Dungeons & Dragons

The Madness of Collector’s Prices

Yesterday I went into a local used book store, looking for a deal on some new table-top role-playing game books, when I was confronted with some of the most outrageous prices I’ve ever seen. For a USED copy of Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes they wanted $49! For a beat up box of Tarroka cards they wanted $10. And then there was this:

Now I get that if you’re a collector you might be willing to pay $100 for this book, but you’d be a fool to do so. I went on ebay and found a seller offering the very same book with the Loremaster’s book as a companion for $79.19.

Look, you can do with your money as you see fits and if you want to spend collector’s premium prices you can – but don’t do it at a used book store.

Take it from me; I buy a lot of my ttrpg products in second hand stores because I tend to look for older products (I’m a big 2e and 3e nerd). This means that I’ve gotten used to looking for things that are a good value. A bent corner isn’t such a big deal for me, but I’ll be damned if I pay $50 for a regular 2e Monster Manual or Player’s Handbook (which I saw at the bookstore) that’s been used for decades.

When I’m buying older books I expect them to be at a reasonable price. That doesn’t mean a dollar off the cover price. I want them to at least half off, and often I want them to be under $10. Some examples of the kind of deals that I want when I’m looking for used rpg books. A couple of years ago I bought all the 1e hardback for $12 in a used bookstore They were in good condition, with some slight wear on the corners from use. I bought the both Blackmoor d20 setting book Player’s Guide for $7. Last year I got the 3.0 PH, MM, and DMG for $8 combined. These are the sort of deals that I expect when I go into a used bookstore.

They’re the sort of deals everyone should expect to find.

If, however, you’re walking into a used bookstore and finding the price $0.95 off the cover price for a USED copy then it’s time to walk away. That store is telling you that they’re going to be charging you fool prices. They aren’t looking for people who are going to be playing the game and actually reading the books. They’re looking for people who are too foolish to know that they’re getting swindled.

So let’s get back to those 5e books that I was talking about earlier.

Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes was a regular version of the product. There was some slight wear to it and a hint of smoke residue. They wanted $49. At my local game shop, Sci-Fi City, they have the same book for $34.99, new.

What I’m saying here, for all of my readers, is shop around. Find the best deal and never give full price for a used product.

2 thoughts on “The Madness of Collector’s Prices”

  1. A certain big franchise known for offering books at half the retail price regularly has game stuff priced by checking for Amazon.com pricing (and presumably does this for other unusual/collectible stuff). The problem with that being that the prices you see on sites like Amazon are often completely crazy, because folks are taking another seller’s listing and drop-shipping it from their more ‘optimized’ profile at a markup. There are “bookjackers” runnning algorithms to find listings on one site and not another, and relisting on the site with no other copies at an even bigger markup, and sometimes the algorithms get into bidding wars where they are each jacking up the price a few cents at a time into the hundreds of dollars. That’s why you see some things offered for $10, $25, and $926 used on Amazon, often all with the same photo of the item on someone’s living room table. That obviously hurts unwary consumers. It also hurt legitimate sellers as they are unable to list items for what Amazon’s algorithms decide is “too low” a price…because they are comparing it to the the jacked up listings, which outnumber legitimate ones for collectibles.
    The title you’re listing about seems to be “rare” in the sense that not many are on offer at used book sites, and my guess is that most of the listings would be for the same copy, given how they are so cagey about the condition.
    Check out the listings for the relatively widely available “Arms Law” for Rolemaster — https://www.bookfinder.com/search/?full=on&ac=sl&st=sl&ref=bf_s2_a1_t1_1&qi=Asb5,FwCTwdow9Fwjgqf6YZ0rrU_1497963026_1:7:5
    The prices start out about where you’d think, then climb by pennies at a time to nearly $200, for the 1999 edition, and go from $30 to over $600 for the rarer 1984 edition. Ugh.

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  2. And to rub salt on your wound, they put the damn price tag directly on the unshrink-wrapped overpriced product… I quit going to Used Book Stores because I got tired of being mad at the abuse they do toward old RPG books (in any condition).

    Liked by 1 person

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