Retailer Reacts to Viz Exclusive

Dirk Deppey (under the Comics Retailing section) takes apart a retailer complaining that Viz is sending exclusive merchandise to Hot Topic and Borders.

From day one, the vast majority of comics shops in the Direct Market treated manga publishers the same way they’ve always treated any other publisher selling material not prominently featuring Batman and Wolverine: They either stocked a small representative selection or ignored said publisher completely. Viz is dealing with the retail outlets that made the manga industry what it is today, and the Direct Market isn’t it.

Dirk’s right. It’s one thing for a company dependent on comic shops (like Marvel) to undercut a key market partner (although no one seems to have been hurt too much by the Barnes & Noble-exclusive softcover Archives or Ultimate Spider-Man omnibus). But why should Viz care about comic shops when a good portion of the direct market doesn’t even stock their product?

(Not to mention that you deal with one corporate office at Borders and get coverage in thousands of stores. To deal with the direct market, you have to deal with 3000 or so distinct individuals, few of whom agree on anything.)

If you want someone to treat you special, you can’t demand it… you have to show them how you need each other and how you can both benefit.

Update: Dirk reprints comments from Simon Jones (again under the Comics Retailing section — what about anchor links, Dirk?) that make a good point — the retailers saying that they deserve preferential treatment simply because they sell comics, regardless of their size, are often the same retailers who use size as a factor in determining what they carry, paying a lot more attention to bigger publishers.


  1. […] Johanna agrees with Dirk. […]

  2. Mainly anecdotal evidence because I obviously don’t have actual sales data for the whole company, but those Barnes & Noble reprints never sold at the store I work at, save for the ones I bought. We still had some copies of the Ultimate Spider-Man Omnibus up until last spring when it was clearanced out, and the same goes for the Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man, and Uncanny X-Men Masterworks tpbs.

    Their manga reprints fared no better – Akira v.1 HC went to a remainder price in under 12 months and we still have at least a half-dozen copies of Hellsing v1 and Trigun v2 HCs.

    Which is a shame. All of those reprints that I purchased were pretty top-notch, and the Ultimate Spider-Man Omnibus actually led to me getting back into comics after a hiatus for a couple years.

  3. Interesting. Do you think that everyone interested in the products already had them? Or that they just weren’t right for the B&N audience?

  4. The big failure in my opinion is the Ultimate Spider-Man HC because it’s a) it’s Spider-Man and b) it’s recent. The problem is that it was fifty bucks and that’s a lot to ask a parent who comes in and says “My kid wants a Spider-Man comic.” He/She basically had a choice between a fifty dollar skull-crusher and a thirteen dollar book with Ditko art, which isn’t very flashy at all. I was better off showing them a Marvel Adventures Spider-Man digest.

    The manga titles, I can tell you from reactions on message boards, were shunned for two reasons. For starters, those were two of the best-selling manga titles in recent history — most everyone had them and not a lot of people were interested in repurchasing. But for the people who were, many of them expressed doubt at whether or not the whole series would be completed. So they decided to wait, and then it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  5. […] I don’t know anything about Collectible Card Games, so I’m just kibitzing here to cause trouble, because it reminds me of other times spoiled retailers have complained about exclusives. But let me see if I can work this out. […]

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