Trade Perspectives: Best Online Comics Shop?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Gas prices, food prices -- heck, inflation is nothing new to comics fans; comics used to cost a quarter!

But never let it be said that Collected Editions isn't on the lookout for a bargain, or willing to pass those bargains on to the gentle reader.

I found a post the other day by gyoung345 on the ComicBloc forums, talking about three mail-order comic book stores: Sci-Fi Genre, Discount Comic Book Service (DCBS), and Badger Comics.

Of the three, the only one I've used has been DCBS, and I've been very pleased with their service -- the books arrived on time and in good condition, and the price was the cheapest I could find. I've also looked at in the past, but with shipping, their prices haven't stacked up to DCBS.

gyoung345 decides in the post that he likes Badger comics the best and DCBS the least, mainly because of DCBS's lack of monthly subscription system; since I'm buying mostly trades from DCBS, this isn't as much a factor for me as it is for gyoung345. If Badger's prices are right, though, I might give them a try for a month.

That's two new stories now, Badger and Sci-Fi Genre, that I hadn't heard of. Any more out there? From what online comics shops do you buy your comics, especially your trades? Who do you consider to be the best online comics shop?
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  1. I have only tried G-Mart, but I like them a lot for a few reasons.
    1) free shipping for orders over $85.
    2) The usual 35-40% discount on new releases.
    3) Discount if you ask for your books in "readable" condition instead of collectible. Perfect if you aren't big on saving everything. That can drop the price of a new comic from $2.99 to $1.65.
    4) If you ask for readable, but, for example, an inside page is messed up, they replace it for free. No need to send the old stuff back.
    5) great customer service.

    The main downside is you have to login every single time you go to their site. it never remembers you.

  2. Not to be an ingrate, but... do any of those sites specialize in trades, and do they beat Amazon's prices, selection and free shipping at $25? I know that makes me sound like a shill, but that's the main reason I haven't switched. (not to mention the odd 4-for-3 promo they do on seemingly random stock)

  3. The place I mentioned above does beat Amazon by a little bit. A $19.99 trade goes for $13 at g-mart and $13.59 on Amazon. However, you have to order and pay ahead of time when that month's orders are due.

  4. I usually get my trades either locally or at Amazon. I tend to go to eBay or Mile High Comics for back issues if I can't find them at my local comic store.

  5. I may give G-Mart a look after reading this, but I've been a DCBS (for pre-orders) and (for other new material) customer since I discovered them. The deals on their specials are great, and otherwise things beat Amazon by some margin (varies). DCBS does charge $5 or so for shipping, but I'll take that monthly hit when I order $150-$200 in books for 35-50% off cover price. has free shipping over $50, I believe.

    Anon, most of these sites carry new trades just like Amazon only with comics as well. Few will have used stock (from third parties or otherwise) though, which is what I find useful about Amazon.

  6. Well after using for most of my trade buying, I was alerted to all the deals on ebay and have been buying the majority of my stuff on there for very good prices. I am amazed at how cheap people are selling these trades that go for thirty dollars or more here in Canada if you buy them new and most of them are in mint condition.

  7. I've been a happy SciFiGenre customer for about 18 months now. Their comic prices aren't the lowest (I get a 25-30% off new comics, which is a bit worse than other places, but not too much). Their trade prices are great, often lower than amazon (they take an additional 10% off if you have any monthly subscription with them). They always ship quickly, everything is pre-bagged and boarded and I haven't had any problems with them.

    The best thing about them is the website. It's not the prettiest, but you can do just about everything with your subscription, including: pick variant covers, see each weeks releases, reschedule deliveries (move them up, or delay them), have back issues shipped with your subscription, and a bunch more.

    The only bad point: They have free shipping on $75+ but that doesn't apply to subscriptions, so even though my box costs more than 75 dollars, I get a 7 dollar shipping charge added on.

  8. I live in Australia and I buy most of my trades from Kinokuniya. I don't use the mail order because I live near the store however I know it offers one. It's prices are occasionally inconsistent but it's the cheapest trades I've been able to find in Australia, especially since Amazon won't ship trades here. The range isn't quite as good as you would find at a comic shop but it is by no means bad.

  9. I'm surprised to see the mentions of Amazon here -- I often buy novels from them because of the free shipping, but I didn't think the prices for trades matched DCBS -- but if there are 4-for-3 promos, maybe I should check that out!

    I hadn't heard about G-Mart; I'll have to look at them. Dominick, on Sci-Fi Genre, it doesn't sound like the prices are very low; is it just the service that keeps you coming back? How important to everyone is service versus price?

    So, anyone want to post their total (or projected total) for comics this month, and we can compare apples to apples with the shops?

  10. I usually use DCBS' InstockTrades website. It typically beats out Amazon in terms of a slightly higher discount of 37%, the $50 minimum isn't hard to hit for free shipping, and you can order things the day of release instead of having the Amazon wait.

    The only other site I regularly use is The advantage is the 42% discount on most trades. The disadvantage is the relatively high $125 minimum order to qualify for free shipping.

  11. I had a lot of trouble figuring out Superherogameland's web site. Do they have trade paperback pre-orders?

  12. DCBS has a "pull-list" option which you update from items off of your monthly lists.

    When a new month is updated, you log on to the site and start a new cart from your pull list and all of your favorites are there.

    I don't see how that is any different from a subscription service.

  13. I've never done preorders through Superherogameland - so not sure if they're there. They seem to enter the system somewhere around the week of release. I've seen it as early Monday, but that hasn't been consistent.

  14. Does DCBS's "pull list" work for trades, too? Like, if you order a trade one month, will the next trade of the same title show up again?

  15. From what I've seen of DCBS's pull-list, yeah, it works with TPBs, too.

    The PREVIEWS coding has changed to a (for example)"DMZ TP VOL x" format and all books that start with "DMZ TP" will get added.

    Now, DC's back-listing is there every month, so you'll have to trim them out, but if you had some book, like REX MUNDI, that you only read in tpbs, it should only show up when there's a new one coming out, or a reprint or "offered again" option.

  16. I'll have to think about that if I use DCBS again -- lately I haven't been getting trades sequentially as they've transferred from paperback to hardcover; Detective Comics's Batman: Private Casebook moves to hardcover this month -- for me, if I have paperbacks leading up to it, I'm not going to switch to hardcover now, and I wonder if I'd catch that with a pull list. But it sounds like a useful feature.

  17. I've been checking out the suggested stores in this thread, but I keep finding the same problems keep cropping up. Bearing in mind these issues apply largely because of my particular spending and reading habits...

    1) They are largely geared towards floppy subscribers. I have no interest in pull lists. Frankly, the trade selection, especially for anything older than a year, is often sad. And I'm talking about in-print books!

    2) Rather large numbers to hit for free shipping - I'm surprised many here think $80, $100, $125 (SHG) are reasonable numbers for a single order of comic book spending, or put up with it Even $50 means you'd be ordering at least 3 or more trades in one order. Most books I buy are around $10-15, and I usually don't order more than two at a time. Part of the reason I don't buy from local shops much anymore is because it's hard to justify the extra cost...

    3)Selection is generally even more pitiful at these sites if you want anything outside of the Big Two - big indie titles like Strangers in Paradise, publishers like Oni or Fantagraphics, or manga titles from Dark Horse, Viz and the like.

    4)Very amateurish website design. Awful layouts, terrible and useless search engines (I'm looking at you, InStockTrades), usually a total lack of Out of Stock listings, no user reviews or tagging. I realize might be unfair to compare to a smaller indie retailer, but they have all of the above plus public Wish Lists, save for later Shopping lists, 4 for 3, etc. I know I'm a bit spoiled by modern Web 2.0 sites, but come on, get out of the '90s - pay for a real web designer.

    eBay is okay, but often when you factor in shipping, it'll be more expensive than a brand new copy from Amazon. Good for buying very old/OOP stuff, though - not so great for selling, it seems.

    Also not suggested: I know they're just another Amazon, basically, but sometimes their prices or availability are good - occasionally I've gone with them when Amazon was out of stock.

    But the truth is, I'd rather find a better place than Amazon, that specializes in trade stock. There should be some online store equivalent to the in-store offerings of a place like NYC retailers Forbidden Planet or Midtown Comics (which itself has a very limited website). But for now, Amazon basically has the best selection and prices.

  18. I love Amazon as much as the next guy...for books, CD's, DVD's, etc. But for trades, I just don't get the hype. When a trade is $10 or less and hits their 4-for-3 program, that means you're only getting it for 25% off! That's great if you want to buy mass market paperbook books, or children's softcover books, but it's really a poor price for trades.

    Further, you have to wait typically two weeks or more from the release date for them to have a trade in stock.

    I'm sympathetic that the $50 min for IST might be tough, but if you're patient enough to wait for enough things to have been released, it's a good option.

  19. Regarding InStockTrades, I've been wondering for a while if I should stop pre-ordering altogether, and just wait as Anonymous suggested until a significant quantity comes out and then buy from InStockTrades. I've been trying to figure DCBS's 40% discount on pre-orders versus InStockTrade's 37% discount plus free shipping ... I'll have to look at that again.

    (Nhexmia, InStockTrades's search fails for me all the time, too. I find if I hit the Search button a second time with my query still in the box, it works. But it is a bug.)

    I thought Nhexmia laid out a very good list -- a large sellection of trades, including publishers other than the Big Two; free shipping over, let's say, $25; and Web 2.0 features. Unfortunately, what that describes is essentially Amazon -- but I, too, would like to see a comics shop step up and really make a play for the field in that way. (DCBS, I'll note, has review blogs; that's a start, at least.)