So unlike the last few years, where our shipments of Free Comic Book Day comics would be split up among two, three, or four weeks’ worth of Diamond Comics shipments, this year all the comics came at once in one giant special delivery. Thus did your pal Mike, along with a couple of employees (including formerly-former-now-at-the-shop-once-or-twice-a-week Employee Aaron and his lovely wife Kempo) spend a good chunk of Thursday opening up dozens upon dozens of shipping boxes and checking thousands of Free Comic Book Day comics against the invoice.
All the boxes were emblazoned with the sticker above, warning us not to “sell” (or, in this case, distribute…unless you’re one of those dudes already selling sets of these books on the eBay) these items ’til the actual Free Comic Book Day, which is, as per usual, the first Saturday after a May debut of a Marvel Comics movie.
I have a work set of the books put aside, to help me sort through and decide what goes in what age-group’s bag (explanation here), though I think this year I may depend less on the prebagged distribution strategy for the FCBD books and emphasize a more à la carte experience, giving away the majority of the books by letting customers pick what they want from an assortment laid out on our tables. I mean, we always let folks do that anyway, but previously we presented the choice as “HERE’S EVERYTHING IN THESE BAGS, or you can just get what you want from the tables,” whereas this year I’m going to try “PICK WHAT YOU WANT FROM THE TABLES, or if you prefer, you can just take these bags which contain everything.” A minor difference in presentation, but maybe that’ll stretch out the supplies a little bit longer this year.
Not that supplies will be in short…um, supply, this time around. Well, I think, anyway, since I think that every year, and every year we run through most of our stock. This year, I upped our orders even more on some of the FCBD selections, resulting in the previously-mentioned Warehouse-at-the-End-of-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-esque number of crates that showed up on our doorstep Thursday afternoon. Yes, that’s a lot of money to put out for this product (and every year, people are surprised to find out that retailers do have to pay money for the FCBD books, even if it’s only $0.20 to $0.40 a copy), but every year we easily make our money back and then some thanks to in-store sales and the sheer number of people passing through our doors that day. And here’s hoping we do this year, too. We’ve built up a pretty good reputation for our FCBD in-store sales, so I think we should do okay again this time around.
And as we usually do, we won’t be restricting the number of different books customers can take (aside from age-appropriateness restrictions, of course). If someone wants one of each of the 50+ different items being offered this year…hey, knock yourself out. We usually prefer that folks only take one copy of any particular title, but we’re not hardnosed about it if they want to get an extra copy or two of a certain issue for someone who couldn’t make it.
I realize that lack of restrictions is likely why we go through so many books each year…well, that and the fact the population of the entire county seems to drop by the shop for free comics…but we haven’t limited folks on their FCBD comics in the past, and we’re not going to start now.
Also, every year I hear about someone’s store making the comics free only “with purchase.” That’s terrible. I can almost understand not wanting to give every single person who walks in the door every FCBD comic that’s available, due to monetary and supply concerns, but to tie them to in-store purchases? C’mon, man, that’s not in the spirit of things.
Regarding the stack of books I set aside for sorting purposes…I haven’t had too much time to look at them yet, so I’ve not really formed a whole lot of opinions on them so far. I have flipped through a couple, though: the best bit of Marvel’s Infinity, previewing their next crossover event, is the back-up story reprinting a Thanos short from the 1970s. And DC’s Superman: Last Son of Krypton is sort of baffling, primarily concerned with promoting the pre-New 52 trade paperback featuring Superman fighting General Zod since that’s kinda sorta like the new movie, rather than pushing their current Superman titles (aside from a very brief interview with the folks behind the forthcoming Superman Unchained).
Some good books, just from my brief glance: The Smurfs (which also contains an Annoying Orange story, something I couldn’t care less about ’til I saw Mike “Captain Jack” Kazaleh did the story ‘n’ art); Judge Dredd Classics with Brian Bolland and Judge Death; Marble Season previewing Gilbert Hernandez’s new graphic novel; classic strip reprints Buck Rogers and Prince Valiant; and the Bongo freebie is great every year, with the always-entertaining Simpsons comics.
That’s all that stuck out so far, but I’m sure there’s more good stuff in the pile. Like I said, I haven’t had much chance to do more than take note of ’em as I was checking them off the invoice.
Anyway, in conclusion: Free Comic Book Day…that’s a whole lotta comics we have to find space for in the shop ’til May 4th.