyone interested?

I see so many methods of sellers grading their books. It varies greatly from those that are professional to those that have no clue. The inspiration for this is some saying they don't grade, just look at the images. I would say these are sellers with little to no experience grading books asks the buyer to do all the work. The big, big  problem with just using images to make a buy decision is there are a lot of flaws that will not appear on any image (i.e. interior damage to a book, very light creases or pressure areas that do not appear in an image, loose centerfold, etc.). Anyone that is a seller that tells you to just use images, a note of caution should be taken. Of late I have been getting questions that I never had before from collector's that have ben burned by using the buy-by-the-images method. These newer buyers ask all sorts of questions that one never received previously. I understand it can take years to learn to grade properly. I know this from the time it took to train someone with no prior knowledge. It is difficult. We have always attempted to grade to a minimum of CGC standards. When you buy a book from us in 4.0, VG, you will get a book that CGC will grade in 4.0, but in most cases will grade higher.

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I'm starting to ignore the grading comments as long as the seller lists the defects and provide some good pictures. Some people I will never understand. They give you a picture of the front cover still in a plastic sleeve. Then you get the back cover out of the plastic as well as the interior. If they can give you out of plastic photos of the back cover and interior why not the front cover? Very irritating. I just move on.

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On 5/3/2019 at 8:07 PM, RockMyAmadeus said:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Uncanny-X-Men-100-VERY-FINE-NEAR-MINT-NM-1976-Marvel-Comics/273790656380?hash=item3fbf31df7c:g:NJYAAOSw6JNcpGmX

s-l1600.jpg

Saw this delightful beauty the other day. This is what passes for "Very Fine - Near Mint" on eBay. This book is a decent 6.5 at CGC, maybe a 7.0 on a very generous day....and that's assuming no other major flaws. There looks to be a mostly ncb crease through the "M" of the title and extending into Colossus' right arm.

But this seller...not a rookie, either...has no issue with calling it "Very Fine - Near Mint." But no one with more than passing experience with grading would ever use the words "Near Mint" in relation to this book, even with "VF" in front of it.

Grading is subjective...but its "subjectivity" is relatively objective, oddly enough. You rarely find such discrepancies in the other direction, and when you do, people usually try to keep them a highly guarded secret...like Todd Lange and his delightful undergrading of the very early 21st century. 

This is typical. I'm grateful that it has been eBay policy for coming on two decades that all listings had to have pictures. There really was a time when no pictures were required. 

We would grade this 5.5 at best since it is a large crease that breaks color. I guess, one just needs to know how the seller grades versus just the use of images or a subjective grade assigned to the book. My recommendation is buy a cheap book first before getting serious with a seller to learn how they grade. Of course sometimes one can get a handle on the situation by looking at the images posted if the seller obviously over grades books. Per my prior comment posted, there are many minor flaws that will not appear in any images. On the other side of the coin, a perceived flaw can appear where there is none. I have a CGC-7.0 Wonder Woman 45. The potential customer felt there was a very small discoloration on the front cover. I told the person there is no discoloration on the book. To support my position, I have the CGC grader's notes on this book, and there is no mention of this perceived flaw. Believe me, if there were a discoloration mark on the front cover, CGC would have put it in the grader notes!

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There are sellers whose grades I trust without careful scrutiny of the pictures, and there are those who I mentally adjust for, but find fairly consistent, including one or two who I think tend to under grade.

The rest, I look at the images carefully, and read the descriptions, the assigned grade of less importance. Sure, if the listed grade is close to what the image and description indicate, I feel better about the purchase, but if you tell me a book is VF, but it looks closer to a VG, and I can get it for a price I'd pay for a VG, then I'm not so concerned that your grading skills are lacking. 

I find when I return books it's either for missed or undisclosed restoration or flaws that can't be seen in the image, like missing or brittle pages, not because I disagree with the grade.  If the images and descriptions aren't clear enough to confidently gauge condition, I'm only going to bid based on what I think is the likely lowest possible grade.

If to my eyes, a book is only a grade increment under what I expected based on pictures and descriptions, that's within the range of reasonable opinion. If it's two under, I can generally live with it, though I probably won't be handing out five stars on the description rating of the feedback. 

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On ‎5‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 8:07 PM, RockMyAmadeus said:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Uncanny-X-Men-100-VERY-FINE-NEAR-MINT-NM-1976-Marvel-Comics/273790656380?hash=item3fbf31df7c:g:NJYAAOSw6JNcpGmX

s-l1600.jpg

Saw this delightful beauty the other day. This is what passes for "Very Fine - Near Mint" on eBay. This book is a decent 6.5 at CGC, maybe a 7.0 on a very generous day....and that's assuming no other major flaws. There looks to be a mostly ncb crease through the "M" of the title and extending into Colossus' right arm.

But this seller...not a rookie, either...has no issue with calling it "Very Fine - Near Mint." But no one with more than passing experience with grading would ever use the words "Near Mint" in relation to this book, even with "VF" in front of it.

Grading is subjective...but its "subjectivity" is relatively objective, oddly enough. You rarely find such discrepancies in the other direction, and when you do, people usually try to keep them a highly guarded secret...like Todd Lange and his delightful undergrading of the very early 21st century. 

This is typical. I'm grateful that it has been eBay policy for coming on two decades that all listings had to have pictures. There really was a time when no pictures were required. 

That wouldn't pass anywhere on earth for VF/NM, and in fact, is counter productive, sales-wise, for the seller, if he has more items listed, that now, after seeing how he graded this, as a VF/NM, nobody who can half-way grade is going to even bother to look at any of his other listings.

Now if it wasn't for images, he listed it as VF/NM, then yes. It's problematic. For ebay and his buyer. But with the image clearly showing that this is about as much of a VF/NM as I am Leonardo DaVinci, only a raw, rank beginner could possibly mistake that as a VF/NM.

 

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I like the dealers that give really detailed notes, but there seem to be too few of them.  There are plenty of defects that are hard to discern in images and many of the provided images are of poor quality.  For example, some dealers note "color touch" but don't tell you where or how much.  Too few pictures are a problem I see too often, like a single image of the front cover is a good representation of the entire book.  Some defects can be strange and unexpected.  I was looking at an AF#15 today that had 3 extra staples near the spine, not unusual, but it also had one near the middle of the book holding a tear together that I didn't spot immediately.

I also see a lot of hyperbole like "one of the best copies I've ever seen" or "super high grade," THEN they mention the color touch or that it has been trimmed as afterthoughts.

For me, it depends on how much I want the item and how much I can immediately see in the images.  I also make some standard assumptions about pre 1970s books.  One is that I discount grading above 9.0, and bid accordingly.  It is really hard to see the minor defects that differentiate a 9.4 from a 9.6 in the images and the price differences can be huge.  On the opposite end of the scale I do the same.  If I can see a certain amount of defects I assume that there are most likely a good deal more that I CAN'T see and significantly lower my hypothetical grade.  I'm usually underbidding on the perceived grade just in case there are any surprises.

 

 

 

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Very interested in this topic. Thanks for the helpful info thus far.

I've switched from photos to high res scans of both sides of book, out of bag.

My specific questions:

1. I truly am not a pro grader but want to give my customers as honest and clear a picture as possible. I feel the whole disclaimer of not being a pro grader now detracts from my listings, even though it's the truth! Should I leave this in or remove it from my listings?

2. Numerical grading or Letter Grading? The most common grade I see on Ebay is NM. As this can conceivably mean 9.2, 9.4, 9.6 I see this as a double edged sword. Being an amateur, I am likely to only be within a 9.2 to 9.6 (4-point) range anyway (if I'm lucky).

3. To grade or not to grade?I've only ever had 2 books returned out of a few hundred. One was a legitimate return - my scans truly did not show a wavy defect, however I did NOT grade this book in the listing as it was shortly after FIRST return in which the buyer said the book was not the grade I'd given in the listing. Being naïve I asked for photos from the buyer to show the differences from mine. However, Ebay did not support the request and did not request ANYTHING from the buyer other than his word. I'm sure you've all experienced some version of this situation if you are an ebayer, but it leaves me confused as to the best approach.

4. I truly love comics and truly want to provide the best buyer experience possible, so can any of you describe an IDEAL listing or provide an example? I'd be grateful!

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8 minutes ago, alewario said:

I truly love comics and truly want to provide the best buyer experience possible, so can any of you describe an IDEAL listing or provide an example? I'd be grateful!

My grading isn't the best (why I use CGC so much when feasible), so I will generally describe the major flaws (crease, stain) and provide a grade (described as "to my eyes", but also refer folks to the photos.

On many of my BIN's I'll start at the higher end of sold prices in that grade, and then move down. If you're doing a BIN, the activity will tell you a lot about how well you're priced re: the grade (views, watchers). Then you can adjust accordingly. (and by adjust, I mean drop LOL)

JM2C.

 

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It has been a long time habit of mine to under grade books since I am a longtime dealer. It pays off in the long run since you will have so many returning customers. I long ago stopped grading any raw books higher than 9.2. I don't want to squabble with collectors on whether a book is 9.4 or 9.6 or 9.8. If a buyer seems to ask too many questions of us, such as asking things such as are there any very tiny spine stress lines and how many (we will only allow up to 4 for a 9.2 grade) I tell them to buy a certified copy. It seems that kind of buyer is hoping to receive a book that will slab 9.6 while paying a much lesser price. When I buy collections from sellers that have a graded list, but with no real experience grading books, I ask them to send me a two or three examples of some of the inexpensive books from their list. I can then know the difference that should occur on each of the books I plan on buying. With this in mind, I recommend buying an inexpensive book or two from a seller to get a feel on how they grade. Then you can approach any future purchase with confidence on what you will receive. Don't start out buying a ASM #1 if you're unsure unless you have a margin that allows for any overgrading. 

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I don't grade raw books for eBay anymore. I'm not going to start arguing over grades only to end up with handing out a bunch of refunds. I just list the defects like "Heavy spine stress, Stain on back cover" take front and back cover scans and start off the auction at 99 cents and let the buyer decide what he wants to pay for it.  

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7 hours ago, Kevin76 said:

I don't grade raw books for eBay anymore. I'm not going to start arguing over grades only to end up with handing out a bunch of refunds. I just list the defects like "Heavy spine stress, Stain on back cover" take front and back cover scans and start off the auction at 99 cents and let the buyer decide what he wants to pay for it.  

We rarely have any complaints on any of the orders we send out on grading. The one to two we get per year is usually on something we missed. Curious if you have ever read the grader's notes on a CGC book. If I listed all the defects listed on many, many of the higher grade books, it would scare the heck out of any potential buyers. I have even done an experiment while talking on the phone to a perspective buyer on a book. Instead of pulling the book the party was interested in, I pulled a Mile High copy and started telling the person any defect no matter how tiny. When I finished the person said no thank you not realizing I was describing the best copy of a book known to exist. I did tell the party the truth that it was a MH copy of a tough GA book I was describing. That is why I grade the books, and only list major defects. I find those that are looking for all that information are looking for a reason to NOT buy the book.

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8 hours ago, Kevin76 said:

I don't grade raw books for eBay anymore. I'm not going to start arguing over grades only to end up with handing out a bunch of refunds. I just list the defects like "Heavy spine stress, Stain on back cover" take front and back cover scans and start off the auction at 99 cents and let the buyer decide what he wants to pay for it.  

Descriptions are useful with or without grades if the flaws aren't easily seen. Maybe the GA market is less return happy than other sectors, but I always include a grade, and my guess is folks who decide to return books will do so with or without a grade. I return books now and then, and it's always because of undisclosed restoration or missed flaws not evident in pictures, in most cases I assume by accident. Unless you've built a solid reputation I'm not going to assume a book you say is VF without looking at the pictures and reading the description, but at least it gives me a reference point to start evaluating. 

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Posted (edited)

Interesting thread. Redbeard, you sound like my kind of seller!  (thumbsu

When selling raw books on eBay (or anywhere else, for that matter) I always try to give a good visual picture of the book or books by providing clear, uncropped photos and a written description of any notable flaws. I also offer the grade range (such as VF) and then fine tune that to a numerical grade (such as 8.0). In addition, I provide a page quality designation (such as off-white to white). If the book has any unusual flaws, I make a special note of it. In other words, I try to give the buyer the best description I can without having the book certified. Ultimately, even if a buyer doesn't agree with the grade, they at least have a good idea of what sort of book they'll be getting based on the provided description. In my experience (over 20 years on eBay) these strategies make for many positive transactions and happy customers...    

Edited by The Lions Den

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I actually started a second eBay ID to list raw books. There I try to add photos of any unseen defects and make note of any surprises. Doesn’t pay to offer a grade unless it is real nice imho. Using my original id I only sell CGC graded comics. No muss no fuss (and no returns!)

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On 5/13/2019 at 3:06 PM, The Lions Den said:

Interesting thread. Redbeard, you sound like my kind of seller!  (thumbsu

When selling raw books on eBay (or anywhere else, for that matter) I always try to give a good visual picture of the book or books by providing clear, uncropped photos and a written description of any notable flaws. I also offer the grade range (such as VF) and then fine tune that to a numerical grade (such as 8.0). In addition, I provide a page quality designation (such as off-white to white). If the book has any unusual flaws, I make a special note of it. In other words, I try to give the buyer the best description I can without having the book certified. Ultimately, even if a buyer doesn't agree with the grade, they at least have a good idea of what sort of book they'll be getting based on the provided description. In my experience (over 20 years on eBay) these strategies make for many positive transactions and happy customers...    

A few additional tips. We always state the book is complete, fully readable with both covers attached. We used to get a ton of questions such as is this 9.0 copy complete!?! That eliminates these type of silly questions. In addition we state the amount of cover gloss (some, good, high or very high cover gloss if the book does have cover gloss. We also state the condition of the spine if there are no spine splits, etc. (good, tight and very tight spine). It seems to help.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/3/2019 at 6:31 PM, Redbeard said:

I see so many methods of sellers grading their books. It varies greatly from those that are professional to those that have no clue. The inspiration for this is some saying they don't grade, just look at the images. I would say these are sellers with little to no experience grading books asks the buyer to do all the work. The big, big  problem with just using images to make a buy decision is there are a lot of flaws that will not appear on any image (i.e. interior damage to a book, very light creases or pressure areas that do not appear in an image, loose centerfold, etc.). Anyone that is a seller that tells you to just use images, a note of caution should be taken. Of late I have been getting questions that I never had before from collector's that have ben burned by using the buy-by-the-images method. These newer buyers ask all sorts of questions that one never received previously. I understand it can take years to learn to grade properly. I know this from the time it took to train someone with no prior knowledge. It is difficult. We have always attempted to grade to a minimum of CGC standards. When you buy a book from us in 4.0, VG, you will get a book that CGC will grade in 4.0, but in most cases will grade higher.

What are those CGC standards? Where can you find them posted? I know and use OGG, but one can often see CGC graded books that do not align with OGG.

So where does one find the grading standards used by CGC? (shrug)

Edited by jcjames

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