From behind the counter - Some thoughts on the New DCU52 and sell-outs
Hey everyone! There's been some discussion around here lately about the fact that I have underordered a bunch of the main titles of the NEW DCU 52 launch and a lot of the core issue #1 are unavailable, and for that I apologize. I thought I'd give you my observations on this and perhaps add some insight into the process from my end. Bear with me, this may get a bit long-winded. Here we go...
Due to the nature of ordering comic books, there is always a two-month to two-week lag between the time I place orders and the time the comics actually arrive (assuming they stay on schedule.) Additionally 99% of all the comic books we order are non-returnable... if I order them in and if they don't sell, well you've seen the 2/99¢ boxes, right? On top of that, on the rare occasion that comic books are returnable to the publisher (which actually translates to about 10¢ a comic plus return shipping fees, so it's not without a small cost), the return date is usually several months after I have paid for the comics... I then get a "refund" for returned books, less associated costs up to three months later. In other words, I still have to pay for the comic books up front, regardless of whether they sell or not and are returnable.
A "relaunch" from a major publisher of this size is unprecedented. In the entire history of comic books, and in the 23+ years Comix Connection has been open, the industry has never seen an event quite like this. While relaunches of single titles or families of titles is a fairly regular event, a relaunch of an entire company line has just never been attempted. I struggled with order numbers for the new #1s for several weeks, tweaking and adjusting up and down as I agonized over trying to get it right, with much input from Ned and the Managers. The staff was very active in showing people what information we had on the new titles so we could gather data on interest levels, yet there was a large amount of indifference and outright hostility at the whole idea of a company-wide relaunch. The internet was full of people expressing their dislike of the new direction, well before anyone had seen a single page of a single new book. A month or so passed, and as the dates for the new #1s to ship approached, subscription requests began to tick upward... on the Saturday and Sunday before the Wednesday of the first week's new titles' appearance, the number of people wanting to try the books had steadily increased to double or more of original numbers... and my orders were already locked in! Apparently this phenomenon was not unique to Comix Connection and most stores nationwide had the same experience, to the point where ALL the first week titles were sold out at the national level from the distributor A DAY OR TWO BEFORE they shipped! There were NO reorders available! In all our years in business we had never seen such a set of circumstances. To add to my anxiety the previous week (after we had held successful Midnight Release Parties for JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 at both stores and sold quite a few extra copies that way) it was announced that JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 would go to a 2nd print and those orders were due that Friday... but when I went to place order on Thursday it was announced that the 2nd Printing was sold out BEFORE our Friday order deadline! This was also unprecedented. DC announced a 3rd Printing and I immediately ordered a giant pile that was equivalent to 80% of my initial orders for JUSTICE LEAGUE #1 and I'm pretty sure these will sell out in another week or two. This phenomenon has been repeated for the first, second and third weeks' releases, with ALL TITLES selling out at the national level. The fourth and final week's titles are coming in this Wednesday, but fortunately because of the two-week lag in adjusting orders, I was able to boost the numbers on all titles at both stores! (If you would have told me that I would be ordering HUNDREDS of copies of a new AQUAMAN title, I would have assumed you were hopped up on goofballs or something.) That being said, I still can't guarantee we won't have sell-outs as interest is still increasing, in part driven by DC's national advertising campaign which is bringing lapsed and new readers into stores all around the country! DC has been exceptionally speedy and responsive to demand, with all titles so far being reprinted and made available but finding printing press time takes a couple of weeks, so there is a bit of wait until we can restock.
So where is this all leading? Well, if you were able to get your hands on copies of these comics and like what you read and want to read more, LET US KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Get the titles you like added to your box, or if you aren't a subscriber/box holder, let your Friendly Neighborhood Comix Connection Counter Monkey know that you want copies held for you and you will be put on the list! Do it today, as some of the second printings of the #1 issues are coming in next week, and the #2 issues should start flowing in the week after. Call right now, come in and tell us, or email us, JUST DO IT!
For those of you who want to look at copies of stuff that is sold out on the rack before deciding to purchase, just ask the Manager or Counter Monkey if you can check out a copy and we will gently pull one out of someones box so you can check it out. At that point you can decide if you want us to hold you a copy of a later printing.
Again, I apologize for any inconvenience, but as we go forward I will have some actual history of real sales numbers and will adjust the orders accordingly, so there should be plenty of copies for everyone. Thanks again to DC Comics for at least keeping these in print!
And thanks for your patience and understanding in this, y'all. With 2nd/3rd/4th prints becoming available, EVERYONE should be able to get copies to read... it just might take a little time, and for that I apologize. Onward and upward!
P.S.: I also want to reiterate that it is currently and has ALWAYS been Comix Connection's policy to limit quantities purchased to prevent speculators from scooping up our rack copies of "hot" comic books. We have always made it store policy to sell one copy to ten people rather than sell ten copies to one person. We didn't do it in the '90s and we don't do it now.
ADDED: THIS COLUMN by retailer Brian Hibbs covers a lot of ground on this situation... it's worth a read!
Labels: mea culpa