Robot 6

Pullist: a different kind of subscription service

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Subscriptions have long been a part of the comic book industry; paying your money in advance, and getting the titles by mail every month can be comforting. But a new service called Pullist is offering a very different type of subscription: one where you don’t know what you’re going to get.

Described as a “curated comic book service,” Pullist sends to subscribers a surprise graphic novel each month. For its first month, Pullist enlisted Glory writer Joe Keatinge to make the pick.

“Pullist is a service that introduces readers both new and old to graphic novels hand-picked by industry professionals,” Pullist’s Vincent Iadevia, who also runs the blog Kirby Covers, told ROBOT 6. “With so many comics in print, it can be intimidating as a newcomer to the medium. Our mission is to introduce people to great graphic novels through our simple service.”

Orders for Keatinge’s selection are due Sunday, and subscribers should begin receiving their books by the end of the month. A one-month subscription costs $16, but you can also buy in three-month chunks for $50. Pullist is keeping its subscription list fairly exclusive for now, offering just 250 slots each month.

The minds behind Pullist are Iadevia and podcaster Michael Nixon of Geek Crash Course, avid comic readers, who came up with Pullist after seeing the success of the beauty products site Birchbox.

After Keatinge’s ends, writers Benito Cereno and Joshua Hale Fialkov will follow with their own selections of graphic novels.

“We leave the decision entirely up to our curators, we just ask that the book is friendly to both newcomers and lifelong comic fans,” Iadevia said. “Once the purchasing period is over, we personally package up the books and ship them out at the end of each month.”

Although Pullist subscriptions currently are limited to shipping within the United States, the site is working toward accepting international orders.

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Comments

9 Comments

Huh, sounds interesting. By which I mean doomed to failure in this industry.

A month’s subscription costs $16, but three months costs $50? So they charge you *more* for a longer subscription term? Shouldn’t you get a discount for signing up for a longer term?

From what I’ve read in the past couple weeks not every month is the same price. I guess that’s how 50$ for three months makes sense. The irritating thing to me is that you can’t return it if you own it. It seems more logical to see what the mystery book is first and if it seems interesting than pick it up at a discount somewhere. Now if the book was signed or if there was a chance you might get a 50$ book for 16$ that would be different but as it is it doesn’t seem all that great.

I think part of the reason it’s at $50 is that the three month gets you in automatically for the three full months so you don’t have to compete for one of the limited spots each month.

You also save on shipping by doing 3 months. The 3 month price is $50 + $6 shipping, one month is $16 + $4 shipping. So the total difference is $4 in favor of 3 months.

That said, I really can’t see the value here. The idea is great, but there needs to be something extra to get it there. As cool as it would be to get a surprise graphic novel each month, I’m sure it’ll be cheaper just to find out what each book is and buy it elsewhere. If there was something exclusive to members, I’d have no problem joining. But as it stands, it’s just an expensive book list.

Thanks for the questions and feedback! Each month the price changes based on the book’s retail value which is why the 3 month subscription seems more expensive.

In coming months, random subscribers will get additional books signed by our curators, but we’re a very small operation and are just focusing on fulfilling all our orders this first month.

I like the idea in theory, but this plan just seems half-baked. It feels like they had a good idea but are unwilling to take the risks necessary to make it a real business. Their explanation for why it costs more per month for a 3 month subscription than a 1 month may make sense to them, but “theoretically we might charge more in months 2 and 3″ is not a good way to convince potential customers to subscribe. And I understand from their perspective it would be a problem if half their customers returned their selection for the month because they already owned it, but what do they think is going to happen if half their customers receive a book they already owned and can’t return it? Sure, the company won’t lose money on returned books that month, but it’s hard to imagine any of those customers signing up again for the next month. I like their idea but I don’t like their business.

I feel like the website is pretty straightforward about the nature of the service they’re selling. It’s for people wanting to pay someone to introduce them to new comics. It’s not for people who simply want comics at a discount. The pricing scheme (one month vs. three) suggests that although the monthly cost might vary, it won’t be by much. A few bucks might be a big deal to the discount comic seeker, but once again, not what this service seems to be selling.

I signed up for one month. $20, why not? If it turns out that “great, under-read comics and graphic novels” means “Y The Last Man”, then I’m out $20, oh well.

I do agree that what seems to be lacking here is that “something exclusive” though. The chance for a signed item is all well and good, but even something like a members-only forum in which to discuss the monthly selection, perhaps with some participation by the monthly selector, would make paying for the service more appealing to me.

The intent is worthwhile, but I would never sign up for something like this. Nor, I think, would anyone who is moderately well-versed in comics. But sadly, I don’t even see prospective new readers being interested, either.

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