Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Finished my orders for July. Once again, Marvel Comics has confounded me.

I'd say, half their line is tied up in one crossover event or another, each title tied into the other. Almost no way to get that right. Either the I order tight, getting just the titles that people are actually signed up; or I order loose, ordering enough to cover everyone who buys a title that is 'related'; or somewhere in-between. There is almost no way to order correctly.

For instance, Marvel has a new series called X-tra Endangered Species, which ties a bunch of the X-Men titles together. Now, I sell roughly 30 copies of X-Men, but only 8 copies of X-Factor, and the story crosses over. If I stick the X-Factor on all the X-Men shelves, the customers has the prerogative of handing it back.

They also have the continuing Initiative series, the followup to Civil War, as well as the huge World War Hulk series. All of these can run out of steam without warning. Any kind of overall economic slowdown in Bend, and my customers can exert their prerogative of not buying.

On the other hand, if I don't order enough, it damages the momentum for the readers and the store, and disappoints the customer.

Because it's summer, and because we've been having good sales, I've taken on most of the risk. I'll know by July and August, when I'm ordering for the slower part of the year, whether that was a good decision.

Marvel has also confounded me with their 'rolling discount' structure. In the old days, the higher orders from the last 3 months would have earned me a percentage point higher discount, but they now average a year, so I won't see the benefits for a year, if then.

Oh, well. I keep telling myself that it is the difficulty of predicting comic sales that makes it possible for us to thrive, and -- so far -- has kept the mass market out.

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