Free TwoMorrows Magazine for FCBD

For Free Comic Book Day, TwoMorrows is giving away issues of their magazines. Press release follows.

In conjunction with the comic industry’s upcoming Free Comic Book Day, TwoMorrows Publishing (publisher of the comic industry’s top historical and “how-to” magazines) is offering an opportunity for readers to try a TwoMorrows magazine free-of-charge.

On Saturday, May 6, anyone who visits the TwoMorrows website can request any in-stock issue of Back Issue, Alter Ego, Draw!, or Write Now!, and it will be mailed to them at no cost the following week. A special banner atop the home page will link to the Free Magazine Page where selections can be made.

“The goal is to expose new readers to our amazing line of magazines,” said TwoMorrows publisher John Morrow, “so they’ll in turn start ordering them at their local comics shop, or subscribe. But I also want to reward our current, extremely loyal readership. My hope is that existing TwoMorrows customers will consider trying a magazine they may not already be familiar with, rather than using this opportunity to fill a hole in their run of back issues. But however anyone chooses to take advantage of this giveaway, I’m just happy they’re visiting our site, where they’ll have a chance to learn about other new items we have coming up, including our newest magazine launch, Rough Stuff.”

TwoMorrows plans to make this an annual event if response is favorable. “I wanted to participate in Free Comic Book Day, but it wasn’t financially feasible for a smaller publisher like us to create and print a special publication to give away through comics shops,” said Morrow. “But for the cost of shipping copies of our existing magazines to individual readers, I’m confident we’ll reach a lot of people who may have heard of our mags, but haven’t actually seen a copy if their local shop doesn’t carry it regularly. It’s a win-win situation in my mind; retailers stand to pick up new customers, and we’ll grow our circulation. I encourage other small publishers to consider trying a similar scenario at their websites.”

I appreciate the gesture, and I think free samples will work well for them as a promotion strategy. (Note that only currently ongoing series are eligible for this offer, driving people to current product, and they excepted The Jack Kirby Collector because its size makes it expensive to send.) However, this completely contradicts the point of Free Comic Book Day, which was created by retailers with distribution assistance in order to bring people into physical comic shops.

In fact, it’s questionable whether TwoMorrows have the right to use the name of the program, since it’s trademarked.

The “not financially feasible” also doesn’t make sense to me, since publishers on a similarly small scale, or even smaller — like AdHouse, Heroic, Renaissance, and Skydog — manage to participate according to the rules.


8 Responses to “Free TwoMorrows Magazine for FCBD”

  1. Ray Cornwall Says:

    While I agree with your objections, I can’t fault them for clearing backstock by giving it away. And even if they did create a special program for FCBD and publish it the way everyone else does, I’m not sure anyone would want a free comic book that doesn’t have any, y’know, comics in it.

    While the trademark issue may be serious, I don’t think they’re hurting the FCBD movement. I doubt anyone who wants a free comic will stay home just because they got a free TwoMorrows mag (even if those mags are quite awesome).

  2. Eddie Mitchell Says:

    Since their stuff is targetted to folks who are already into comics and FBCD is supposed to be a way to draw non-comics folks into shops to check them out, they may be thinking that the intended FBCD audience would not be interested in their output.

    Still, since a lot of regular customers use FBCD as a way to check out new stuff at no cost, they’re missing an opportunity. I wouldn’t think it would cost that much to put together a sampler of some of the best articles from recent issues of several of their titles.

  3. James Schee Says:

    I’m not sure what, if any of these to try. When I’ve tried similar books like this before they seem more about the who behind the stories rather than the stories and time period.

    Which can be interesting in some respects, but dull in others.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Ray, I think it’s a great idea for them — it’s just not in keeping with what Free Comic Book Day is supposed to be. Play by the rules or don’t use the name, is my take.

    And Wizard’s done a giveaway before featuring articles aimed at readers new to comics — it doesn’t have to be comics to be interesting, part of the program, and suitable to new readers.

    Eddie, I agree, a sampler could be a great tool for them.

    James, out of the ones they’re giving away, I like Back Issue best. Alter Ego skews too old and self-indulgent for me, and I’m not interested in writing or drawing comics.

  5. John Morrow Says:

    Everyone, thanks for your comments on our Free Magazine Day offer. Our main problem with doing a “sampler” (which I seriously considered first) is that, by my understanding, to offer such an item, we have to either give them away (ie. pay for all the printing out of our own pocket), or offer them at a ridiculously low price (say, 10 cents each, to slightly offset some of the printing/shipping costs) so retailers can order them at a cheap enough price to warrant giving them out. Based on the relatively small number of retailers who actually stock our mags (as opposed to just order enough to fill their pull lists), I don’t think too many retailers would spend the 10 cents per copy to order a TwoMorrows Sampler to give away, when they can instead order something DC or Marvel is selling for a dime. I suspect they feel that, if they get a repeat customer, they’d rather see a DC or Marvel customer, who’ll net them more in the long run than a TwoMorrows customer. And that’s certainly understandable from a business viewpoint.

    But if only a few retailers order our Sampler, the print run would be extremely low, with each “free” copy costing us possibly more than the cover price of one of our new mags. It just doesn’t make financial sense at this point for us. Don’t forget, we’re publishing MAGAZINES, not COMICS.

    So I felt giving away back issues of our mags would allow us to introduce new readers to them more effectively, and at less cost. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe we’ll try the sampler route next year, but initial response has been great, so I’m expecting it to do really well (and end up costing us a LOT in postage!).

    As for the name? Well, we’re saying Free MAGAZINE Day, which doesn’t exactly infringe. Diamond doesn’t seem to mind, and has been really supportive; they ran a big feature on it in their SCOOP Newsletter, and even listed our web address and a link in the feature (something they normally don’t allow us to do in our Previews ads). So I suspect they see the value of it; if new people discover our mags, they’re more likely to order from their local comics shop than directly from us, and everyone wins. To my mind, this could get more people into shops, or at least more sales for retailers, and that’s the goal.

  6. Johanna Says:

    John, yes, publishers are expected to bear some of the marketing costs, selling their books at 10-30 cents a copy. Everyone involved — publishers, distributor, and retailers — chips in to promote the comic industry. If publishers have some left over beyond orders, they use them as convention giveaways or in other marketing efforts.

    And you’d be surprised, I think, at how many participating retailers order some of every book offered.

    There are also publishers who distribute back stock, as you’re planning to, through stores as part of the day, although their contributions aren’t as valued as those who create something new aimed at new customers.

    It just seems to me that if many other smaller publishers can play by the rules of the day, you could, too. I’m sure they share some of your concerns about cost and coverage, but since some of them participate year after year, obviously, they’ve found it worthwhile.

  7. John Morrow Says:

    It’s the big day (May 6), and our server has been overwhelmed by the tremendous response to Free Magazine Day! We’ve already received several hundred orders in just the first couple of hours. We’re working to address the situation, and will be extending the offer through Sunday, so if you’ve been unable to get through, please try back again during non-peak hours (after 5pm, for instance), or on Sunday once things have died down a little. Thanks to eveyone for their patience and support!

    Best regards,
    John Morrow
    TwoMorrows Publishing

  8. bismark kwesi Says:

    i will be interested in reading your books

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