The Advantages And Disadvantages of Trade Waiting

The Advantages And Disadvantages of Trade Waiting

By 22 Comments

Trade waiting is a term that many comic book fans use to describe the practice of avoiding the purchase of single issues of a comic with the intention of purchasing the collected edition instead. This is common practice as among readers and is often done for a variety of reasons. Finances are often the major factor, with collected editions generally being slightly cheaper per issue. Although, personal preference often comes into the mix, with some readers preferring to read a collected format.

If you are thinking about trade waiting but not quite sure if you should or not we have created a list of pros and cons that will help you make a decision.

trade paperback collection on a shelf. Trade waiting.
A sample of my trade paperback collection.

Advantages Of Trade Waiting

  • Collected editions generally work out cheaper than the sum of issues collected inside them.
  • Some collections are presented in a nice hardcover edition. Some collected editions look great stored on a bookshelf.
  • It is easier to store a collected edition than the same amount of single issues.
  • No advertisements.
  • Do not have to wait month-to-month for each part of a story.
  • Popular titles such as Batman, Superman, The Walking Dead and The Avengers will not be harmed if people begin to trade wait as they generally have perpetually high sales.
  • Some comics read better in a collected form.

Disadvantages Of Trade Waiting

  • Some publishers (especially DC Comics) have long wait-times between the release of the single issues and the collected edition.
  • Lower tier titles survive based on sales of single issues and if people are not buying them they will usually be cancelled.
  • Additionally, many creator-owned titles live or die based on the difference of a few thousand copies. Multiversity Comics has a great article on the topic.
  • If you regularly read comics that are in a shared universe, you feel a little out of the loop if you are not reading them a regular basis.
  • There might be the possibility that you may have a story spoiled before the release of the collected edition.
  • Hard to store if you do not have the bookshelf space.
Trade paperbacks on a shelf. Trade waiting.

Should I Trade Wait?

This is all going to depend on your situation – on a financial, storage and patience level. If you have a limited budget, trade waiting could be a practice that might work for you. This may allow you to stay within your budget and read more the comics that you are interested in. Although, if you are not a fan of waiting then trade waiting may not work for you. While some publishers (Marvel and some parts of Image) can be fast to release collected editions, others like DC Comics can be rather slow and you might be waiting for up to 9 months or more between releases. Waiting 9 months can be tough, especially if it is a comic you enjoy – would you be able to do it? Finally, what is your storage situation? Do you have the bookshelf space to store your collected editions or would storing your single issues in a box that is out of the way work better for you?

Overall, my suggestion would be to look at the pros and cons listed above and apply them to your situation. By weighing the pros and cons you should be able to make a decision that works within the context of your budget, patience and personal preferences.

Do You Trade Wait?

If you do feel free to let us know why in the comments below. Alternatively, you can let us know on the How to Love Comics Facebook or Twitter.


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Comments (22)

  • Hey, like many others, sorry for commenting on such an old article 🙂 .

    I don’t understand your Disadvantage of the storage issue. In your article, it kinda read as if you can’t store collections like you would Single-issues. But that is what I do. Bagged and Boarded and stored inside comic boxes like the few Single-Issues I own. To be frank, they are not that large, and not that much larger than the single issues combined.

    To be honest, the neurotic geek in me shivered at the sight of your collections simply standing in that shelf, being exposed to the open air, I’d never be able to do that 😀 .

  • I know this is an old article, but I’m new to the hobby and love the site! One aspect that I was surprised didn’t seem to be covered in the article or comments is about the collectability aspect. I’ve got a hardcore collector gene, and find myself drawn to wanting to have all the issues (God help me if I get excited about variants!).

    Am I wrong to assume there’s more long-term value to be had in collecting single issues than there is the TPB’s?

    • Hi Tom, great question. the collectability aspect of comics is something that I have tried not to focus on too much as there are certain elements of it that I personally don’t like (speculative buying and taking advantage of people’s OCD), with a preference to reading comics for enjoyment. As for value, it all really depends on what the comic is and if there is actual demand for it and it’s availability. For example, early issues of The Walking Dead fetch a high price as there is high demand and they had a very small print run. The same thing can often with TPB collection too, but usually if it is out of print, but there is a lot of people who want to read it.

  • What I just don’t like about trades is that some volumes include parts of a crossover event. Like in what I read recently, Justice League Vol. 4: the Grid. Two issues of Trinity War is included in the trade. What’s the point of adding those fragments to a volume?

  • There is another disadvantage- if you don’t have the money upfront, sometimes it’s better to buy single issues as you aren’t running out of money there and then. But then, perhaps this is false economy- better to put the money aside and wait?

    I kind of gave up on the idea of doing this with Black Canary as I was already 5 issues in (helped that I’d picked up the first 3 issues in a grab bag) and it seemed little point in wiating for the TP. Di have my eye on Harley Quinn and Power Girl- some of the covers looked a little embarassing to buy so might wait?

    Perhaps “second hand trade waiting” might be a good idea- wait for long enough and there might be enough copies going second-hand on Amazon/eBay/Alibris &c.

    • Or frankly even “library wait”… but since most of the graphic novels in my local libraries are a good 5-10 years old *at least*…

  • I know this is a super old article, but when is trade waiting not a lot, lot, less expensive? I mean, a story arc is about $4 x 5-6 issues = $20-$24. I can find that same trade book for at least $10 less on Amazon etc.

    I loooooooove collecting monthlies, but it’s just become too expensive. And keeping track when all these monthlies come out can be a pain.

  • I started reading comics because of The new 52 in 2011 and buying issues at the comic book shop was fun, but quickly became an obsession that was more stressful than fun. This was in part because I was spending so much time caring for the comics instead of actually reading them. I sold all the comics, and a year later in 2012 picked up a couple issue on comixology and was instantly in love with guided view. I’m now 3 years into reading digital comics (DC and single issue only) and I wanted to dip my toe in marvel waters. So I picked up a trade paper back (in digital form) of the first marvel now! I’m glad I did because I’m now reading them in publication order and really enjoying it, but I ran into a comic book that wasn’t published in TPB and have really run into a snag with reading TPB. The last 3 issues of one of the series I’m really enjoying isn’t in any collection and its too far out for marvel to publish one is looks like so I’m gonna have to do both Single issue and Collections with marvel and I was trying so hard to do a 100% TPB when reading marvel Now! and if you are also a completionist that is 100% impossible.

    Great article Trevor Van As I will have to check out more of the site.

      • I think it all depends on how you enjoy reading comics, eg in small bits or like to binge, as well as the cost benefit. If you like reading big chunks of story at once a digital trade might be for you. Also, the can often be a little cheaper than the cost of the single issues combined and sometimes have extra content. I’d always check how much you are saving first by finding out what the collection contains and doing the math to see if there is a cost benefit.

        If you’re unsure if you will like the story of a digital trade a single issue is a great way to sample the story and see if you like it.

        Overall, I’d use my advise above and apply it to your situation. Sometimes digital single issues will better and sometimes digital trades will be better.

      • I don’t understand why some publishers only collects part of a bigger story. Like some recent Green Lantern trades. Crossover stories are in different trades. This makes me consider getting single issues than trades.

      • Hey, Trevor! 🙂 Thanks for the reply.
        But I would like to ask, if cost is not a factor, would you prefer digital single issues or digital trades? Thanks!

      • Hey, Trevor! 🙂 Thanks for the reply!
        But if cost is not a factor, would you prefer digital single issues or digital trades? 🙂 Thanks!

      • Not everything is has been collected in digital trade so single issues are the most convenient in that sense.

  • I am terrible with keeping up with single issues. I can’t keep up with television either, and just end up binging when everything is released. I usually try to find trades or omnibus formats, except for the smaller comics that don’t have that option (ex: Goon).

  • In the beginning I only bought trades. I didn’t buy single issues at all. Now though I’m the opposite. I only by the trades of books I love. There is definitely something magical about the wait, the anticipation waiting for the next part of the story. Even with Mark Millar’s & Frank Quitely’s Jupiter’s legacy which had a horrendous wait time on its last issue due to delays was worth waiting for. I love the feel of having an actual comic in my hands. Even the smell and feel of the paper are special to me.

  • Might be worth mentioning that buying issues allows you to buy in increments rather than all at once. What this means is that in the long run, dollar-for-dollar, trade-waiting gets you more comics for your money, but by buying individual issues it will feel cheaper and allow for greater diversity of titles; an issue of this and an issue of that, monthly, rather than one solid $20-30 chunk.

  • If i wanted a large graphic book, i’d buy a novel. If i wanted to read all my comics digitally, I’d watch a tv show. to me personally i love the idea of single issues and having to wait or scavenge or the next issue. That’s the fun of it really. i also love the amazing cover art with acts as a gravitational pull to read it. This is just my opinion, per contra i would also like to hear someone else’s on why larger graphic novels are better.

  • I’ve always been a single issue person myself. The only time I buy trades is to catch up on series i’m 30+ issues behind in, like the New 52 Superboy and Aquaman comics I recently started. I don’t like the wait that comes with buying trades exclusively, and I don’t like being months behind a story line. Trade waiting always makes me feel like I’m behind. Especially when new series are started and I have a particular interest in them, buying individual issues is is faster and simpler.

  • I agree with what you have written. I myself consider waiting for trade because it is cheaper and I can read the entire story in one reading. The only drawback really is the waiting. I only buy softcover issues and those takes longer compared to the hardcover. And I am not sure if this is an issue, but I think in my case, for someone who do not live in America, the wait can probably be longer. I have no problem with the single issues because they arrive in the comic book stores in time.

  • When DC announced the whole New 52 thing I decided that it would be a great time to jump on board with a whole range of comics that I had never bought before. Right away I subscribed to get Batman and Nightwing in the mail and have since picked up Detective Comics, Flash, Action Comics, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Batgirl as hardcovers and Supergirl as a trade (no hardcover option). I really do like getting larger chunks of stories together in a trade, especially as I just picked up H’el on earth which collected Superman, Superboy and Supergirl all into one book for the complete story!

    The only real drawback for me is the wait! Sometimes it seems like ages before the next volume is released!

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