Store talk, and information for stalkers.

§ April 17th, 2006 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Store talk, and information for stalkers.

Free Comic Book Day is coming, looming in the ever-decreasing distance, and so far we have a grand total of one, one, comic book for the event at the store (Liberty Girl #0 from Heroic Comics, in case you’re wondering).

This isn’t unusual, since I believe last year the majority of the books arrived just a week or two prior to FCBD, but it doesn’t keep me from getting anxious…I want to get crackin’ on sorting the books out into the bags for various age groups, as we’ve done in the past.

Speaking of FCBD, I came across a comment in a trade mag from a retailer who’s going to pass on FCBD this time around, since his shop regularly has massive 25-cent box sales and other similar events. Thus, his customers already get plenty of inexpensive comics throughout the year, which apparently diminished interest in the Free Comic Book Day event. That, it seems to me, is missing the point…cheap comic sales, at least in my experience, primarily attract your regulars. FCBD is an outreach program, designed to get new people interested in funnybooks. I don’t know…maybe this person gets lots of new people coming in his shop because of his sales, but it seems to me that “free” always beats out “cheap” when it comes to this sort of thing. I’ve always seen lots of new faces at our FCBD events.

That’s not to say that the free comics don’t go to your regulars, of course. In this case, it isn’t so much getting them interested in comics as it is getting them interested in different comics: Queen and Country and Courtney Crumrin were success stories from past years, in this respect.

Then again, the comment by that retailer does have me thinking…how many new, regular readers has the Free Comic Book Day event actually created? How many kids picked up one of those Archie FCBD editions and started reading Archie Comics on a regular basis? Probably not a whole heck of a lot, I’d imagine. There were probably a lot more “hey, thanks for the free comics”-type customers who came in for the goodies and were never seen again.

Maybe the best we can hope for is getting kids (and adults) used to the idea of “reading comics” as a valid entertainment choice. It’s a long-term goal, but one worth pursuing, I think.

If you are a retailer who’s going to participate in FCBD, it doesn’t take a lot to do it right:

1. Even ordering a couple hundred each of just the “Gold Level” comics (the more “mainstream” publisher titles) doesn’t cost all that much.

2. Plenty of promotional materials have already shipped…put those FCBD posters up in your windows! Let people know it’s coming…even if you don’t run ads in local papers, trust me, word does get around that “somebody’s giving away free stuff!”

3. When you get the comics, check ’em for content and make sure that the right comics get to the right age groups…don’t let busybodies and politicians get a chance to jerk you around in the name of “protecting the children” (which, by the way, is never, ever, ever their primary concern).

4. When the day actually comes, make an event of it…you don’t have to have special guests and people in costume (though some people do, and it usually works out well)…at the very least, make people aware that, hey, something different is happening at the store today! I remember reading about a shop that just had a box of FCBD books in a comic book by the front door, with a sign reading “FREE.” That’s no way to run a Free Comic Book Day! We set up a table by the front door, with displays showing off all the comics we’re giving away, and manned that table with a couple people who greeted all the customers and informed them that, yes, we had free, free, FREE comics for everybody!

5. Don’t wear these. For one thing, that’s the wrong date.

Pal Dorian noted, upon his latest visit to the shop, that we’ve greatly expanded our already large manga section at the front of the store. And, as he noted, the genre-racking he attempted was reverted back to a straight alphabetical arrangement (with the exception of the more explicit “mature readers” material, kept on the top shelf). I was dreading Dor’s reaction to this, since I know he put a lot of effort into arranging it that way. Okay, he doesn’t work at the store anymore, but he is my friend, and I respect his opinion…don’t let him know I said that, he’ll just lord it over me. Thankfully, though, he took it well, and understood my reasoning.

For example, too many of our manga customers were apparently accustomed to looking for the books in straight alphabetical order (as they’re racked in the chain stores), looking for, say, Fruits Basket near the beginning of the racks instead of looking in the Fs in the section marked “shojo.” I’ve had to point people in the right direction more than once. Plus, though we had signs on the shelves, we weren’t able to create a sufficient physical division between sections, which also caused some confusion. And then there was the whole “that’s not ‘shojo,’ that’s ‘josei'” problem that popped up once in a while…sometimes caused by folks not wanting to accept that their stories were a certain genre, and sometimes caused by me, well, not knowing the difference between “shojo” and “josei.” “Yaoi” is pretty easy to pick out, though, for some reason.

Well, genre-racking the manga was worth a try, anyway. I do still have a separate section for “children’s manga” (though it’s part of a more general “kid’s comics and graphic novels” section we have at the front of the store). Though that causes a whole other set of problems (“That can’t be a kid’s comic…I read it!”).

Just a little oddity, here…I finally got myself a bit of that Google Earth that’s all the rage, and, like what everyone else does, immediately “ego-surfed.” First, it turns out that the satellite images for where I’m living now are about a year old, since all it shows is a construction site where my house is.

And second, searching for our store, I was amused to discover this:

The blue arrow I so expertly painted in there is pointing at what appears to be my truck, parked behind the shop, and the red arrow is pointing at what looks like pal Dorian‘s little black car.

That’s what it looks like to me, anyway. Hmmm…I think my truck could stand a wash.

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