The stick and the beehive.

§ February 18th, 2013 § Filed under retailing § 9 Comments

So the next trick here in ordering from Previews this month is DC’s “WTF Certified” books, which, as previously noted in my last End of Civilization, and as more accurately explained here, involves fold-out covers on each of their superhero books that reveal some kind of shocking event.

Will this bump up sales across the board? Maybe slightly…every time there’s some kind of event or gimmick like this, there are always a few customers who decide they need one of each. During the last “Zero Month” thing, I had a few folks picking up one of each, so it’s likely it’ll happen again. It’s not enough to drastically change sales on anything…it’s not suddenly going to make, say, Sword of Sorcery our #1 book, but it’s usually good for moving a few extra numbers on some of the titles.

The actual gimmick in this case is the “shocking” event revealed by the fold-out cover, and as a marketing tool goes…well, it’s not as if anyone has to buy the comic, take it home, and then discover the startling secret that waits within. People can just zip along the racks, peeking inside each comic and seeing what’s going on, which will probably annoy me come April when the books are out, but it’s not really the kind of thing where I feel comfortable saying “hey, stop looking at those covers,” because frankly that just sounds ridiculous. (Now, if they just park there and read the comics cover to cover, then the kickin’ boots come out, because that’s just not cool.)

The real problem is which “shocking event” is going to be the one that’s going to be the real game-changer for the title involved (or, rather, apparent game-changer, because you’ve read superhero comics before, you know how this works) and will get all the attention and rack up lots of extra sales. Or lots of theoretical extra sales, because there’s no way to predict which one will be the one and everyone will be caught by surprise and not have enough and will have to wait for the eventual second and third printings which won’t sell to expectations because the speculators who were driving the initial demand wanted the first printings to sell on the eBay even though technically the later printings will likely be more “scarce” than the first and thus seemingly should be more collectible and oh hey a run-on sentence how ’bout that.

That’s the Previews conundrum of the month. Well, that, and wondering if the fact that I’m not ordering any of the Hello Kitty KISS vinyl toys for the shop makes me a fascist censor oppressing both Gene Simmons and the creators of Hello Kitty. I’m sure those sharp legal minds and political analysts on comic book message boards will let me know.

Speaking of which, going back to that Superman comic…I like that one comic shop’s idea of donating its profits from the comic to the appropriate charities. (I also like their response to people criticizing their decision.) I think we may do the same…since, like I said, we will still get a very small handful of copies for folks who have it on preorder, that will be a nice way to balance things out. People who have to have the comic will get it, and the money goes to a good cause. Not a lot of money, because I’m still not going to put that issue on the shelf, but it’s better than nothing.

And in conclusion, this whole situation sucks, and I’m just trying to deal with it the best way I can, in a way I can live with. Those of you who have given me your support, including many of our customers, I appreciate it. Even the one fellow who wrote in and told me why he wasn’t going to read my site any more, because of my particular stance…he was polite about it, and, despite disagreeing with his viewpoint, I appreciated that as well, even if it’s too bad that I’m going to lose him as a reader. The drive-by sniping in the comments, I’m less thrilled with, but that tends to say more about the sniper than the snipee, and, well, That’s The Internet.

If nothing else, hopefully the message has been sent to DC why folks may object to having that certain writer on that specific character. Not that it seems to matter, but at least we said something.

9 Responses to “The stick and the beehive.”

  • LondonKdS says:

    Isn’t there a risk that the covers will get torn or otherwise damaged if everyone starts opening them to see the SHOCKING plot development?

    (Are there any odds being quoted on what proportion of them will be “[XXXX] is BACK BACK BACK!!!”, “[XXXX] is EVIL (it may appear from a possibly out-of-context image)!!!!” or “[XXXX] has a NEW and EVEN SEXIER COSTUME!!!!”?)

  • Mikester says:

    You know, that would be an interesting project, categorizing the different kinds of “shocks” the covers are presenting. Maybe I’ll do that!

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be some shops that will shrink-wrap all of their copies, so no one will peak without buying. Though I’m sure there will be PLENTY of sites on the net that will reveal all the shocks making it all moot.

  • Jer says:

    People can just zip along the racks, peeking inside each comic and seeing what’s going on

    Or just read the spoilers on the Internet. I’d be surprised if pictures of the full covers didn’t show up on someone’s Tumblr within hours of unboxing.

  • Bully says:

    I hope the inside flap of one of those covers is Angel Love beating up ‘Mazing Man.

  • Mikester says:

    Richard – That thought did briefly cross my mind, but, man, I only have so many hours in the day! :)

    Jer – Yeah, that’s true, too. But I still have enough customers for whom “seeing the comics on the rack” is the most exposure to comic news they get, so I anticipate some cover-flippin’!

    Bully – “GIMME MY COKE, SIGFRIED!” “Angel, no, whyyyy”

  • MrJM says:

    “At least we said something.”

    And for that, I salute you.

    — MrJM

  • Jon h says:

    The WTF will be that every single issue is written by Card.

  • Andre Goulet says:

    yo Sterling!

    thanks a lot for taking a public stand about scumbag Orson Scott Card.

    it’s great to see the comics community making some noise about same-sex rights.

    i have a gay dad and a gay sister-in-law so homophobia really rubs me the wrong way.

    i’m a long-time reader of Progressive Ruin, but now the love just runs deeper!

    thanks again-

    Montreal, Quebec