How to Sell: Magazines

Magazines are sorely underappreciated. Many people throw them out, recycle them, or stick them in a box for their yard sale for a greatly reduced price.

And that’s good news for you!

Needlework & Crafts

Believe it or not, magazines can make you quite a bit of money – if you know what you’re looking for. But why? Well, each magazine can belong to several different niches. Take a single issue of Time:

  • Title – Time is one of the most popular magazines in existence. There are a lot of collectors for this one.
  • History – It records current events, and people like to collect the images and opinions of the time. Say someone collects anything and everything about the moon landing – that’s another buyer for your issue!
  • Pictures – The pictures that are generally featured Time are classic and well-known. Collectors enjoy having these right at their fingertips. Maybe this person doesn’t care so much about the content that contains information about the moon landing, but wants some of the pictures for his collection. There’s another person interested!
  • Information – Great for research and for general reading, the information in these magazines are generally intriguing and sometimes still relevant! Say you have someone who’s doing a research project, and they need a primary source. Time is a credible magazine and would be perfect for their paper.
  • Advertisements – This is the big one! People love collecting vintage advertisements and they’ll often buy a whole magazine just for one little snippet that mentions the company they’re looking for.

So, there you have it! Just with one issue you potentially have five different types of buyers that would be interested in your magazine. If they all find it at the same time, you could have a nice little bidding war on your hands!

So, here’s what you want to look for:

1. Series. Try to find multiple issues from the same magazine. That will always help tempt your buyers a little more. If you can get an entire year’s worth of the same title, that’ll be even better!

Here's a nice sized lot of Hobbies magazines from the 1970's. There's 220 total!

2. Title. Notice this comes second. Except for a few hardly known magazines, you should do fairly well if you’ve got several issues bundled together. With that being said, keep an eye out for all the big ones, like Time, Life, and Better Homes and Gardens. Specialty magazines are also pretty popular. We’ve done well with ones like Hobbies and The Magazine Antiques. ***NOTE: Believe it or not National Geographic magazines are worth LESS THAN NOTHING. I highly advise against buying these unless they’re practically free.

Here's a lot of 178 National Geographic Magazines that will probably be sitting around here for years to come. (Sorry for the pixelation.)

3. Date. Generally speaking, the older the magazine, the better. This will also depend on the magazine and what topics they usually cover, but keep in mind what decades had more interesting events. The 1960’s were full of big things, the 1940’s contained WWII and its after-effects, and anything in the 1800’s is always a good bet.

Hobbies magazines from the 1940's

4. Condition. Condition is always important. I wouldn’t necessarily say it deserves to be so far down on the list, but I do believe it is slightly less important than the title or date of a magazine. Make sure all pages are present. The covers are particularly important, so be sure they are in the best condition they can be in.

Life magazine

5. Content. If you’ve got a good magazine (like Time, for instance), then content isn’t going to matter quite as much. If you’ve got a lesser known magazine, then this might be a little more important to pay attention to. Big headlines like a president’s death are going to be more popular with buyers than something that happened locally and didn’t even make national news. Flip through the pages and see what kind of advertisements there are. The best thing to look for is a company that is still around today. The older the magazine (and, essentially, the younger the company when it distributed that advertisement) the more valuable it will be.

The Magazine Antiques

How does that sound? I hope that clears some things up for you guys. If you’ve got any additional suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. Questions are always welcome, too!


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