A small kerfuffle over on the comic industry bulletin board between stores who ordered enough of the first 52 #1, Justice League, and those of us who didn't.
Part of it is the difference between big shops and little shops -- big cities and small towns.
Part of it, is some of us do better with Marvel than DC.
Most of it is: Hindsight is 20/20.
Here's the thing. Ordinarily ordering between 1 and 5 extra copies, after my subscribers have told me what they want, is more than enough to cover demand. But a prominently placed news story could easily bring in, oh, 20 extra people. The difference between 2 extra copies and 20 extra copies is immense, when you multiply by 52 separate titles.
I can't tell you the number of times we've been assured by the publisher that their title will be a hit: that it will get tons of support.
But it's not up to them. It's up the zeitgeist. Whether or not the story has a hook that appeals to the media. And that you just don't know until it happens. More often than not, it doesn't.
The black plastic wrap "Death of Superman" I could have sold hundreds; the white plastic wrap "Return of Superman", I still have hundreds of copies left.
I've been burned way way more times than I've been rewarded by 'over' ordering.
But I felt I had really ordered quite a bit. Overall, about 2.5 times normal DC numbers. Much higher than that on the marquee titles like Detective, Action, Batman, Wonderwoman, etc.
For Justice league, I ordered about 5 times the normal numbers, and slightly more overall than my best selling DC title of the last few years, Blackest Night #1.
Sold out in two days.
The interest didn't seem to start peaking until a few days before arrival. I put in a reorder two days before it showed. It went to backorder, but I felt I had put it in early enough to have a reasonable chance of getting filled from the copies they hold back for "damages and shortages."
I started hearing disturbing rumbles, so I put a back order in online, and also called my rep and tried to put an order in of the 2nd print.
They put out a notice saying we had until "Friday, Sept. 2" to make our second print orders. Normally, that would mean they would take those orders and use those numbers to make their print run.
I ordered a day early before the deadline -- and they were sold out.
By now, I've ordered extra copies of the second week-- not crazy extras, because remember I still have only seen the sales on ONE title -- and I'm not at all sure that the first day will be the only good day. Media attention will fade and so on.
Still, I make increases in my orders for the entire month, probably increased overall by 15% or so.
Wednesday premiere of the first real week was yesterday. 13 titles. By the end of the day, half the titles were sold out.
I get online to order more copies of next week and the week after.
They are sold out not only next week, but the week after -- AND the week after!!!
I've had exactly one day to gauge true demand, and it's too late.
Gamble or go home, is the message here.
Remember, I've ended up ordering 3 times the normal numbers, and it isn't enough.
No one ever went broke selling out, right? But man do I hate to disappoint customers. It makes me look and feel incompetent.
I really think DC messed up. My cost for a comic is roughly half. Their cost is something like 15 cents per comic. Once they paid the artist and writer, their cost is the ink and paper.
I ordered 5 times normal numbers of Justice League, and it's pretty obvious that DC probably didn't published more than another half the orders they got. Pathetic.
This was THEIR big idea -- and they couldn't even take a risk at printing say, double the ordered numbers?
When they saw what was happening with the first week's sales, they couldn't up the print on the third and fourth weeks?
There is suspicion that they are actually TRYING to drive customers to digital.
But what's interesting is, there has been little talk about digital. It's all been the physical copies that has gotten the demand, which to me says a lot about what's really happening.
I mentioned the media effect on sales, and one of the other retailers put a poll up asking how many non-regulars had been in to buy the comics.
But that is missing the point. If the big push had been flop, a whole lot of my regulars would have started passing on the titles. Once they understood it was a hit, they actually started buying MORE.
It's a bit of hoarding, frankly. Suddenly they covet a comic because they are afraid they can't get it -- whereas, if they could get it, they wouldn't want it.
Looking back, I can see where the problem is.
I put a sheet out that asked my customers which titles they would be interested in -- and I got a huge response. Yes, No, or Maybe, were their options, and to get them to take the time to fill them out, I assured them that they weren't committed. That I was just trying to get a gauge of the interest level.
I signed up all my regulars for titles that they either said Yes or Maybe.
Now, ordinarily, when I sign my customers up for a title they didn't specifically ask for, I get about a 90% success rate in them accepting the title. (I'm pretty choosy about when I use the "optional" technique.)
I figured, since this was a "soft" survey, that I'd get probably an 80% acceptance rate.
So if the venture had been a big flop, chances are that I would have gotten between 20 to 30% of the comics back. If it was a moderate success, I'd get about 15 to 10% back.
I'm getting virtually none of the titles back, so far. These "optional" titles had been part of my equation in trying to judge how many copies I had out for sale. The problem is, the commitment on the part of my customers was "soft" but my commitment was "hard." I pretty much have to stand by it.
They'll be offering us second prints, I know, eventually, but even this has been a mess.
And even with the wild success of the first two weeks, I'm still concerned about over reacting and ending up with tons of the 3rd and 4th weeks. Because, that has also happened a lot in the past.
You don't stay a retailer for 30 years without being careful.
But sometimes, the wild and crazy guys get rewarded.
5 days ago