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    • CommentAuthormorganagrom
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2008 edited
     (491.1)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    So Boom is trying an interesting strategy - traditional serial publication while simultaneously releasing the full contents on myspace for viewing and even downloading.

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=12728

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=12724

    Apparently some retailers are outraged. "Reaction to this decision from the retail community has been strong. On the Comic Book Industry Alliance message board, a private forum frequented by comics store owners discussing retailing issues, numerous retailers were outraged that the physical “North Wind” they were selling in their stores was also available online for free. Some were especially upset because they didn’t know the MySpace promotion existed when they placed their orders for the series."

    From the article, it doesn't appear that Boom even had the deal in place when the initial orders were made. So how could Boom have notified the retailers in advance? Even if the deal had been in place, why should Boom have notified the retailers? Doing so might have led to even lower initial orders, and possibly leaks of the business model to the general public.

    Boom could be extra-magnanimous about the whole thing and offer returns to retailers if they have any extras, though there's certainly no moral obligation to do so. Rather, this should be a sign of the times, that comic publishers can and should embrace alternate first-level distribution. DC and Marvel pretty much own the direct market, and the direct market appears quite happy with this arrangement. Savvy publishers have adapted to find other markets. Perhaps now it's the direct market's turn to adapt.
  1.  (491.2)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    Another interesting article on newsarama with more retailer feedback:

    http://blog.newsarama.com/2008/01/11/retailer-response-booms-myspace-promotion/#more-6676
  2.  (491.3)
    Oh, the retailers were always going to be up in arms. Extra respect goes to Ross and the Boom! crew simply because some retailers feel they have permission to "go after" small publishers.

    Not that that'll happen so much now the book's sold out at Diamond and going to a second printing. Nice work indeed.
  3.  (491.4)
    This is the sort of thing that is regularly done for Creative Commons releases.

    I'm thinking about releasing the digital edition for my next book *first*.

    (Maybe using it as a form of cheap copyediting *Mwah-ha-ha-ha*)
    • CommentAuthormorganagrom
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2008 edited
     (491.5)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    Tom Spurgeon made an interesting point in his blog that was worth sharing regarding whether Boom should have felt "obliged" to consult the direct market retailers:

    http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/retailers_on_northwinds_twin_release/

    If someone doesn't do this, they don't get their hands lopped off in nerd court, but it probably will and arguably should affect how these shops order such books in the future. That seems fair. Of course, that's also where you run into the first wider issue -- very few shops order books like the one being talked about here, so almost anything used to goose sales is going to work out better for an enterprising publisher not Marvel or DC than playing ball with an historically disinterested entity. Then you get to the issue of to what degree retailers are obligated to pay attention to what they're selling to know how they're being sold elsewhere, and then the issue of what constitutes competing product or a PR maneuver in terms of how much material is available for free, and whether this works and for whom and why and so on and so forth, and then you're 28 posts in a thread and hating yourself and someone just walked into the office asking for the monthly QA reports and you're screwed.
    • CommentAuthorepalicki
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2008
     (491.6)
    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but didn't Marvel do something similar with Bendis' ELEKTRA #1 some years back, running the entire issue in Wizard ahead of the book's release?

    I may have imagined the whole thing, but if I remember correctly the sequence of events was this:

    1) Marvel previews entirety of ELEKTRA #1 in Wizard Magazine.
    2) Retailers complain. "No one will buy the book now," they moan.
    3) Book makes the Diamond Top 10; sells out.
    4) Retailers shut the fuck up.

    But, like I said, I may have imagined the whole thing...
    • CommentAuthormorganagrom
    • CommentTimeJan 14th 2008 edited
     (491.7)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    Who knows. What I think is cool about this promotion is not only is the first part free online, but Boom is making each part free online as they're released in print. That Elektra book was just the first part anyway.

    One interesting thing about this is that it starts to blur the line between "mini-series" and "graphic novel." the 5-part serialization is going to read as a complete book anyway when it's all done. Perhaps one day the common place in the non-big 4 scene will be to release the story serially online and then make the print publication available in the direct market. I'm sure there will be retailers who will complain about that too for not getting the opportunity to make money off of product (the serialization) that they wouldn't have ordered anyway.
  4.  (491.8)
    One thing that needs to be remembered is retailers are ordering comics non returnable. So if the myspace thing costs them sales instead of improving them, it's the retailers who pay the price, not Boom!

    If Boom really, honestly, truly believes that Myspace will move more copies, then they can make the issues returnable. If they sell like they believe it will, none will be returned and retailers won't be on the hook anymore. That is what retailers are asking for. A lot of this isn't so much about the money but the principle.

    Also, be weary of company press releases. Sold out at Diamond doesn't mean sold out at comic shops across the country. What it often means is barely enough overprint to cover shipping damages.
  5.  (491.9)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    I second everything that Jamie Coville said. He has it exactly right.
    •  
      CommentAuthorRandy74
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008 edited
     (491.10)
    Jamie makes great points, remember too Warren many of us make a living selling print comics and aren't going to take a promotion like this lightly, making plans or possibly planning to cut orders drastically in the future on BOOM, we have over 270 subscribers here in my store and many that buy BOOM titles and AVATAR titles, not strictly a capes-centric shop.

    Many of our customers work in tech and IT postions, and no one thought this promotion was agood idea, previewing the first pages or even a first issue of a comic will maybe drive people into a store to buy a print comic, but offerring the entire comic series free is absolutely not going to do anything to help sales on the print comic. Maybe some non-comic readers will read it becasue its FREE, thats about that. Also assuming that a sizeable contingent if any of the comic reading populace is even aware of MYSPACE, have MYSPACE accounts or the MYSPACE promotion is also a good question, we have maybe over 2500 friends on our page with maybe 100 of them being our customers, MYSPACE is a great promotional tool but i still think offering the 1st issue and then driving people to stores would have been the best way to guarantee sales on the comic.

    Ultimately im not too worried, if these small publishers think cannibalizing thier own product by de-valuing it is the right way to go, they have something to learn about economics and running a business.

    I also love the contempt funneled at retailers, its amazing that the direct market has carried the industry on its back for over 25 years basically acting as franchise's absorbing promotional costs, overhead, and keeping licsenced properties in the public's eye and increasing awareness of those products and goods while reaping minimal rewards and profits.

    As far as them selling out i can almost guarantee the print run was no more than 15-20K, not anything to write home about.

    We sold out of it, 10 copies of a $3.99 book but not a single person that bought it was aware of the myspace promtion and think about it, why would we tell them, they may read 2,3 & 4 free and decide not to buy them at all.
  6.  (491.11)
    Geeks are in many ways a joy to market to. There's a strong underlying need to physically own stuff in the wider geek community. Not just to own some stuff, but wherever possible to own all of it. The same phenomena that make variant covers a viable marketing tool also mean that merely seeing something on a computer isn't enough for your traditional obsessive geek, having the issues filed away in the collection is important.

    I recognise this impulse in myself both in terms of comics (although these days I have to try and wait for the trade due to chronic funding problems) and music. I've spent a lot of my life involved in the underground metal scene, one of the few musical scenes to be more or less unaffected by downloading. The hardcore fans want to have the CD in their hands with all the art and liner notes and so forth. Underground record labels take advantage of this phenomena by re-releasing albums with new art and a couple of bonus tracks. They know that hardcore fans have the completist gene that will force them to buy the album again, simply so their collection is complete.

    I used to read a lot of comics without buying them when I worked in a book store that carried comics. I always bought the trade paperback when it came out. I'm just hardwired to want to actually own stuff that I think is cool.

    Small comic publishers are mostly marketing to hardcore geeks. To get a hardcore geek to buy something all you really need to do is make them aware of it. Putting the issues on MySpace sounds like a very good way of doing just that.
  7.  (491.12)
    Sold out at Diamond doesn't mean sold out at comic shops across the country. What it often means is barely enough overprint to cover shipping damages.

    Almost no-one does overprints that small anymore, and I certainly can't imagine Boom! doing that. What it means is that the re-order action cleared out the rest of the printrun housed at Diamond, which would be no less than 15% over pre-order total.

    Also assuming that a sizeable contingent if any of the comic reading populace is even aware of MYSPACE, have MYSPACE accounts or the MYSPACE promotion is also a good question

    I don't understand this sentence.
    •  
      CommentAuthorRandy74
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008 edited
     (491.13)
    Neither do i warren now that i see it quoted.

    I never claimed to make sense, i guess what im getting at is just how much of an affect can a promotion on a social network have?

    I tend to bleed at the fingertips when discussions involving my livelyhood spring up, sometimes making little to no sense after i read what ive typed.I get the same way when technocratic hipsters & minimalists start discussing the imminent demise of the paper and ink format comic book, its just aint gonna happen but thats another discussion for another thread.

    I think that was the point i was trying to make, and this is coming from someone that uses MYSPACE daily as a business and networking tool.

    What im saying is that its all a lot of HYPE, and i wonder what that translates into as far as numbers, how many views and or is there a way to guage a similar title launch and wether or not it has an affect without a free online promotion.
    Retailers questioning the tactic have every right to our opinions and our assertion that the product should be returnable.
  8.  (491.14)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    No retailer lost any sales because no retailer is in the business of selling digital downloads of Boom! comics.
  9.  (491.15)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    As for the returnabilty issue, Boom didn't change the product at all between orders and publication. Why should they feel the need to authorize returns? Retailers got exactly what they ordered. Where in the order agreement does it say anything about direct market retailers being entitled to exclusive first-dibs on the product?
  10.  (491.16)
    Two words: Girl Genius.
    •  
      CommentAuthorRandy74
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008
     (491.17)
    Morgan, how can you be so sure about that? mass telepathy?

    As far as returnability, when you offer as a publisher a product for FREE that i paid for to resell at a set cost, thats a change, any change to that degree should automatically qualify it for returnability.
  11.  (491.18)
    i guess what im getting at is just how much of an affect can a promotion on a social network have?

    Well, I imagine that that is precisely the experiment being conducted. Presumably, one result of that is Boom! blowing through its overprint in a few days (although, of course, we have no access to numbers to determine exactly what that re-order velocity and volume was).

    Retailers questioning the tactic have every right to our opinions and our assertion that the product should be returnable.

    And punishing Boom! financially in the meantime?

    "many of us make a living selling print comics and aren't going to take a promotion like this lightly, making plans or possibly planning to cut orders drastically in the future on BOOM"

    I mean, you can assert all you like, but with the current information that Boom! blew through an overprint within a week (for, I think, the first time in its publishing history?) -- thereby selling more comics in many stores than were initially ordered -- following a large MySpace promotional program...

    ...well, that is going to make retailers who choose to punish Boom!, or those who make assertions of required recompense, look a bit... churlish, maybe? That might not be the word.

    But right now the story is that after a MySpace promotion comics stores sold more comics. I'm not saying that's the true story, but it is the current story, and retailers are going to have to work to change that, rather than making threats (veiled or otherwise) against the company in question.

    I mean, seriously, think for a second: if the story is that retailers have re-ordered more copies of a Boom! comic, and more quickly, than they would ordinarily do -- what do you look like for demanding with the other hand that the book be made returnable?

    I'm not unsympathetic, and the Boom! program isn't the way I'd have done it, but you've got a tough one there.
  12.  (491.19)
    Morgan, how can you be so sure about that? mass telepathy?

    If you've got the answer, then give it.

    As far as returnability, when you offer as a publisher a product for FREE that i paid for to resell at a set cost, thats a change, any change to that degree should automatically qualify it for returnability.

    I imagine you'll find that promotional "copies" aren't covered under the sales agreement, for obvious reasons.
    •  
      CommentAuthorRandy74
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2008 edited
     (491.20)
    Warren, all good points and i admit my bias and my obvious suspicion of this promotion and its percieved effect, most of whats been covered are a handful of retailers ranging from backing the promotion to indifference.
    On CBIA an all retailer forum, theres a lot less enthusiasm about the promotion and some glaring stories that aren't being covered about this whole situation. I think a lot of us as retailers do feel we are owed a certain amount of cooperation and consultation, maybe rightfully so because at least for now we determine the success of many a title based on our orders, hand-selling & promoting things primarily without help from the very publishers and distributor that somtimes seem to be working against us.

    I sold out of my copies so i wouldn't have returned any and i also re-ordered the book and increased reorders as well for issues 2-5 mostly becasue sci-fi and post-apocalytic adventure series like Wasteland and Fear Agent etc, do very well with my customer base. My feelings on the matter are that if i do see that a publisher is making designs to move material that they are offerring me to the net for free without consultation and i can quantify the loss of a single sale then i will take drastic actions in cutting orders or whatever i have to do, its a slippery slope as far as im concerned.