To Buy (It Now), Or Not to Buy (It Now)

Regular contributor Daryl Parks posed an interesting question about auctions versus buy-it-now listings on eBay. From the beginning here at Jazz Collector we have focused on auctions. Not sure why, but that was how I always did business on eBay, when I did do business on eBay, both as a buyer and as a seller. Daryl was helping a friend with some listings of jazz records, and the friend preferred buy-it-now, particularly for what he described as “big ticket” items, in this case original Blue Note pressings from Curtis Fuller and Jutta Hipp. His explanation, as explained by Daryl: “Buy-it-now attracts different types of buyers who prefer to avoid roller-coasters and unpredictability while resulting in predictable outcomes for the seller; he has always had great success with this approach.”

The outcome is mixed, so far: The Curtis Fuller sold in one day for $700 in less than mint condition. The Jutta Hipp, in VG+ condition for the record and VG- for the cover, is still sitting on eBay with a price of $725. Anyway, Daryl asked if we ever focus on buy-it-now auctions, which we rarely do, and why not, for which there is no logical answer other than the fact that we like watching auctions. Anyway, Daryl posed the question as follows and asked what readers see as the pros and cons, so I figured it was worth a discussion for a day or so here:

“Jazzcollector.com focuses on auction purchases. Has your column ever focused on “Buy Now” purchases of great jazz lp’s… or the broader experience of buyers regarding the process–not just the outcome– of the auction experience?  What do readers see as pros/cons of one vs. another? While I can’t say it is a question that had previously crossed my mind, with the exception of being shut out of auctions the last minute as the autobot bids kick in, I find it of interest this week given our discussion and my experience. Perhaps you find it interesting, too.”

15 comments

  • I don’t like auctions as a seller, I’ve had some awful winning bids on some nice records. As I tend to know what I’m selling, I much prefer a BIN with best offer.

  • As a seller, I’ve been disappointed with wining bids a few times. I’ve also had completely unexpected outcomes on auctions, with winning bids far beyond what I would have asked for as BIN. I always list in auction format and tend to sell a lot at once, with some real nice titles to attract interest and see where it all ends up. In general, I’m able to predict the outcome of a series of auctions pretty accurately, so I guess unexpected high bids make up for the disappointing low ones…

  • I prefer auctions as well for whatever reason, as a buyer, when it comes to eBay. However I also buy more and more off of Discogs (which is fixed price) and other set-sale locales. Most of my selling is through Discogs or private sales, and generally am ok with offers there. If I purged a massive amount of stuff I’d do auctions on eBay and watch the roller coaster from the sidelines.

  • I rarely “buy it now” high end records. Its okay for, say, around 100 € anyway, especially if i m familiar with the seller. I prefer auctions, more exciting. I m kind of reluctant with heavy “bite now” price as i tend to think someone is trying to get the big money for an overgraded gem. Just my thoughts.

  • yeah, the one eBay “BIN” I did on a rare, pricey item turned out to be quite overgraded.

  • Gregory the Fish

    BIN works in my favor sometimes as a buyer. Occasionally a wanted record will show up as a BIN for a little bit lower than I would expect, and I can afford it, so I grab it. This happens once or twice a year, though I did just get lucky with a mono original of “The Pepper-Knepper Quintet” on Metro Jazz for a very low price in VG+ through a BIN. Planning to audition it this week.

    More often, though, my scores for low prices come through bidding, and that is what I prefer, though I am not averse to any one method of selling.

    As a seller, I don’t sell many records, but the things I do sell are posted as I get promotions for free listings from eBay, and so I get about half and half auctions and BIN listings. I find that things work out about equally well on both ends, though even though all my BIN listings have the offer options, very few people take it, and I end up selling a lot at the full price. Weird.

  • As a buyer, I prefer BIN w/Best Offer as it takes the games out of buying.

    As a seller, I consistently get higher prices when I list at Auction. When I’ve listed as BIN w/BO it frequently ended as no-sale/no offers but when relisted for Auction, sold for 20-50% over the original BIN price. I have no explanation for this.

  • from the seller’s point of view, BIN is risky because either you put a price which is too low, and you sell, or one which too high, and you don’t sell. If you sell, you will feel that you should have put a slightly higher price.
    As a buyer I find that BIN prices are always too high for what the item is really worth. One never sees an item in BIN which has not something to detract from it. NM/NM or better are seldom in BIN, in those cases the auction format prevails.
    As a seller I am often surprised by the level of realized sales. I would have put a lower BIN price myself. In stead of putting a reserve price, I have reasonable starting bid levels which cover me against ridiculously low bid outcomes.

  • When I decide to sell something on eBay, which is rare for lps these days as I am bulk shipping them to Dusty Groove, I use BIN. Because when I decide to sell, I want it gone. No lingering on as in a dying love affair that neither party wants to terminate yet should. Currently I list cds for $.99, just to get rid of them. And with eBay taking what seems to be 10% from sale price and from shipping, I feel eBay is getting to be less and less a useful means for collection eradication.

  • Auctions feed the “gotta get it now!” mentality that many people express in their hobbies, I prefer set price selling as a seller but I see why auctions are so fun.

  • I think your reporting is spot-on. You mentioned BIN listings occasionally and they’re interesting. However, the true market value of an item is best illustrated in an auction where multiple buyers indicate the value through their bids.
    I usually sell as BIN for prompt payment, and the “built-in” reserve. Often an item will sell very quickly and I wonder how much better it would have done at auction. In that case, I see that listing as having indicated a “clearance sale” price instead of a “retail” price.

  • The big trouble with auctions are the unscrupulous buyers who have implanted spyware of some sort and thus are able to see the bids that are made which are supposedly “confidential”. They are able to bid at the last second or two and grab a desirous title by use of their less than honorable method of knowing what they will have to bid in order to get the records. “Buy it now” eliminates this game playing and has a much more professional feel to me than some of the horsetrading that goes on with some of the auctions I have experienced. This is a business transaction after all.

  • I have some bigger ticket items listed on discogs, but the funny thing, I’ve connected more and more with other collectors on Instagram and have some great set price transactions through there. Sold some higher end blue notes on there and the transactions have gone really smooth.

  • That’s intersting jason, could you say a bit more about how you go about selling via Instagram, for instance what tags you used? I flip the occasional record to keep expensive hobby affordable and am always interested in finding new ways to connect with potential buyers.

  • Hey Cellery – I just started to follow a few folks from here and other places…just started building a cool relationship with folks. When they posted I commented and asked if they had it for trade or sale and it went from there.

    I usually tag records I’m listening too with nowspinning, bluenote, artist name, etc. it’s cool to connect with people!

    Find me at JasonH5 on Instagram.

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