3,000 copies of the Swamp Thing one-shot should be about enough.

§ May 25th, 2014 § Filed under retailing § 1 Comment

So on Friday I sat down and started crunching some numbers on how to order the coming Futures End 3D covers. As I’m sure you remember, the last time DC tried 3D covers, it turned out production time was longer than they expected and they couldn’t fill initial orders. This time around, however, retailers are being asked to send in orders well in advance of release to allow (hopefully) sufficient lead-time for DC to print enough copies.

Last time, sales were driven by demand created by news of short supply. People were more or less interested in the 3D covers as it was, but the news that retailers weren’t receiving full orders created a huge buying frenzy, much higher than anyone would have expected. It’s hard to say, had initial orders been filled in full and no short-supply sales frenzy had ensued, just how accurate my original estimates of sales would have been. I think I would have been close…numbers enough to cover pull lists and rack sales and then a reasonable number of extra copies to handle what I guessed would be the additional sales the fancy covers might have attracted. There was no way to predict that 1) DC would end up allocating orders, and 2) that panic buying would have resulted.

This time, my planning includes numbers enough to cover pull lists and rack sales and then a reasonable number of extra copies to handle what I guess may be the additional sales the fancy covers will attract. The comics won’t be here for four months, two more months than the usual gulf of time my precogniscent comic-ordering abilities normally have to span, and if I have trouble predicting an out of the ordinary comic-buying frenzy two months out, I don’t have a chance at four months.

Now, it’s not hard to guess on some titles. The 3D covers for Batman and Harley Quinn and Justice League and other top-tier titles will probably sell great, and will continue to sell for some time to come, assuming no panic-driven immediate sell-outs. Orders for other titles, like Trinity of Sin: Pandora, with readerships about half that of my grocery lists, can probably safely be ordered at significantly lower numbers. Again, assuming no panic-driven immediate sell-outs.

Perhaps you sense a recurring theme. “I should have enough, assuming something I can’t reasonably predict doesn’t happen.” I can order enough to cover regular sales. I can, in general, guesstimate orders on enough extras to cover additional sales driven by interest in the 3D covers. I can’t guess if there will be, say, a mass media driven frenzy from people who don’t normally buy comics coming into stores to grab what they can. Or, some other kind of interest spike that will come as a surprise.

Will this be Superman #75, the Death of Superman issue, where retailers’ orders of lots of copies were completely overwhelmed by an insane amount of consumer demand? Or will this be Adventures of Superman #500, the “sorta the beginning of the return of Superman,” which retailers ordered huge numbers on, anticipating an demand equal to that of Superman #75, and, well, go ask some retailers how many unopened cases of that book they still have. But not me, or I might throw an unopened case of, um, a certain unnamed book at you.

There are lots of outcomes here. Given the extra lead time to print these new 3D comics, every retailer should get what they order. But will too many retailers order well in excess of what they actually need, assuming a demand similar to what happened with the 3D covers last year, resulting in a flooded marketplace and depressed sales? Will retailers order too conservatively, with the possibility of perhaps supply only just meeting, or just barely not meeting demand, giving the impression of more shortages which will cause, like last year, a spike in demand for books simply because they’re “hard to get?”

And there is that unpredictable factor I mentioned several times already, that a huge demand will come out of nowhere, or at from outside the usual comics-buying market, outstripping anyone’s guesses or predictions, causing the 3D cover supply to dry up yet again.

My best guess right now is that, this year, everyone will order just a few too many, that there should be plenty to meet expected sales, and there probably won’t be an unpredicted excessive demand stripping our shelves of these books. But, as mentioned to me by Ralph…remember Ralph? co-owner of the store and owner of all the old comics Ralph…if everyone orders too much this year and gets stuck with copies, then if they do this again next year, everyone will cut orders, and there won’t be enough to go around, and I’ll have to go through this again but with any luck I’ll finally be in my dream job of deep sea fishing by then and won’t have to think about any of this.

Regarding this year’s crop, however, we’ll see how I did on my ordering in a few months. Hopefully at that point this site won’t turn into “Mike Sterling’s Progressive 3D Cover Marketplace” where I try to get you guys to buy a different Futures End book each day. On the plus side, that’ll get me back up to posting seven days a week.

• • •

Between my writing this post Friday night and finishing it Saturday night, there was of course that terrible shooting in Isla Vista. I attended UCSB in the late ’80s/early ’90s, and would regularly wander through I.V. between classes, have lunch, shop at the record and book stores, or just hang out. It was an interesting and crowded community, and to hear about this awful tragedy there was just sickening. My sympathies to everyone there, to the victims of the violence and to their family and friends.

One Response to “3,000 copies of the Swamp Thing one-shot should be about enough.”

  • Robert in New Orleans says:

    I don’t know why, but I’m unenthusiastic about this next round of 3D covers. Like last time, I looked for the right combination of characters and creative team to figure out which ones I should ask for, but this time I only found a few that seem interesting. Maybe it’s because I’m not buying / reading Future’s End? Anyway, the ones that strike my fancy are Grayson written by Tom King art by Stephen Mooney and Wonder Woman written by Charles Soule art by Rags Morales.