Not a sponsor, but could be.

§ February 7th, 2024 § Filed under retailing § 7 Comments

So I got a couple of promotional emails for Comic Shop News, the freebie newspaper that’s been running for decades and given away in comic shops. The emails’ focus was on pushing a multi-part preview for a forthcoming comic and making sure we all had enough on hand…

…but the surprising part was the information that Comic Shop News (CSN here on) was only carried in 10% of comic shops. Or “top 10% of comic shops” as they put it, thank you, I’ll take the compliment.

That number honestly shocks me. I mean, I know personally of shops that don’t carry it, but that always felt to me like the exception, not the apparent rule. I’ve always carried it at my shop (except for the occasional time when Diamond forgets to pack it into my boxes, or somehow manage to send me a single copy of CSN instead of the bundle of 90 or 100, bafflingly). And my previous place of employment always carried it as well, from the very beginning. Somewhere in the home archives, I have a #1…and at that same, you can see the pic of #0(!) which was sent to retailers to sell ads.

Having a print newsletter like this may seem archaic in this modern age of beepity-booping and looking everything up online, and may be part of the reason why so many stores stopped carrying it, or never carried it at all. This reticence seems a little strange, particularly since these shops’ clientele should be predisposed toward consuming print media anyway, so why would they resist a free newsletter?

But the fact of the matter is…not everyone is living online constantly. And if they are online, they aren’t necessarily looking at comic news sites (such as they are). There are some customers for whom “walking into the shop and looking at the rack” is their primary comics news source. Having a free newsletter they can pick up, take home and read seems to be appreciated by all my customers, regardless of how online they may be.

It’s a good sales tool, in that I have a number of folks who’ll walk in with a copy of the paper, folded and marked up with notes, or maybe clippings of specific ads/articles, asking after ordering the items therein. Plus it’s just a good customer relations tool…people like free things. Even those who are just wandering through the store trying to figure out what all this stuff is will ask if they can take a copy, and, you know, sure! Maybe they’ll look through it and, even if they don’t find something they want to buy, they’ll at least get an idea that this is a real business with a whole world of activity that they’d not been exposed to before.

What I enjoy is the occasion person who asks if I print up these CSNs myself. Geez louise, the very thought of putting together one of these every week on top of running the shop just makes me exhausted.

Anyway, I feel like carrying CSN has more positive aspects than negative ones. I can understand if some shops don’t carry it because their budgets are just too tight and need to trim where they can (“do I spend the money on comics to sell, or one a giveaway telling customers what to buy?”). Or maybe they’re just carrying comics as a side thing. But a full-service shop should carry Comic Shop News as well, in my opinion.

• • •

Writer Nancy A. Collins (novelist and former Swamp Thing scribe) is facing some big medical bills, and could use a hand. If you can drop a few bucks in her GoFundMe, I’m sure she’d appreciate it.

7 Responses to “Not a sponsor, but could be.”

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Unfortunately not currently buying comics, but thinking of the various comic shops I used to visit over the years, I’m pretty sure the majority carried the CSN. 10% seems ridiculously low. Maybe I only patronized the most discerning of comic shops, I don’t know. Or maybe a lot of shops that used to carry it have dropped it.

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen a copy in…a couple of decades, honestly. I’m always surprised when I see it in Previews; “They’re still making that?” It’s kind of cool though!

  • Thom H. says:

    Now I have to check my LCS to see if they carry it. I don’t think I’ve seen it, but I’m also not usually looking for it.

  • Chris V says:

    My local comic store I frequent has always carried CSN and gives away a copy to each costumer who makes a purchase.
    Another local comic shop I used to frequent did not carry CSN, and they went out of business. Coincidence? Yes.

    CSN revamped their paper within the past year. It’s now like an attempt to recreate the latter-day Wizard magazine (after being a price guide became an afterthought for Wizard) in miniature rather than the specific preview newsletter it used to be. It does now contain a list of all the comics scheduled to ship the following week though, which can be somewhat handy. I don’t specifically spend that much time looking at comic books news sites online, but I do regularly visit a website which previews which comics will be shipping the following week.
    My local store does still carry CSN, but they seemed somewhat unenthused with CSN deciding to change its format.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    RIP Jose Delbo-Wonder Woman and Batgirl artist extraordinaire.

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    10% seems high to me. I can only think of a couple of shops in the New England area I know that carried it, and they all closed over the last decade or so.

    Delbo was the regular artist on Transformers when I started it picking it up monthly off the newsstand rack. It was great to be able to meet him at a con a few years back.

  • Mike says:

    My main LCS Comically Speaking in Reading MA has a display right when you walk in of CSN and other giveaways e.g. promos from Marvel or DC. I also go to Chris’Comics in Salem NH they give it to you with a purchase. Until I read this I assumed every store had them!