Collecting comic books is as common today as baseball card collecting was in the mid 70’s and 80’s. People from all walks of life, all over the globe, come together and connect over this incredible hobby.
An important aspect of collecting is knowing what your collection--especially that gem that is your pride and joy--is worth. Searching around, it is not hard to find vendors claiming to have the most “current data” and “accurate assessments” around. But how do we know who and which price guide has the most relevant information? Today we also expect a lot more of our guides, not simply a price lookup. They need to have interesting content, a convenient site to navigate, and a collection tracking system to keep up on its value. Not to mention so much more that has become not only expected of a price guide site, but mandatory as well.
Enter Covrprice.com with the realization that the community had a desire for a “next level” approach: real-time data to keep up on changing trends and values within a digital collection. Comic Burst recently spoke with John Sulaitis and Matt DeVoe, co-owners of CovrPrice, to discuss how their up-and-coming comic book price guide will change the way people think about price guides.
Comic Burst: Tell us about CovrPrice and how can it benefit the collecting community?
CovrPrice: (John) CovrPrice is a resource for all types of collectors. From the casual collector to the most intense and seasoned of collectors who need or want to know real value from real data. (Matt) Our system is specifically tied into our collection management system. Which in turn is also attached to our live price guide, which is based off the most current data available from the most recent sales transactions you can possibly get. (John) Really, the coolest part is having that control of information. We are pulling data from a number of major online marketplaces. It is never a single source of information, nor a “rough estimate" in terms of the values. We have triangulated our data to really understand what's happening in the marketplace. That's just the price guide part of things too. There are top ten lists, key lists, rarity lists, etc. It allows us to present what's happening in the comic book “ecosystem”, with real data that you the user can control. By that I mean it can keep you completely organized in terms of your collection/inventory, and its value. (Matt) Comic book retailers/sellers will find that they will no longer have to worry about their inventory “spiking” in value, and the seller not knowing about it. It will keep your inventories value current to the day, so you are never having to go hunting around trying to determine certain books value. (John) We like to call it the “Stock Market of Comic Books". A watchful eye on your investment, showing you real-time data and numbers.
CovrPrice Comic Detail View
CB: What was it that inspired you to get into this line of work? Have you done similar work in the past?
CP: (John) Well, we've known each other for over 30 years. We have been collectors and enthusiasts for that entirety of our friendship as well. [Both laugh] Our childhood was essentially this: Buy and then read comic books, go to the bowling alley to play arcade games, and then hit the video rental store and rent some video games. That was it. But we absolutely loved it. (Matt) For John and I, we developed such a huge passion for not only collecting, but everything that comes with comics. Speculating, grading, signatures, variants… the list goes on and on. We took our love and passion of the industry and applied it to CovrPrice. (John) So, as far as professional experience goes, my background is a BA in Psychology and a MS in something called "HUman Factors". It's the practice of mixing psychology and technology so we can better design usable systems that people enjoy using. So, for the last 12 years, I did nothing but consulting and working at agencies and building hundreds if not thousands of websites. But it's not just simply designing a website. You have to analyze who the users are, what they have, what their needs are, what their wants are, and make it happen for them. So one day, Matt came over and we started asking ourselves “Wouldn't it be cool if there was actually something in the comic book community that was sort of like a stock market? Something you could see and basically keep track of all your investments in comic form. Like that comic you bought 8 years back and completely forgot was in your collection. You can't remember you have it and most times, you miss if it's all of a sudden on the rise in value. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a system that kept track of your collection or inventory and alerted you the moment your comic was going up or down in value?” So after that conversation, the research began. We became so immersed and entrenched in our belief that we were onto something that could completely change the way people organized their books, then after about 6 months of going through the research, I left my full time job. We knew we had something here and we felt like we absolutely had to pursue what we had already begun. I was literally working 8 to 10 hours at one job and then matching the same hours in developing the site. Then I used up all my sick days to work on it too. (Matt) He literally quit his very nice, high paying job to do this. (John) [Laughing] Well, I had at that point fallen completely in love with what we were pursuing. I absolutely believe that what we are building here, will absolutely benefit collectors and retailers alike and change the way people interact with their collections.
CB: So, a place where everyone can go and find the value of their book, a place to store all of their inventory or collection digitally, a place that will notify collectors, on all of their books individually, if the price fluctuates? This sounds like a dream come true for comic collectors. What can a CovrPrice user expect in regards to interaction with the site itself?
CP: (Matt) The one thing we paid close attention to, was to not over-do the amount of information you are seeing at one time. Meaning, a lot of sites we noticed, liked to throw all kinds of crazy numbers and values on the screen at any given time, without really breaking it down into digestible bits of info. With CovrPrice, we were sure that the first thing you land on when you navigate to our site, is the search bar. You will also see our “Top Ten" lists and a few other easily navigable features. The layout is very straightforward. We like to think that our site is built for the casual collector, so anyone can sign up and dig right in with every feature being as straightforward as possible. The beauty of CovrPrice in this regard, is that if you want to dig down into the nitty-gritty, you can. You can dig up what a book is trending for, selling for and any other viable information you are looking for, it's there if you want it. (John) Another big aspect, is that we planned for mobile phones to be the biggest way people sign on to our site. So in our planning on the development of CovrPrice, we made sure that the user experience for those using a mobile phone as their internet access device, would be top-notch. Absolutely no different than if you signed on at home on your PC. So basically? Your experience is seamless and consistent across your laptop, mobile phone, tablet, etc. (Matt) We have had quite a bit of positive feedback about the speed of covrprice.com on a mobile device. Which we really feel is important, for people trying to get values out in the wild.
CovrPrice Homepage on Mobile
CB: Let’s switch to collections. Tell us a bit about how collection management works on CovrPrice.
CP: (John) Unlike a lot of the competitors out there,we really wanted to make the act of adding books to your online catalog as easy as possible. We are on our way to making it as easy as uploading a spreadsheet and having it converted over into your online collection automatically. That feature is not out yet, but we are currently working on it and do not expect it to be much further out at all. We have different levels and capacity for each different membership you belong to as well. (Matt) For instance, if you are a casual collector and want to use the free membership, you can add up to 300 books to your collection. For the casual collector, 300 books is a pretty decent size amount of books to add. The ultimate membership allows unlimited storage for your collection and other features as well. (John) We really wanted to make it useful and approachable to all the different types of comic collectors out there.
CB: While I was navigating CovrPrice, I noticed you guys do a “Weekly Top Ten List.” Tell us a bit about that and how that works in regards to a price guide site.
CP: (Matt) Everyone loves a good list! [Laughing]. I mean, I think back to the days of Wizard Magazine and their amazing top tens. People just really like a “top ten" or a “ranking" of sorts. So for us, we thought it would be really important to a lot of collectors and retailers, to have a weekly “top ten" of “most sold book.” We realize that a lot of “top ten" lists like that are built more off speculation than actual data. I'm not saying they aren't right or at least close, but with our top tens they are based off of actual data that is compiled weekly. The lists are compiled from a number of sources. It a mix of most sold items, top trending, and a "heat" algorithm that we've come up with that rewards books that have sold consistently across consecutive days. We think it does a good job of showing what was truly "hot" that week.
CovrPrice Weekly Top 10 List
CB: Why does CovrPrice stands out from the competition? Why should collectors go to your site and not others?
CP: (Matt) We take a lot of pride in the fact that our information is the most reliable out there. It's all real-time data that equates into real-time value. We not only stand out in the relevancy of our information, but we do raw and graded books as well. But it's not just our data either. We want to be a hub for collectors to come and educate themselves about the hobby. To have access to critical information, in a easy and navigable way that continuously is helping the collector, by offering them advantages. We are also a neutral ground. We will never tell you what books you should buy. We simply present to you what the sales trends and real life sales look like, day to day. (John) I do want to mention that when it comes to our data, we are literally updating daily and hourly for new releases. Which is of course crucial when maintaining and representing factual data. One of our mission statements as a company is: “Anything you collect in comic book form, should be represented on CovrPrice.” We also want to make sure that everyone knows that, if you look up a book and can't find it, simply message us with the title and the issue number and we will make sure we get it in to the database and have our algorithms start following its sales trends immediately. We want to be able to have an open dialogue with our members, so that they know that they won't have to wait days or months to see the information they need, but instead hours. (Matt) We are completely dedicated to continuously maintaining CovrPrice, as the #1 site for the comic collecting community, but also a name that reflects facts, relevant information, and a place that you can count on every single time you sign on.
CB: I really want to thank you gentlemen both for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk about your fantastic website. Thank you to you both, John and Matt, for joining us and giving us a small peek into your vision of the future of comic book value data and collection interaction.
Writer - Nathan Liberty
Editor - Dr. No