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Thread: First Printing's vs later printings value...

  1. #1
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    First Printing's vs later printings value...

    I know that a lot of comic book collectors don't like to talk about the value of a book...but I am trying to wrap my head around this:

    How is it that a 4th or 5th printing of a comic book would be worth more money than a 1st printing of a comic book? The cover is exactly the same in all aspects except that the publisher has changed the color scheme of the title of the book. I was always told that you want a 1st edition of the book from as far back as I can remember. Just trying to get an answer that makes some kind of sense. Thanks for any help/clarity on this question.
    "When not too many people can see we're all the same
    And because of all their tears,
    Their eyes can't hope to see
    The beauty that surrounds them
    Isn't it a pity".

    - "Isn't It A Pity"
    By George Harrison


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  2. #2
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    smaller print run = less available to completists.

    it's all marketing and perception though. supply/demand at any given time. plus influencers (like Wizard magazine was notorious for spiking interest in certain books with their speculation columns)

    Do you have a specific example? The Killing Joke comes to mind as a situation where there was a HUGE print run for the 1st printing, but increasingly smaller runs for the different coloured logos representing subsequent printings. Given that it is an iconic book with media tie-ins, I recall it was quite challenging for the completists who were seeking out all the colour variations. I personally sold a great many copies of various colour logo Killing Joke on eBay during a ten year span starting in the early 2000's. Although from the looks of things, the 1st print has shot up in price since then, so these things seem to even out (likely due to the fact that only the Bolland recoloured version remains in-print?).

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by samurainoir View Post
    smaller print run = less available to completists.

    it's all marketing and perception though. supply/demand at any given time. plus influencers (like Wizard magazine was notorious for spiking interest in certain books with their speculation columns)

    Do you have a specific example? The Killing Joke comes to mind as a situation where there was a HUGE print run for the 1st printing, but increasingly smaller runs for the different coloured logos representing subsequent printings. Given that it is an iconic book with media tie-ins, I recall it was quite challenging for the completists who were seeking out all the colour variations. I personally sold a great many copies of various colour logo Killing Joke on eBay during a ten year span starting in the early 2000's. Although from the looks of things, the 1st print has shot up in price since then, so these things seem to even out (likely due to the fact that only the Bolland recoloured version remains in-print?).
    That is exactly the book I was going to use as an example. It has to be a speculators thing. I don't understand the whole "Less print run" angle. It's the same book with a 98% reprint of the same cover...with a different colored logo/title. I could see if they added something or took away something from the book...that might make the book's value go up...but it's the same book. I was always told and adhered to the concept "1st printing is what you want of a book..." Basically a 2nd and up printing is a reprint. Back when I first started collecting...you didn't want a reprint. And they were ALWAYS discounted in the comic book shops. The only reason why any owners would stock them was to fill back orders that they couldn't fill when the book came out and left it up to the customer to decide whether or not they wanted a reprint or not. 99% of the time customers would put the book back.
    "When not too many people can see we're all the same
    And because of all their tears,
    Their eyes can't hope to see
    The beauty that surrounds them
    Isn't it a pity".

    - "Isn't It A Pity"
    By George Harrison


    My Good Buyers/Sellers/Traders list:
    Good Traders List - Page 80 - Mego Talk

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Meanie View Post
    That is exactly the book I was going to use as an example. It has to be a speculators thing. I don't understand the whole "Less print run" angle. It's the same book with a 98% reprint of the same cover...with a different colored logo/title. I could see if they added something or took away something from the book...that might make the book's value go up...but it's the same book. I was always told and adhered to the concept "1st printing is what you want of a book..." Basically a 2nd and up printing is a reprint. Back when I first started collecting...you didn't want a reprint. And they were ALWAYS discounted in the comic book shops. The only reason why any owners would stock them was to fill back orders that they couldn't fill when the book came out and left it up to the customer to decide whether or not they wanted a reprint or not. 99% of the time customers would put the book back.
    In comics, the only time you own an original is if you own the art boards it was created on. Every other comic is a mass produced copy of that, and 1st printings is an illusion as comics were often produced at multiple plants at multiple times so there was no true first printing. Heck, even Action Comics #1 had three printings before 1939 because it kept selling and going back to press, and there are subtle differences in the cover to each printing but it wan't until fairly recently that the back issue market even acknowledged the different printings and so far it hasn't affected the value or perception of collectibility of an actual Action Comics #1.

    As in all things collectible, it is demand, not supply that drives pricing. A scarce comic nobody wants has no value because no one is willing to pay for it. A comic with a large supply everybody wants (say like an Amazing Fantasy #15 which is not rare or scare in any way, shape, or form) goes for high value because people want it and will pay the price. If supply were the only factor, modern comics would be more valuable than older comics because their print runs are much, much smaller. Collectibles have no inherent value beyond what people are willing to pay for them. If no one wanted them, supply is irrelevant because you couldn't sell them for anything. What limited supply does though, is create an artificial demand for some items in the minds of collectors, driving up the price, and this is what is happening with some of the later printings of books.


    -M

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    In comics, the only time you own an original is if you own the art boards it was created on. Every other comic is a mass produced copy of that, and 1st printings is an illusion as comics were often produced at multiple plants at multiple times so there was no true first printing. Heck, even Action Comics #1 had three printings before 1939 because it kept selling and going back to press, and there are subtle differences in the cover to each printing but it wan't until fairly recently that the back issue market even acknowledged the different printings and so far it hasn't affected the value or perception of collectibility of an actual Action Comics #1.

    As in all things collectible, it is demand, not supply that drives pricing. A scarce comic nobody wants has no value because no one is willing to pay for it. A comic with a large supply everybody wants (say like an Amazing Fantasy #15 which is not rare or scare in any way, shape, or form) goes for high value because people want it and will pay the price. If supply were the only factor, modern comics would be more valuable than older comics because their print runs are much, much smaller. Collectibles have no inherent value beyond what people are willing to pay for them. If no one wanted them, supply is irrelevant because you couldn't sell them for anything. What limited supply does though, is create an artificial demand for some items in the minds of collectors, driving up the price, and this is what is happening with some of the later printings of books.


    -M
    So what you are essentially saying is the so called artificial demand is in fact a "Speculators Market" ??
    "When not too many people can see we're all the same
    And because of all their tears,
    Their eyes can't hope to see
    The beauty that surrounds them
    Isn't it a pity".

    - "Isn't It A Pity"
    By George Harrison


    My Good Buyers/Sellers/Traders list:
    Good Traders List - Page 80 - Mego Talk

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Meanie View Post
    So what you are essentially saying is the so called artificial demand is in fact a "Speculators Market" ??
    I read those words and all I can think of is Sports Cards in the 90s. Or about anything "collectible" in the 90s. Jeeze, I used to go home and wash the "slick" off of me when dealing with those people.

    "I know absolutely ZERO about Superman or Nolan Ryan, but let me tell you why this comic/toy/card will put your kids through college!"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Meanie View Post
    So what you are essentially saying is the so called artificial demand is in fact a "Speculators Market" ??
    It's not even just about speculators though. It's about collectors wanting it for whatever reason-completionists who have to have them all no matter what is artificial demand. How many folks bought multiple covers of Action #1000? That's artificial demand. All the art for the various covers was available on line, so if you wanted the content, you only needed one copy, but buying multiple covers is responding to artificial demand for the book itself. So is people buying multiple printings even if they have a copy already. Getting people to buy more of something than they need is artificial demand, for whatever reason. In hobby collectibles some of that comes form people looking to resell at a profit (i.e. speculators) but by no means all of it. A collector's item is by its very nature something that creates artificial demand, especially if it is marketed as that. A comic book or a toy need not be a collectible. The true demand is how many want to buy it to use it (read it or play with it). Marketing for something beyond that is creating artificial demand, and pricing for collectibles is all about demand. The entire back issue market is built on speculation essentially. People bought multiple copies of books based on the idea that they could resell them later. Comic shops based orders on speculation-they bought extra copies of books beyond what they needed to fill initial sales demands so they could stock them later to sell as back issues, essentially speculating there would be a back issue market. Collectibles are a speculator market at their core. The only reason there is supply in mast cases is because people bought extras beyond the initial demand of a product. Speculation always drives hobby business based on collecting. Without speculation you wouldn't have things like the Overstreet Guides or toy price guides. Buy speculation is a double edged sword. Reasonable speculation sustains a viable collector's market. If no one is buying beyond initial demand, there is no supply for later. Whether it is people coming later to the hobby or people who bought initially, got rid of the product and want to reacquire it later on, somebody speculated there would be some kind of demand later and bought extras. However when products are over-ordered based on unreasonable speculation, and it ties up operating capital of either the manufacturers, the distributors, or the retailers, that's where the problems lie and when you see speculator bubbles that burst. Collector's like to sneer at speculation, but the cold hard truth is that without somebody speculation at some point, there really wouldn't be a collector's market for those in the hobby to have recourse to, as there would be no supply for collectors to avail themselves of.

    Artificial demand is simply creating a demand for something beyond what the normal demand for a product of that type would be. If a typical issue of Action Comics sells 50K these days, hyping a #100, adding variant covers, etc. creates artificial demand for the product if it sells beyond the typical 50K who buy copies of Action Comics. Most of those extra folks won;t be back for issue 1001, so the demand for that particular issue is inflated, i.e. artificial. Some folks will get all the covers who normally buy only 1 copy of Action. Some will speculate and buy covers by certain creators or certain limited variants available only at certain retailers, others will buy extra copies on the hope it goes up in value, others will buy a copy when they normally don't buy Action Comics because of the hype, etc. All that demand is artificial, bit not all of it is speculator driven. All speculator driven demand is artificial demand, yes, but not all artificial demand is speculation.

    In the case of Killing Joke reprints, reprints became viable because it appeared demand outstripped supply, but not all copies of the first printing reached end customers, many were still at the middle men (retailers) or in the hands of folks who acquired multiple copies but hadn't made them available in the market yet. DC was out of copies, but the market wasn't necessarily out of copies, however, if DC wanted to continue to make money on the book, it had to have copies to sell, so later printings (they would prefer you a customer to buy a new printing form them rather than a first printing because they no longer make money on first printings. There was most certainly demand for a new printing, but only some of that demand was true demand, some of it was artificial (people buying copies for the sake of having a complete set of Killing Joke printings, people buying later printings with an eye towards selling their first printings, etc. essentially anyone buying for collection rather than reading purposes created artificial demand.

    Killing Joke however, became one of the rarities every publisher seeks-an evergreen seller, and so is kept in print. DC has a good many of these, Marvel not so much. DC creates more (artificial) demand for it though, by changing up the formats, extra content, cover art, cover colors, etc., leading some to keep rebuying it for whatever reason.


    Speculation bubbles happen when the market reacts to artificial demand and true demand disappears. The black and white speculation bubble that hit comics circa 1986 in the wake of the success of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a boom and bust cycle based on that. The DC Explosion and Implosion of the 70s was another example of the market reacting to artificial demand when true demand didn't get sustained to back it up. Comics have had lots of those over the years. The 90s speculator bubble was another one of those, but its impact was greater because comics as collectibles had started to garner big money (Action #1 had garnered over $100K for the first time making headlines outside of just hobby circles at the same time as some baseball cards were getting big money and the same kind of headlines outside the hobby market) and it was drawing in lots of people who had no experience with the industry or the hobby as a whole, everyone looking for the next big thing, and the industry itself hadn't learned its lesson from the '86 boom and bust-retailers who almost folded choking on copies of Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters nonetheless went all in on Valiant, Image, Marvel gimmick covers and DC gimmicks breaking their heroes because they had a much larger pool of folks drawn in by artificial demand, many buy not all speculators looking for the next big thing having heard it was comics or cards, others drawn simply by the hype and the crowd already gathering.

    As for speculation today, it is part and parcel of the business plan of the big 2 publishers these days. Variant covers, inventive variants Loot Crate exclusive covers, changing numbering to create #1s or anniversary issues, etc. are all part of the process to create artificial demand, because honestly most comics would have print runs under 50K without something propping it up and pretty much the entire market for monthly comics is a collectors market not a mass market, and collector's markets are markets with its foundation built on artificial types of demand.

    If the product is a story to be read using both images and text, then the true demand is how many people buy it to read. Anything more is artificial demand. And publishers don't sell to end customers. Marvel and DC make their money when Diamond buys their books, so they have to attract Diamond into buying as many as possible Diamond only orders what their customers preorder, and Diamond's customers are the comics retailers, so Diamond tries to get retailers to order as many copies as possible. Retailers have to speculate how many copies to order base don guesses-how many of our customers pre-ordered this, how many will sell as walk ins, how many will sell after the first week or of release, after the next issue comes out, how many extra do I need to order to get the variant I can sell to some of my customers, how many can I afford to order if they don't sell right away and still have money left to pay my Diamond invoice for the next week's books (and other expenses) because everything is non-returnable.

    When comics were sold as returnable, sales reflected actual demand but print runs reflected speculation. When comics are sold as non-returnable products as they are in the direct market, sales reflect retailer speculation rather than actual demand. Anything done to get retailers to increase the amount they buy on speculation is artificial demand, and rarely reflects real demand. Some retailers over order. Some under order to be safe and conservative, preferring to sell through their order and sell out than to have unsold copies being an albatross around their neck to draw them down. Sometimes actual demand surprises them and books go to later printings, and when the do, the speculation process starts again as now retailers have to speculate how many to order this time, which sets Diamond's orders to the publishers, which sets size of print runs. The entire market is based on speculation, not just folks trying to flip books at a profit, which is one factor in the speculative market, but not its entirety. Those guys attempt to exploit the wrong guesses that result in quick sell through and second printings, but that is only possible because the whole blamed thing is a speculator's market and has been since the advent of the collectible aspect of comics (and cards) aided by the development of the direct market.

    -M
    Last edited by MRP; Jul 3, '18 at 1:10 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRP View Post
    In the case of Killing Joke reprints, reprints became viable because it appeared demand outstripped supply, but not all copies of the first printing reached end customers, many were still at the middle men (retailers) or in the hands of folks who acquired multiple copies but hadn't made them available in the market yet. DC was out of copies, but the market wasn't necessarily out of copies, however, if DC wanted to continue to make money on the book, it had to have copies to sell, so later printings (they would prefer you a customer to buy a new printing form them rather than a first printing because they no longer make money on first printings. There was most certainly demand for a new printing, but only some of that demand was true demand, some of it was artificial (people buying copies for the sake of having a complete set of Killing Joke printings, people buying later printings with an eye towards selling their first printings, etc. essentially anyone buying for collection rather than reading purposes created artificial demand.

    Killing Joke however, because one of the rarities every publisher seeks-an evergreen seller, and so is kept in print. DC has a good many of these, Marvel not so much. DC creates more (artificial) demand for it though, by changing up the formats, extra content, cover art, cover colors, etc., leading some to keep rebuying it for whatever reason.
    Well stated. I am in agreement. Killing Joke as an "Evergreen" was in a rather unique situation as a standalone prestige format volume rather than collected editions such as Watchmen and Dark Knight which were distinguishable from their serialized counterparts. I"m sure the different coloured logos was DC's attempt to be "collector friendly" in a developing marketplace to help buyers to easily differentiate a 1st from a 2nd printing, at a glance. i have no doubt there were some noise to that effect during the multiple printings on the initial prestige format serialized run on Dark Knight, where the printings were only indicated on tiny text on the inside front cover, in the indica.

    I honestly think this situation stemmed from the fact that there were, and always will be a group of "completist", collectors who wanted a complete set of every colour cover, and a speculator market that crops up to take advantage of those who were completists. Very likely spurred on by some article in Wizard Magazine or similar publication in the 90's that would have investment/speculation columns (and "conveniently"... a price guide in the back to make sure their predictions came true). The supply/demand situation would certainly be true in a scenario like this where the first printing of Killing joke was in the hundreds of thousands, vs. a fifth printing which numbered in the tens of thousands. Completists and Speculators alike could hoard tens of thousands of copies and create a scarcity for a period of time.

    I generally trust the market-place to right course correct itself eventually though. Looking at the recent sales on eBay, I'd say the marketplace has leaned back towards Roberto's preferences of 1st printings in the case of The Killing joke. The green logos first printings are currently selling for much more than the later coloured logo printings.

    My additional theory why those have rising value in the marketplace, is the fact that many old-school fans prefer the original acidic colours by John Higgins in those prestige format printings. Currently, the only versions available in print from DC Comics is the Brian Bolland recoloured version, and a sans-colour black and white version.



    Last edited by samurainoir; Jul 3, '18 at 12:08 AM.

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