Friday, February 02, 2007

How Do I Know?

On Monday we finished up our January Previews order and sent it on it's way. I have to say that it was one of the harder months to order from. The super hero stuff is usually fairly easy. Well, the #1 issues are guess-work most times, but I don't recall there being too many of those this month. The non-super stuff just depends upon who's publishing it, who's writing & drawing it, if anyone else has pre-ordered it, and if it sounds remotely good. We try to pick up a few new non-super comics when we order every month, just to have some other things for people to try out. Some of them do well, others sit and we stop ordering them a few issues in. It's all guess-work.

The January Previews seemed to have an enormous amount of graphic novels in them. Graphic novels that were never comics - just straight to book form. Diamond had a bunch of them marked as "Spotlight On" or "Featured Item." More that usual it seemed. Here are some examples: Chance in Hell, A Late Freeze, The Salon, Flower and Fade. Many of them sounded interesting - but those little 2-3 sentence "ads" for the books are SUPPOSED to make you want to buy them. Weather the book ends up being any good or not remains to be seen. We ended up ordering very few of these graphic novels. At least with comic books it's a small amount to invest to try something new. But with a graphic novel you're looking at $20 and more in cover price. We didn't order many Pride of Baghdad when it first came out, only recently received a copy of Fun Home, and finally ordered a second print of American Born Chinese. These three are examples of good, solid graphic novels that have gotten good main-stream buzz and sold well in book stores. So, we picked them up for our store. But how can you tell from a Previews solicitation if it's going to be that hit book? How do I know if it's any good or not? It sure would be nice if there was a better way for creators to let comic book retailers know more about their books, so we could get a better feel for it before we decided weather or not to risk our money on it. For now, we just don't order most of these and wait for the news that they're selling well and winning awards, and then we pick them up for our store.


James Meeley said...

Souds a bit like the conundrum I tlaked about at a year and a half ago, concerning the call by one of the retailer/writers there asking for the "86-ing" of the pamphlet comics format. I brought up a similar point.

You should read it (along with the acticle he wrote that prompted me. I think so of what was gone over should be used to help retailers in the way you could use on stuff like this. Here's a link to my "article":

Lisa said...

Great article James! You bring up several good points - like the comics being a good way to get people to try something without risk. That works both for retailers and customers. I also liked your point about monthly comics not really all being good issues and having something happen. That is also all too true. When someone wants to check out a series, it's easeier for me to just show them a #1 of something new than to jump into the middle of something, even though it might be good overall, if I don't show them the right issue they're lost and won't pick up any more.

Also, if there is one thing that DC's 52 proves, it's that people still like the pamphlet format and if it's done well will continue to pick it up and follow it every week. AND that there's somethig to be said about having a comic be a periodical, rather than come out periodically.