The Why and How of Trade Secrets


Hello my fellow agents.

Our world is a confusing world at times. Questions are bond to come up and I always welcome them. The most popular question from the comments of Trade Secrets goes something like this:

Why would anyone pay so much for a trade paperback? Aren’t they just a collection of old reprints?

To those who wonder let me say there are several possible explanations for a highly sought after trades.

  1. The comic books it reprints are valuable and not reprinted elsewhere. In some cases there may be other reprints collections, but one may be of much higher quality (DC Archive Editions).
  2. The trade paperback itself may have a low print run and because of a strong fan base, become a sought after novelty. This use to be the case for Darth Maul Son of Dathomir. It still is the case for the Uncharted tpb.


Uncharted TBP (HOT)


Darth Maul Son of Dathomir TPB (NOT)


  1. Even when the source stories aren’t that valuable people are willing to pay a premium for saved time and travel.  Think about it. If you live in rural Montana with the closest comic store 55 miles away you may desire to save yourself the trip. The store might not have what you want anyway. You can look for single issues online and maybe find a run of the ones you want, but after a while you just tire of looking. So you decide buy the trade that has the issues you desire. As a bonus you can put it on your shelf instead of buying more bags, boards, and a new short box.


The second most popular question I hear is:

How do I know what will sell?

The first part of the answer is:

Watch the market. By market I mean eBay. I automate my surveillance as much as possible. Here is one search I have in place.

In advanced search within Collectables I enter tpb -lot -run –set, check sold listings, and enter prices between $30 and $999. Then I save and subscribe to the search. This sends an alert to my phone via the eBay app and sends me an email as well.

Every evening at about 7pm I get the alert to check the search if I wish.

Here is a recent search result:

That Savage Sword of Conan looks interesting doesn’t it? Let’s add Savage Sword Conan to the end of the search string just to make sure.

Three recent sales, that’s enough for me. Now, here’s the trick I have to just file that away in my brain. This takes practice. Being a Trade Secret Agent takes training. A month from now I’ll come across a SS of Conan 15 and I’ll think, was it volume 15 or 16? I’ll have to look it up, but I’ll know to look it up.

You may be thinking, that’s too much trouble.

Trust me. Hunting for trades can be just as fun as hunting for comics. That’s the first part of the answer, how.

The second part of the answer is:

It takes time and practice.  

I’ve been field for years. I’m an experience agent. I enjoy the hunt. I know many of the sellable books by heart, but also have good eye for books that might be valuable. The ones I need to look up on my smartphone.

Think back. Were you instantly great at quickly searching the long boxes? No. It took time, but you got better. It’s the same process searching for trades. After a while you’ll develop a 6th sense.

Case in point:

Crisis on Infinite Earths Limited Edition HC (My photos)


I found this at our local used book superstore this week. I’d never seen a copy before (a good sign). The store had it marked for $20. I found sales ranging from $70 to $110. This was a used copy with a few scuffs. I listed it for $99 and took a best offer of $75. Easy peasy.

Let me finish up by rephrasing a question from the beginning of this article.

Why would a Trade Paperback sell for 2X to 3X its face value?

Ultimately, I don’t care. If they do they do. I post them and the magic internet people buy them.

I’ve been in the field for years. I flip enough to make a real difference to my family’s income.  But, like anything else of value in life it takes work.

I’m here to help and make it at least a little easier, I hope.  Let me know how I’m doing.

Have fun on the hunt.

Agent Newton out…


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