By Benjamin Nobel, February 3, 2017
Direct edition vs. newsstand comics of the bronze age, copper age, and modern age (basically any comic from 1977-onward): a critical distinction that all collectors should know about, but many still don’t; yet, awareness is quietly building like a snowball rolling down a mountain.
[Author’s note: if you are not already in-the-know about the difference between newsstand and direct edition comics, then before proceeding I recommend you read the following first: Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference ]
Long-time readers of this blog include several people I’ve come to know through extensive email conversations about the desirability of newsstand and cover price variant comics compared to their prevalent direct edition counter-parts that flooded the specialty comic shops in quantities that began to outnumber newsstand comics by the middle of the 1980’s.
Those of us who fall into this same camp, of having personally come to the collecting decision ourselves to prefer newsstand (and cover price variant newsstand) comics over their prevalent direct edition counter-parts, then naturally find ourselves wondering: how long is it going to take the collecting community at large to fully catch on to what seems so darn obvious from our perspective?
Well, with this post, I’d like to share some specific insight that maintaining this blog gives me, into just how much newsstand awareness is quietly building out there, like a snowball rolling its way down a mountain: and that insight is that my “WordPress Stats Page” lists out search terms that people have entered into search engines and then landed on my blog from there.
I always find this list fascinating to review whenever I check my stats page, because each one represents things actual people wanted to know, on that day… which means these people typing these searches are aware of their question (obviously they’re aware… because they typed it!).
Hence, reviewing this list is basically reviewing things that other collectors actually want to research, here and now. It is like looking through a peephole to their keyboards and seeing what they’re typing, as a group. And if they actively want to research something on this list (which they are, by searching), that means they are transitioning from uninformed to informed — informed both about the importance of asking their question in the first place, and then hopefully becoming aware of the answer to that question, and joining the rolling snowball of growing newsstand awareness.
Hopefully you will find the following list as fascinating as I do; I’ve plucked out the recent price variant and direct-edition-vs-newsstand-related search terms from my stats page and presented them below, and then following this list I will have some additional commentary including a couple of searches that stood out to me as particularly fascinating to have witnessed:
- difference between direct and newsstand comics
- comic newstand rarity
- spawn 2 newsstand edition
- what is the difference with newsstand edition comics
- why comics newsstand issues cost more
- newsstands comic books
- learn about 1980s canadian price variant rarity
- rarity of 35 cent variants newsstand
- spawn newstand rare
- newstand edition vs direct
- what has more value a direct edition or book stand edition comic
- direct comic books vs
- how to tell a marvel direct edition from a newsstand edition
- comic book, newsstand v direct sales
- dazzler #1 newsstand
- marvel comics direct edition
- which is more expensive newsstand or direct
- canadian price comics 1980s
- canadian price variant
- newsstand vs direct comics
- comics newsstand vs direct edition
- 95 cent canadian variants
- why are newsstand comics worth more?
- savage dragon newsstand rare
- what does “direct edition” mean on a comic book
- x-men 75 cent variant
- how do you know if a comic is a newsstand copy?
- canadian price variant comics
- was there a differents in the dark kmight returns direct edition amd the newsstand edition
- are direct edition comics worth anything
- why is spawn news stand rare
- canadian varient comics
- rare comics newstand
- direct edition vs newstand
- comic newsstand print run
- difference of newsstand comics
- newsstand edition comics
- upc code and none on comics
- direct sales comics
- 95 cent price variant comics
- newsstand variant
- comics newstand issue more valuable
- newsstand and direct print runs
- spider-man 700 newsstand rarity
- how much is spider man 700 newsstand issue worth
- what is difference between a regular comic book and collectible comic book
- what is a comic return copy
- spawn 1 newsstand edition cgc 9.8
- comic has lines through
- comic book direct sales vs newsstand
- what’s the difference between direct sales on comic books
- how do tou now newstand copy of comic book
- comic newsstand edition
- 75 cent variant comic
- canadian comics 75 cent
- marvel price variants 75
- what is the difference between first print and newsstand
- some comics have no barcodes
- newstand vs direct edition
- amazing spiderman 569 newstand variant prices
- comics format newsstand
- limited prints such as savage spawn
- list of rare newsstand edition comic books
- difference between newstand and direct
- comics with barcodes
- new mutants 98 $1.50 ben nobel
- comic newstand
- rare newsstands comics
- difference of newstand to direct edition comics
- rare newstand comics
- rare comics from the 1980s
- spiderman 400 direct edition value
- marvel canadian price variants still first print
- newsstand vs direct
- newsstand variant comics
- how much will my star wars #3 sell 35
- what does a line through a barcode mean
- comic upc has line on it
- print run on 35 cent comics
- what is meant by “direct edition” on a comic book
- marvel 1983 60 cent 75 cents
- canadian price comics 1st
- difference between spiderman and barcode
- direct sales barcode
- amazing spider-man 238 newsstand variant premium
These are just from the trailing quarter (3 month period) and for each string you see on this list there are literally hundreds of other people who landed on my blog from a search engine but WordPress couldn’t discern the search string and lists it as ‘unknown’ (some engines have figured out how to disguise the search string for privacy). So the above list as actually more of a “glimpse” into a larger world of similar searches, but definitely gives us some very interesting observations [including that someone apparently was looking for my specific post on the New Mutants #98 newsstand-exclusive AUS cover price variant].
Many of the searches in this list struck me as highly interesting and I’d like to comment further on just a few. Did you notice the person searching for a Newsstand Dazzler #1? That comic was a direct edition exclusive, so there is no newsstand version of it… but I can picture an obvious scenario that would have led to this search: someone wanted one, i.e. they wanted to collect Dazzler #1 but were not satisfied with owning the direct edition, so they went searching for the newsstand edition. This search obviously would have landed them with no eBay results, so they turned to the Internet. This person looking for Dazzler #1, quite clearly, was showing an interest and probably even a preference for newsstand over direct edition comics as they sought out a copy of Dazzler #1.
Another search I found interesting was the different variations on the theme of whether Canadian newsstand comics are 1st printings — yes, they are. It is almost as if these searchers found a comic they liked and then wanted to confirm this one fact before committing to a purchase… hopefully they then read my post about Canadian Newsstand editions and came to more fully understand just what these are and that indeed they were published at the same time, on the same equipment, right along-side the rest of the print run, and are therefore indeed 1st print copies. Having confirmed that they are indeed first print copies, perhaps these various searchers then joined the snowball of awareness about how these rare newsstand-exclusive cover price variants are so much more preferable.
Finally, I want to comment on the “are direct edition comics worth anything” search string, because that one really struck me, and it also came through on my stats page right around the exact same time as I had a direct edition comic listed on eBay which drew the remark, “Nice book, too bad it’s a direct edition” (which struck me so much that I used it as the title of this post). Like so many of us, I use eBay to help trim my collection around the edges and turn some old finds into cash for new finds… and many of my old finds (pre-dating my own newsstand rarity “awakening”) were direct edition copies.
Like so many other collectors, back then, I too had a myopic focus on the grade of the comic I was targeting for my collection… instead of operating on a system of “newsstand first, grade second” as I should have been doing for later modern comics, I had unfortunately still been operating on basically a “grade first; what’s a newsstand copy?” wavelength back then… I was mildly aware there were some copies with bar codes and some with logos, but I’d never stopped to research that difference so far as to actually consider whether I should prefer one type over the other (without Overstreet breaking them out, there really wasn’t much of a “prompt” to make me devote thought to them).
So naturally, for me today, many of those direct edition copies I once collected have since found their way onto eBay, as easy candidates to cull in order to raise cash for something new (my fondness for newsstand comics has grown to the point that it even started to bother me to still own comics with the Spider-Man Rectangle or similar logos on them, when I knew a far-more-rare newsstand version to exist for a given issue… so the culling decision in cases where I owned direct edition copies and could recycle the cash into newsstand copies — especially cover price variant newsstand copies — was pretty much a no-brainer).
To bring this story back around to that comment in this post’s title, I had listed one of those “culled” direct edition comics for sale, and the comment it drew was just so striking to me because it is what I myself often think about the listings of others, but something that I’d never be so rash as to actually say to someone else… yet, here it was coming in my direction!! I think this, out of anything, shows me the “newsstand preference camp” is quietly growing in number beyond what I myself have even thought sitting here in 2017 (it is hard to break the impression I formed many years ago that nobody knows about these, when even to this day I keep encountering the rare newsstand version pictured in listings by others but not titled or described with the “newsstand” keyword, thereby revealing that the seller is unaware there is any difference — or if they’re aware there is a difference then they haven’t put any thought into what that difference might mean about the rarity or market value, because if they’d thought about those things then for sure they would have put the “newsstand” keyword in their eBay listing title in order to maximize their sale proceeds).
And then that “are direct edition comics worth anything” search string may be the “ultimate” as far as the newsstand versus direct edition distinction — imagine a day when the snowball of awareness has rolled so far that many collectors only want to own the newsstand version of a late modern comic, and “shun” the direct edition version as the inferior choice… in that extreme, if that day does come (and maybe we’ve already neared that point and haven’t fully realized it), the newsstand version of a given comic is essentially going to be viewed as the “real” collectible version in the sense that the direct edition version will have only secondary derivative value. Let me explain further what I’m getting at, with the following approach as a thought exercise: with the 35 cent variant of Star Wars #1 for example, anyone collecting that issue would prefer to own a 35 cent cover price copy, right?
The answer to that question seems pretty obvious, almost as if it is ridiculous for me to even ask the question in the first place, right? Yes, because the 35 cent copies are worth a dramatic premium over 30 cent copies. But if they weren’t yet worth a dramatic premium, you should have preferred them anyway because you know they had a lower distribution percentage and were identical in every way to regular copies other than the cover price. What I’m getting at is this: If, in a hypothetical world, you could actually have the choice of a 35 cent copy of Star Wars #1 or a 30 cent copy of Star Wars #1, at the same price, in the same grade, you’d pick the 35 cent copy without hesitation. It would be a no-brainer. The only way you’d choose the 30 cent copy in your right mind in my scenario, is if the 35 cent copy was instead priced so far above the 30 cent copy that it was simply out of your budget or at such a high price you concluded it was unreasonable. Hence, the value of 30 cent copies would be a derivative of the value of 35 cent copies — the “real” collectible comic for issue #1 of Star Wars from 1977 is the 35 cent variant, which then “pulls up” the value of the 30 cent copies because the 35 cent variant has gotten so far out of reach that some collectors are willing to settle for a 30 cent copy because that’s the best they can afford or they balk at the premium for the 35 cent copies as too high. The more desirable 35 cent variant soaks up part of the demand — those who must own the more rare and only the more rare version — and then the demand for the 30 cent copies is what’s left over after that.
Will that scenario ever happen with newsstand copies “pulling up” their direct edition counter-parts? Is that already happening and we just don’t collectively realize to then talk about it? [Without the newsstand versus direct edition values broken out in Overstreet, collectors would have to notice the going rate in the marketplace and reach their own conclusion that what they saw isn’t merely a one-off but rather was reflective of an established market value difference between the types]. The person searching on “are direct edition comics worth anything” seems to have had that worry that the prevalence of the direct edition type of comics could restrict their value… if they are worth less than the cost of shipping them to a willing buyer, then, in effect they are worth nothing…
So arguably, that searcher’s concern is very real for the “in-between-the-keys” late modern issues, where the total demand for some issues would be so low that the more-preferable newsstand copies might very well soak up all the demand! Maybe the searcher even noticed this very phenomenon first hand, having experienced trouble selling listed direct edition comics of theirs (maybe at the same time they witnessed the newsstand version of the exact same issues selling regularly without a problem, and in frustration turned to the Internet with their search).
As possible evidence of my point here about newsstand comics being the “real” collectible and then “pulling up” the value of their direct edition counter-parts in a derivative fashion, consider Amazing Spider-Man #300. If we’re going to see this effect in action, we’re going to see it in a comic like ASM #300 as such a high value issue.
And the highest value will naturally be in the highest grade — copies so nice that they were sent in to a professional grading company like CBCS or CGC. If I search eBay for “spider-man 300 cgc -ss -chromium” (I’m asking eBay for CGC graded copies but not Signature Series [SS] ones because the value of those will be derived in part by the signatures themselves, and not chromium copies, to take those out of the equation) here’s what I get when sorting the “sold listings” from highest to lowest:
Indeed, the highest priced sold copy is a newsstand copy, with a wide margin to the next copy (a direct edition). In fact, that top copy stands alone as the one rare 9.8 newsstand copy in the list of highest sales — you do not see these newsstand 9.8’s often; for instance at this particular moment in time I checked eBay and found -zero- newsstand 9.8’s on the market for issue #300.
Is this just a fluke one-off result where the newsstand copy sorted to the top with such a wide margin of separation compared to the prevalent direct edition counter-parts? Not a chance. It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness at play here. Informed bidders were willing to pay more money for the more rare type in high grade.
And if that’s true, then consider: Is the “real” market value of ASM #300 set by newsstand copies, and the direct edition values are derivative? Would someone who didn’t really understand the newsstand versus direct edition difference, but knew about the difference of a 9.8 versus a lower grade, look at that high listing and think to themselves, “another 9.8 got that high $1,600 price, mine is a 9.8, and therefore I am going to price my copy accordingly?”
If they had that thought, and theirs was a direct edition copy, it might sit there forever and the seller wouldn’t understand why… they might lower it bit by bit in price and still see other 9.8’s getting sold at a premium… “why??” they might wonder in frustration, why is my 9.8 copy not selling for what these other 9.8’s are selling for?
Eventually, maybe I’ll see the search string “why are some 9.8 copies of Amazing Spider-Man #300 selling for a huge premium while others aren’t” show up on my WordPress stats page. 🙂 And maybe that searcher will land here on this very post. And upon reading this far, then they’ll have learned why: it is the newsstand versus direct edition difference in play.
I believe this same effect is in play all over the comic book marketplace, but is much harder to spot with lower value books. For example if instead of comics priced at $1,600 and $1,200 we were talking about $16 and $12, that price difference could easily be a multitude of other things and if our eyes weren’t already peeled to try and spot a newsstand versus direct edition market value difference, we might just as easily dismiss it as something else if we were to casually witness it… because that kind of price difference can just as easily have to do with combined shipping discounts, seller preference, or any number of other things [who among us hasn’t shelled out an extra $5, even $10 or $20+ depending on the situation, to do business with a seller we know and trust versus an unknown seller with poor feedback?].
So we really need to study a super-high-value issue like ASM #300 for this newsstand premium effect to magnify out in a way that we can most easily see it through the normal market “noise” of the myriad other variables that cause people to spend different amounts of money on the same comic book issue.
Or, we need to study an issue where the issue’s value might be lower than the extreme of #300 but the newsstand rarity itself is more extreme for that particular issue. One extreme newsstand rarity situation was the dual-batch newsstand “publication window” of the 1980’s. For issue #300 with the 1st appearance of Venom, we’re mid-way through 1988, and already past that Canadian price variant “window” of even-more-rare newsstand copies with higher cover prices at Marvel… But turn back the clock a little bit to Secret Wars #8 — origin of the alien symbiote that eventually becomes Venom — and we have $1.00 cover price newsstand copies where the rarity percentage is dramatic to an extreme (look at the minuscule fraction of “Canadian Edition” copies on the CGC census for this issue versus the total and you’ll be shocked).
So there, we might get a similar “magnification effect” like ASM #300 gave us by having an extreme market value, but get it in the case of Secret Wars #8 because $1.00 cover price newsstand copies have a very extreme rarity, due to their newsstand exclusivity on top of lower North American distribution by geographical area, for a bottom line rarity percentage to rival that of the 35 cent variants of 1977.
Here’s the output of the same type of exercise I did before with the “sold listings” section of eBay sorted from highest to lowest recent sales, but applied to Secret Wars #8 (and indeed, notice the “perfect 1-2-3” we get here among the top sales):
The #1 sale, and dramatically above the rest due to its extreme rarity math, is a $1.00 cover price newsstand copy in 9.8… the #2 sale is a 75 cent cover price newsstand copy in 9.8… and then everything beneath it are direct edition copies. Is this just a fluke one-off result that the top sales sorted themselves “perfectly” by rarity in this manner? Not a chance. It is the building newsstand versus direct edition awareness in the comic book marketplace at play here once more.
Before, I asked you to picture a seller who didn’t know about the newsstand-vs-direct-edition difference, and went ahead and priced their 9.8 copy — a direct edition — using a newsstand 9.8 copy as a comp to shoot for (not knowing the difference, they’d just think about it in terms of the grade, thinking “I’d like to get top dollar for my 9.8, and here’s the top dollar price that another recent 9.8 sold for”). Picture this seller’s listing getting quietly ignored by those in-the-know about the difference, and their frustration growing over why their copy isn’t selling… maybe they start to lower the price, by $10… $20… Those in-the-know about the difference continue to ignore the direct edition listing.
But now, picture that an uninformed buyer comes along. Someone who hasn’t entered search strings (like the newsstand-related list I shared earlier) into search engines; i.e. who hasn’t investigated the newsstand versus direct edition difference. Let’s picture this buyer as someone who simply knows grade is important and wants to own a 9.8 copy. That unsuspecting buyer might come across our frustrated seller’s listing and think, “wow, $20 less than what this other 9.8 sold for, what a great deal!”
Is it a great deal? We know it’s not. But they have no clue about the newsstand versus direct edition difference, and are just looking at that giant 9.8 in the upper left corner — effectively they have blinders on where that number on the left-hand side of the label is all they can see. They click the buy button… and in doing so, they set a direct edition sale comp in the sold listings section as a derivative of the high newsstand sale price. But meanwhile, the “real” market price is being set by those copies at the top… the newsstand copies.
All the while, if we were to look only at the asking prices in the marketplace at any given time, this phenomenon would be harder to spot. But examining the sold listings for high-value (and high-rarity-newsstand) keys such as the examples I explored here with ASM #300 and Secret Wars #8, I think the market value difference between newsstand and direct edition is practically glaring right at us!
And imagine, as the snowball of growing newsstand awareness continues to roll towards its final destination, how the behavior of both the hypothetical buyer and the hypothetical seller I asked you to picture would change: the seller would know to peg their ask to the highest direct edition sale and the buyer would be operating on a system of “newsstand first [cover price variant newsstand before that, when they exist], and grade next”… and you can start to envision how the market values would then continue to pull apart in an even more visible way as time continues to march forward and the snowball of growing newsstand awareness continues to roll down the mountain.
I hope you found the list of search strings shared with you here to be as interesting as I found them to be — definitely quite reflective of a growing awareness out there about the direct edition vs. newsstand difference!
Happy Collecting! 🙂
[ 2/27/16 Update: It was brought to my attention by a reader that since the time of this post, there has been another auction of a 9.8 newsstand copy of Amazing Spider-Man #300. I figured I’d screen-capture that recent sale and append it to this post, as it reflects an even further widening of the newsstand value versus the direct edition value. ]