Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Has Gemstone Lost it's Luster?

Diamond Distribution and Gemstone Publishing owner, Steve Geppi, has been having some financial troubles, as many of us have. It's been out on the web for a while now, no secret. But a lot of it has been speculation, not fact. Recently Diamond shared a statement from Geppi about the situation:

"In the past few days, there have been a number of rumors circulating about Gemstone Publishing. As has been the case with many businesses across a wide array of industries, there has been a reduction in staff at Gemstone, and this included the departure of many valued employees. This, however, is not the end of Gemstone Publishing.

"Our flagship title, The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, remains a vital tool for comic book collectors throughout North America and around the world and it continues to be a highly profitable item for the retailers who carry it. I look forward to making announcements regarding new developments for the Guide’s 40th anniversary next year. "At this time, no final decision has been made regarding The EC Archives or our comic books featuring Disney’s standard characters, but it seems certain that both lines will continue in some form. We all anticipate resolving the issues facing us and moving forward, and I will be happy to announce the specifics once things have been finalized.”

I hope they continue Disney - those are nice books. I could live without EC Archives. And to be honest people don't seem remotely interested in buying Overstreet this year. When people call or stop in and want help pricing books and we show them the guide they look at the price and are no longer interested. This could be partly due to the economy, partly due to people thinking Wizard is the ultimate price guide (I'll argue that not only is it not now, it NEVER was), and partly due to people being able to just use the internet as a resource. But Overstreet is a good guide, probably really only needs to be updated every other year, but that's just my opinion.

(Side story - we got a call today from someone who works for an estate sale company wanting my help pricing comics to sell at an estate auction. When I told her that we charge $75 per hour to do appraisals she seemed shocked. Then I recommended she buy a guide - she had a price guide (Not Overstreet) that she picked up at the library but couldn't quite figure it out and didn't know how to figure out the quality grading. I noted again that if she wasn't sure we'd be glad to appraise them for $75 per hour. Well, she'd have nothing of it, thanked me and hung up. Now I'm pretty sure they make money selling the stuff, but I'm supposed to do her job for free? Doesn't make sense, does it?)

One thing Geppi doesn't mention is what will happen with the Geppi Entertainment Museum in Baltimore MD. I know they don't get very good attendance there, but the museum consists of Geppi's collection and I've heard he gets a really good rate on the rent. Still, I wonder how much that museum eats up off of his bottom line.

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