In scanning my archived emails recently, I found a link to Heritage Auction’s comic collecting software feature. Pretty nifty, I even bought a Cuecat for it.
Heritage allows you to scan the CGC rating bar code of your graded comics and instantly upload the data to your collection’s database. All the information with one quick scan, and it’s free.
Then it dawned on me that I was also paying a fee to ComicsPriceGuide.com to use their enhanced features and “unlimited” comic storage. The free version is only 50 books, plus access to the online price guide. Otherwise, I think I’m shelling out about $49.95 for an annual unlimited database.
Collectors Society has a great scoring feature for the sets you can build on their sites, for CGCs only, and you can take a look at how other people’s collections rank against yours, in completeness and issue quality.
and many more. I can’t even keep up with hyperlinking them all.
I stopped and put on my thinking cap and thought about how to best use/abuse the system i.e. if all my CGCs are stored in database A, no need to duplicate in database B, and I started to dissect my collection into segments that could be stored online using only the free/freeware/free-trial versions of the various sites and software. Why pay? But then the thinking cap, like a SORTING HAT, slipped over my entice face and asked “why do they give it away…”
Then it dawned on me.
Like every other industry, this is all raw data. One single comic tied to one user can give you demographic info, location, distribution (“what’s a west coast indie doing on the east coast within a week of publication?”) and more. I can put in the price paid. They can push this into existing pricing models and see if I’m trading above market value, and then determine if the market value went up or if I’m an aberration.
This can feed into some pretty Wall Street Level pricing algorithms pretty quickly.
If you have a comic worth $100,000, and you know only 20 copies exists, and 2 bidders drive it up to $225,000 in a bidding war, is it worth that? Or if you have 20 bidders in the same auction pushing it up to $125,000, would that seem like a better reflection of the actual value? Why is the first appearance of Wolverine in Hulk #181 so valuable when there are clearly, CLEARLY, an abundant number of copies in near mint condition from a very high print run? As of this listing there are SIXTY SIX eBay listings for a CGC copy.
Also, as I’ve observed while chasing down comics on the secondary market, many comics are printed in different runs from month to month, year to year, as popularity and profitability drove the original print runs as well as the initial store purchase decisions. While I can understand why a #2 issue is often underprinted, it’s interesting to figure out, based on prices, that an issue from June of 1978 can be hard to find even if it’s not very valuable.
There’s a lot of data out there. The more we give, the more balanced and efficient the market becomes. I don’t really have the answers, but there’s a lot of things we should think about in how data is used, and whether or not we are using it effectively. And, more importantly, do we believe the data as it’s given to us, whether we’re arguing about the Gerber Scarcity or just the actual value we’ll pay at a convention.
So yeah, I’m signing up for every free service I can get my paws on…
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