300 Frank Miller.Sized
Well, the receipts are in and 300 has smashed box office records! Surely the success of the film, based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, will shoot that same GN to the top of the charts as well, right?

Well…Although the book is currently #5 on Amazon’s overall best-seller list, ICv2 went back in to find out how many copies are available, and the news wasn’t so great. The short answer is that Diamond doesn’t have any right this minute, although more are on the way.

Martens also clarified the news on the 15,000 copies of the 300 graphic novel that had “just arrived.” Those copies had arrived in the country and were en route to Diamond. When they are available for distribution (presumably this week), they’ll be used to fill the back orders that accumulated last week. Martens promised a favorable allocation of those copies for the direct market vs. the book channel, with some copies left to fill comic store orders that come in this week.

Last, the additional 15,000 copy order “en route” from Asia is around two months away, meaning that the copies currently in stock in retail stores, soon to be at Diamond, and at book wholesalers will be all of the supply available to the market for some time. Martens did say that additional copies had been ordered beyond those 15,000 copies in an attempt to catch up with demand.


It’s interesting to compare this situation with CAP #25. A few retailers are bleating that “they should have been told!” From where we sit, Marvel couldn’t have done any different here, and they had no idea the story was going to catch on in the media like it did. So retailers are happy to have sold a few hundred copies of a $2.99 comic book, when it seems to us the issue is really selling hundred of copies of a $30 hardcover.

V FOR VENDETTA was the best selling non-manga graphic novel last year, spurred by interest in the movie, which didn’t even do that well. As has been proven many times, comic book movies don’t really boost comics sales that much except when there is a readily understandable, discretely packaged book that tie-in directly with the movie.

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300 is the inverse of Cap #25 — everyone knew it was coming for a year, and there was still a bumpy road. The system is still far from perfect.

[This post has been edited from the original.]

29 COMMENTS

  1. You also don’t know how many retailers — large ones like Borders and B&N have copies in their own warehouses. Amazon has copies as well, it seems.

  2. Here in Montreal there were stacks of 300 in the Chapters and Indigo big book stores downtown this weekend. Maybe Diamond has so few copies because Dark Horse sent them all to the bookstores?

  3. Not sure I’d say 300 is a “four quadrant” film.

    Especially being rated R, and chock-o-block full of violent gore and some nudity. Though I’m sure plenty of “kids” are seeing it – but I still wouldn’t say parents across the board are taking the family out to see 300. Unless they are basing the four quadrant theory on those idiot parents who bring their children to such films.

    Though I’m sure the film studios blurred the promotion as best as possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if some folks assumed this was akin to Pirates of the Caribbean in Greece. Hahah!

    As for the books, I can also add my anecdotal evidence that my local Barnes & Noble has a small stack. But I see Heidi’s point… on paper… either someone dropped the ball, or there’s not enough money to float the ball during such an event… until after the event proves to work well.

  4. I’m glad to read all the reports that 300 can be found in bookstores, since that’s where most of the curious will look for it first.
    At least half of the comic shops I’ve been in recently had very few graphic novels in stock. They’re still clinging to the “floppies” business model and seem determined to stick with that til they have to close their doors.
    Someone should experiment with opening a chain of tiny graphic novel “boutiques” with new issues available, but not as the focus. With some book distributors offering order fulfillment directly to customers for retailer special orders, and with Amazon etc, there’s no reason why any store like that wouldn’t be able to service the general public AND the existing 20-something readers the major publishers seem intent on marketing to exclusively.
    The days of the “boy’s club” comic book shop will come to an end over the next 10-20 years. I hope enough of the existing stores are ready and willing to make the changes in their merchandising and stocking practices to take comics retailing safely through this evolution.

  5. My shop in Arizona, which is aware of things like “movies” and “art books” but nothing to write home about either, has had a few copies of 300 on the “New Comics” shelf for the past few weeks.

    Of course, they are mostly still there, while they can’t keep Cap on the shelves. Heck, they are selling out of back issues from the days when Cap “died” and John Walker took over. Talk about unexpected!

  6. I was just at the Borders in Palo Alto, CA and they had plenty of copies left. I really enjoyed this film and felt that for the visual splendor alone it was worth the $9.

    Stumbled upon a cool site, Zannel, that has all kinds of interesting behind-the-scenes footage which makes you really appreciate the actors’ talents in this film. check it out…

  7. At the B&N I work at, we haven’t been able to order any significant amount in for weeks. As it is now, we only have a couple — which were special orders — and none for customers. I had to turn away about a half-dozen people today alone.

    Meanwhile, no one has asked for anything Ghost Rider.

  8. We have them in stock at the Chapters here in Canada.

    The ogn section has also got quite a bit bigger since last month to boot!

    There’s also a Frank Miller/Neil Gaiman table set up at the front of the store 20% off. Miller’s Batman as well as Jim Lee’s Batman actually and a whole slew of Sandman books.

  9. “Again, look at CAP #25. A few retailers are bleating that “they should have been told!” From where we sit, Marvel couldn’t have done any different here, and they had no idea the story was going to catch on in the media like it did.”
    ————
    I can’t believe you wrote that, Heidi. It’s more than just a few retailers. It’s retailers from coast to coast. See the latest at Newsarama.

  10. “…why is Dark Horse ordering in 15K increments? Is that even vaguely enough? We know this is a $30 book with high production values, but is Dark Horse’s cash flow really so bad that they couldn’t just front order enough…”
    ===========
    Maybe they ordered enough to cover the orders they had at the time. If these were printed in Asia and shipped here by boat, maybe the order was placed back in December.

  11. Someone should experiment with opening a chain of tiny graphic novel “boutiques” with new issues available, but not as the focus.

    M.Lusk- I’ve thought the same before as well, and if I weren’t one of those people spending all day actually making comics, it’d be wonderful to own a store like that . . . with a cafe . . . and sell classics adaptations and study guides alongside coffee to bring in all the college students and free wifi to drag in more customers. :) I imagine you’d need a good location, though. Like across the street from a busy restaurant that has a long wait list (read comics and have coffee during that thirty minute wait!) or in walking distance of a college campus or across the street from a highschool where it could be the afterschool sort of hangout and the kids skip class to read cliff notes and finish their last-minute essays and homework. Even if books weren’t always selling, you’d still make a killing on drinks and snacks. ;)

  12. I see these stocked at all bookstores. it looks like some of them just got new books recently. I dont think you can criticize dark horse, they sold a ton of these books already. Im sure they didnt expect it to be this huge.

  13. Alan: Marvel planned only ONE news story. If there had been a tornado or missing campers, it never would have become a sensation. They overprinted and made them available as soon as possible I honestly think they handled this as well as anyone would have in this situation.

  14. At my shop, we’ve ordered 300 at every opportunity. We’re a heavy graphic novel operation, so we tend to have at least one copy of most books in stock (relying on Diamond and other distributors for weekly restock) and more than that of our top sellers, like Fables, Brubaker’s Cap (before #25… it’s selling even more briskly now), etc.

    We had bumped our minimum in-store on 300 to 5 about two months ago, in anticipation of the movie. About two out of three times when we reordered, it was out of stock. The week before the movie, we ordered 10 from Diamond (the week before that it had been out of stock). We’re currently down to 1, and when I tried to reorder on Monday, Diamond was again out of stock. As was Baker & Taylor, a major book distributor.

    Dark Horse has been better with each movie. Hellboy was very poorly stocked, and Sin City was better but still not great. 300 we’ve mostly been able to get, but the news that a new supply isn’t right around the corner isn’t good… I’m down to one copy, and both of my usual re-suppliers are currently out… if *their* resupply is not quickly coming, that’s a shame. We’ve been selling 300 on a semi-daily basis, at about five times the rate it usually sells… but the heat on the movie isn’t going to last forever, and people want the graphic novel *now* after seeing the film, not a month or two from now.

    From my point of view, it’ll really be a shame if all of those copies are funneled into the bookstore market when I’m doing my damnedest to provide the kind of well-stocked graphic novel store that M. Lusk is pining for, along with a staff that knows comics better than probably most Borders and Barnes & Noble employees. I can pretty much guarantee that my staff are going to be more interested and more capable of engaging a customer who comes in to buy 300 and maybe helping them find more graphic novels, rather than viewing this purchase as a one-time lark into the medium. Not to say there aren’t comics fans amidst the employees of the big box chains, but it’s not necessarily their direct job to keep customers interested in the medium the way it is an employee of a dedicated comic book shop.

    Just my two cents, as someone who has worked retail through all three of Dark Horse’s recent major movie releases.

  15. With foresight, experience, and a bit of luck, it was possible to gauge demand.

    We have over 100 copies in stock now at Comic Relief. By the time the reorders get to Diamond, we’ll have some on back order.

    Yes it would be great if it was in stock now. In the mean time I suggest that DM stores place a back order.

  16. Heidi, thanks for writing this! I have long complained about Dark Horse’s inability to coordinate having graphic novels available when a movie based on said graphic novel hits.

    Sin City was very difficult to stock while the movie was out (plenty after the fact – but unfortunately, my experience has been that movies don’t generate title readership after the movie exits theaters – in fact it tends to kill readership. Sin City, League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Hellboy all sold much better in my store before the movie was ever announced than after it closed in theaters).

    Dark Horse seems to be having the exact same problem with 300 that it’s had with every other movie tie-in graphic novel (and I urge retailers to be careful with their backorders. In a few weeks, when this movie closes, I suspect interest in the 300 graphic novel will close as well – at least that’s what’s happened with ever other graphic novel we carry that’s had a comic adaptation).

    And while I agree with Rory that foresight helps in situtations like this (which is why we have copies in stock too) – a lot of comic shops do not have the budget to order 100 copies of a $30 hardcover graphic novel that takes about 3 minutes to read.

    Also, if we’re going to talk about foresight, we really need to address the foresight of whoever it was at Dark Horse who made the decision to put so few books into the system (unless they don’t have the funds to order tens of thousands of copies of a $30 hardcover graphic novel that takes about 3 minutes to read). But to put this on retailers is sort of like blaming the victim here.

    What I mean is, shouldn’t it should be reasonable for a bookstore to expect that a publisher will publish enough copies of a book to coincide with a major hollywood movie release of the same title?

    Just about every other publisher (from traditional book publishers to DC Comics) manages to plan better than Dark Horse when they have a movie tie-in coming out.

  17. I don’t know if I agree Randy. The Waldenbooks here is Hagerstown, Maryland has someone working there that does more for promoting comics then even most comic book shops. Every time a comic related movie is released, he puts out a table display of trades that are connected to the movie. He usually places them right at the entrance so people can see them as they walk by the store. Being that the mall’s 16 screen theater is near the store, most people walk by the display of trades on their way to and from the theater.

    We recently got a second comic book shop in town. Before that, we had only one shop that did more to drive people away from comics then all the polybagged event crap comics combined. A real hole in the wall that is always cluttered with junk and reeks of cigarette smoke. New readers are much more likely to stop in at Waldenbooks then they would a comic book shop. Especially if that shop smells like an ashtray and everything it sells is covered in dust.

    I have to think on average, it’s better for possible new readers to first go to a Waldenbooks or a Borders then it is for them to seek out their town’s local comic book shop.

  18. Hellboy is a modestly promoted film that does modestly well in theaters. The book is unavailable for order the week the movie comes out.

    Sin City is pretty heavily promoted and pretty successful. The comics are unvailable to reorder for large periods of time leading up to the release, including the week of release.

    300 is heavily promoted and very successful. The book still has problems being readily available for order when the movie hits.

    Am I the *ONLY* one who sees the common thread here?

    On the flipside of the coin, not only were V for Vendetta and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen readily available for reorder, but DC did consignment deals with hobby retailers that got plenty of copies on the market.

    Amazing how much more of the product we retailers can sell when the publisher is remotely competent.

    Tim Stoltzfus at More Fun Comics

  19. For what it’s worth, here in Santa Monica 300 can be easily found at both Hi De Ho Comics and Borders (where they have a nice “Frank Miller and Other Sword & Sandals Epics” display), both of which are within a two-block walk of the movie theater where 300 is playing on two screens to sold-out houses of young’ns. What cannot be found, strangely, is the movie tie-in book, The Art of 300, which was lying around in great heaps last week but has now vanished into thin air.

  20. Rick, I’ll agree that there are certainly some employees at book chains who know their comics stuff if you’ll meet me halfway and agree that not every comic book store is a dusty, cigarette-stinking den of iniquity that women and children (and casual readers) should flee. :)

    You’ve got an anecdotal example of a good employee at a bookstore (and there are plenty of ’em), I’ve got anecdotal examples of clean, friendly, well-stocked comics shops (there are three in my area alone, but Austin has always been a good comic book town)… I think the average is more like 50-50 as to whether a bookstore or a comic book store is better for a new reader looking for graphic novels, and it all depends on the area you’re in, the shops that are available and the staff at hand.

    More to my point, though… is this employee stocking these displays because that’s his job, or because he loves comics and he’s able to do it at his job? Is his manager going to commend him for it, is he going to get promoted for promoting comics? Or is it just as likely that management will decide that display space should go to the latest bestsellers and take the comics display down? The focus of a comics shop employee (or at least a good one) is in selling folks on the medium and giving them comics to their taste that’s going to bring them back. While you can certainly find plenty of bookstore employees who are going to do this because they love the medium, I don’t know that it’s their job. And that makes a difference in how much effort they can put into it, no matter how much the employee might wish otherwise.

    I dunno, maybe I’m just reaching here, but I do think that there are things a specialty market can do that the more general market can’t, and matching diverse tastes to a diverse product is one of the key things. Going the extra mile by offering money back guarantees or a product swap if they don’t like what they buy is part of it, and I don’t see most big box bookstore employees having the freedom to do that.

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