- Posted by Johanna on March 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm
- Category: Comic News
I found this analysis by Brian Hibbs of what Marvel’s doing wrong with its double-shipping strategy fascinating. Sure, Hibbs’ is only one store, but he’s one of the ones willing to be relatively open with numbers in an industry where hard data is too often lacking.
The strategy I refer to is one where Marvel ships more than one issue of their periodicals in a given month to increase sales. (KC pointed out that they’re planning to do this 25 times in May.) Hibbs criticizes this plan for shortening the shelf life of the affected titles, but also because “what happens when you produce your comics twice a month is that the decreasing demand curve does nothing but accelerate because you’re giving readers more opportunities each month to ‘jump off'; and, in fact, you’re making it considerably easier TO jump off, because it is that much easier to get behind.”
I know I’m having that problem with Amazing Spider-Man, which KC and I both were enjoying. I held onto one issue so I could read that and the Daredevil crossover together, and all of a sudden, I’m five issues behind.
Hibbs concludes his post with a shocking data point about sales compared to subscribers:
today in February of 2012, I’m selling fewer copies of AVENGERS and UNCANNY X-MEN, including both subs and rack sales than I was selling of AVENGERS and UNCANNY during the Year-Without-Racked-Marvels [when the books were available to subscribers only]. That’s CRAZY. I had like 32 subs alone for UNCANNY back then — now I can barely sell 20 copies TOTAL of UNCANNY. Because UNCANNY is $4, and because it ships more-than-monthly, I’m grossing more dollars now than I was then… but it’s too a tiny audience, with little prospect for growth… because it is $4 and more than monthly.
Sometimes too much of something you like will turn you off. Fans no longer want to buy as many Marvel comics as the company expects them to. The Marvel zombie, that mythical fan who once upon a time bought one of everything the publisher released, is long gone. Nowadays, it’s more like a hiring manager. When reviewing a huge pile of resumes, the manager isn’t looking for candidates to keep; instead, she’s looking for reasons to discard items to make the pile smaller. Comic readers are looking for reasons to cut books to save money. “Taking advantage of my loyalty” is as good a reason as any to drop a title these days.