Regions and reprints.

§ August 13th, 2007 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Regions and reprints.

So Caleb asked yesterday why some stores can’t seem to move any issues of Countdown, while we seem to be selling them just fine.

A few stats that I looked up at the shop on Sunday: not only is Countdown consistently matching or outselling DC’s previous weekly series 52 in sales, I noticed it was outselling Ultimate Spider-Man nearly 2 to 1. In fact, it’s outselling nearly all the high-selling titles from Marvel and DC…it outsells Justice League of America, any given X-title…the only thing I can think of from the Big Two that outsells Countdown right now is the World War Hulk mini-series.

My answer to Caleb that any difference in performance on a particular title from store to store can primarily be chalked up to regional differences. Perhaps we just have more DC fans than some other stores, or perhaps Countdown is more to our customers’ tastes than to another shop’s customer base. (All Star Batman is also selling extremely well for us, so clearly our customers have excellent taste.) But over the years, reading market reports from other stores about what sells for them and what doesn’t and how we differ from them, and seeing what comics get canceled for poor sales even though we’re doing okay with them…well, I just find it a curious phenomenon, even if I don’t have a more specific reason why.

There may be other, more negative, reasons, which I hesitate to bring up because Caleb mentioned a specific retailer and I don’t want this to come across as a criticism of that retailer. Because, really, I’m not trying to. At all. Don’t even think it.

However, this post came from some stores I’ve been to (not the Caleb-mentioned retailer, to re-emphasize), where certain prevailing attitudes and habits may hurt sales on certain books. You know…they don’t order copies for the shelf because it doesn’t sell, and it doesn’t sell because copies aren’t ordered for the shelf, or just openly badmouthing titles and/or companies…those are self-fulfilling prophecy-type behaviors from certain funnybook sellers (not the mentioned retailer, nor, hopefully, me) that are guaranteed to lead to failure.

(However, I have been thinking about what impact having sites like this one have on that percentage of my customer base that’s aware of my weblog. If I criticize a particular book/company/creator on my site, will that discourage a customer from trying something out at the shop? I haven’t noticed any significant impact of that sort…but who knows? But that’s a post for another time.)

Then again, it’s not as if I went out of my way to promote Countdown, either. I put up the big ol’ promo poster, I racked plenty of copies on the shelf…it just sorta sells itself. And people aren’t just buying it out of habit, simply because there’s a new issue every Wednesday (though I’m sure that’s part of it)…I’ve had a number of customers mention to me that they really, really like it…even more so than 52.

So, Caleb…I don’t know exactly why Countdown sells for us and not so much for some other stores. It’s probably no more complicated than “our customer bases want different things,” which isn’t an in-depth answer, but likely an accurate one.

Building on my remarks yesterday about Essential Dazzler‘s surprising sales, and considering how well Marvel’s recently-released Devil Dinosaur hardcover has been doing for us, I’ve been wondering. I don’t have any exact numbers at my fingertips, here, but my general feeling is that the Showcase and Essential volumes that sell marginally better are the more oddball ones. Showcase Presents Jonah Hex and Metamorpho moved more copies than any of the Batman volumes, and we’ve sold more Essential Howard the Duck than, say, Essential Defenders.

There could be a variety of reasons for this…maybe people have had enough Batman reprints for the time being, or that some books just plain look better in the black and white format (like Tomb of Dracula) while your standard issue superhero stuff tends to suffer without color.

But it got me thinking. How well would a trade paperback of Marvel Comics’ U.S. 1 series sell?

Yeah, really, U.S. 1. The comic about the superhero/sci fi truckers. Hey, people laughed at Dazzler and Devil Dinosaur, too, and yet I can’t keep those reprint books on the shelves. And while U.S. 1 perhaps isn’t good in a traditional sense, it’s still kinda goofy, innocent fun. It’s certainly more entertaining than…well, pick your own way-too-serious superhero book. Anyway, I’m betting a trade of U.S. 1 would probably do fairly well, given how well the much-maligned Dazzler has done as a reprint, finally finding an audience decades after its initial release.

Another good Essential candidate: Rom Spacenight. Yeah, I know, it’s based on a toy license, but if Marvel paid a one time fee to the owners of Godzilla for the Essential reprint of their ’70s Godzilla series…surely paying a pittance for the license of a toy that wasn’t all that popular to begin with isn’t that much of a hurdle. ‘Course, ownership of the Rom license may be obscured slightly, or perhaps whoever owns the character thinks it’s worth much more than it really is, and is asking too much.

Whatever the reasons preventing it, a Rom collection would be nice, and would probably sell like gangbusters.

Any other weirdo reprints from the Big Two you think might go over well?

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