Home Retailing & Marketing Things we learned in Previews

Things we learned in Previews


One thing we learned is that there WILL be a WINTER MEN collection!. As Chris Butcher writes:

5:17pm: Hey look, it’s THE WINTER MEN TP (page 107, $19.99, 176pages). The beloved, beautifully drawn mini-series by Lewis and John Paul Leon. We did okay with this mini–it never set any sales records or anything–but really it’s the kind of thing we’re going to do well with in trade paperback, and hopfully for years to come. Let’s order it like a VERTIGO trade and see what happens.

Joyous news!

We also learned something that has been going on for a while under our very noses, something that would have changed the way we look at the world, something we CAN’T BELIEVE NO ONE TOLD US ABOUT. It seems that there are several publishers who run a kind of variant cover called the Virgin Retailer Incentive Cover. See?

To which we can only ask: who are these virgin retailers and why do they need so much incentive? Are they like the Jonas Brothers?

  1. Re: Virgin Retailer Incentive cover…

    If Publishers are making these to give a boost to new individuals who are trying to get a Brick & Mortar store off the ground, good on them! More LCSs means more variety in comics which means more readers! :)

    the Tiki

  2. Yup. And there was a Transformers exclusive to Target back in May. Not a comic, an actual BOOK with ISBN 9781600105142. (It showed up in the Diamond Book Distributors feed.)

    Of course, the unanswered question is, how does a store lose its virginity? Free Comic Book Day? Ordering comics to acquire that 1-in-250 variant cover?

    IDW is a publisher who thinks outside the panels. They and others should produce “new acount” bundles for a store’s Grand Opening. (Like Comics and Friends in Mentor, Ohio, this weekend.)

  3. Just in case anyone is actually interested, the “Virgin Retailer Incentive Cover” is a variant cover that does not have the logo, barcode, or anything else on the front cover obscuring the art. The number of copies needed to order these is different from book to book and publisher to publisher.

    At the time I opened (almost 3 years ago!), the brokered publishers (Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse) all had special deals for new accounts. I don’t know if any other publishers have jumped onto that program lately.

    My favorite name for a variant is the “Retailer Negative Incentive Cover” most often offered by Dynamite. It’s a cover with the art colored like a photo negative. (Remember photo negatives?)

  4. In a lot of cases, the Virgin Cover just seems like a lame incentive because you’re gonna end up paying more for it than the standard version, even though 1/2 the work went into creating it. It’s the same way that “sketch variant” gets thrown around when it’s really just black and white. There’s a big difference between a sketch and “uncolored”, yet few bother to make that distinction. The Dynamite Bad Acid Trip…I mean “Retailer Negative” variants seem to trade pretty high on the secondary market, even though the process causes them to all look the same.

  5. Thinking along the lines as Quest, I thought they were all virgin retailers. At least, that’s what you’d think of most of them when a woman walks into the store.

  6. Okay, I have a question for comic retailers.

    I buy graphic novels for a regular – non-comics shop – bookstore and got the DC Comics Graphic Novel Catalog : Fall 2009 months ago. Beginning of spring, maybe. It lists whats coming up until the end of the year, including Winter Men. So its great the Winter Men is coming, but its not news.

    Now my question is, do comic shop retailers get this too, or do you rely on Diamond Previews?

  7. Hopefully it means that Diamond realizes that it’s time for distributing Marvel is counting down and they will have to compete with one of their former providers by providing these extra ‘incentives’.

  8. Will: From at least one publisher, the Virgin incentive covers are at no cost to retailers.

    David: Comic shops never get the publisher catalogs from Diamond. It’s possible that some get them through some other method, though.

    Jason and Alan: I’m really insulted by your comments regarding retailers being virgins. Everyone knows it’s the *customers* that are all virgins.


  9. Publishing works like Fashion… books are planned far in advance, with set dates usually announced six months in advance.

    Diamond Previews is two months ahead, and most retailers use this as their primary ordering tool. I do not know if Diamond updates the ComicsSuite data earlier… Diamond Book Distribution (the bookstore/librarian division) does send out data far in advance of Diamond Previews. I process DBD data for Barnes & Noble, and I am seeing titles for 2010.

    Many fans troll Amazon and BN.com looking for early release data. (BN makes some titles invisible to keyword searches based on availability.) A simple search using generated EANs will find these titles.

    Even easier: Bowker’s Books In Print. It costs money, but many libraries offer access. One can search by keyword, publisher, date, author, ISBN prefix, subject… Since Bowker is the U.S. ISBN agency, almost every US ISBN is listed, as well as many foreign books distributed in the U.S. market.

    Diamond Book does publish a monthly “Previews” for bookstores, showcasing the companies they distribute. A PDF is available via the Diamond Books website.

    (Heidi… tch tch… you work for a publication that covers upcoming releases, and you don’t peruse Previews? Say it ain’t so!)

  10. @ Brian Jacoby: Oh, I’m quite familiar with the incentive cost to retailers. To really be an “incentive” of any sort, it SHOULD be at no cost to the retailer. My point was, as a consumer, I’m going to have to pay more than cover price for a cover that’s basically incomplete. It’s not new artwork, it’s not a variant cover. The idea is that it’s virgin so as not to take away from the beautiful artwork on the cover, but not every cover is deserving of this showcase. If it’s a 50/50 split, there’s a chance a retailer will just go ahead and put it out at cover, but if it’s 1:10 or or higher, that cost is being passed along.

    Sure, there’s the argument “if you don’t like it, don’t buy it”, but I feel that it’s a step backwards into gimmicks that somewhat hurt the industry in the 90s. Just my opinion, though.

  11. >>>(Heidi… tch tch… you work for a publication that covers upcoming releases, and you don’t peruse Previews? Say it ain’t so!)


  12. Thanks!

    In many ways comic shops and book stores are very different worlds. I wonder what my job would be like if our customers bought the publisher/wholesaler catalogs and then placed orders. From our perspective a lot of comics retail seems like a special orders business.

  13. (Back before the Internet got pictures, I would comb through the thick seasonal preview issues of Publishers Weekly, searching for new titles.)

    Dave, circa 1994-97, I lived in the District without paying rent. Each week I budgetted $100 towards comics. I had a subscription account at Big Planet (hi, Joel!) and supplemented that each month with a single spaced sheet of special items from Previews.

    I also worked at SuperCrown Books, and godfathered the very small GN selection (no section, it was shelved in Humor or SF). All that was available then to the book trade: Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Cartoon Books, WaRP, First (remnants). Not a great selection, not a lot of titles from each publisher. But I did my best to offer the best, and the Warner Books rep was surprised at how many GNs we sold.

    Of course, it didn’t take off until Viz started selling Pokemon, and Spawn made a deal with Random House, and Fantagraphics signed with Norton…

    Comics stores face a big decision: do you become a bookstore with sidelines, or do you become a hobby shop with a books section?

    For more info on the business side, search out Brian Hibbs on the web.

  14. I’m *delighted* there’s gonna be a Wintermen trade. Absolutely bloody delighted. I mean, i have all the issues, but i wanted a collection so bad. With extra JP ink drawings or something, please God.


  15. Will, All I can say is that’s not what I do with variants. When I qualify for one based on my planned order, I order it. Then, when it comes in, I roll dice to randomly determine which already-existing subscriber to that title gets the variant at normal cover price. That way, everyone gets a fair chance at the variant, and I don’t have to deal with the “But store XYZ is selling it for $X!” nonsense.

    I know most stores do mark them up, and will raise their orders just to qualify for variants, and that’s a valid method of doing business. It’s just not one I participate in.

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