Robot 6

Retailer James Sime on Marvel, Diamond’s handling of Cap #600

Last week Comic Book Resources reported that Captain America #600 will be available for retailers to sell on Monday, June 15 — a shift from the traditional new comics day of Wednesday. The announcement was made on the Diamond Comics Retailer Services Web site.

“The move to a Monday on-sale date leads one to speculate that a major announcement regarding future storylines is coming on June 15th,” wrote Executive Producer Jonah Weiland.

James Sime, owner of Isotope Comics in San Francisco, dropped me an email with his thoughts about when and how it was announced:

Captain America #600

Captain America #600

Monday, June 15th pre-release of Captain America #600.

It’s an unprecedented move by Marvel and Diamond, and a terrific opportunity for comic retailers to take advantage of real-world mainstream press and attention! My shop isn’t even typically open on Mondays, but my staff and I were all really excited to hear about the news of the promotion and to open up for that special day. Even if Marvel doesn’t manage to get the mainstream media attention they’re hoping for, two “new comics days” in one week is still a pretty exciting way to promote what will no doubt be one of Marvel’s best books of the entire year. I couldn’t be more thrilled to participate!

Except one thing. They announced this Monday pre-release the day of Final Order Cut Off on Captain America #600, which was a shipment day when every good retailer is busy selling comics, not screwing around on Diamond’s website.

They haven’t even printed the book yet but it’s already “sold out,” making it impossible for retailers to up their orders to take advantage of this new news.

Without making the product available, what is the point of even writing a press release or doing a special pre-release at all? Are Marvel and Diamond just trying to remind themselves and to prove once again to the world at large that the comic industry is full of creative people with great, exciting ideas … but not even one single businessman who has enough braincells to pass third-grade remedial math?

Marvel and Diamond should be embarrassed of the bumbling, feeble-minded dimwits in charge of their respective marketing departments for wasting a golden opportunity to sell more comics and for their moronic handling of this promotion. I certainly am.

To completely botch this momentous occasion in one of this country’s most important patriotic superheroic icons isn’t just the height of stupidity for the entire comic industry … it’s downright un-American.

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Comments

82 Comments

Let’s view this not from a comic shop retailer’s perspective, but rather from a marketing/media perspective. Guess what, thay got all kinds of free press from theabove, and they will get all kinds of free press from the inevitable “1st printing sold out in new record time!” Thereby guaranteeing a 2nd printing, a 3rd printing and so on. Now I am not a retailer, but doesn’t a 2nd or 3rd printing book cost everybody (printer, retailer, consumer) the same amount of money to produce/stock/buy? Guess who it doesn’t cost extra money? Marvel. They dont have to repay the writer or artist. They are just printing more money…and getting more free press….which drives up demand. And thus the cycle continues. So I would argue, rather than a bone-headed move, it is a calculating (albeit manipulative) move to affect the public’s buying habits. James, they don’t care that you can’t order more 1st printing copies, because that guarantes you’ll order 2nd printing copies – artifically inflating the price of 1st printing. You are a means to their end. A vessel really. Supply and demand my friend.

OK, I understand the frustration, but that last paragraph was a bit much.

A good part of it sounds somewhat sour grapes-ish, as he explains that he missed it because he was doing other things. If I told someone that I missed getting concert tickets due to the fact that I was working or overslept, the most I should expect is a “Dude, that sucks…”

Does it suck that a lot of people won’t get the first printing? Sure, but there’ll be a second. I find it more interesting that a retailer is surprised by how this came about. I mean, really? “There’s nothing new under the sun”, and these are the same business practices the industry’s been using for a decade.

“If I told someone that I missed getting concert tickets due to the fact that I was working or overslept, the most I should expect is a “Dude, that sucks…””

That’s not really a fair comparison. Concert tickets and their availability are advertised in advance of the for sale date. Also, there may not be, but there should be a different relationship between retailers, distributors and publishers, who should all be working together, than Ticketmaster and people who buy concert tickets.

“…these are the same business practices the industry’s been using for a decade.”

People used to put asbestos in office buildings as a matter of practice, yet they don’t anymore. Things that need to change can be changed. And if James Sime followed the same business practices as everyone else, his store wouldn’t be such a kick ass place to buy comics.

I like James Sime’s little beard.

“Concert tickets and their availability are advertised in advance of the for sale date”

So are comics. I’m just saying, business practices aside, this is an industry based on speculation. That ranges from speculating whether the writing on Batman will get any better to whether the 22 pages you just bought for $2.99 are going to be worth $200 one day. It’s all a risk. Everyone knows that value placed on the “round-number issue”. It’s a #600 – that’s gonna bring in speculators. Order more when its first in Previews.

Retailers say they hate getting the calls about “Do you guys have (insert hot comic that just got media attention)?” Sure, it’s a nice little spike, but they’ll never see those people again. So, in the long run, the retailer isn’t exactly alienating his customer base, as long as he fills subs first. Let the johnny come latelys deal with the inevitable second printing and be done.

My point is this: a retailer knows what he can and can’t sell. His initial orders for this very issue are based on those estimates. Now, there’s media attention, which means he may miss out on a few marginal sales, but I don’t see how it’s this “circle the wagons” state of emergency.

Marvel has proven that they are *fantastic* at getting news out to mainstream press and getting people excited to hunt down the local comic shop to buy the books. That’s great! They and Diamond are making a truly unprecedented move by pre-releasing the book on a Monday (which no doubt creates a lot more work for people at distribution level). I applaud them for it!

If, say, Marvel’s big news is that Barack Obama is the new Captain America and Oprah is the new Bucky and those two will be co-writing the book with Brubaker for the next year? Well, awesome, I want to put a copy in every single customer’s hand I can!

All I want to do is sell some comics, make my customers happy, and hopefully turn some new people onto the wonderful world of Marvel comic books. It’s clear this might be a great opportunity to do just that. The book isn’t printed yet, why not let us adjust orders instead of having to turn hundreds of customers away like we had to with the Obama Spider-Man variant? I want to participate in a huge Monday pre-release. I’m willing to bet other retailers want to do the same.

Our checkbooks are open right now, Diamond and Marvel. Let’s make our customers happy.

I totally agree with James. I am a comic book fan and I will be veeeery disappointed if I will not be able to buy a copy of this comic book on its release date. I will not be able to participate with the hype and this is what usually makes the comic buying experience great: to be able to share your emotions with other readers!

Mysterious Stranger

June 1, 2009 at 3:36 pm

My local shop isn’t getting any for this Monday pre-release crap. As a faithful Wednesday shopper I don’t have the time or inclination to stop by on Monday to buy one book then come back on Wednesday for the rest of my pulls. This is just a publicity stunt by Marvel that will get them some free press just like the Obama Spider-man issues and every other story they’ve pushed in the mainstream press. It will be hot for a few days then it will become less than a footnote in comics history. I’m not buying into the hype and this really screws the fans that can’t make it to their shops on Monday just to get this one book.

And wasn’t the reason Diamond increased their order requirements for titles because it wasn’t profitable to handle them (i.e. pull, pack and ship them to retailers)? So how do they justify this release? Isn’t it going to cost more to have their warehouses pull, pack and ship this one book and that pull pack and ship a separate shipment of everything else going out that week? Where is the cost savings there?

To me this is a stupid marketing ploy and I’m not going to buy into it. I’ll pick up this book on Wednesday with all the other books like normal. And I’ll have to avoid news sites for those two and a half days so I don’t get spoiled all because Marvel needs a little more press.

The handling of this was unfortunate and ill-advised. Marvel was great at getting the word out and drawing attention to the issue. Kudos to Marvel.

But doing so at the last possible second hamstrings comic-book retailers, makes them look incompetent and drives sales to eBay speculators and Internet retailers.

Let’s say I’m a retailer, and I normally order 20 copies of Captain America, 15 for pull lists and additional 5 for the rack. This is an anniversary issue, so I order 5 more. And since there’s a possibility of something really game-changing in the book, I order an additional 5, bringing my total to 30. So I have ordered 50% more than I usually do in anticipation of something big happening. It’s a gamble.

Then the news from Marvel hits, but I can’t order any more than I already have. And 15 customers put Captain America on their pull lists in anticipation of #600. So now every copy I have ordered is spoken for, and I have no ability to order more.

The day arrives, and I get, say, 10 people off the street looking for Captain America #600. I have to tell them, sorry, I didn’t order enough, and all the copies I do have are taken. It makes me look like an idiot to the outsider, and if I complain that Marvel didn’t give me enough advance notice to adjust my orders, it makes me look bitter as well.

I could tell them that I’ll have more copies in a week and a half, but they’ll be second printings, which immediately loses the interest of the speculator. For the casual fan who walks in off the street, the one who I could possibly develop a stronger relationship with, they’re almost certainly not going to want to wait a week and a half for the second printings. Instead, they’ll:

A) Go online to eBay, Mile High or some other internet retailer, and I lose the business.
B) Forget about it completely, and I lose the business.

Sure, the percentage increase for customers for this one issue over others may be minor, but even one return customer is a big deal nowadays.

I’ve said this elsewhere, but I wish Diamond would stop making their monthly catalog available to consumers. It prevents publisher from being able to accurately inform retailers about upcoming storylines without spoiling the storylines themselves to the consumer.

comicsatemybrain

June 1, 2009 at 4:29 pm

“I’ve said this elsewhere, but I wish Diamond would stop making their monthly catalog available to consumers. It prevents publisher from being able to accurately inform retailers about upcoming storylines without spoiling the storylines themselves to the consumer.”

Suppose Diamond actually did that. Do you honestly believe that there won’t be at least one comic store employee somewhere who wouldn’t just go ahead and post online somewhere all of the plot info that Diamond relayed to retailers?

I agree that this whole thing does a great disservice to retailers. I’m sure plenty of other shops, Mr. Wesley’s, have ordered as many copies as they can possibly get and if people hear about the buzz and come to the shop on Monday (which is great), they shop will be sold out before the Wednesday regulars come in – and as James said above, some shops aren’t even usually open on Mondays.

As a fan, I resent the effort from Marvel to undercut the retailers. As someone inside the industry (and a marketing professional), I can definitively say that publishers and distributors need to figure out a better way to work in partnership with the retailers. I am always disappointed (and rarely surprised) at how little the publishers reach out directly to retail. Think of how fantastic this promotion could have been if everyone had been in the loop from the start.

Wallabee Champ

June 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm

If I were a betting man, I’d say comic chops don’t sell 5% more than they normally would on that Monday. Come Wednesday, that book will be plentiful and everywhere.

Rachel Wagner

June 1, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Marvel endorsed and continues to support “President” Obama. And they are the guys who killed Steve Rogers in the first place. Of COURSE they’re unAmerican!

As “giddy girlie” noted is not unusual, neither of my local comic shops is even open on Mondays. So I doubt I’ll be getting this on the release day either way. At least the book is on my pull list so I can pick it up later in the week.

@comicsatemybrain:

“Suppose Diamond actually did that. Do you honestly believe that there won’t be at least one comic store employee somewhere who wouldn’t just go ahead and post online somewhere all of the plot info that Diamond relayed to retailers?”

They wouldn’t if they had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. :D

Look, of course somebody somewhere would leak some information out about some stories. There may even be community sites like Scans_Daily committed to spoiling sales solicitations. But there’s a difference between knowing where to find the information and being unable to avoid it.

It’s like comparing the leaked version of Wolverine and the commercials and trailers for it. I haven’t seen the movie, but I know where I could go online to see that leaked version. On the other hand, if I wanted to avoid a commercial, I basically had to turn off my TV for a month before the movie came out.

@Wallabee Champ:

“If I were a betting man, I’d say comic chops don’t sell 5% more than they normally would on that Monday. Come Wednesday, that book will be plentiful and everywhere.”

What are you basing that on? Something like this is fairly unprecedented. It’s like saying you’d bet that the LCSs wouldn’t sell more than 5% above normal on FCBD.

If Marvel really wanted to support the retailers and let them benefit from the media attention, they would allow them to order more and release the news on the Wednesday the comic is already supposed to be in the stores. That way comic shops not open on Mondays (which I think are a good number of them) would really be able to benefit. I mean, a store in a major market I’m sure is open, but where I live, they aren’t. I don’t think Marvel is all that concerned about the retailers, but I don’t think they are trying to guarantee multiple prints either. Unless the news is something like Barack donning the costume, I just don’t see people who aren’t already interested in comics waiting around for the 2nd or 3rd printings. By the time those come out, the casual interest of those people has already faded.

GREAT!

Put out a key book on a day when many smaller comics shops aren’t even open. Then again, Marvel doesn’t care about the retailers.

Marvel strikes again.

If the book was already sold out, AND 2nd printings wouldn’t be available by [Monday] the 15th, then WHY ON EARTH would Marvel advertise to the public that there’s a special pre-release for this? You’re basically putting the retailer in a very awkward position by telling the public, “Hey! We’ve got a special comic we’re releasing today – two days earlier than normal – and you can only get it at your local comic shop. It won’t be available today of course, because we sold out a few days ago. But you go right ahead and stop down anyway, perhaps for some back issue. Don’t blame us – we’re Marvel.”

Marvel is releasing the book on that Monday because they couldn’t release it that Sunday, Flag Day.

Any store that doesn’t have it on Monday risks making the customer mad…NOT a good idea. Comic book customers are emotional, illogical creatures. Some will find a new comics shop at the drop of a hat. My LCS lost a good customer last week because of road construction. The guy could no longer get from work and back during his lunch period, so he switched to a different comics shop.

I have to wonder if the announcement about retailers being allowed to release CA #600 on Monday was a preemptive strike to prevent outrage from smaller retailers because certain large retailers were already getting their shipment of CA #600 earlier and were going to sell the book on Monday anyway.

I think this is a great idea… of course, my comic store can only afford to stay open Wednesday through Saturday. She’d have to come in on her day off to open the store.

You know you’re dealing with a feeble inbred industry when shop owners bitch to their own customers in public.

Marvel / Diamond maybe should have allowed more time to increase orders, however I question the wisdom of any retailer that didn’t order Cap 600 heavy in the first place. You know Steve Rogers was killed two years ago… you know this is going to be a significant issue…. even if it is not the return of Steve…. it doesn’t take a publishing genius to figure something big is going to happen.

Also, the Sold Out means sold out at diamond… not the retailer level. if you show up on monday you should get a copy no problem.

it bothers me that everyone just assumes that it was Marvel that screwed up without thinking about it first.

The Voice of Reason

June 1, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Also, who gives a rat’s ass? It’s Captain America for God’s sake….little wings on the head…lame-o shield…

I agree with James. If you’re going to do something, do it right. Get the product to the stores that want to participate and stop *@&#ing around when it comes to getting a product to someone in a timely manner. Planning is 9/10ths of being prepared. Or 10/10ths, I dunno. Just seems like a backwards way to do things.

And I like his little beard!

@Mark Scott:

But that’s just the point. It’s sold out at the distributor level, meaning retailers can’t increase their orders for the increased demand due to the media influence. Meaning the issues won’t be there for everybody who wants one. That puts retailers (those that will be open that Monday) in an awkward position. If they give the copies they have to people who have pull lists and regular customers, they lose the possibility of new business. If (and I’ve seen stores do this) reserve the right to sell to the walk-in customers, they will DEFINITELY lose some of their regular customers.

As for not ordering enough to begin with, there’s a big difference between increasing an order to adjust for an anniversary or a potential plot twist (which I’m sure most retailers were taking into account), and having the issue hyped on Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Entertainment Weekly and E!.

October Country

June 1, 2009 at 7:19 pm

We will be getting our copies of Cap 600 on Wed as usual. Not a single one of my customers has asked about the Monday release, and as most are creatures of habit, they will be there for it on Wed. I see this a much ado about nothing. If anyone comes in on Mon for it, I will be glad to hold them a copy for Wed, as long as I have extra copies. I have 35 pull customers normally, with 20 rack copies. I have 41 pull customers for this issue, and I’m racking 34.

I think comic retailers should stop bitching. They don’t do anything to increase comic sales except complain. It’s mostly dimwits in California like the Isotope guys and Hibbs.

Shut your mouths and stop complaining. You are at fault for poor comic sales and the increase in mail order shipping.

What could Marvel possibly say to the mainstream press about this comic that would get anyone to come into the store?

a) There’s a new female Bucky!! – Mainstream press responds: “Who the hell is Bucky?”
b) We’re bringing Steve back!! – Mainstream press responds: “Umm, you just killed him a couple of years ago…”
c) ?

“You know you’re dealing with a feeble inbred industry when shop owners bitch to their own customers in public.”

Yeah, well, too bad for you, ain’t it? Just so happens the retailers are right on this one, which probably sticks in your craw.

No they aren’t. Marvel is going to increase the traffic in their stores. They should take advantage of that and sell stuff.

Instead, they will just bitch and whine and alienate more people.

[i]I think comic retailers should stop bitching. They don’t do anything to increase comic sales except complain. It’s mostly dimwits in California like the Isotope guys and Hibbs.

Shut your mouths and stop complaining. You are at fault for poor comic sales and the increase in mail order shipping.[/i]

i think comic book readers should complain and bitch more often.

i’ve been working in the retail side of comics for over a decade now and i gotta say mark, you’re a buffoon. marvel’s business practices are dodgy, their product (except for the odd gleam here and there) is downright awful and panders to the lowest common denominator. retailers are getting little to no warning on things like this rubbish stunt. it’s the same with last-minute variant covers, changed titles, crossovers, additional ‘essential’ tie-ins, and so much more. customers see very little of what goes on behind the scenes.

the absolute horror of the obama spider-man comics was idiotic enough. people are correct when assuming we had next to no repeat sales from customers who walked into our store and bought that asinine comic. it’s rubbish like this that keeps the comic book industry trudging along and allows it to sink deeper and deeper into mediocrity.

it’s the reader that’s getting shafted in the end. marvel are laughing all the way to the bank from your ignorance and the fact that retailers hands are tied.

As someone who also works in a comic shop, I have to say that Zod is absolutely right. I agree with everything he said.

Zod: Getting repeat sales is your job. You have to find a way to bring people back. The Obama comic brought many new people into comic shops. What did you do to entice them back?

I don’t mean to single you out. Maybe you did something. But many of your colleagues don’t do anything but bitch.

Sara – I could kiss you. Really.

Mark – I’d like to buy you a beer.

Let’s chalk it up to poor planning. Marvel’s done it in the past, as the entertainment wing doesn’t have a clue as to what the comic side is doing. The first X-Men movie comes out, and the comic is a Claremont-written mess. Wolverine comes out, and they’ve got to shift the shipping order just to offer new fans a decent jumping-on point, and that issue was *still* late. None of this stuff is new. Deal with it. It’s like the whole “Death of the Direct Market” discussion – you can bitch and moan all you want, but at the end of the day, it’s just bitching and moaning.

James – I’m not against you. I hear what you’re saying. I just don’t know what you want done about it. Forget the FOC – the book probably is printed, with the second printing ready to roll. Based on Diamond’s shipping schedule, the book has to be printed by now in order to ensure that it reaches the various distribution centers and stores in time for the 6/15 release.

Does Marvel pull a lot of shady stuff when mass media gets involved? Sure. Yet and still, nobody’s done anything about it. Sure, we can go back to Hibbs winning his case, but that argument is getting to be as tired as everyone using Bone as an example of what every small press comic could become. This is the kind of thing that, one would assume, ComicsPRO would be all over, but they don’t really make much noise when this stuff happens…

Mark said:

“No they aren’t. Marvel is going to increase the traffic in their stores. They should take advantage of that and sell stuff.”

Really? Brilliant concept, Gomer.

mark, we do everything we can to entice the general non-comic book reader back to us. i was focusing on the obama comic as a prime example of the height of speculation and the fleeting attention our industry gets from joe q. public.

i don’t like to whine about crap like this, but this isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with marvel’s bad management and sheer ignorance of what this industry needs to thrive and survive.

my own point of view is that marvel are constantly looking at the short-term gain and ignoring the long-term effects of their rubbish tactics. will it take another chapter 11 to shake things up for them?

I’ve got no reason to go into a comics shop on Monday, June 15. The only people who WILL go into a comic book shop on Monday, June 15 to buy a comic will be speculators, looking exclusively for this comic. Not people interested in reading the comic – they’ve already got it on their pull folder list.

As a retailer, you could walk-up and talk with them about some comic you want them to buy, or even hand them an issue of Marvel Adventures Avengers and tell ‘em it’s free, and they’d feign interest, and put the extra comic down somewhere while waiting to pay for their issue of Captain America #600. Likely, they’d walk into your shop, expecting a copy to be readily available, and when finding none there (due to the irregular ordering deadline), leave empty-handed and heading to your competitor.

Comics promotions do not bring new readers into the store. Readers bring new readers into the store. Comics promotions bring speculators into the store, and unless the publishers want to run some super-hyped promotion every week, and thereby kill the direct market service (and probably comics as a whole), publishers are better served by pandering to their readers and not to the general public.

Alan Coil: Thanks for the insight.

Mr Wesley:

“If they give the copies they have to people who have pull lists and regular customers, they lose the possibility of new business. If (and I’ve seen stores do this) reserve the right to sell to the walk-in customers, they will DEFINITELY lose some of their regular customers”.

You’ve seriously seen stores tell their regular pull customers that they had to wait while their pulls were sold to walk-ins?!?!?

I cannot imagine how a store might try to justify that. It’s one thing if Diamond does their usual “shortage” crap, I can well understand that that’s not the retailer’s fault in any way. But if a guy has had Cap on his pull for years then they’re going to try to say that they didn’t know to order it for him? Or is it that they just didn’t give a *beep* about his patronage?

Any store like that doesn’t deserve to be in business.

@Customer:

“The only people who WILL go into a comic book shop on Monday, June 15 to buy a comic will be speculators, looking exclusively for this comic. Not people interested in reading the comic – they’ve already got it on their pull folder list”.

In the same way that a true movie fan won’t go to Dark Knight or Iron Man in the first week because the theater will be crowded and he or she runs the risk of having rude people make noise during the broadcast which would detract from the experience?

Or a smart fan would wait a year or two to buy those movies on DVD until they are on a good sale?

I guess that it’s just impossible that anyone who reads Cap might actually be excited enough to want to read it asap.

@ A O

“I guess that it’s just impossible that anyone who reads Cap might actually be excited enough to want to read it asap.”

Impossible? Anything’s possible.

Implausible, though? Consider the idea that Cap fans would, almost every case, already have pull lists for their favorite comic, at their preferred retailer. Excited? Great. They go to the store on Monday, get the Cap, plus as many of the comics in their pull folder as they can afford at the time.

And DVDs/cinema is an awful example – the long-term pricing of movies isn’t driven in an aftermarket by speculation and expectation of an increase in value, unless Disney is involved.

@ Customer,

I’m glad that you can see that at least a few readers/fans will be there on Monday. You may be right that the vast majority are there for speculating purposes, but I really don’t want to believe that it will be as widespread as you fear. We will see.

I would definitely agree that my examples are very poor in terms of speculation, but I was using them to try to illustrate the fact that when people are genuinely excited about something (as I hope they will be with this issue) then they are eager to see it or buy it immediately. I’m hopeful that it will be a very good story and for some people the hoopla is a big attraction too. Seeing it on the day that it comes out, talking about it with your friends or online, not having to worry about spoilers, etc. That can definitely add to some people’s experience. Maybe there won’t be too many people willing to make the effort to go to the shop Monday and then again on Wednesday, but I think that there will be at least some fans (and not speculators) who will.

@Mark Kardwell: James’s cool facial hair is often overlooked amid all the hubbub about his awesomely unique signature crazy hairdo. My favorite was that one time he went to the Gwar show and it got dyed pink! http://www.flickr.com/photos/isotope/3048592187/

@James: I actually have that Monday off so I will have to swing by for the special Monday opening! I know you recently told me Ed Brubaker’s Captain America is your favorite Marvel book right now so maybe this will be a good opportunity for me to finally check it out.

Hi,
Has anyone thought that this may be some kind of marketing test? to see how well a book ships and sells on Monday? does anyone remember when all comics used to ship on friday or was it thursday about 20 yrs ago.
Maybe, in the very near future all our books will be on sale on Monday instead of Wed. Food 4 though, right? what do ya all think?

I have to agree with James.
I also understand how people think that comic retailers are a pack of whingers.
But as a retailer that does a heap of stuff to promote our store to new customers (including ongoing television advertising, media events, free items, staff recommendations etc.) I can tell you that events like this can do just as much harm as good to your local comic shop.

The death of Captain America – a total mess, spent all day taking calls from customers we couldn’t help with a first printing, offered them to reserve a second printing, and then they weren’t interested when the second printing arrived weeks later (and probably told their friends that we were useless)

Obama Spider-Man – totally missed the opportunity to order the Obama cover due to the late notice email right in the middle of Christmas shopping season. Then went through the same drill of totally selling out and offering to reserve the next printing and then finding they aren’t interested in the later printing (even a week later, a second printing is often too little too late for casual customers)

Now this.
When we get some big media attention for an event or there is a big movie coming (like in the case of Watchmen) we make sure we have the right product in stock to meet the needs of casual customers. With an announcement of huge media coverage of an issue only hours before orders close leaves us with very little chance to make sure we have that item in stock in appropriate quantities.

Further, there is little detail for us to judge how big this will be. If this is on par with “Spider-Man reveals his identity” we won’t be in trouble, no one is gonna care. But if this is something huge like “Obama becomes Captain America” we’re gonna spend all day smiling politely and offering to reserve second printings to customers that won’t want to buy them.

Anyway, I don’t think we’ll be doing the Monday thing anyway since we’re in Australia and only get one shipment a week (which actually leaves LA on Monday so we can get it on the shelf for Friday!)

You lie down with dogs….

Comic retailers have allowed Diamond/Marvel/DC to control the comics industry for years now. They speak, the LCS’s jump. You want this stuff to change? Change the system. Don’t allow this three headed monster to control everything.

Until then, stop whining.

@Customer – A well reasoned argument. However, I believe that of you ask most comic retailers you’ll find that both comics promotions *and* readers bring new readers into the store. Once those people are in my front door (for whatever reason) it’s my job to convert them into regular comic readers. Fortunately that’s something I’m particularly good at. Put the books in my hand on Monday the 15th (that I’m more than happy to pay for) and I’ll prove it.

@Mark said: “No they aren’t. Marvel is going to increase the traffic in their stores. They should take advantage of that and sell stuff.”

(laugh) You and I couldn’t agree more on this! That’s why I think the publisher and distributor should take advantage of *me* and make more stuff available for me to sell. The books are non-returnable, there’s no risk to Marvel or Diamond whatsoever. And they can print to order and still get to write a “Cap 600 sells out” press release. We’re ready to “take advantage of that and to sell stuff.” Marvel, Diamond, the creators, the retailers, the customers, and the industry…everybody wins.

Again, my checkbook is open and I’m ready to do business to ensure I keep every single person who walks in the front door of the Isotope happy, Diamond and Marvel.

Tom Fitzpatrick

June 2, 2009 at 5:09 am

Don’t collect C.A.
So don’t care one way or the other.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Go figure.

Marvel, can you reduce 3,50 of this CA?

@A O:

I should have clarified. I have seen A store do this, and I believe they are now out of business.

A lot of these complaints seem like the retailers are looking a gift horse in the mouth. The way I see it is this. Had Marvel released Cap #600 on Wednesday as usual with no press behind it, retailers would have sold x amount of copies to their regular customers. Now, they have the opportunity to sell that same amount of copies on Monday, June 15th with the added benefit of extra joe-off-the-street customers in your store.

Could you have sold more copies of Cap #600 if Marvel had their act together? Sure. But you still have two weeks to clean up your store, organize a sale, and move the hot selling, easily accessible trades to the front. And you have two weeks to make a fancy sign that reads “New printing will be available on X date!!!” to put near your register when you sell out. You could also schedule a special sale that day as well, and publicize that in-store. Either way, you will end up selling a lot more repeat copies than you would have had Marvel not pulled a publicity stunt. You can’t complain too much about that.

And like Mark said above. Getting customers to come back is as much the job of the retailer as it is the comic companies to produce a product people want to buy. You can’t just depend on Marvel to give the consumer a reason to come back to the store, you have to do that as well.

Also, I have zero sympathy for the “we’re closed on Mondays” complaint. Sucks to lose a day off, but people do that every freaking day all over the world. The comics retail market can’t be a fun place to be right now with price increases and the bad economy. The whole system is probably going to have to change in order to survive. The retailers that will make it through these changes are the ones that make the most out of the cards they are dealt, not the ones that depend on Marvel or DC (who act in their own interests) to fix all of their problems for them.

Who cares I have a reserve file. Marvel is doing this only because of the rumors about the new Cap storyline. It got out about how it’s going to play out and the role Psycho Steve Rogers/ 50’s Cap is going to play. So Marvel wants to beat the rumor mill to the punch. Variant covers and second printings are only a result of the early release and forecasted sales reports based on market research and pre-orders.
But the early release was for the story leak.

I don’t get this – they’re putting the book out early because they’re announcing something at the same time? Why not announce it on Wednesday or Thursday?

And what’s up with US comic shops being closed on a normal weekday?

not surprised

June 2, 2009 at 7:35 am

“Un-american”?

Jeez, all the REAL issues in the world and you use this as an opportunity to use that overused cliche?

Get a life.

Between the Panels

June 2, 2009 at 8:12 am

I agree with all the reasonable responses here.

While Marvel would ideally want people to order more copies as a result of the announcement, if you actually read it, the main focus of the Cap #600 stuff was to let you know that, if you wanted to, you could elect to participate in this early release by calling your Diamond rep. The end.

It’s unfortunate copies sold out before some were able to order more, but that just means the marketing is doing its job. Early bird gets the worm. You snooze, you lose. Pick a cliche.

But there will be a second printing, so chill.

Thanks for this James.

I think the main problem I have with it as a retailer is that I got the email from Marvel at 3:36 PM on new comic release day and had to act by 6:00 PM to take advantage of the offer. That is a pretty narrow window. And those are my busiest 3 hours of the week. I doubt I even looked at my email in that time span. I had already done my order adjustments for the week on Wednesday because I knew I would be busy on Thursday. While I, and most other retailers, ordered more based on the Anniversary issue, I didn’t know about the press release info. I tried to double my order on Monday, but was told no by Diamond.

It is a great idea and could have made a lot of money for everyone. But it is a timing issue. I could sell a ton to people coming in because they saw it on the news. But they won’t be back 3 weeks later when the 2nd print comes out. If Marvel had made this announcement on Monday, or heck, even Wednesday, no one would be complaining. Its the last minute announcement leaving many stores unable to take advantage that is whats upsetting. And we once again will have to tell people we don’t have what they want.

I think that’s the whole point – make all the hype then sell out the issue. Poeple will come back for 2nd/3rd printings and want to know even more what all the fuss was about.

Let me guess, that means by Wednesday of that week, comic stores all over will have Captain America #600 available for $25 each at the cheapest. Another way to gouge their loyal customers.

I expect this to be a lot of hype over nothing.

This is a compilation book written and drawn by a collection of talent. It will be an ok book, but nothing any better than a regular issue.

If you’re a fan, you’ll like it and if you’re a speculator, it won’t matter because the content doesn’t matter, only the perception of value.

This is ALL about making this issue “appear” special.

This is issue #600, it doesn’t matter that the last issue was # 50.

This is the celebration of Capt. America’s 70th anniversary, it doesn’t matter that Marvel celebrated his 65th anniversary only 3 years ago.

This book is being released on a special day, it doesn’t matter that most shops are closed on Monday because it’s such a slow sales day.

It doesn’t matter that if you include the extra shipping charges to get this book on Monday
and the additional utility and payroll costs to open on a day you’re normally closed
and add the costs of promoting the fact that you’ll be open on this day with this book available,
you’d have to ring up some pretty good numbers just to break even.

So, who actually benefits?
Marvel – gets worried retailers to order extra product they probably won’t be able to sell and gets some free publicity.

BIG retailers – while there’s not that many, the few that are available will cash in on this “event”. This is a matter of numbers, if your shop can push 500 – 800 copies of this book on Monday, you come out ok.

Online retailers are the big winners – they don’t even have to actually get the books shipped early to take advantage of this. These are pure speculator sales. These guys get to clean up big time with a lot less cost or risk than the local comic shop.

Let’s all keep one thing in mind though . . . if this isn’t picked up by the national news services, NOBODY will be looking for this book except the regular readers. Roll the dice . . .

Precisely !! Gary m’boyo!! AS a lowly friend of industry insiders the entire early release thing was designed as a way to sell out the pre-orders and create a work order to print more copies and make 2nd and third runs of the issue It works the same way in lean manufacturing. Make what you need ( ONLY ) – not more than you have to because it’s expected to sell big. Then the demand will force a re-issue but in comics it works like this….1st print, 2nd print, 3rd printing the editorial staff exexutives and anylists were well aware or this months ago and had it all planned. So reserve your copy today. But…this was planned early because of the internet rumors and they wanted to jump on it before the lid was blown off and spoiled the plans of Caps big return…OR IS IT!!!!!

Martin: Monday is a good day for comic stores to be closed.
New comics come in on Wednesday, so they’re open then.
Thursday and Friday are following new comic day.
The weekend is the time people are off work or out of school,
Tuesday is often prep for Wednesday.

So Monday, which typically has the lowest sales, and isn’t as important in the cycle on the others, is an expendable day.

I said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until Marvel,Diamond,SOME retailers,and many fans actually “get it”, it’s the 90’s all over again (short term speculator thinking).

And these stunts RARELY (if ever) bring in new long lasting comic book reading customers. Use a bit of common sense and think about it for a minute. If these “mainstream media stunts” are actually good for business in the long term, then why are comic sales the lowest they have been in the entire history of the industry? MOST (NOT ALL) of the “new customers” who walk in (often times, call the store) looking to buy the latest “hot” comic that will make them rich ten years from now, have no interest in buying (let alone, reading) any other comics no matter how good those might be. Hell, MOST (NOT ALL) of the people who buy these mainstream media gimmick comics, won’t even read these gimmick comics that they buy and will most likely “board and bag them” before they leave the store.

“Robert Frost
June 1, 2009 at 7:33 pm

What could Marvel possibly say to the mainstream press about this comic that would get anyone to come into the store?

a) There’s a new female Bucky!! – Mainstream press responds: “Who the hell is Bucky?”
b) We’re bringing Steve back!! – Mainstream press responds: “Umm, you just killed him a couple of years ago…”
c) ?”

Agreed!!!
Issue #600 and REBORN isn’t enough. Certainly not a 1950s Cap series, a female Bucky, or many of the other rumors surrounding REBORN.

However, the Return of Isaiah Bradley as Captain America just might.
(Why else is the TRUTH trade being re-released now in hardcover?)
But that is still not enough to justify an early release.
So why not announce the lead in the Cap movie then?
Maybe Will Smith??

The replies here have ranged from insightful to downright moronic.
I pose this question.

In what industry would it be remotely acceptable for a retailer to hear the following:
” We have a gigantic push on this item and we’ll be storming mainstream media to drive people to you, BUT you can’t order any more of it. Good luck telling droves of people that show up at your door with cash in hand, that you cannot sell them the product.”

Can you imagine video stores all getting an e-mail that said:
“A huge secret James Cameron movie with A list actors will go direct to video and it’ll be all over the news. BUT YOU CAN’T ORDER ANYMORE!”

or how about record stores being told:
“CNN will be blowing up about the new top secret BEATLES record. We actually brought the dead Beatles back to life. BUT you have to order the 2nd pressings that will be available long after you’ve turned away a small army of potential customers.”

The reason why this does not happen is because those entertainment industry mediums are filled with goliaths and juggernauts like Best Buy, Blockbuster, and FYE.
The comics industry is populated almost entirely with small ‘Mom-n-Pop’ type business owners.

This is vastly unacceptable.
This isn’t whining.
This isn’t looking gift horses in the mouth.

This is a nation of comic book shop owners who have had enough of this treatment.
This does not fly in any other facet of the entertainment business, but your local comic shop owners are forced to deal with practices that are unfair and unintelligent.

Eventually we will have to band together and make reform in this industry.
This has to stop.

Rachel said: “Marvel endorsed and continues to support “President” Obama. And they are the guys who killed Steve Rogers in the first place. Of COURSE they’re unAmerican!”

Oh get your jingoistic kicks somewhere else… Cute use of quotation marks around “President” there. Shall we do the same thing for ex-“President” Dubya? After all, he wasn’t really elected the first time around. I know, I know, you’re going to tell that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., rIght? PROVE IT. You can’t, because it’s untrue and Obama was legally elected president, much to the dismay of you and every other redneck who fears people with a skin color other than white. Too bad, so sad.

Oh, and don’t hold Steve Rogers up as some right-wing icon either… Review the character’s history a little closer sometime.

Dave Blanchard

June 2, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Speaking purely content-wise, what could *possibly* occur in this comic book that would make it worthy of any publicity at all? They’ve already killed off Steve Rogers… what are they gonna do now, kill Bucky too? Bringing Steve Rogers back (the “he recovered from being dead” routine) would mostly be evidence that comic books are the most cynically-marketed property in existence. Steve Rogers turns out to have been reincarnated as Mephisto, and in fact it was Rogers and not the Green Goblin who got Gwen Stacy pregnant and guess what else, Steve Rogers was a Skrull all along, boy, bet you didn’t see that one coming, did ya, Marvelites?

There is nothing — NOTHING — they can do within the pages of CAPTAIN AMERICA # 600 that would be worth the kind of publicity that Marvel is hoping for, unless of course they’ve figured out a way to get Jack Kirby to draw it.

50’s Cap is Steve Rogers. He will “awaken” in 2009 and once again be a man out of time. He will slowly regain his memories of WW2 and his time with the Avengers. He will not stand for the current “Dark Reign.” I’m calling it here.

“To completely botch this momentous occasion in one of this country’s most important patriotic superheroic icons isn’t just the height of stupidity for the entire comic industry … it’s downright un-American.”

Uh well… Captain America is comic book property, privately owned and who’s purpose it sell products. NOT a actual object of our pride and love for our country nor a person who faced actual death so that the rest of us have the security and freedom to sit around and whine about fictional funny book characters.

Marvel can and will do whatever,whenever they want with this property to sell units.

If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. But let’s not belittle the sacrifices of actual Americans by comparing the ultra-silly death-life-death-life-death-blah-blah of a media property.

To completely botch this potential sales windfall involving one of this industry’s most iconic properties isn’t just the height of stupidity… it’s downright poor business planning.

“Rachel said: “Marvel endorsed and continues to support “President” Obama. And they are the guys who killed Steve Rogers in the first place. Of COURSE they’re unAmerican!”

I didn’t vote for Obama, but he won the MAJORITY of the vote. Therefore he’s PRESIDENT Obama. No quotes, asterisk or subtitles. He’s PRESIDENT period. Disagreeing with his policies, procedures, etc are absolutely fine. But to not acknowledge him as our President and respect the office he holds is unAmerican.

We’re a Democracy, and the Majority ruled. Accept it and contribute to the new era in our history.

“To completely botch this potential sales windfall involving one of this industry’s most iconic properties isn’t just the height of stupidity… it’s downright poor business planning.”

Michael, exactly! I think what the article is saying is that messing up an opportunity for everyone to make a lot of money is “downright un-American.” Perhaps un-Capitalist would have been a better choice of words. But I’m sure the comment was not intended to denigrate the contribution of American veterans.

lol…you know…at first I was a tad upset that DC didn’t do anything with Obama…but looking at all the Obama appearances out there and the fact that Marvel is going all out in stupidity and putting the Prez’s pooch into a guest start appearance I’m really glad that DC decided to not have Obama even become Prez in the DCU.

The problem, politically, for Marvel is, they won’t do a story about Marvel Super Heroes (or whatever they call them, now) fighting foreign ‘devils’. It’s the same problem with other media, ‘we can get screamed at but we can’t scream at the guy in that cave who planned 9/11. We’ll just have to wait until (hopefully) the Iraq War comes around and goes bad… then we’ll look like chumps.’ That’s that way it is. Civil War was an embarrasment to some of us fans. It was poorly done and they made it about political things and couldn’t just say ‘that prison in the Negative Zone is bad, therefore Tony Stark is now a bad guy’. It’s not like most of their prisoners were suspected of being part of enemy camps trying to blow up American land marks. That’s the problem with Civil War… along with the 50 other problems that series had.

It’s also makes this seem fruitless, theykilled cap at the end the of that horrible series. I just didn’t care after that.

“they won’t do a story about Marvel Super Heroes (or whatever they call them, now) fighting foreign ‘devils’. It’s the same problem with other media, ‘we can get screamed at but we can’t scream at the guy in that cave who planned 9/11.”

They won’t/can’t do those kinds of stories because it would be a 5 second task for Nick Fury (or any of 60 other characters) to do what they do best, locate ‘foreign bad guy’ and eviscerate him.

Having Cap go after Bin Ladin is a stupid as having Cap fighting a drug dealer or ‘Dr.Carcinogen, The Living Source of All Cancer!!!!’ It’s a real life situation that can’t be handled in 22 pages and by one man’s fists. Comics are escapism. Having a hair brained story along those lines doesn’t allow us to escape, it brings us crashing back down into reality. And when that happens capes and masks just don’t cut it anymore.

it’s downright un-American.

Oooh how awful.

RE : TREY – your post reflects my earlier posts and you’re not far off

Well… Marvel’s long-awaited “major press worthy” Cap news hits with all the yawn-inducing impact of a Yanni concert (although that art looks pretty sweet). And not even a mention of Cap 600 or the special Monday release. http://marvel.com/reborn This is what Marvel and Diamond were certain was going to generate all sorts of real world press? Talk about your missed opportunities! On the other hand… DC’s USAToday announcement this morning is pretty exciting! http://bit.ly/7UIOb

My store is closed on Mondays for the simple reason that it is successful enough that it can afford to be. Instead of selling a bunch of copies of Cap 600 and other comics (like I would have if Marvel/Diamond hadn’t botched this promotion), I’m going to simply enjoy my day off today with a few bloody marys + fresh oysters with the blonde instead.

Is that Mark guy serious?

“Shut your mouths and stop complaining. You are at fault for poor comic sales and the increase in mail order shipping.”

Man, the only reason I’m buying Cap #600 is because James Sime was talking about where the story might go and I got interested. That weird haired, suited nut job sold me on it. Shops like the Isotope are fun places to meet folks, talk and BUY comics. I’ve met ALL my friends (aside from my co-workers) since moving to California through the Isotope.

Now tell me, Mark – HOW IN THE FUCK can a place where awesome people hang out and BUY COMICS be “at fault for poor comic sales and the increase in mail order shipping.”? Shit, I spend most my money on comics now because of these people. It’s totally cut into my hooker/blow budget.

You obviously have poor social skills and are afraid to talk to anyone or you’d see that shops like the Isotope are bringing new people to comics everyday. Come out of your mom’s basement far a second and chat with the “geeks” at Isotope on a Wednesday afternoon. You’ll probably buy a book you don’t normally read and make a friend.

Or I’ll bite off your nose and eat it. Either way, it’ll be a good time for all! Except you. That nose eating trick can be pretty painful.

ahh..the internet. the greatest creation in history.

One other issue issue is that video games can be serious as the name indicated with the main focus on mastering rather than entertainment. Although, there is an entertainment part to keep your sons or daughters engaged, each and every game is often designed to focus on a specific set of skills or curriculum, such as math concepts or science. Thanks for your post.

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