Robot 6

Image changes course on second printings: ‘We listen to you’

Following a brusque announcement earlier this week that Image Comic would no longer offer second printings of “known over-performers,” Publisher Eric Stephenson has issued an open letter to retailers admitting to “a rash decision made somewhat in haste and a little bit out of frustration.”

The initial statement, written by Image’s PR and marketing coordinator Jennifer de Guzman, expressed exasperation with store owners under-ordering Saga #7, which marked the return from hiatus of the hit series by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, and stated in no certain terms that neither that issue nor Issue 8 would be reprinted. “We have decided to cease second printings of single issues of titles that are known over-performers in hopes that it will help initial sales find their proper level,” de Guzman wrote. “That’s marketing-speak for ‘You know this sells, so you’d better make sure you order enough!’”

The tone of the newsletter, and the potential impact of the policy, raised eyebrows among store owners and readers alike, and sparked interesting, and spirited online discussion. But just two days later, Image has changed course. “Believe it or not, we listen to you,” Stephenson wrote. The company now will reprint Saga #7, and offer it at “a massive discount” to retailers.

“When we sell out – and more importantly, when you sell out – we know we’re all losing both time and money,” he wrote. “It typically takes three weeks to a month to get a second printing to market, and that’s three weeks to a month we all could have been selling more books. That’s frustrating. It’s doubly frustrating when a book like Saga, a bonafide hit by the creator of Y: The Last Man, Runaways and Pride of Baghdad, Brian K. Vaughan, and his insanely talented collaborator Fiona Staples, continues to sell out even as it gets deeper into its run. [...] And like the previous six issues, Saga #7 sold out, and given that orders hadn’t skyrocketed upwards from issue six at FOC, we decided that it was probably time to bring the second printings to a halt. Using the information we had at our disposal – your orders – we figured the generous overprint we did for this issue would satisfy demand.

“It was a rash decision made somewhat in haste and a little bit out of frustration, and I think it was that sense of frustration that bled into the retail newsletter our PR & Marketing Director Jennifer de Guzman sent out earlier this week,” Stephenson continued. “For those of you who found the tone of that newsletter condescending or abrasive – you have my apologies. In communicating my frustrations to Jen, that inadvertently got passed down to you, and that shouldn’t have been the case. We also should have given you more of a heads up on how we were handling this, so that you weren’t completely blindsided by a sudden change in policy and again, that’s on me.”

Saga #8 arrives next week.

Believe it or not, we listen to you.

Just as you use the information provided to you by your customers to place orders for our comics, we use the information we get from you to set our print runs. Like you, we modify the numbers a little bit. We always assume there will be reorders and we make sure to overprint. Most of the time, our final number provides us with just enough inventory to satisfy demand, but more and more frequently, we’ve been selling out.

When we sell out – and more importantly, when you sell out – we know we’re all losing both time and money. It typically takes three weeks to a month to get a second printing to market, and that’s three weeks to a month we all could have been selling more books. That’s frustrating.

It’s doubly frustrating when a book like Saga, a bonafide hit by the creator of Y: The Last Man, Runaways and Pride of Baghdad, Brian K. Vaughan, and his insanely talented collaborator Fiona Staples, continues to sell out even as it gets deeper into its run. We did five printings of issue one, three printings of issue two, and there were second printings of issues three to six. We are, as I type this, preparing to go back to press on the first trade paperback collection.

And like the previous six issues, Saga #7 sold out, and given that orders hadn’t skyrocketed upwards from issue six at FOC, we decided that it was probably time to bring the second printings to a halt. Using the information we had at our disposal – your orders – we figured the generous overprint we did for this issue would satisfy demand.

By “we,” incidentally, I mean “me.”

It was a rash decision made somewhat in haste and a little bit out of frustration, and I think it was that sense of frustration that bled into the retail newsletter our PR & Marketing Director Jennifer de Guzman sent out earlier this week. For those of you who found the tone of that newsletter condescending or abrasive – you have my apologies. In communicating my frustrations to Jen, that inadvertently got passed down to you, and that should’t have been the case. We also should have given you more of a heads up on how we were handling this, so that you weren’t completely blindsided by a sudden change in policy and again, that’s on me.

We can’t go back in time and fix the past, though, so instead, we’re going to move forward.

Like I said up top: We listen to you.

So we’re going to reprint Saga #7, and we’re going to offer that reprint to you at a massive discount.

For the second printing of Saga #7, every account ordering 25 copies or more by its FOC date, will get them at an 80% discount, making your cost per copy right around 60¢. And for anyone ordering fewer than 25, we will be extending Image’s maximum discount to you, regardless of your usual discount.

The order code for the second printing of Saga #7 is NOV128073. FOC will be 12/24, and the in-store date will be 1/16.

We did a pretty hefty overprint on Saga #8, too, but looking at current reorder activity, I’m guessing we won’t hold onto that stock very long. More news on that as it develops, but if we have to reprint that issue, too, we will.

In the mean time, though, we simply cannot reprint every single issue of this series on an indefinite basis, so with the FOC for Saga #9 in the not-too-distant future, I’m going to ask you to help us out and make sure to double-check your orders on that issue when the time comes. I have an advantage here in that I get to see this stuff before you, but I promise you – this series is only going to get better from here. Brian and Fiona have some amazing things planned, and you are not going to be disappointed if you continue to support this series.

Thanks, and again – my apologies for the way my frustration on this issue was communicated. We won’t leave you out of the loop on decisions like this in the future, and in fact – make sure to check out next weekly newsletter for full details on our reprint policy going forward.

-e.s.

Eric Stephenson
Publisher, Image Comics, Inc.

SAGA #7 Second Printing
Diamond Code: NOV128073
Final Order Cut-off: December 24, 2012
In stores: January 16, 2013

SAGA #8
Diamond Code: OCT120541
In stores: December 10, 2012

SAGA #9
Diamond Code: NOV120578
Final Order Cut-Off: December 24, 2012
In stores: January 16, 2013

SAGA #1 – Image Firsts Edition
Diamond Code: OCT128195

SAGA Volume One
(Collects #1 – 6)
Diamond Code: AUG120491
ISBN: 978-1-60706-601-9

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Comments

2 Comments

heh….funny how Stephenson stepped up to write t his and not De Guzman.

I give credit to Eric Stephenson for recognizing the tone of the message. You want people to buy your comics and stores to put them on shelves, not alienate them.

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