- Posted by Johanna on January 20, 2009 at 9:17 pm
- Category: Comic News
With all the discussion recently about the need for changing sales models now that the only new comic distributor is changing policies, I did some thinking about reasons customers (whether readers or retailers) may not want to buy direct from publishers. I bring these up so publishers can be aware of them and work on addressing or overcoming the resistance.
1. With only one outlet, there’s no ability to shop around and perhaps find a better price. I like being able to choose to buy a comic from the place that gives me a loyal customer discount, or maybe I want to reward a place that gives me excellent service.
2. Similarly, you can’t use gift cards or store credit.
3. That leads me to feeling that since print-on-demand books have no economies of scale, prices can be higher than I expect or am comfortable with.
4. Plus, there’s the extra cost of paying for shipping, whether separately or included in higher prices. For a single comic, that can nearly double the price.
5. There’s a huge question of trust. Are you sure you’re going to get the merchandise you wanted in the published condition when you order from someone you’ve never done business with before? Who’s going to cover the loss when a package gets lost in shipping or bent in half by an uncaring delivery service?
6. There’s no chance to browse. Even if we’re talking about webcomic collections, you can’t see the paper quality, whether the binding will hold up, etc. (I wound up returning my first-ever webcomic purchase, $50 worth of books, because they were so sloppily trimmed that the pages were noticeably crooked, and I couldn’t see paying that much for inferior merchandise.) Where the material isn’t available ahead of time, it’s even more of a crapshoot as to whether the work will be worth the $20 or $40.
7. It puts a lot of work on the customer. With multiple orders from individual sources, there’s too much tracking involved to make sure you got what you ordered and were charged appropriately.
8. Most importantly, how do you find out who’s offering something new? Are you supposed to keep visiting various sites to see when something comes out? That’s a time charge to the customer.