Diamond to Require Barcodes; Killing Joke Returns

Many of my readers have already heard about Diamond’s plans to offer retailers a new Point of Sale computer system in order to better track their inventory. However, in this PW Comics Week writeup, a repurcussion of that offering becomes visible:

everyone agrees that putting a real POS system in place will save time and give shops more information to make informed purchases, and eventually supply more accurate sales tracking, although sharing sales information is a sensitive issue for many stores. As for publishers, Diamond is paving the way for future scanners in shops by requiring all the products it carries to have barcodes and UPC information by January of next year.

Forcing the use of UPC codes — that’ll be an adjustment for self-publishers.

Also revealed in this article, the Killing Joke is coming back into print. DC had previously folded the story into the DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore collection, but reportedly, neither customers nor retailers liked this choice, although it kept the publisher from having to reprint an odd-sized, small-length title.

Both groups of purchasers wanted the book available on its own. (Which may be why used copies currently start at $36.) It will return as a “deluxe hardcover” with recoloring and “never-before-seen background art”. No price or date yet available.

9 Responses to “Diamond to Require Barcodes; Killing Joke Returns”

  1. Randy Lander Says:

    Y’know, this seems like a bit of overkill. I mean, yeah, I like barcodes, but we’ve been on computerized POS for as long as I’ve been in comics retail, and when a self-published book doesn’t have a barcode, it takes roughly two seconds to type in the name and get it to come up in the system.

    Strongly suggesting? Sure. Offering some kind of discount break at Diamond, or a lower ordering threshold, or some other “carrot” incentive? Great. But requiring everyone to have barcodes seems like pushing a financial hardship (getting barcodes does cost $$, doesn’t it?) on those small- and self-publishers least able to afford it.

  2. Simon Jones Says:

    Yes, in the US, barcodes cost money. But there are options.

    ISBN (for books) is $325 for 10 numbers.

    UPC (for comic series) is $750 for 100 numbers through the official channel. (We just splurged on our own UPC Company prefix this week… perfect timing, eh?) But there are UPC resellers offering single numbers at $100~$300. One could also pick up a BIPAD number (same as UPC, but offered specifically to periodical publishers) for around $300.

    Yeah, it’s bad for self-pubs… but the potential upside is that automated tracking/ordering may result in higher sales, whereas before the retailer might just forget about the book. That’s what we’re hoping for, anyway.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Randy, I doubt “suggestions” would cause anything to change. On the one hand, this makes self-publishers become more professional in one way; on the other, it adds yet another barrier to the traditionally low method of entry for comic creators. I wonder if this will mean more books becoming part of one of the collective groups or multi-title small publishers?

    Simon, thanks so much for providing that information. I wonder if any retailers will talk about what their new sources of data show them, especially in areas they weren’t expecting.

  4. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Sept. 13, 2007: The man who sold the world Says:

    […] In comments at Johanna Draper Carlson’s site, Simon Jones gives some basic info on ISBN and UPC pricing. Elsewhere, Connecticut […]

  5. Jamie Coville Says:

    Requiring bar codes likely means those self/small publishers that don’t have much financing will likely disappear.

    To be blunt, I suspect Diamond and many retailers want exactly that. Most shoe string publishers don’t advertise their books in any significant way. The work itself is often amateur and extremely difficult to hand sell. For a lot of folks, these books make Previews a bloated pain in the ass to read through every month. A publisher that can’t afford $100-300 for a bar code won’t likely be around for long anyways.

    I’ve heard some people suggest slimming down Previews would be a good thing for the small publishers that remain in there. If the back of the book isn’t a chore to read through, then more retailers might read through it and order some of those books.

  6. Simon Jones Says:

    I don’t think this is a conspiracy to slim Previews down at all, but for the sake of industry-wide modernization. Yes, the extra expenditure for barcodes may be a limiter to some… but so is the cost of an ad in Previews, or the $600 sales threshhold, or the cost of offset printing (if anyone can scrounge up the minimum $1000 for a print run, the $300 for the barcodes should be relatively easy.) It’s just the cost of doing business. Every other book distributor out there have long required these things. The market needs this to grow… and a robust market should benefit everyone in the end, theoretically.

    (And frankly, after seeing the cost of the Diamond POS system to retailers, I’m not complaining too much about the barcode prices anymore.)

    On a tangent… I’m an advocate of splitting Previews up into several different catalogues by genre, which is what book distributors do. I honestly think porn comics do relatively well (i.e. we get to break into top 300 occassionally) because we have our own Previews Adult catalogue. People who want porn (especially those who are just browsing for it) can more readily find it.

  7. Lew Says:

    It seems that just about all the comments have to do with the UPC codes being a requirement for the new comics pos system, so I will not comment on that issue since as a comics buyer, it’s really not that important to me…now bringing back the ” Killing Joke ” as a deluxe hardcover edition with extras would be just great. I would pick it up in a heartbeat. This was a riveting story, and probably one of the most twisted looks into the mind of Batman’s #1 villian and of course the fate of Barbra Gordon.


  8. An0n Says:

    You can also work the system and get an UPC code overseas. It’s an international standard, so it should be valid anywhere. In most countries you can get a book ISBN for free, why is so expensive to get one in the U.S. is beyond me.

  9. Marvel Eliminates Barcodes on Collections » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] years ago, Diamond announced that all products they carried must have barcodes. I know Marvel is a premier publisher, so they can set their own rules, but this seems like a […]




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