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Saturday, January 18, 2020 

DC seems incapable of selling older archived material successfully

Bleeding Cool recently wrote about DC apparently cancelling quite a few trade collections of older material, which they claim is inexplicably not selling as they go further along with the numbering and consecutive years for the issues collected from decades before, and probably today's too, though that's decidedly a different story. It says here:
DC Comics has traditionally ruled the roost at the bookstore, a reputation for a strong relationship with the bookseller market, with perennials like Watchmen, V For Vendetta, Sandman, Preacher, Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, Hush, All-Star Superman and many more making for constant bestsellers. But of late, there appear to have been quite a lot of cancellations of solicited collections by DC Comics. Some are repackaged in other forms. Others are not.
They posted a statement by -surprise, surprise - Dan DiDio, taken from Facebook, where he said:
We had a very poor 2018 with our collections. It forced us to reevaluate what we were collecting and how, so you saw a lot of changes taking place. If you saw the cancellations that occurred after solicitation, that’s probably because there was no appreciable interest for these titles-meaning that we couldn’t hit the minimum number to justify print. I’d much prefer just to cancel books than to have devalued product out there. We have to find ways to make our collected editions valuable, so that people want to purchase them and put them on a shelf. We also have to reevaluate these collections of six issues and out-when you collect six issues of a periodical regardless if it’s a complete story. You’re going to see more tweaking going forward, but I feel like we’re in a very good place.
My, how odd. I wonder why they had such a poor year or two? If this is the archives dedicated to the Golden/Silver/Bronze/Iron ages, I honestly don't understand...unless DiDio's got some blame to shoulder for his piss-poor management, to say nothing of wasting so much money on all sorts of modern series that get relaunched almost as often as Marvel's been doing with theirs for over a decade. This sorry excuse for a company executive even said:
We’re finding diminishing returns on the books with numbering on spines-they take the same periodical cadence that comes with our regular books. Every subsequent number drops precipitously. The longer those numbers run, the lower and lower those print runs become. Also, I want to make sure we’re clear about what’s in that book. That’s why the title’s more important. I’d like someone to pick it up for the reading experience rather than straight numbering.
Depending on what eras these trade collections are dedicated to, I wonder why the audience would supposedly lose interest? If it's stuff from the aforementioned past ages, I'd argue the consumer's making a huge mistake. If it's more recent stuff, however, including stories written by Brian Bendis and Tom King, you're not missing anything. And if you're wondering about something bad from the 90s that was cancelled, according to what's told on this Reddit thread, a planned 3rd volume for the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern run was cancelled, as also confirmed here.

When it's something that shoddy, I can't say I'm surprised if it didn't hold up. As far as the Ron Marz-penned farce of the 90s goes, it suggests ever since it ran its course, people have re-evaluated, lost interest, don't see it as aging well. Plus, there's the fact it came on the heels of a prior run by Gerard Jones, a scribe who since was imprisoned for a serious felony. I'm guessing that could play into the failure of the Kyle Rayner material as well, because people could be wondering where the prior 1990-93 material is, put 2 and 2 together, and realize it all adds up to a whole shoddy volume, a now classic case of political correctness in more ways than one. There was even a trade collecting Geoff Johns' run on Shazam that got cancelled, which suggests his own influence is thankfully waning, and proves his own work doesn't hold up well in retrospect.

But this still doesn't excuse DiDio's clearly bad management that undoubtably played a part in any trade collection being cancelled, supposedly because numbering turns off the readers. I know the Marvel Epic Collections series usually just puts the numbers on the rear cover, but they still have products with numbering on the spines coming out, including Walt Simonson's well regarded run on Thor in the mid-80s. So there's definitely something selling with spine-based numbers around.

Unfortunately, as I may have noted before, neither DC nor Time Warner as owner will hold DiDio accountable and get him to resign his undeserved position over what's clearly horrid conduct that's undermining sales of older material, and explaining why we're not likely to see trades collecting the original 1983-86 Omega Men for a long time, seeing as it's one example from an era where story quality was considerably better that hasn't seen the light of day again in reprints. The Len Strazewski/Mike Parobeck Justice Society material from the early 90s - which saw the debut of Jesse Quick - is another item that was cancelled and so far hasn't been resolicited. Though in that case, IIRC, they were going to reprint it only in hardcover! Given hardcovers are often more costly than paperbacks, why do they think it's prospects didn't look good? This reliance on too many hardcovers is another problem that's got to end, but not so long as DiDio keeps running the store. An utter disgrace.

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