Robot 6

Quote of the Day | It’s nicer to have books in stores

A couple retailers have made what I consider to be a fair comment: We should have known a new series by Brian K. Vaughan would do well and could have printed way more than we did. But using that exact same logic, here’s the thing: They also could have ordered more.

–Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson, on the difficulty of calculating print runs under the current distribution system. He also talks about why selling out, though great for publicity, isn’t a great business model and how it’s in everyone’s best interests–publisher, retailer, and reader–to have books on the shelves where people can get their hands on them.

“I don’t advocate retailers ordering with wild abandon anymore than I am in favor of blindly overprinting in large quantities,” he writes, “but the best way to avoid these constant sellouts and multiple printings, is by supporting titles that legitimately deserve it, by getting behind series and creators that are going to help grow a more sustainable direct market.”

Of course, many retailers point to customer pre-orders as an important tool in determining how many copies they’ll stock of a comic, so there’s a lot of finger-pointing in general. Everyone’s shy about taking the financial risk, from customers not wanting to commit to buying a comic they haven’t seen yet to publishers not sure how many to print, and retailers are caught in the middle.

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“He also talks about why selling out, though great for publicity, isn’t a great business model”
This is my main complaint with Humanoids. I had no knowledge of them until late 2010, but by that time it was too late to order Weapons of the Metabaron. And other people I have talked to online have mentioned similar stories about The Incal, Madwoman, etc. I would have paid the 100 or so dollars for their Deluxe Edition of The Incal, but instead they decide only to print 750 copies and I had to wait 6 months for their smaller hardcover. But apparently selling only 750 copies was good enough for them.

Add to the mix the subdivision of a given issue according to variant covers and you have yourself a grueling scavanger hunt.

I’ve been after Francesco Francavilla’s Flash Gordon covers from Dynamite for months. I’ve not seen one since the series debuted. My FLGS says that Dynamite only sends them a few and they’re gone almost immediately.

If I don’t get the cover I want I don’t buy. If more people like me don’t buy the series tanks and you’ve got a publisher believing no one wants that series and end up cancelling.

You want fewer sellouts? Make all comics returnable. Retailers will order more if they know 100% of the risk isn’t all on them.

I wonder if this is common…

My comics shop doesn’t know what to do with Image. They had Saga. They have Morning Glories. They get in one issue of Infinite Vacation, just for me. They didn’t have Peter Panzerfaust. They didn’t have Nonplayer. The have Fatale.

They of course carry every DC and Marvel, but also most IDW and every Dark Horse and a lot of Dynamite. It’s only Image that gets this odd, inconsistent treatment. Even though it’s fair to say that Image is the prestige company of the moment

So does anyone else ever see this at their LCS?

The incentive for returnability was enough for Green Brain Comics, we ordered heavily and still have plenty of #1 first print in stock. At cover price. And, no, we don’t do mail order. So hop on over and we’ll sell you one. Get ‘em before we do strip cover returns.

@Joe H

I’m with you. I’d heard of Humanoids, but don’t always think to check what they’re releasing. I would have happily paid full price for the Incal Deluxe collection, but also had to settle for the smaller hardcover. I would have bought the Before the Incal Deluxe too if I’d purchased Incal Deluxe, but I want a matched set. So… here I am waiting for the smaller hardcover again.

I’m pretty sure the depiction of breastfeeding is what scared retailers away. THE HORROR!!!!!

David Williams

March 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm

If they want retailers to carry more then don’t make the retailer carry all the risk. I realize that Image doesn’t want piles of Hack/Slash sitting around in a warehouse. Stephenson has to realize that these locally owned stores don’t have the funds to pick up a big inventory, have the books not sell, then have them sit around until there is a 90% clearance sale.

You know who never sells out? Comixology. Retailers have got to keep those buzz titles in stock, or those new readers will just get it online. I know more than a few people who bought Saga on Comixology because the nearest store didnt’t have it.

You know who never sells out? Comixology.

That probably deserves its own Quote of the Day post.

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