I’m actually a lot angrier about this than it may seem in this post.

§ July 28th, 2021 § Filed under free comic book day § 7 Comments

Just wrapped up an extremely long day at work, dealing with both the new comics shipment and the Free Comic Book Day shipment, which amounted to an enormous number of shipment boxes I had to bust open and sort out. On the plus side, unlike the last few weeks, this shipment was relatively light in shortages and damages…in that I only had a few compared to the nearly unbearable amount of errors that had been the norm of late. On the minus side I got about at about 11:30 Tuesday night with more set-up waiting for me in the morning before I open for new comics day sales. Let me tell you, my boss sure overworks me sometimes.

During my open hours, one of my regulars happened to comment that he saw some of the current batch of FCBD offerings up on the eBays at ridiculous prices, which I’m sad to say doesn’t surprise me. It’s always something, each and every year, but especially not a shock this year, with Peak Speculation running rampant in the market and everyone trying to exploit a character’s “first appearance” or whatever it is that’s got ’em all riled up this time around.

I didn’t get a chance to peek at eBay ’til a little later, and friends, I’ll admit it really cheesed my crackers this time. Usually I just look at it and think “oh well, That’s Our Industy!™” and go about my day, but every time, every time, someone’s gotta take an opportunity to do some community outreach, a chance to build customer goodwill, and just throw it in the trash in exchange for getting ten bucks for a comic you’re supposed to be giving away for free.

That’s typical for our business, continually finding ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m a huge advocate for Free Comic Book Day…I know I get the same questions every year about “how does this help?” and “do you get repeat business?” and so on and I really should just create an FAQ because boy am I tired of having to answer those every year.

Rest assured, yes, if you do it right, FCBD pays off. I make a big deal about how every FCBD I’ve participated in (and I’ve done it each year since it started), we ordered lots of comics, gave them away freely and without restriction, and we’ve never lost money on the event due to that day’s in=store sales. And all our customers went away happy. And yes, we’d have people come back and mention their FCBD experience as the reason for their return.

Even now, as a person running his own much smaller store than the ones I used to work at, I still manage to put out a generous spread. And not one of my customers walks about of a FCBD thinking “boy, that guy was sure stingy with the comics.” I give away as many as possible to as many people who want them. And (something else for the FAQ) with no limits in place, yes, some folks take one of each, but plenty of people only take one or two. It all balances out. And it really doesn’t take much to make it profitable…a storewide discount or two will encourage purchases.

But if you’re restricting distribution beyond reason (like, only offering a book or two per customer), or requiring a purchase to get the freebies, or selling the things on friggin’ eBay instead of handing them to someone who might actually read it…sorry, that’s doing it wrong. And I’m sure I’ll get some pushback on that, because I always do (sometimes even from comic creators, who should really know better). Seriously, though, the absolute bare minimum of Free Comic Book Day is “giving the comics away for free,” and if that’s too much for you, stop pretending to participate.

7 Responses to “I’m actually a lot angrier about this than it may seem in this post.”

  • philfromgermany says:

    And not one of my customers walks about of a FCBD thinking “boy, that guy was sure stingy with the comics.” I give away as many as possible to as many people who want them.

    This made me think about those “customers” who think FCBD means every comic book in the store is for free.

  • Thom H. says:

    It’s honestly the worst feeling when you follow the rules and other people don’t. Cheating and taking advantage of others seems like it’s becoming more prevalent (from my vantage point in the U.S., at least), which is aggravating and disappointing.

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    When is it this year? I remember, back in May, the owner of my FLCS said “August,” but I’m not sure of the date. Is it the 7th?

  • Andrew L says:

    I often hear about shop limits on fcbd, and I’m sure a financial aspect comes into it, but only since going to a shop back east one time did I really feel, I guess spoiled or maybe privileged being able to see the big table spread and pick what I liked at the store.

  • John Lancaster says:

    Preach it, Brother. That right there is one of the things I don’t miss. I can’t believe it’ll be 5 years (in October) that I haven’t worked in a shop. Every day away seems like an instant, and an eternity at the same time.

  • JohnJ says:

    I never got to deal with FCBD at my store since I closed 20 years ago after being open for 14 in a small town. There’s been one attempt by someone else to open a comic shop here which lasted 3 years.
    The current owners have all my sympathy, having to deal with multiple titles for the same few characters, not to mention the zoo of variant covers nonsense.
    It still all seems to boil down to the basics of selling 10% of what numbers used to be but at prices 5 times (or more) of what they used to be. All while dealing with the same basic arrogance of the Big Two.
    It really seems like it’s tv and movies that are keeping comics afloat.

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