Anime Shopping on E-bay (and other online auctions)

Yes, you can get some cool, rare items for decent prices. And yes, it's a great way to stay on budget and still get things like pencil boards, posters, CDs, toys, and other great anime stuff, not to mention used anime tapes at discount prices. However, it's not a retailer, it's just other people selling things. You have to be careful, or you'll get burned. I speak from experince.

Bootlegs Are Everywhere - SonMay CDs, Ever Anime CDs, and the like turn up on E-bay all the time. These are Taiwanese bootlegs that run the risk of being defective. It would be hypocritical of me to tell you not to buy them at all, but do try to find the original Japanese CDs first. Also, don't pay more than $10 for one of these or you're being majorly ripped off. Check the auction for pictures and look for SM logos, Blue/Green Ever Anime logos, and short serial numbers. (Generally GA-000 type things). When in doubt, ask the seller if it's a Taiwanese CD or the Japanese version. They usually won't lie to you, although they may not make this clear in th auction. Don't forget that people can also bootleg cels, pencil boards, and even books, so be careful what you buy and look (and ask the seller) for copyright information.

Say NO to FANSUBS - I love fansubs, as long as rules are followed. You should never BUY fansubs. These are available FREE from decent people, so why PAY for them? These should not be allowed on auctions, even if there's a "buy price" that covers only shipping charges. Why not? There are good reasons, but in an effort to keep this short, let me briefly discuss the main arguements and warnings:
1. Fansubs solds on auctions will attract the attention of big companies.
- Right now, ADV, Pioneer, and other large anime companys accept that fansubs exist. As long as production/distribution of these tapes stops when the series is purchased commercially by an American company, these people don't have a huge problem with it. It's a concept of mutual respect--when they decide to sub/dub a title for the US, we should no longer need fansubbed material and should support the companies willing to do this for us. When they see people making PROFIT off of these tapes, they're not going to be happy. And you know, one person can ruin it for the whole class.
2. Often times, fansubs sold on e-bay are commercially available. - Fansubs of Mononoke-hime are popular, as well as Trigun, Sailormoon, and the like. These have been or will be released with the Japanese tracks and no one should be distributing these titles, let alone selling them. Sailormoon S & SuperS will be subtitled by Pioneer, just like the movies. Card Captor Sakura is being released uncut, although seperately from the dub version. If people don't support companies willing to release subtitles, they'll stop doing it.
3. VCDs may be BOOTLEG CD-R Fansubs - If they're encoded for Real Player, they're probably not legit. Several bootleg VCDs from Taiwan also exist, so be cautious.

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True... - Since I sell on E-bay, I know that it's not the easiest thing in the world to accurately describe the condition of an item (unless it's mint, like the manga I sold). Used merchandise often has its share of wear and tear. You don't want to say "even though it plays perfectly, the CD is scratched a little" but you should. The problem is, a lot of people don't. Case in point, I recently bought a Tori Amos CD for $5 that was described as "Mint Condition". Of course it had a few scratches, but it plays fine, so I'm not complaining. Just make sure you carefully read the descriptions provided. If it's too vague, e-mail the seller. There's nothing worse than spending money, only to find out that what you bought was in bad condition and not worth what you spent.

Comparison Shop - E-bay is not the cheapest place to buy things. Years ago, before it became really popular, there were tons of anime goods at real discount prices. (I got a Slayers Next tape, still factory sealed, for $3 plus shipping!) Nowadays, some of the stuff is at a good price while much of it is overpriced. If it's used, you should not be paying retail price. People often try to sell used DVDs like Slayers: The Motion Picture for $29.99, when discount stores sell it for $25 brand new. Shop smart, save money. If a retailer tried to sell you a popular artbook for $70, would you buy it? Of course not, because you could get it for $30 at another store. The trouble is that people on E-bay don't think that way and pay ridiculous amounts.