How good of a deal is too good of a deal?
1 1

282 posts in this topic

29,075 posts

I picked up about 20 books this weekend from a seller. Prices were marked on the back and some had prices on both extremes. On the low end were two copies of ASM 238 for $2 for both vs a copy of ASM194 for $100. I took all the books which the seller and paid him what he asked. I don't think I did anything unethical. I paid his asking price on the books as he had priced. I may have overpaid on some but underpaid on others. For the amount of books and total amount of money given I believe both of us walked away happy from the deal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19,690 posts
Posted (edited)

My friend who ran a shop told me why he was such a lowballer.... When his shop was newer he used to pay better. He sold cards and comics. One day a guy walks in with 5 copies of a ted Williams rookie card to sell. Friend actually offers a reasonable % of FMV because he figures the guy has a clue and he really wants the cards (this is like 30 years ago)... So a few hundred each or whatever. The guy freaks out and walks out. He figured they were worth $20 off something. Getting a real offer made him think he was getting ripped off. He learned his lesson after that: start with an extreme lowball and work upward.

Edited by the blob

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,186 posts

Leaving aside the little old lady living in rags and dying of starvation who, out of all her possessions managed to keep her NM Action 1 and is now willing to sell it to me for $5. I’ve always lived by the following

1.       If the person offers me something at their price, it’s perfectly all right to buy it even if their price is way below FMV. If I sold it for a large profit, I may send them an anonymous donation, but I would not feel obliged to.

2.       If someone comes to me with a collection and asks me to estimate what its worth I need to be honest in my estimation and then offer what I’m willing to pay. I also reserve the option of not doing the estimation if I don’t feel it would be worth my time.

I used to buy a of collections, and rarely lost any when giving an honest estimate. I once had a lady contact me with 750 Golden Age / 50’s books.  Most were in mid-grade and nice. I estimated the collection was worth in the neighborhood of $5,000 (this was around 1982) and told her there was no way I could afford it, but if she’d sell me the high grade Little Lulu run at a fair price I would get her offers from dealers for the rest.

   She responded that she and her Husband had talked to a couple dealers who told them the collection was worthless and offered them $1 each for some of the books like the one below. She asked me how much I could afford. At the time I had just gotten out of college and was basically broke. I told her I could come up with $500 which was way less than the $1 a book, and she said I could have them for that price.

  A few years later she called me up when one of her sons wanted to sell his Silver age collection I looked it over, and it had been cherry picked and was mostly subscription copies of DC books; however since I now had money and felt it was appropriate based on first buy, I bought them for considerably more than I would normally have paid

As to Grandma and her Action 1, I’d explain to her that the book is only worth $1, but I’d give her the $5 out of generosity, either that or wait until she turned to leave and then mug her.

1354230321_Torchy5_zpsqul8nbfg.jpg.875c48c954f31419d193d5343935a6cb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6,914 posts
2 minutes ago, Montezuma said:

...As to Grandma and her Action 1, I’d explain to her that the book is only worth $1, but I’d give her the $5 out of generosity, either that or wait until she turned to leave and then mug her.

I wanted to both "Like" and laugh at this post, so here's for both:

:roflmao:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19,690 posts

I guess a line may be crossed if you affirmatively state that the $50,000 collection is only worth $20 when you know otherwise. Then again, none of us owe a seller a fiduciary responsibility.  It's tricky. I should probably know the law on this. As a lawyer I would keep my mouth shut as much as possible and make no statements like that. Don't want an ethics complaint later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19,238 posts

Don't lie. 

But here's a nice story:

I saw a craigslist ad like 5-6 years ago, with a list of comics being GIVEN away at a house.  Like some really good comics.  I called the dude, arranged a time for the next day.  I showed up about half an hour early, hoping to be the first one.  I went up to the house, it was this young couple with three young children running around a two-story house.  I go upstairs, and there's already two dudes going through like 20 long boxes.  I start going through, the comics, and they were raw unbagged, but in really good condition for being unbagged in longboxes.  So I ask 'how much?', and the two other guys gave me dirty looks, and the owner says 'my old roommate moved out nine months ago, these are his.  We've told him to keep getting rid of these for nine months, we just had our third baby and we need to clean out this room, take as many as you can carry in one trip.'  I won't tell you what I got, but I did NOT get the TMNT 1 (I saw the guy pull it).  I tried to offer some money (not a lot, maybe a couple hundred?) to the wife on my way out, but she was just so mad about having the room occupied for so long (I got the feeling that her husband gave his buddy up til the baby's birth to clean the room out), and she didn't take any, just thanked me for taking a full longbox full. 

  All the books were 80's-90's, but essentially had EVERY SINGLE key comic that wasn't ASM (including the non Marvel/DC stuff), though I didn't get them all. Over the next year I sold the books for approximately $3k? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,049 posts
4 minutes ago, revat said:

Don't lie. 

But here's a nice story:

I saw a craigslist ad like 5-6 years ago, with a list of comics being GIVEN away at a house.  Like some really good comics.  I called the dude, arranged a time for the next day.  I showed up about half an hour early, hoping to be the first one.  I went up to the house, it was this young couple with three young children running around a two-story house.  I go upstairs, and there's already two dudes going through like 20 long boxes.  I start going through, the comics, and they were raw unbagged, but in really good condition for being unbagged in longboxes.  So I ask 'how much?', and the two other guys gave me dirty looks, and the owner says 'my old roommate moved out nine months ago, these are his.  We've told him to keep getting rid of these for nine months, we just had our third baby and we need to clean out this room, take as many as you can carry in one trip.'  I won't tell you what I got, but I did NOT get the TMNT 1 (I saw the guy pull it).  I tried to offer some money (not a lot, maybe a couple hundred?) to the wife on my way out, but she was just so mad about having the room occupied for so long (I got the feeling that her husband gave his buddy up til the baby's birth to clean the room out), and she didn't take any, just thanked me for taking a full longbox full. 

  All the books were 80's-90's, but essentially had EVERY SINGLE key comic that wasn't ASM (including the non Marvel/DC stuff), though I didn't get them all. Over the next year I sold the books for approximately $3k? 

Did they ever get the blood out of the carpet?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55,618 posts
16 minutes ago, the blob said:

Ebay has been around for 20 years. There Is no reason to be angry at a shop trying to get a windfall. Few are making any real money overall anymore. A $500 profit on an ASM 129 is wiped out by $2500 in overhead in a slow sales month.

Plus, they have to deal with mentally unstable people who put them at risk by being unreasonably offended that the store didn't "pay them enough" (in their eyes, of course) for their items, which is a very real risk. Someone who doesn't understand basic business sells a book for a certain amount, only to see that item priced higher later on (and it's a legitimate question why those people are going back; are you dealing with someone who actually needed the cash, or just wannabe flippers...?), and you, the retailer, probably don't know the mental state of that person. 

You become a target for vandalism, theft, or worse..because of people who think with their emotions, rather than with reason. It's an unfortunate negative to doing business.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,671 posts

Here's another reason why the "educate yourself" rule can't always work.  Sure... comics are actually easier to look up than most collectibles.  But what if you... yes, even those of you on this board... and other heirs inherited a large rare book collection from your long forgotten grand-uncle.  You're named executor.  Would you know the difference between a bookclub and a publisher's edition?  Each book and each publisher has a different way of designating (or not even designating) first editions... would you know the differences in all of the thousands and thousands of possibilities?  Look it up, they say!  Where?  How?  Most eBay sellers wouldn't have a clue as to what they have... and the vast majority of what they state is wrong.  This is also true of ABE (American Book Exchange)... one assumes these dealers know their stuff.  A few do.  Most don't.  Do you have any way of knowing which is which?  You're executor of an estate... you don't have years to do this.

Do you know movie posters?  What's an original, what's a re-release, what's a reproduction, and what's just a plain forgery?  Some pulps don't come up for sale for years.  You can't just check them out on eBay.  And it goes on and on with coins, stamps, etc., etc.  Comics may seem easy to look up for us, but for many it's an impossible quagmire if you haven't spent years immersed in it.  What do you do?

You take them to a dealer and trust they won't screw you over.  You don't need to educate yourself about the value of your collection.  You do need to educate yourself as to which dealers are trustworthy and which exist only under the "buyer beware" dictum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5,970 posts
3 hours ago, Bookery said:

But it's often much more complicated than that.  First off... in many of the collections I buy, there is no way the seller could educated themselves about their items in an hour.  In the above, you seem to be assuming they are selling a single collectible book.  If I buy an estate, there may be hundreds or thousands of items.  There may be lots of drek with some truly incredible gems mixed in.  It's different for me than someone just buying off of Craig's List.  When you have a storefront, and you advertise you buy collectibles, people trust that I am the expert.  Most people will just say "I've heard you make fair offers and so I've brought my deceased brother's collection to you".  If I offer $50 for $5000 worth of stuff, yes... they will accept the offer, because they believe I will be fair with them.  Which is why I would never do that, regardless of whether they've taken the time to do the research or not.  Now, that said... maybe 10% or 20% is a fair offer, because of the amount of drek or time involved.  But I let them know that.  There are plenty of times someone's expecting $200 and I pay them $1,000.  Because what happens if they become "educated" after the fact.  Then there goes that reputation of trust I mentioned above.  I get referrals from people who have sold me collections, sometimes a decade later.  You have to be in it for the long haul.

On the other hand, I agree with you above if the scenario is a flea market or convention where the seller, dealer or private, has taken the time to actually price their stuff.  If they have a $5 sticker on a $500 book, the presumption is they have taken whatever time or lack thereof they wanted to put into it, and so yes, I do not owe them an education.

As I said... it's complicated.

It's probably almost always more complicated then what was presented. But Kav was arguing that the very limited scenario presented was somehow unethical and I just couldn't disagree more. If someone comes to me and plops down a box of books and says "I want $5 for this box, will you buy it for $5?", I would hand over the 5 spot and be done. I doubt this ever happens, but that is what was presented. If someone asked me to make an offer, I would make that offer based upon whether I wanted the books or not. If it's a bunch of krap I don't want and would be hard to move, I would offer very little because I would only want it if it was worth it to me. "Worth it to me" is very subjective of course. Even if it the books were "worth" $5K retail, if we're talking about .50 and $1 books that would take me 5 years to sell, I would still offer very little. Maybe not $5 but probably no more than a couple hundred because my time has value and I don't want to do hundreds of hours of work for less. My whole point to Kav was that neither of those is unethical. I didn't lie to and or manipulate the seller. In one case, he had a price and I paid it (the reality of that price is 100% completely on him). In the other case, I'm asked for an offer and I'll offer what it is worth it to me regardless of what "retail" might be. The seller is free to refuse the offer and or shop it around. Again, not unethical. I'm not being asked to give a valuation or assessment, just an offer.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32,111 posts
2 minutes ago, Bookery said:

Here's another reason why the "educate yourself" rule can't always work.  Sure... comics are actually easier to look up than most collectibles.  But what if you... yes, even those of you on this board... and other heirs inherited a large rare book collection from your long forgotten grand-uncle.  You're named executor.  Would you know the difference between a bookclub and a publisher's edition?  Each book and each publisher has a different way of designating (or not even designating) first editions... would you know the differences in all of the thousands and thousands of possibilities?  Look it up, they say!  Where?  How?  Most eBay sellers wouldn't have a clue as to what they have... and the vast majority of what they state is wrong.  This is also true of ABE (American Book Exchange)... one assumes these dealers know their stuff.  A few do.  Most don't.  Do you have any way of knowing which is which?  You're executor of an estate... you don't have years to do this.

Do you know movie posters?  What's an original, what's a re-release, what's a reproduction, and what's just a plain forgery?  Some pulps don't come up for sale for years.  You can't just check them out on eBay.  And it goes on and on with coins, stamps, etc., etc.  Comics may seem easy to look up for us, but for many it's an impossible quagmire if you haven't spent years immersed in it.  What do you do?

You take them to a dealer and trust they won't screw you over.  You don't need to educate yourself about the value of your collection.  You do need to educate yourself as to which dealers are trustworthy and which exist only under the "buyer beware" dictum.

As an executor,  you should hire a qualified appraiser at an hourly rate. No different than hiring a lawyer or a plumber or anyone else. There is no grey area there, that person has a duty to assess the value fairly and honestly. That person also shouldn't be the one offering to buy the collection. 

Asking someone to both assess the collection and buy it sets up an immediate conflict of interest. 

Better yet, just auction it all. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55,618 posts
22 minutes ago, october said:

As an executor,  you should hire a qualified appraiser at an hourly rate. No different than hiring a lawyer or a plumber or anyone else. There is no grey area there, that person has a duty to assess the value fairly and honestly. 

And, a qualified appraiser is going to cost a considerable sum of money, hundreds, and possibly even thousands, of dollars to appraise the estate properly. That's the value and cost of experience and knowledge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1,671 posts
48 minutes ago, LordRahl said:

It's probably almost always more complicated then what was presented. But Kav was arguing that the very limited scenario presented was somehow unethical and I just couldn't disagree more. If someone comes to me and plops down a box of books and says "I want $5 for this box, will you buy it for $5?", I would hand over the 5 spot and be done. I doubt this ever happens, but that is what was presented. If someone asked me to make an offer, I would make that offer based upon whether I wanted the books or not. If it's a bunch of krap I don't want and would be hard to move, I would offer very little because I would only want it if it was worth it to me. "Worth it to me" is very subjective of course. Even if it the books were "worth" $5K retail, if we're talking about .50 and $1 books that would take me 5 years to sell, I would still offer very little. Maybe not $5 but probably no more than a couple hundred because my time has value and I don't want to do hundreds of hours of work for less. My whole point to Kav was that neither of those is unethical. I didn't lie to and or manipulate the seller. In one case, he had a price and I paid it (the reality of that price is 100% completely on him). In the other case, I'm asked for an offer and I'll offer what it is worth it to me regardless of what "retail" might be. The seller is free to refuse the offer and or shop it around. Again, not unethical. I'm not being asked to give a valuation or assessment, just an offer.  

I agree with pretty much all of the above.  As I said, I'm in a certain circumstance.  If someone comes to me in my shop (or at a show) they are expecting a certain level of expertise from me... especially since I have a very smart upscale looking operation, and have rooms of collectibles, some very high end, that also gives the impression that I'm a dealer of some experience.  I would operate the same way at a show because my name means something there too... however, in that circumstance there is little excuse not to find out if your collection is of value, as there are lots of immediate opinions at the ready.

As soon as someone walks in the door, they are my customer, and I will treat them and their collection with respect, regardless of whether they know what they are doing or not.  That's not virtue signalling... it's good self-interested business.  Short-term windfalls at the expense of long-term reputation is never a good trade-off.  But as I said... I owe them that as my customer.  If, however, I'm the customer... I'm shopping at a convention, or a flea market, or an antique store, or even a garage sale... they are the seller and I am the client -- I owe them nothing of my expertise, and that includes even if they have a hot $500 comic for $5.  My customers do not need to inform me if I have missed a $500 variant and have it in my $5 box either.

I don't think we are in any disagreement.  I just wanted to clarify that there are differences in circumstance, expectations, and what makes good business.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29,075 posts
13 minutes ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

And, a qualified appraiser is going to cost a considerable sum of money, hundreds, and possibly even thousands, of dollars to appraise the estate properly. That's the value and cost of experience and knowledge.

there are a few locals here in Chicago that advertise on CL as a "collector and not a dealer" who will happily give you what your collection is worth and/or appraise the collection for free. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
55,618 posts
Just now, jsilverjanet said:

there are a few locals here in Chicago that advertise on CL as a "collector and not a dealer" who will happily give you what your collection is worth and/or appraise the collection for free. 

There are a lot of people willing to give away their hard-earned knowledge for free. This board is a classic example of that.

That doesn't mean that that knowledge has no value.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48,422 posts
2 hours ago, RockMyAmadeus said:
12 hours ago, kav said:
13 hours ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

This. Experience and knowledge have value. No one is "owed" a "fair price"...even little old grandma. They're only owed honesty, not an education. "This is what I'd be willing to pay" is all that matters. 

But is saying "I'd be willing to pay $5" for Action #1 an honest statement?  Obviously a dealer would be "willing to pay" much more.

Yes, self-evidently. If I'm willing to pay $500,000 for something, it is also true that I'm willing to pay every other sum between $0 and $500,000 as well. Being willing to "pay more" doesn't alter that fact. Notice that the statement is not "This is the most I'd be willing to pay" or "I'd only be willing to pay this much." That's on purpose.

Would it be an honest move?  Do you concede that an uneducated person, upon hearing "I'd be willing to pay $5" would assume that is your best offer or very near your best?  And it wouldnt be.  Isnt it sneaky, at least?  I know some people are screaming virtue signalling they can think that if it comforts them.  Discussing ethics does not automatically equal virtue signalling though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32,111 posts
2 minutes ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

There are a lot of people willing to give away their hard-earned knowledge for free. This board is a classic example of that.

That doesn't mean that that knowledge has no value.

All true. 

This board is an absolutely incredible resource. Hundreds of years of accumulated experience and knowledge given away for free. I learned more here in five years than I could have anywhere else in 50. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11,934 posts
1 hour ago, Bookery said:

Here's another reason why the "educate yourself" rule can't always work.  Sure... comics are actually easier to look up than most collectibles.  But what if you... yes, even those of you on this board... and other heirs inherited a large rare book collection from your long forgotten grand-uncle.  You're named executor.  Would you know the difference between a bookclub and a publisher's edition?  Each book and each publisher has a different way of designating (or not even designating) first editions... would you know the differences in all of the thousands and thousands of possibilities?  Look it up, they say!  Where?  How?  Most eBay sellers wouldn't have a clue as to what they have... and the vast majority of what they state is wrong.  This is also true of ABE (American Book Exchange)... one assumes these dealers know their stuff.  A few do.  Most don't.  Do you have any way of knowing which is which?  You're executor of an estate... you don't have years to do this.

 Do you know movie posters?  What's an original, what's a re-release, what's a reproduction, and what's just a plain forgery?  Some pulps don't come up for sale for years.  You can't just check them out on eBay.  And it goes on and on with coins, stamps, etc., etc.  Comics may seem easy to look up for us, but for many it's an impossible quagmire if you haven't spent years immersed in it.  What do you do?

You take them to a dealer and trust they won't screw you over.  You don't need to educate yourself about the value of your collection.  You do need to educate yourself as to which dealers are trustworthy and which exist only under the "buyer beware" dictum.

fair point, I would caveat my "educate yourself" position to say that there is enough information out there that even if you didnt have the time to become versed enough to know WHAT the items were worth, you could at least become educated enough to know that there was a chance they were worth SOMETHING. And then yes as you said, you shop the collection around and see what offers you get... 

Also no one wants to pay for the evaluation of collections, but that is one way to have a collection assessed with less possibility of a screwjob (not no possibility, but less)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48,422 posts
1 hour ago, LordRahl said:

It's probably almost always more complicated then what was presented. But Kav was arguing that the very limited scenario presented was somehow unethical and I just couldn't disagree more. If someone comes to me and plops down a box of books and says "I want $5 for this box, will you buy it for $5?", I would hand over the 5 spot and be done. I doubt this ever happens, but that is what was presented. If someone asked me to make an offer, I would make that offer based upon whether I wanted the books or not. If it's a bunch of krap I don't want and would be hard to move, I would offer very little because I would only want it if it was worth it to me. "Worth it to me" is very subjective of course. Even if it the books were "worth" $5K retail, if we're talking about .50 and $1 books that would take me 5 years to sell, I would still offer very little. Maybe not $5 but probably no more than a couple hundred because my time has value and I don't want to do hundreds of hours of work for less. My whole point to Kav was that neither of those is unethical. I didn't lie to and or manipulate the seller. In one case, he had a price and I paid it (the reality of that price is 100% completely on him). In the other case, I'm asked for an offer and I'll offer what it is worth it to me regardless of what "retail" might be. The seller is free to refuse the offer and or shop it around. Again, not unethical. I'm not being asked to give a valuation or assessment, just an offer.  

You discussed every possibility except the one I was actually talking about-Guy comes in with VERY valuable book and asks YOU 'how much will you give me for this?'  Let's say it's a book worth $100,000.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
1 1