DC announces a returnability program in the direct sales market for THE PLAIN JANES, the debut book in the MINX launch:

With this month’s solicitation of THE PLAIN JANES, the inaugural title from Minx, DC Comics’ new young adult graphic novel imprint, DC offers qualifying Diamond retailers full returnability on THE PLAIN JANES at a future date.

“We have a great deal of confidence in THE PLAIN JANES as a title that can sell well in all channels,” says Bob Wayne, DC’s VP – Sales. “With that in mind, we’re offering comics retailers this low-risk way to increase their orders on the title.”

Retailers may qualify for this offer as follows:

DC Comics Retailer Discount Minimum Qualifying order

35% 2 copies
40% 2 copies
50% 4 copies
52.50% 4 copies
55% 6 copies
56% 10 copies
57% 15 copies

For example, a retailer with a 50% DC Comics discount must order a minimum of 4 copies of THE PLAIN JANES to qualify for full returnability.

The offer is valid through the Final Order Cutoff date of March 8, and only in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. DC will announce the return window for this title at a date to be named later.

THE PLAIN JANES is solicited in the February Previews (Volume XVII #2) and is scheduled to arrive in stores on May 16.

They also announced JLA #0 and THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES IN THE 31ST CENTURY #1 as their Free Comic Book Day offerings:

THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES IN THE 31ST CENTURY #1, DC’s gold-level title for this year, is all-new, all-ages Johnny DC series spinning out of the smash-hit animated series on Kids WB on the CW! In this debut issue, the Legion travels back in time for reinforcement to stop the Fatal Five from destroying Metropolis because this looks like a job for – Clark Kent?! Can six teenagers from the future help a mild-mannered teenager become the Man of Steel, or will the Fatal Five determine his destiny before it’s even begun?

THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES IN THE 31ST CENTURY #1 is a 32-page comic book written by J. Torres, with art by Chynna Clugston-Flores and a cover by Steve Uy.

DC’s silver-level title is JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #0. Best-selling author Brad Meltzer broke the JLA down in the top-selling, critically acclaimed IDENTITY CRISIS – and now he puts all the pieces back together again! The core heroes of the DC Universe, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, are back – but where do they stand with each other? Join us for this historic and unforgettable new beginning of the Justice League of America as we look at the past, present and future of the World’s Greatest Super Heroes!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #0 is written by Brad Meltzer, with art by Eric Wight, Dick Giordano, Tony Harris, George Pérez, J.H. Williams III, Luke McDonnell, Paul Neary, Gene Ha, Rags Morales, Ethan Van Sciver, Kevin Maguire, Adam Kubert, Dan Jurgens & Kevin Nowlan, Jim Lee, Howard Porter & Dexter Vines, Andy Kubert & Jesse Delperdang, Phil Jimenez & Andy Lanning, and Ed Benes & Sandra Hope, and a cover by Michael Turner.

Both of these titles are solicited in the February Previews (Volume XVII #2). Retailers, please see this month’s order form for details.


  1. Waitasec. A retailer’s discount goes up because of volume, right? So a retailer who gets a 50% discount is, from a certain point of view, a “better” customer than the one who gets a 35% discount, right?

    So since a customer with a higher discount has to order more copies in order to get the benefit of returnability, isn’t that soemhow penalizing the “better” customer? Making that “better” customer work harder to get an advantage more readily granted to a “lesser” customer?

    I’m sure there’s something (many things, probably) I’m not understanding about this one…

  2. It’s a scale thing, Tommy, designed to get a maximum of shelf space for the Minx titles in the larger comic book stores. Since the books are fully returnable, if they take the alloted amount or higher, it is supposed to entice larger retailers to give the books a chance. From a marketing point of view, the idea makes perfect sense.

    Well, except that leap in copies between 55 % and 57 %, from 6 to 15, which is a bit high, but I wouldn’t be able to say how many LCSs have the highest discount rate… there might be a bell curve involved in the analysis that preceded this offer.

    The thing, though, is that with full returnability, the risk for retailers to carry this launch book is minimal, putting the risk more on DCs doorstep, in very much the same way the risk would be with them if they dealt with bookstore chains.

    Based on that alone, they must believe in that line very much.

  3. Well, I understand the principle behind the offer–trying to incent stores to take more copies, and to get larger stores to take even more copies–but I still think there’s something weird, or goofy, or complicated, or I-dunno-just-plain-*something* about the way this offer is structured, if only ‘cuz it does seem to penalize larger retailers just as much as it incents them.

    (And, because someone will point it out, I’ll just say it now, though full returnability does indeed shift a lot of the risk to DC from the retailer, it’s still worth remembering that the retailer does pay freight–both for stuff coming in and, presumably, for returns going back–which though not necessarily a huge amount, isn’t nothing and is probably enough to affect some retailers’ thinking.)

    Heck, they could’ve just offered full returnability on any orders of X units, regardless of customer size. Or they could offer overshipment (“Get one additional copy for every three ordered” which would, theoretically, get more copies into the larger retailers.) Or some something different that can’t be interpreted as “Here’s a nice extra thing we’re offering, and if you’re a small customer, we’re making it pretty easy for you to qualify for it, but if you’re a big customer, we’re making it more difficult for you to qualify for it.”

    Still, it’s indeed an eloquent statement on their belief in the product, and will likely redirect some business back to Diamond from that set of retailers that increasingly buy books from book trade wholesalers because of the partial returnability they offer. (Don’t know if this offer will sell significantly *more* books, but might significantly change the routes through which the books are sold…)

  4. DC offers qualifying Diamond retailers full returnability


    Of course, I’m curious how this’ll affect ordering through other distributors such as Ingram who’ve always offered full returnablity (and certainly at a better price for the mid and low orders than Diamond is offering). Do regular book stores typicaly purchase DC titles through Diamond? Or through the usual major book distributors? I can’t imagine book stores using anybody that didn’t offer returnability on their product. Is this how DC plans also on getting better distribution in book stores as WELL as encouraging the direct market to purchase more books?

  5. Btw . . . just a thought . . . but unless Diamond starts making this a regular thing, shouldn’t the direct market keep in mind that if the books don’t sell, they still have to pay for the shipment back? For stores that do this on a regular basis, the cost isn’t so bad because they can ship a bunch back in bulk at once, lowering the cost per unit, whereas if it’s just a few titles . . . well, on something you paid $5 on that cost a dollar thirty-five to ship to you and a dollar thirty-five to ship back, you’re out a little over half what you paid for the product, plus having to pack and mail it.

    IMHO, it’d be nice to see if Diamond started expanding the number of titles they allow returnability on so that it doesn’t become something they can say, “Oh, we tried it on this one title, but it didn’t work, so we won’t do it anymore.” IMHO, for the idea of a returnable product to work, it has to be on a much larger scale.

    That’s just IMHO, though, and others or free to correct me where I’m wrong. I’ve worked in publishing, but only from the side of the publisher, never from the retailer. I’d be happy to be enlightened. ;)

  6. >Do regular book stores typicaly purchase DC titles through Diamond?
    >Or through the usual major book distributors? I can’t imagine book
    >stores using anybody that didn’t offer returnability on their product. Is
    >this how DC plans also on getting better distribution in book stores as
    >WELL as encouraging the direct market to purchase more books?

    DC’s book products are distributed to the book trade by the Hachette Book Group, not by Diamond. Most “regular” book stores that buy DC’s book product almost surely buy from the Hachette Book Group, or from wholesalers (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bookazine, etc.) that are supplied by the Hachette Book Group. That being the case, this incentive program pretty clearly seems to be directed at getting comic book shops to increase their poistions on this book, and have little if anything to do with how “regular” book stores respond to the book. (DC may well have other incentives/promotions planned for the “regular” book sector, but this one pretty clearly ain’t one of ’em.)

    >…shouldn’t the direct market keep in mind that if the books don’t sell,
    >they still have to pay for the shipment back?

    Yup. And I imagine that those comics retailers who’re savvy enough to track their freight spending will indeed keep that in mind.

    An incentive promotion like this can always be scrutinized, analyzed, and constructively criticized (before, during, and after it’s execution), but (as has been pointed out above) the fact that DC’s made this full returnability offer underscores their faith in the product, and that’s not trivial at all.

  7. I am so happy that DC has stepped forward with two separate books for retailers to give away on Free Comic Book Day.

    Our thanks to DC for listening to the feedback and providing these exceptional offerings for the support of our finest day.

  8. I’d think there’d be a bit more comparing DC’s FCBD reprint offerings versus Marvel’s completely new offering. Or something about how the FCBD Legion offering is coming so quickly after the copy that customers are expected to pony up cash for.