In which Mike discusses Free Comic Book Day with italics, bullet points, and numbered lists.

§ May 7th, 2009 § Filed under free comic book day Comments Off on In which Mike discusses Free Comic Book Day with italics, bullet points, and numbered lists.

Okay, let me finally say a few things about your comments re: Free Comic Book Day.

I should note right off that I’m not going to get on any store’s case about limiting the number of books each person gets. With the economy as it is, and the comics industry in particular taking a pretty good hit, I can’t really hold that against anyone. Yes, we did do our usual “everyone gets every comic” deal (with only “age-appropriateness” restrictions – details here) like we have for every previous FCBD, but also like in previous years, an in-store sale on the same day more than made up for the cost. But I realize not every store can do this, and so as long as 1) they gave away comics for free (i.e. not “only with purchase,” which is totally against the spirit of FCBD) and 2) made an event of it (instead of just dumping the freebies in the box by the door with a tiny sign that says “FREE”), I’m not going to give anyone any grief.

Now to specific comments:

  • Anonymous wrote

    “Some stores will give costumers the available comics free,
    but then charge TWO CENTS per comic in SALES TAX!


    I honestly have no idea. Maybe there’s some local tax ordinance requiring it or something? That barely seems worth the effort unless they’re legally required to do so…or think they’re required to do so, which could also be the issue here.

  • Old internet pal Lankyguy asks

    “I’ve always thought the point was to bring in NEW customers, so I stay away. I’m already buying the few comics I want.”

    Well, it’s a little o’this, a little o’that. Yes, we want new customers to try out comics…I’ve said before that the goal in some cases is simply to make people aware that 1) comics are still being published, 2) there might be some comics they’d actually like, and 3) hey, if you ever need any comics, well, here we are! But FCBD is also useful for getting the already-converted to try out new and different titles. Sales on comics like Queen & Country and Courtney Crumrin, for example, bumped upward quite a bit to our regular customers following the FCBD exposure.

  • Eric L comments

    “My local store was neither terribly exciting nor terribly disappointing. It was pretty crowded, but if the guy in line in front of me was any indication (he took way more than his allotment of freebies but only actually spent $2) I’m not sure how much good it did beyond attracting free loaders.”

    Well, I try not to think of it as “freeloading,” as such. We went into this with the thought that “we’re going to give away all these comics for free.” If people came in, got free comics, and left, that was pretty much that. Free Comic Book Day means “free comics,” and no one who came into the store was obligated to do anything more than pick up the free stuff. So, you know, we knew what we were getting into, and that’s okay. That we had a sale that encouraged people to look around the store at least briefly, and got several people to spend lots of money…that was simply a bonus.

    “How do most stores handle handing them out? At my store you could grab 2 FCBD freebies and 2 more from a box of surplus comics they had laying around. It sounded alright to me until I heard of stores just letting people take one of everything.”

    It sounded like a lot of stores only let customers take a limited number of the FCBD books, like 2 or 3 out of the 40 different titles available. In our case, where we gave away one of each (again, per age requirements) to everyone, we handled things a little differently.

    We had tables set up at the front of the store, with the pre-bagged age-sorted assortments of the free books behind it. We also had extras of all the books laid out on the tables, so if people didn’t want the whole enchilada handed to them, they could just pick out the ones they wanted. We limited folks to one of each comic per customer, but we were pretty good about letting even that limit slide if they needed an extra copy or two of something for anyone back home, or for a friend who couldn’t make it in. We’re lucky, in that most of our customers are pretty cool about it, and don’t get greedy and try to make off with a pile of Owly or anything.

    This particular FCBD was much busier than in previous years, so it became apparent part way through the day that the continued pre-bagged distribution of the freebies was going to run us dry right quick, so we debagged the comics, laid them out on the tables with the other extras, and just let people pick and choose in order to stretch the stock out a bit. Still, at the end of the day we had less than one Diamond shipping box of leftovers, from the dozens of FCBD boxes we’d originally received.

  • Bully, the little stuffed bull what loves the funnybooks, asks

    “What sort of free comic would you produce if you were making one for FCBD? What would you like to see produced that maybe isn’t being done?”

    Specifically, this year I would have liked to have seen a Star Trek comic from IDW, given the current excitement over the impending release of the new film. Ah, well.

    But in general? …I think more self-contained stories, rather than books that lead into continuing sagas. Granted, most of the FCBD books are pretty good about this. However, you’re not going to “trick” or coerce a new reader into coming in and buying all the follow-up trade paperbacks because you gave him or her 2/3rds of the first issue of Ultimate Spider-Man (which Marvel actually did for the first FCBD, if I remember correctly). If the comic is good, that’d be enough to get the reader back in, and a self-contained story I think would leave the reader a little more satisfied than something without an ending.

  • Mike Z. asks

    “Would you happen to have an Owly copy left?”

    Alas, we did run out. Owly is a popular title every FCBD. This reminds me to note, however, that we did just reorder more copies of Blackest Night #0 yesterday, since we’re getting a lot of after-the-fact requests for that comic.

    We also have a lot of people looking for the Aliens/Predator comic, but there are no more to be had from the distributor, unfortunately.

  • Jonboy has this to say

    “Ultimately, I’ve had mixed feelings about the FCBD books in the past. They are either not kid friendly (which all FCBD books should be, IMO), or they are some oddball book that no LCS orders enough of.”

    This year the books were intended to be, if not outright kid friendly, at least not filled with swearing and naked people, to avoid any legal hassles should one of the wrong books get into the wrong hands. There’s nothing wrong I think with having some FCBD books aimed at older readers, so long as there’s some discretion on the part of the retailers in distribution. Again, there wasn’t anything too objectionable this time around, but, for example, it didn’t seem likely to us that any 6 year olds were going to be terribly interested in William Shatner Presents, so we didn’t put any of those in the kids bags.

    And we always try to order heavy on the oddball books, as invariably those are the ones that grab the most interest!

  • Philip sez

    “My shop was limiting guests to two of the Free books, but the clerk also shoved about eight other free non-FCBD books in my hand while I was standing there, but then chastised me for taking an FCBD book because ‘You already have a ton of books in your hand.’ Wha-?”

    I think that clerk violated my “don’t be a dick” rule for FCBD. If the limit was two FCBD books, then you should have been allowed them, regardless of how many other non-FCBD freebies were forced upon you.

  • J Joyce wonders

    “…Should not the books be free to the shop?”

    It’d be nice, certainly, but if they were entirely free, I can see some stores totally abusing that and ordering thousands upon thousands of everything and letting the publishers eat the whole cost. By putting a nominal charge on the books, it still allows large orders for low costs, but requires retailers to order realistically within a budget, and not just place crazy go-wild orders for all the freebies with no cost risk to themselves.

  • David says

    “Saturday was my first FCBD. The store I went to let me have 4 free comics with a $5 purchase from the 50-cent bin. The guy in front on me in line bought $80 of new comics and back issues. They let him have five free comics.”

    If they’re tying FCBD distribution to purchase levels, that store is doing it wrong. It’s free period, not “free with purchase.”

  • Juisarian tells us

    “I ended up spending $92 on Free Comic Book Day. Now that’s a promotion.”

    Amen to that, my friend. Like I said, purchases aren’t required to get your free comics, but brother, nowadays they sure as hell were appreciated.

Overall, it sounds like most people were pretty happy with Free Comic Book Day, and that they found some books to enjoy. I know our event was even more successful than last year, with more comics given away and more money spent at our sale. It’s a long tiring day, requiring lots of set-up and planning, but it’s always worth it.

In other news:

  • Well, gosh darn it, I was going to link to Matt Maxwell’s contest giveaway for his great graphic novel Murder Moon, but I didn’t realize the deadline was last midnight. So instead I shall link you to his site where you can learn more about his work, and to the Robot 6 archives where you can read his book Strangeways: The Thirsty for free, with new pages posted regularly!
  • If you like the Diamond Previews overviews, like my own End of Civilization posts, then perhaps you may be interested in pal Dorian’s Previews for Gays, in which he rightfully admonishes the straight people, and in pal Dave’s own overview, where he praises what needs to be praised, and scorns what is deserving of scorn. What more can any man ask, I say.
  • In case you missed it, I was interviewed for the Kirk-centric Star Trek podcast with the greatest name ever, “Look at His Butt.” You can listen to me babble incoherently to two very kind and patient women right here.

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