Sales on the New Frontier LinkBlogging

The Collected Editions blog speculates that DC is using solicitations for collections as test marketing — and only the books that get enough pre-orders will go to print. The author (couldn’t find a credit) lists several recent offerings that have been cancelled, mostly of series that no longer exist and weren’t big sellers when they were running, and then shares his thoughts on why he doesn’t pre-order (an opinion I share):

DC solicited REBELS: Starstruck in August for December release; the book came available in most stores for pre-order in September, and then was announced as cancelled at the end of October. That’s not much time for readers to get their acts together — and literally no quarter given to what I’d imagine are the large majority of readers who don’t want to pay ahead of time for a book they won’t receive until four months later, and instead want to walk into a comics shop or bookstore like a normal person, see what’s out that week, and then make their purchasing decisions….

I’m not sure I like a system where I have to put down my money early in order to certify a book even gets printed (like the Groupon approach to comics buying), especially when book contents have had a tendency to shift and change sometimes from solicitation to arrival.

Speaking of sales figures, as reported by Heidi, another comic professional is complaining that estimating numbers at which titles sell is a horrible thing responsible for people losing jobs. I’m not sure why he wants to kill the messenger. The facts exist whether they’re reported on or not, and as Heidi points out, every industry loves their rankings and business coverage. If you’re worried about your book being cancelled, do a great job, make sure the writing and art are the best they can be, and do what marketing you can (and the company will allow). Trying to tell potential customers that they can’t speak on certain topics seems counter-productive. This is also not a new debate; one of the sales figure analysts responded to a similar argument three years ago. Meanwhile, Tom Spurgeon makes the case for why sales figures are important,

because what sells and to what extent is basic information about a marketplace, and the shape and potency of a marketplace seems to me a primary item of interest for anyone covering that marketplace. It’s foundational to our understanding of how things work and why. Certainly this information is already manipulated to brazen effect by companies with something to put over on customers; I have to imagine this would become worse under a system of no information at all being released.

Congratulations to Jennifer Hayden (Underwire) for winning the Literary Death Match at the Miami Book Fair International. The victor was determined based on pleasing the crowd with a reading, following by a spelling bee of authors’ names. The idea of a public reading of a graphic novel (usually via slide show) is a great one to show people how approachable comics can be.

Jennifer Hayden (with medal) and friend after winning literary death match

Last, Boom! Studios has announced the most exclusive variant cover ever (via email):

a Joe Jusko cover for OUTCAST #2 which will ship to retailers with a certified CGC 9.8 Near Mint grade. The Jusko variant will only be available graded by CGC, and only as a retailer incentive, ensuring that it will have one of the lowest print runs for a mainstream Direct Market publisher ever.

What a weird world this is, when bragging about the lowest print run ever is now a good thing. At least sealing the book in a plastic coffin acknowledges that variant covers are only selling one pretty picture, not a real comic to read. If it were me, just to be annoying, I’d put something in these issues — a coupon for a lifetime subscription to all of Boom!’s publications, for example — that you’d have to break the seal to get. And of course there’s no word on how many copies retailers have to order, or what they’ll be charged, for this exclusive rarity.

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