After Image’s Jennifer De Guzman played bad cop, and publisher Eric Stephenson played good cop, Image has released a new set of guidelines to retailers about reprints that walks right down the middle. You can read the whole thing below, but it does offer some pretty significant incentives for retailers to order strong on certain books—not to get too techy, but when the first issue after a collection of some titles comes out, Image will offer a discount if a certain number of copies are ordered over the previous issue. Also, the first three issues of several new series will be returnable—that’s got to be a big incentive for retailers.
Image has a blockbuster 2012 creatively and sales-wise, and being able to offer retailer incentives on issues past #1 is a big part of keeping things that way.
Greetings, retail partners!
As promised in the letter we sent out regarding Saga #7, I wanted take a few moments to further explain our reprint policy.
First off, “policy” is a terribly impersonal word, and honestly, I don’t sit here and think of each decision as “policy.” Like you, I’m just looking for the best way forward, and hoping that it doesn’t take us two steps back.
Now to set things straight from the start, I want to assure you we are absolutely NOT doing what some other publishers have done in the past and laying down a hard and fast rule that says we will no longer reprint sold-out comics.
We just announced that we’re going back to press on a number of recent comics – the first issues of Blackacre , I Love Trouble, The Legend of Luther Strode and Nowhere Men; the latest issues of Great Pacific and Bedlam – and like you, I think it’s pretty essential that we keep printing books like that as long as there’s a demand for them. Every retailer I talk to has told me how difficult it is to gauge demand for new material from new talent, and we definitely take that into account. If it helps build the audience for these new titles, that’s good for all us.
The thing we can’t do, though, is just reprint everything indefinitely.
That was the problem with Saga: We’d reprinted the first six issues already, and it was beginning to look – to us, anyway, or at the very least, to me – like the reprints were becoming a kind of crutch. Looking at the way that particular book was selling out every issue, despite both overprints and a proliferation of new printings, it just seemed like we weren’t building any momentum on something that, by all indications, should have been doing exactly that.
From my perspective, barring extraordinary circumstances, reprinting later issues of a book just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. We did this with the issues of The Walking Dead surrounding issue 100, but I think that qualifies as one of those exceptional circumstances. Issue 97 was not just the first issue after the most recent trade paperback, but also the first issue following the second compendium – and on top of that, the beginning of the storyline leading into our monster 100th issue. We did a big overprint on those issues and still sold out, so it only made sense to go back to press.
If we were doing that on every issue of The Walking Dead from there on out, though, that would be a problem, just as it would be if every book was selling out and being reprinted on an ongoing basis.
So, what we’re going to promise you is that when circumstances dictate that something needs to be reprinted to meet demand: We’ll do that, but we’re not going to just reprint everything as a matter of course. As “policy” goes, I think that’s pretty straightforward.
To ensure that those circumstances are few and far between, though, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure you’ve got the information you need to order as many copies as you can sell or use to entice potential customers to give something new a try.
We’ll continue to offer incentives on new series that allow you to order with confidence. From Fatale #1 in January to Mara #1 this month, we’ve made the first three issues of our a dozen new series completely returnable to accounts hitting certain sales plateaus. Some of you have said determining those plateaus needs to be fine-tuned, so we’ll do that in an effort to make the whole process even easier, but the bottom line is that we want you to be able to get on this stuff upfront, so that none of us have to wait weeks for a new printing of anything, unless it’s really a unique situation.
And when it comes to some of our bigger or longer-running titles that are launching into new story arcs following the release of a trade paperback collection – as was the case with Saga #7 – we are going to see if we can create some incentives that allow you to bring in a greater quantity of those “bridge issues,” so that you can convert some of your trade waiters to monthly customers, or have an easy sell to someone who is just discovering the series through the trade.
Cases in point:
Chew #31 is the first issue of that series following the sold-out issue 30, and the first issue to follow the sixth trade. As writer John Layman tells us, it’s first issue of the second half of the series. We’re going to give everyone who orders that book at 125% of issue 30 another 10% off their order at FOC.
Revival #6 is the first issue of that title following the release of the first trade paperback collection. We sold out of four printings of the first issue, three printings of the second issue and we’ve gone back to press on the others, plus we’ve got a $9.99 introductory trade out there for anyone interested in dipping their toes into the dark waters writer Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton are exploring with this critically acclaimed new series.
So we’re going to give everyone who orders Revival #6 at 125% of issue 5 another 10% off their order at FOC.
We’ll run more incentives like this in the months to come, because while we’re always excited to launch new series and do what we can to push those, I think it’s important that we all recognize that it’s more beneficial to all of us that we promote above and beyond the first issue.
In the meantime, and to follow up on what I said in my recent letter about Saga #7, we do listen to you. In fact, only a few weeks back, Jennifer included a poll in this very newsletter asking some pertinent questions about promotional materials. We only received a smattering of responses to that poll, but the info we got, we paid attention to. We always appreciate any feedback, but honestly – the more we hear from you all, the better.
Thanks, and if there’s anyway at all we can be of help in the future – just let us know.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.