Yes, it appears to be available NOW. Just bear with me here.

§ August 27th, 2008 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Yes, it appears to be available NOW. Just bear with me here.

So I know I’ve complained about this before, but I wanted to throw some actual dates out there so you all have a stronger idea of what I’m talking about.

I first posted a note in my Twitter thingie on June 21st about how Walking Dead volume 1 (softcover) wasn’t available for reorder from Diamond. My memory was that at the time I wrote that, I hadn’t been able to reorder volume 1 for a couple of weeks, perhaps even a month.

After checking the date on that Twitter post, I went through the store invoices to see when was the last time I’d actually received any copies of Walking Dead volume 1 at the shop. According to the invoices, I received a reorder of copies of volume 1 on April 30th. I generally place my reorders through the distributor website on Sundays, and items I reorder arrive (barring accident and/or shipping error) on the second Wednesday after. That means the last copies I received came from a reorder placed on April 19th.

Now, I don’t usually reorder tons of any given book at once. I have a budget I try to keep to for each week’s reorders, so I can spread the money around a bit, reordering a few each of many things I can use for the store. In cases of books with instances of higher demand, such as Walking Dead, I order what I think I can sell over a period of a week or two, and place follow-up reorders accordingly so that I’d have fresh stock coming in each week. That also gives me some leeway in case Walking Dead experiences a sales lull (which it has, in the past), and I can cut off reorders on the book, hopefully only briefly, before I get overloaded with dead (heh) stock.

As I said, I received my reorders on Walking Dead volume 1 on April 30th. I had enough to last a week or two, and I probably (though I’m not certain) tried to reorder by about mid-May.

I didn’t keep a record of attempted reorders…I usually download a copy of the in-stock list from the distributor, and pull item codes from that when putting together my reorder. If Walking Dead volume 1 was unavailable, its item code would not have been on the list, and I wouldn’t have attempted to reorder it. But I would have double-checked on the distributor website to confirm that it wasn’t available, at least. I know I did so a handful of times.

I realize some of that is vague, but having given the exact dates of the last shipment of these books to us, and having given you enough information about my reordering habits and strategies, and that I recall having had a few weeks of ill-fated attempts to get the book by the time I made that June 21st Twitter post, I think I’m not too out of line saying that Walking Dead volume 1 was likely unavailable from our distributor beginning around the middle of May.

Since the middle of May.

The first volume, reprinting the initial issues of one of Image Comics’ precious few success stories in recent memory. The keystone of a whole series of paperback books reprinting this popular series. A series that recently released its 50th issue to much attention.

The first volume, unavailable. For most of the summer.

I had a number of customers looking to start reading Walking Dead, having heard the hype and read the reviews/interviews and so on. Normally, that first volume is an easy sell…it’s only $9.99, and it has a lot of good word of mouth, so it doesn’t take much to get someone to try it out. But it’s only an easy sell if I have any to sell. And because I haven’t had any copies to sell, those are lost sales. I’ve plenty of volumes 2 through 8, but a new reader’s not going to want to jump in with the second volume. S/he wants to start from the beginning, and if I don’t have the beginning, I don’t have that new reader.

There is a hardcover volume reprinting issues 1 through 12 (the equivalent of the first two softcovers), but a $29.95 hardcover isn’t an easy sell to someone who’s on the fence about trying out something new. Even showing ’em the contents isn’t enough to get that sale, sometimes…that $29.95 is a barrier that $9.99 isn’t. I did sell a few, but more often than not I got the “I’ll wait for the softcover” response.

I suppose it’s very possible that Walking Dead volume 1 was sporadically available through our distributor during this period. Maybe it was available for a brief time on, say, a Tuesday afternoon, and I had the bad luck not to check at that moment. But from (likely) about mid-May, and (certainly) since the end of June, Walking Dead volume 1 was not available for me to reorder whenever I checked. And I didn’t just check on Sundays when I was assembling my reorder…I would spot check during the week, just on the off chance it was available again.

I understand that stock runs out, that books fall out of print, that maybe there are issues out of everyone’s control. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s frustrating for someone who sells these things for a living when there’s a book there’s actual demand for, from a publisher that could likely use the revenue, and, for most of the summer’s peak sales period, sales on the series are crippled by the unavailability of its introductory volume.

Well, through the direct sales comic shop market, anyway. Pal Dorian informed me that the chain bookstore near where he lives has plenty of them. Of course.

As the subject line of this post says, Walking Dead volume 1 is now available for reorder. When I checked on Sunday, just three days ago, it wasn’t. As I was writing this post, it was. Hopefully it won’t go away for such an extended period again.

It’s a good series. It’s a series my customers want. It’s a series I want to sell to my customers. I just wish I could have had the opportunity to sell more of them this summer.

RELATED: Kevin Church and Benjamin Birdie more succinctly express this retail frustration in their latest installment of The Rack.

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