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Saturday, May 21, 2011 

Why the sell out announcements are meaningless

IFanboy writes about why the announcements DC and Marvel make that some of their books have sold out and they're going to run reprints don't really mean anything. I've been aware of this myself for a while, because the announcements don't actually say how much was sold, and indeed, when you look at the sales charts, we see increasingly how they actually sold very measly sums less than 100,000.

In fact, there's something here that also gives a clue to why the market is so bad off:
The comic book direct market isn’t like a typical retail ecosystem, for many reasons. One of the major differences is the lack of returnability. The majority of periodicals sold in conventional outlets are returnable; and distributors and publishers have to accept that unsold inventory as it’s returned. The direct market, via its agreement with Diamond, is not allowed to return most comics. If a store owner orders 50 copies of a particular comic, and only sells 10 copies, the store owner is stuck with the 40 unsold copies. The publisher already got his money for the 50 copies, and has nothing left to worry about. As a result, store owners have to be VERY careful not to over-order, because they pre-pay for their inventory.
This is what happens when you've got virtually just one distribution service to deliver the books around. That's exactly why pamphlets are no longer a good way to publish comics, because Diamond has effectively monopolized the whole system to the point of corruption, yet the companies won't even make a serious effort to shift to a different format, because they really don't care about gaining new readers in better markets.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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