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  1. #1
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    Default Tilting at Windmills - May 10, 2012

    In his latest column, Brian Hibbs looks at his store's record breaking Free Comic Book Day, the new DC Entertainment regime, Diamond miscues, and digital storefronts


    Full article here.

  2. #2

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    Glad that your store had a great FCBD. Next year I am going to attend one at a different store rather than go to my LCS. My current store has zero enthusiasm for FCBD and any events in general. This year I really wanted to read Hypernaturals by DnA and was interested in the Th3rd World offering. Stuff of Legend has been one of my favorite independent purchases. My store had neither and no one cared that I was unable to read these issues. And I go to this LCS every week, spending on average $40 - $50 each time. I know the comic market is a brutal industry, and that the "free" comics do cost the owners money. I'd rather not see a store participate if all the store does is hang a few of the free comics on the wall and do nothing else. But I am buoyed by reading articles that many stores did well during the latest FCBD.

    The street date with Diamond has been a big conversation with my LCS owners for years. It's much better now that comics are sold every Wednesday, other than the occasional early release. Nothing worse than having to wait until Thursday because of a previous holiday. Some of us comic readers don't want to wait an extra day to get our floppy fix.

  3. #3

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    I always wonder how much of the burden publishers and diamond throw on retailers for FCBD.

    What is a publisher's per-book printing cost? They must be printing hundreds of thousands of copies, their per-book cost has to be astronomically low compared to their normal runs, especially for the smaller publishers. are they paying the 20-40 cents per book retailers have to pay to get them, or is it costing them more? Publishers definitely take a hit when they produce new material for their FCBD books, having to pay creators for their work, but that's definitely the exception over the norm.

    What about Diamond? Are they taking any hit at all? do you pay 20 cents because the publisher charged Diamond 20 cents? What about freight? Normally, publishers pay the freight to ship to Diamond, then retailers pay the freight to ship to stores. Does the same hold true for FCBD books? If so, retailers are actually paying more than that stated 20-40 cents per book, as is publishers.

    So again I ask, what percentage of the total cost of FCBD are retailers responsible for, and does Diamond actually contribute to that cost even at all?
    Last edited by ZiggyFakeMcCoy; 05-11-2012 at 08:39 AM. Reason: left a word out

  4. #4
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    I have yet to see a single article or comment by the man that wasn't so negative that even forum trolls stop to take notice. I'm amazed the man has a single customer. I for one would probably walk out if he spoke to me the way he speaks about readers in his articles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelPaytonMZ View Post
    I have yet to see a single article or comment by the man that wasn't so negative that even forum trolls stop to take notice. I'm amazed the man has a single customer. I for one would probably walk out if he spoke to me the way he speaks about readers in his articles.
    I didn't see anything anti-reader in that...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by deadbeat19 View Post
    Glad that your store had a great FCBD. Next year I am going to attend one at a different store rather than go to my LCS. My current store has zero enthusiasm for FCBD and any events in general. This year I really wanted to read Hypernaturals by DnA and was interested in the Th3rd World offering. Stuff of Legend has been one of my favorite independent purchases. My store had neither and no one cared that I was unable to read these issues. And I go to this LCS every week, spending on average $40 - $50 each time.
    I can speak only for myself, but my personal opinion is that FCBD is about NEW READERS (and children) -- 364 days a year the Direct Market focuses primarily on the current readership, and one day it looks beyond that.

    So, I'm not particularly concerned that you weren't about to get every FCBD book that you wanted, because that's not the point of the promotion, in my personal opinion.

    One structural "problem" with FCBD is that the comics really are "not allowed" to be preordered, and sold at cost -- in theory, that could solve your problem; just ask the store ahead of time to get you x, y, or z, but, in theory, the store could be punished for that action.

    Still, I have a fairly large problem with the idea that anyone is entitled to any specific FCBD book, whether they spend $0 a week, or $200. FCBD isn't a "reward" for you buying comics all year long...

    -B

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZiggyFakeMcCoy View Post
    What is a publisher's per-book printing cost? They must be printing hundreds of thousands of copies, their per-book cost has to be astronomically low compared to their normal runs, especially for the smaller publishers.

    What about Diamond? Are they taking any hit at all? do you pay 20 cents because the publisher charged Diamond 20 cents? What about freight?
    Most of these answers are opaque -- I believe that on the publisher side, most publishers are taking a few-pennies-per-book loss. For Diamond my best guess is they're not losing anything on the distribution costs, but that they're spending quite a bit on the marketing and promotion side of things. It's likely that a "20 cent" comic is something like "17 cents to publisher, 3 cents to Diamond"

    Retailers do, in fact, pay all incoming freight.

    -B

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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelPaytonMZ View Post
    I have yet to see a single article or comment by the man that wasn't so negative that even forum trolls stop to take notice. I'm amazed the man has a single customer. I for one would probably walk out if he spoke to me the way he speaks about readers in his articles.

    The column is called "Tilting at Windmills", not "Laughing in Sunshine", so I'd imagine that there's a big give away right there!

    I do absolutely boggle at the notion that you've formed this opinion, however, and yet feel the need to comment on the column itself. Either you haven't actually read it yourself, and so you're commenting in ignorance, or you HAVE read it, in which case, why are you subjecting yourself to something that you clearly don't enjoy?

    I hardly think the column is "negative", if you actually READ it -- in fact, I said more than one time just how positive and wonderful FCBD is.

    I do appreciate that you posted exactly the same thing both here and at Newsarama, though -- way to go!

    -B

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    I do absolutely boggle at the notion that you've formed this opinion, however, and yet feel the need to comment on the column itself. Either you haven't actually read it yourself, and so you're commenting in ignorance, or you HAVE read it, in which case, why are you subjecting yourself to something that you clearly don't enjoy?
    -B
    Here's the thing Brian. 90% of the time your columns make me so angry, I literally yell at my screen. You miss obvious points, and cling to delightfully antiquicated notions, or have this sense of entitlement that drives me mad...BUT 10% of the time I really enjoy your columns, and I always know there is a large contingent of retailers who hang on your every word, so in some ways you speak for the retailing community.

    You make a point of being an open book, and I really like the glimpses into how your store works.

    Plus, whether I enjoy the content or not, you are a really good writer, so I enjoy your prose.

    That's why I read your columns, even though most of the time I disagree with you and find you an overly negative influence in the industry.

    With that said (and though I disagree with your Transformers comment...seriously, did you read the book? If you can't sell that to your customer base that is I'd imagine composed of primarily 70's kids like myself who were teens when the original Transformers series cameout, then you aren't the retailer I think you are), I really enjoyed this column.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Garside View Post
    I disagree with your Transformers comment...seriously, did you read the book? If you can't sell that to your customer base that is I'd imagine composed of primarily 70's kids like myself who were teens when the original Transformers series cameout, then you aren't the retailer I think you are
    What's to "disagree"? Every six months or so I order a copy of TRANSFORMERS to see if it will sell, and 60 days later I remove them from the rack, unsold. This is a factual statement, not something with any kind of opinion attached to it.

    There's not really an issue of hand-selling here. Why? I have umpty-thousand different SKUs in the store, so if I (or my staff) are going to handsell something, it's going to be something that we personally believe in. I'd rather handsell a SAGA or a PROPHET or FATALE any day before I'll sell a third-party licensed comic, no matter HOW good it may or may not be.

    I'd be ESTATIC to carry TRANSFORMERS if there were customers asking for it... and buying it.

    -B

  11. #11
    Elder Member Blade X's Avatar
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    We stopped doing FCBD a couple of years ago because of the problems Brian talked about. Another problem that we had with FCBD is that many of the people who came in on that day wrongly think that every comic in the store is (I kid you not) free. When we tell them that only certain ones are free, they often get mad or cop an attitude and walk out. I have to wonder if any other retailers have had a similar experience.

    Also, the new customers or lapsed readers who came into the store on FVBD only come into the store on that day and we won't see them again until the next FCBD. So while I think that FCBD is a worthy and well meaning promotional initiative, it has not (at least for us) succeeded in boosting comic book sales.

  12. #12
    Elder Member Blade X's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    What's to "disagree"? Every six months or so I order a copy of TRANSFORMERS to see if it will sell, and 60 days later I remove them from the rack, unsold. This is a factual statement, not something with any kind of opinion attached to it.

    There's not really an issue of hand-selling here. Why? I have umpty-thousand different SKUs in the store, so if I (or my staff) are going to handsell something, it's going to be something that we personally believe in. I'd rather handsell a SAGA or a PROPHET or FATALE any day before I'll sell a third-party licensed comic, no matter HOW good it may or may not be.

    I'd be ESTATIC to carry TRANSFORMERS if there were customers asking for it... and buying it.

    -B
    We order 4 to 6 copies each of most of the various TRANSFORMERS series each month for our file customers who request and buy almost everything TRANSFORMERS. Except for those file customers, TF does not sell at our store. The same is also true for the G.I. JOE,STAR TREK,STAR WARS,FUTURAMA,and SIMPSONS books that we order. These books have, at the most, a very tiny niche readership.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    Still, I have a fairly large problem with the idea that anyone is entitled to any specific FCBD book, whether they spend $0 a week, or $200. FCBD isn't a "reward" for you buying comics all year long...

    -B
    You're right, I'm not entitled to anything other than what my store decided to purchase for FCBD. But from what I've seen for FCBD, people come to the store, grab as many free comics as possible, and are never seen again. As a loyal, weekly customer who spends a sizeable amount each week, it would have been nice for the store to get a better selection. I made it abundantly clear what books I had an interest in, and would be adding to my pull list. Sorry to say but the customer is always right.

    One positive note from this latest FCBD is that I might purchase my comics from dcbservice. I can save a considerable amount of the $2500+ I spend yearly at my LCS.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by deadbeat19 View Post
    Sorry to say but the customer is always right.
    This is not always true.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    I can speak only for myself, but my personal opinion is that FCBD is about NEW READERS (and children) -- 364 days a year the Direct Market focuses primarily on the current readership, and one day it looks beyond that.

    So, I'm not particularly concerned that you weren't about to get every FCBD book that you wanted, because that's not the point of the promotion, in my personal opinion.

    One structural "problem" with FCBD is that the comics really are "not allowed" to be preordered, and sold at cost -- in theory, that could solve your problem; just ask the store ahead of time to get you x, y, or z, but, in theory, the store could be punished for that action.

    Still, I have a fairly large problem with the idea that anyone is entitled to any specific FCBD book, whether they spend $0 a week, or $200. FCBD isn't a "reward" for you buying comics all year long...

    -B
    Even if that person is a regular reader of Atomic Robo, and they really want to read the FCBD comic? Or they're a fan of Mouse Guard and they want the hardcover? Or they love DC and they want the all-new Geoff Johns-Jim Lee story?

    Don't get me wrong, I agree with you that FCBD should be about new readers, but publishers are increasingly releasing things aimed at regular readers, so isn't it reasonable for them to want such books? Your preorder solution sounds like a good one.

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