FCBD Followup

A couple of notes following up on my failed attempt to get more information about how Free Comic Book Day works.

I mentioned there that retailers pay for the comics, but I was reminded that they’re not the only ones who contribute financially to the event. A knowledgeable source says that “Diamond loses money on this every year… the publishers break even at best.” They also mentioned that the publishers reserved approvals but Diamond handled all the administration, which often meant delays as the people doing the ground-level work had to wait for sign-offs. Diamond has responsibility without the power, in other words.

That also explains why the content issues are handed off to the retailers — for legal reasons, the publishers and distributor don’t want to make those decisions. Given that setup, I was told that the “all ages” content decision had to have been made by retailers, not Diamond, although it was understandable that no one wants to take credit for it.

The good news is that retailer surveys do show that the event works and is a success, with both increased sales and new customers attributable to FCBD.

6 Responses to “FCBD Followup”

  1. thekamisama Says:

    Yikes, did they really use the words “loses money”? Most other businesses consider advertising and promotion to be costs, not a loss.

    I wonder if that was a error in speaking or a subtle hint.

  2. Bill Williams Says:

    I’m not exactly sympathetic to Diamond’s claims of poverty. They assume a chore, but no risk on FCBD.

    I participated in the FCBD from both sides. As a retailer, I paid for books to give away. As a tiny publisher, I paid to have some books distributed (which was on top of the cost to have the books produced).

    If Diamond loses money on the FCBD deal, it may be made up by the terrible discount that the retailers who buy my books get.


  3. Johanna Says:

    I think the contrast was between retailers (who have the opportunity on FCBD itself to recoup the costs they’ve spent on free books and advertising through increased sales to new customers) and the distributor, who has no such direct, immediate opportunity. Obviously they feel that it’s worth it, or they wouldn’t keep doing it. There’s also a perception that it costs Diamond nothing to do it, which isn’t true.

  4. Kat Kan Says:

    My LCS is not participating this year, at least not actively. The owner allowed me to order FCBD titles that I will give away in my school, with the store’s name and address stamped on the comics. He has participated in FCBD ever since it started, through last year. Did not get a single new customer for all his efforts and costs. He can’t afford to lose several thousand dollars when there’s not a smidgen of return for him. He only started making a profit after five years of running the store; that was a couple years ago. Since then, rising costs (shipping, utilities, etc.) have eaten up the tiny sliver of profit margin he had. He’s barely breaking even now, so a couple thousand dollars is a huge expenditure for him. We’re hoping that my little push at my school (I’m going to be sending home a “letter from the librarian” promoting comics reading as legitimate recreational reading during the summer vacation) by sending kid-friendly comics home will result in a few new customers. For us (LCS and me, the school librarian), having mostly all-ages FCBD titles is a big boon. Just another perspective here.

  5. WBM Says:

    I agree with Kat Kan. Holding FCBD exclusively at comics shops is preaching to the converted.

    You want NEW customers? Get those free comics into non-fans hands & let the stories draw them in.

  6. Johanna Says:

    But without the promise of bringing new bodies in the door of comic shops, they have no incentive to participate. And if only Diamond and publishers teamed up for an event that didn’t include the direct market, you’d hear lots of screaming.




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