Alex Zalben has a fine write-up on MoCCA’s ‘To Run A Comic Shop’ panel, which included Tucker Stone of Bergen Street Comics, Gabe Fowler of Desert Island, Robert Conte of Manhattan Comics and Brooklyn Comics, Thor Parker of Midtown Comics, and moderator (and former retailer) Alex Cox, currently of the CBLDF. As usual, that’s a very smart, modern lineup of merchants, and sure enough there was some interesting talk. For instance, some stores actually frown on cell phones when they are used to order comics online—using the brick and mortar store as a showroom of sorts:
Cox then started a discussion about how things have changed in retail over the years. “Stores, in a way, have become showrooms,” said Conti, talking about how customers will check prices on their phones before buying. “The customer has become my biggest competitor because of smartphones.” Fowler agreed with this point, asking that he politely asks people not to use the phones in their store. On the other hand, Stone said that, “Any customer who is going to come into our store to buy things purely on a price level is only going to be satisfied by the Internet.”
And then there’s…BEFORE WATCHMEN.
Stone chimed in that Bergen won’t be buying Before Watchmen, except for customers who pulled it now. “We won’t have it on the wall,” said Stone. “It’s not useful for graphic novels, it’s not useful for small press… It’s only useful for the weekly stuff.”
ComiXology’s David Steinberger then asked Stone from the audience to clarify why Bergen isn’t selling Before Watchmen, to which Stone said, “We’re gonna lose money, we’ll probably lose customers… It was a decision that was made. When I heard that decision, I said that’s a bad idea… That’s an explanation that I’ll have to give over and over again. As time has gone on, as I’ve seen online response to that project… This is just gross, and we don’t want to be part of this one. We’ll participate with the grossness they did to Kirby on the Avengers books, but this one…”
That’s a pretty gutsy move by Bergen Street. We had tweeted this during the panel and got a vociferous response from pros and retailers alike who felt that Bergen Street was being irresponsible and leaving money on the table.
To be continued, naturally.
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.