STANDING UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS.
My name is Mike Sterling, and I sell comic books for a living.
This is going back a year or three, but someone created a "Comic Book Reader's Bill of Rights" way back when (which can be found here...may need to scroll down to January 10th) which detailed a few mostly reasonable expectations fans should have from their hobby of choice.
At the time, on my weblog, I posted a "Comic Book Retailers' Bill of Rights" as a semi-tongue-in-cheek counter to the Reader's Bill. This wasn't an attack or parody or any such thing of the original Bill, so much as just a response from a fella what works on the other side of the counter. Coming across it while scanning my site's archives, I thought I'd revisit the topic all this time later, with some revisions and additions. So, without further ado...
THE COMIC BOOK RETAILERS' BILL OF RIGHTS (AND RESPONSIBILITIES).
As a comic book retailer, you have the right to expect clear and concise solicitation information from publishers.
As a comic book retailer, you have a right to expect a monthly comic book to be published monthly, not bimonthly, weekly, daily, or whenever Marv..er, the publisher feels like it.
As a comic book retailer, you have the right not to be a daycare center.
As a comic book retailer, you have the responsibility to carry a wide range of comics and graphic novels, not just Marvels and a handful of DCs. Carry some manga, for God's sake...it won't kill you.
As a comic book retailer, on a note related to the previous item, you have the responsibility to carry books for all ages, not just the primarily late-teens and adult market the big companies primarily target. There are plenty of kid-friendly books out there, and not just the Marvel Adventures or DC animated-universe comics.
As a comic book retailer, you have the responsibility to be reasonably informed. Who's working on what book, expected arrival dates, what books are shipping late, "what's that artist's name who drew the early issues of Marvel's Conan," what forthcoming titles are tying into which major crossover, what the new format on the Love & Rockets books is going to be, which Eightball books are currently in print...you know, stuff like that. I'm not saying that you need to know all this stuff off the top of your head, but at the very least, you should know where to look it up. (One word: Google.)
As a comic book retailer, you have the right not to be expected to offer a discount to a customer just because he's buying what he calls "a whole bunch of comics" (i.e. about $10 worth).
As a comic book retailer, you have the responsibility to make a good faith effort toward obtaining comics and graphic novels requested by your customers, if they're available for preorder or reorder. You also have the right not to be blamed if said comic or graphic novel is out of print or otherwise unavailable.
As a comic book retailer, you have the responsibility to keep on top of your stock, to keep the popular graphic novels and comics available, to keep an eye on what's selling and what's not, and to reorder items when necessary.
As a comic book retailer, you have the right to not have your entire work day monopolized by one customer cornering you and telling you, in excrutiating detail, every aspect of his particular obsession. "I'm glad you like Dragonball, sir, but it's been three hours and other people need my help."
As a comic book retailer, you have the right to respond to a "customer" going on and on about "this comic was cheaper at another store" and "you don't have this comic? The other store did" and "your selection of Caber-Man is disappointing -- the other store has much more" and "the other store gives me 50% off everything" with "then perhaps you should go back to that other store and shop there, instead" Granted, you'll never see that customer again...but really, are you gonna miss him?
As a comic book retailer, you have the right to totally bust people who are clearly just sitting around mooching free reads off the comics and obviously have no intention of buying anything. Browsing for something good to buy is one thing...being a cheapskate is another thing entirely. (You don't have the right to smack a customer with the learnin' stick who's mooching a free read off one of the recent spate of promotionally-price 25-cent comics, but honestly, you should.)
As a comic book retailer, you have the right not to believe a customer when he tells you that he has a copy of Action Comics #1 at home. (Just through personal experience, this would mean there are something like a hundred copies in our immediate area.) However, you probably do have the responsibility to not laugh in the person's face, and maybe, if you think it won't cause anyone to get too bent out of shape, to try to determine which reprint of Action #1 the person actually has in order to set that person straight.
As a comic book retailer, you have the responsibility to make your store a nice place to shop. One would think this would be obvious. Sweep, clean, stock the racks, keep the obnoxious music off the store stereo, change those posters in the front window that are now all the same sunfaded blue color, wear clothes that aren't torn or stained.
As a comic book retailer, you have the responsibility to be attentive to your store, to help customers when they need help, to not be staring at the TV or playing a game of Magic: The Gathering instead of providing customer service.
As a comic book retailer, you have the right to be respected as a real business, given that you treat it as a real business.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or complaints, please feel free to e-mail me at cbg (at) progressiveruin.com.
-- Mike Sterling