PR: What Not to Do: The Sell-Out That Isn’t

I’m glad to see NBM both having a success and celebrating it, but in the interests of accuracy, I have to object to their method of presentation.

Under the headline “Glacial Period Sells Out” was sent out the following:

First Printing Nearly Gone; NBM Goes Back to Press on Louvre Graphic Novel

Glacial Period cover
Glacial Period
Buy this book

Glacial Period, the first graphic novel from Paris’ Louvre Museum, is selling out of its first U.S. edition. To keep readers and retailers from missing out, NBM is going back to press.

NBM has sold more than four thousand copies since releasing Glacial Period — the first of four Louvre graphic novels — at the end of 2006. The book, from NBM’s ComicsLit imprint, was born after artist Nicolas De Crecy felt overwhelmed, small, and ignorant before Louvre’s incredibly rich art collection. The result is a story set thousands of years hence in a glacial period where all human history has been forgotten. A small group of archeologists fall upon the Louvre, buried in age-old snow. They cannot begin to explain all the artifacts they see. What could they have meant? The interpretations are nonsensical, absurd, and farcical.

The critics love Glacial Period.
“A clever upending of the resilient myth that masterworks of art preserve the history and spirit of their era; the meaning of art, De Crecy suggests, belongs to the people who experience it.” — Washington Post
“Humorous, insightful, and touching.” — Comics Buyer’s Guide
“Beautifully painted.” — Book Page
“De Crecy is a gifted storyteller whose eye for body language and ear for a funny line never fails him. He deftly combines art history, science fiction and simple philosophizing in a short but very sweet tale.” — Publishers Weekly
“De Crecy’s art is breathtaking. He lives up to his reputation as a mad genius with this amusing work.” — Booklist

So the book isn’t sold out, it’s just about to, making the headline misleading at best. And as every real book publisher should, NBM is printing more, so there shouldn’t be any impact on customers. What makes it news that the book is finding its audience?

Trumpeting a sell-out only makes sense for those publishers, like DC and Marvel, trying to manufacture collectibles. A respected publisher of diverse works like NBM is here trying to gain the notice of direct market retailers trained to salivate at the idea — along the same principle of high school boys only wanting to ask out a girl after someone else has shown interest. It’s easiest to want what others have already successfully sold.

Bravo, though, to NBM for actually releasing numbers. 4000 may not seem like much, but it’s a respectable amount for a literary/artistic graphic novel. I just object to the idea that this kind of thing is “news”.

9 Responses to “PR: What Not to Do: The Sell-Out That Isn’t”

  1. Brigid Says:

    Yup, and you have to go no further than today’s edition of The Beat to see the opposite: Del Rey trumpeting the fact that Avril Lavigne’s Make 5 Wishes is going back to press four days after the release date–but no clue as to how big that first printing was. Admittedly, going to a second printing that quickly is newsworthy, but much depends on how many copies you printed the first time around.

  2. Ray Cornwall Says:


    …by putting out that press release, you ran it, and I found out about a book that I didn’t know about before.

    As such, does this really qualify as a stupid publisher trick?

  3. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Apr. 16, 2007: Webscabs Says:

    […] Johanna Draper Carlson questions an “our book sells out” press release from graphic-novel publisher NBM. […]

  4. Johanna Says:

    Ray, that’s the “no such thing as bad publicity” school of marketing. Could be.

    Has the press release appeared elsewhere, though, especially on more “mainstream” news sites?

  5. Ray Cornwall Says:

    4 other sites, according to Google.

    I was surprised at the number of reviews for the book.

  6. Tina Anderson Says:

    We had a chuckle about this at Yaoicon last year, when Be Beautiful showed up with an unknown supply of backlogged titles (the supply rumored to have been quite small) and then trumpeted the fact that they were sold out of their stock, within an hour. How many did you print and take to the con? We don’t discuss our print-runs in public. ^^///

  7. Joe Williams Says:

    Actually, I’d argue it’s MORE news than when Marvel and DC do it since they intentionally print to orders thus using the fake “sell out” to get free publicity from “news” sites that mainly cut and paste email press releases. The fact that NBM will sell out of a 4000 print run for a foreign release where the author, as far as I know, has yet to be published in America and a book that deals with a French cultural institution is pretty impressive in my book. We live in a world where the #1 film for every weekend is “news” or where a 70 year old bigot “shocks” people with yet another idiotic remark so really I don’t see what’s to complain about here.

  8. Coming up « Precocious Curmudgeon Says:

    […] the comic-shop arrival of Avril Lavigne’s Make 5 Wishes (Del Rey) only because it came up in this conversation at Comics Worth Reading, and I can use it as an opportunity to mention Nicolas De Crécy’s superb Glacial Period (NBM) […]

  9. Press Release How-Tos » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] We sold some books […]




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