Often asked, very hard to answer. For newer items, it typically means just adding the item to the next order with my suppliers. Depending on the company, there may or may not be extra product available for reorder. It’s getting harder and harder to restock some lines, as companies move to a model like Print on Demand, Print to Order, or distributors aren’t willing to put much, if any shelf stock beyond what was initially ordered by retailers. It’s part of the business. But when an item goes out of print, then the real hunt begins.
The older the item is, the less likely there are copies to just be reordered. Gone are the days of many regional distributors, who might still have some copies left. Odds are once it sells out with one supplier, they are all going to be sold out.
For long out of print items, it’s likely to only find an item as part of a collection or possible being sold off individually. Since it rarely works out that I can buy single pieces and still be able to price them to make a profit, the main source of used items is a collection someone has put up for sale. You take the good with the bad.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a few significant trends on used product re-enters the marketplace. In no particular order:
- Gamer has left the hobby. Generally, will be a smaller collection, might be made up of a couple of different systems. For whatever reason, they are no longer interested in holding on to the items.
- Gamer got married, spouse wants those books out of the house. This one is rough, I’ve seen large collections be put up for sale. Even worse a few times I’ve seen the seller attempting to replace their beloved books after the marriage didn’t work. Heartbreaking.
- Spouse puts up deceased partners collection for sale. I always treat these with great care. A spouse usually wants them to go to someone who will appreciate the collection as much as the former owner did but doesn’t want a lot of hassles that come with selling it off piecemeal. I make it a matter of honor to be beyond fair in these dealings. I don’t want any bad karma coming my way.
- Gamer has Real Life issues (health, kids, bills) that necessitate selling off part or all of their collection. Usually they are at peace with it, but not always. Generally, they peel off the layers of the collection that mean the least to them though.
- Upgrade system/format. I’ve seen quite a few people who start a new edition of a game sell off all their old books. Often it depends on the system, and the edition. I have seen this when a gamer moves to PDF versions of books as well, choosing to sell of their dead tree editions.
In the early 2000s, people dumped their 2nd edition AD&D books to jump into 3.0. That lasted up until 2008, roughly around when Gary Gygax passed away, when suddenly people started seriously looking for 1st and 2nd edition books again and the supply really dried up. With 5E out, I’m seeing more and more 3.0 and 3.5 being sold off (4th Edition never really had much demand as a secondary market). And now we are starting to see the oldest members of the RPG hobby, leaving it completely (due to health or other reasons). If they don’t have a family member to pass their collection on to, then those 1970s and 1980s books are starting to trickle back into the market. Rare items that hadn’t been seen for years are popping up more frequently. Conversely, the people who cut their teeth on AD&D 2nd edition are now in their high-income earning years and have been filling out their collections. What was common to have in stock in the early 2000s is now in enough demand that finding a book is often a real unknown.
Invariably, it comes down to finding that seller looking to find a home for the 12 boxes of old gaming books that their Uncle X left them and making a deal that makes everyone happy. Hopefully the book you need is in that next collection that comes through here.