While we know readers love our comparative sales charts compiled monthly by Paul O’Brien and Marc-Oliver Frisch, we also know not everyone is a fan.
Several professionals have suggested in the comments section and elsewhere that the charts are a self fulfilling prophecy: retailers see a comic sliding down the charts, decide it’s a goner, start ordering less and sure enough, the book is cancelled.
We took these comments seriously enough to ask several retailers at the recent Diamond summit what they thought of this idea. The notion that we are somehow killing worthy books by running these charts is a distressing one, and we were open to taking action based on the reactions we got. Did retailers, in fact, base their orders on what comics were doing on the charts?
Among the folks we talked to, the answer was a clear no. “I make my decisions based on what sells in my store, not what’s on a chart,” said one, summarizing the general consensus. However, one person did allow that a BAD store might base their orders on something they read on the internet as opposed to actual sales charts. Depending on the number of bad stores, this could be a factor.
This is something that the advent of POS systems MAY (accent MAY) alleviate. We’ll have more on that in a future post, but for now, suffice to say that anything that gives retailers more accurate sell through numbers is a very good thing for publishers at all ends of the spectrum.
And speaking of these controversial sales charts, Marc-Oliver Frisch addresses many of the main complaints against them in this post:
As it frequently does in this context, the question of the usefulness of the available direct market sales data comes up. And not surprisingly, not everyone’s convinced of it – the most vehement criticisms, in this instance, come from creator Brian Wood (DC Comics/Vertigo’s DMZ, Oni Press’ Local). Wood is arguing, in a nutshell, that the direct market sales index information provided by Diamond Comic Distributors, the sales estimates calculated from it by ICv2.com and others, as well as the frequent publication and analysis thereof, are wrong, harmful and – that’s the impression – generally and wholesomely evil.
You should read the entire post for his thoughts.