Spotting High Quality Books for Speculation

Spotting High Quality Books for Speculation 1024 585 Craig Coffman

Spotting High Quality Speculation Books

Quality Control: Dings and Dents Section

Let us talk a bit about choosing high quality books for speculating. I believe it is important to think about this when buying any books. Speculation books, in particular, that have not caught fire yet. Those books you hunt for and can find in the $10 mark, but normally swinging in around the $5 or less. What do you do with dings and dents on your spec books? You know the ones. They look okay but you know they will never be the high quality 9.8s of the world.

NOTE: If you regularly set up at conventions, then this might not apply. You can sell straight for cash and your profit margin becomes better. Online is a different animal, and that is the avenue I am addressing.

Modern Quality Speculation

If they are modern, and I consider most copper in this group, I believe it is very important to pass on those books. Obviously bigger keys are different, like a Swamp Thing 37 or Amazing Spider-Man 300 you would take even with some bumps and dings. Certainly there are others, but so many of the keys from that era and definitely newer you really need to be very particular about buying. Remember we are taking about speculation books, not already established keys.

Speculation’s Biggest Component: Book Cost

So many times we see a spec book and think, “It is only $5, so I am going to buy it even though there are some spine dings.” Here is the thing, unless you are really talking about a single hit or _maybe_ two, most books do not value high enough to make money back. Especially when you consider that you can likely find a high quality book without dings for the same price. It might be tough to pass on a book you just know is going to be big, but you need to.

The Long Boxers - High Quality Books 2
The Selling Ceiling

Admittedly, some of those will hit the $20-25 area raw. I will not stand here and tell you that is a bad return on $5 or so. However when you really dig in and see what books are getting those numbers, you will see that they have sharp corners and clean spines. Books with corner creases and obvious love from reading will sell for much, much less. But in this margin, $3 or $4 is enough to give you no profit after all the time goes into listing / selling / fees / etc. You might be able to time it right, but most often you will not. You are left with a weak return and a lot of time.

I know that some folks are okay with this. Any chance to turn a buck is still turning a buck. I think that is a long grinding game.

Multiplicity in High QualityBook Speculation

Mainly you need to consider that there are numerous copies out there. The book just has not hit. Once it does become a hit they will come out of the woodwork. Market saturation is your nemesis. That is where people will pass on your nocked and scuffed copy for the crisp and sharp copies. You will start getting low-ball bids or just no action. You are better off buying a better book for that money condition wise.

Since all this is speculation anyway, you have a better chance at hitting big on a better book. That is simple. Showing restraint when digging through bins is the challenge. After flipping through issue after issue you want to have something to show for your time. Seeing that diamond in the rough makes your eyes light up and pulse quicken, no doubt. But triple check the condition. If it is not honestly up to snuff, put it back. We are after speculation books of highest quality. More often than not it will not work out as well as you hoped.

NOTE: When buying for your PC, buy whatever book you like. These tips are aimed at discerning high quality speculation books since you are trying to maximize returns.

High Quality Book Quick Checklist

  • Cover eye appeal is strong (front and back)
  • Check the spine to see if there are color breaking creases
  • Check the corners for sharpness (front and back)
  • Check center staples
  • Flip through to check completeness

If you are unaware, there are a few quick things to check for on high quality books. I do not do this all of the time despite knowing I should. I get burned by the backs of the books more than anything else. Should the front look great, that has zero baring on what the back looks like. It is worth the time to pull the book and check.

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Stepping Through Book Quality

Most of the time you will see something on the cover, spine ticks or blunted corners before you ever need to take a book from the bag. In most cases, that book should already be eliminated from buying. A quick comment on corners, they really should be pointed. Therefore if you look at it and try to convince yourself it is sharp, it is not. You know a sharp corner immediately.

After passing the first three front cover checks, ask (ALWAYS ask first) to remove the book and inspect the back and insides. While this might seem like it is too much and very time consuming, if you get good at removing books that are not meeting your standards there is often not a large pile to look through. When done, my rule of thumb is more than three issues anywhere (arbitrary) and it is a pass since I am not looking at a high quality copy.

Three Strikes You Are Not Out?

Does this mean you do not buy books failing the above criteria? The answer should be yes but reality is no. They are still going to get bought from time to time. Just know that every time you do, you are accepting a lesser return on your money. Often times I tell myself that a specific book will be so big, that it will not matter. Spoiler: it always matters.

Are You a Bad Speculator?

My aim with this information is not to tell you to feel bad if you have books that do not meet this criteria for being high quality. Numerous books I have do not meet this. What should be focused on are skills to help you make better selections with speculation books. Both from a quality and a cost of entry. After all, the goal is to make money, so why not give yourself the best shot? And not spending $5 now, might keep that $5 for a book that is really worth it.

Trust me, I get that does not sound like much. Yet $5 add up quickly. Since these are all books without market heat behind them, it is very likely they will just sit in our collections. It also means you will miss if a book takes off that you passed on. Fear of missing out is real and we all deal with it.

You Did Not Miss the Boat

Missing out on potential future profits is not the same as physically losing money on speculation that does not pan out. Instead of thinking about how you could have had that one book, think about how many books have not work out that you also passed on. I believe that the gains from that one book will be less than the hole you dug from the other books.

I hope that this helps some of you. Perhaps it is just a ramble and you all already know it. For me, I know I did not and have had to learn it. Frankly, I am still learning it. However I think it is a fabulous skill to acquire and fold into your repertoire on the journey to becoming a better speculator. High quality books will greatly enhance your speculation portfolio. It is not enough to simply know the book to hunt, but equally important which copy you buy.

For other speculation ideas, please read some of our other posts!

This information is current as of 2/28/2019

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