August 16, 2013
DC Entertainment Sends Letter To Retailers Regarding Allocation Of September's Special 3-D Covers
So a couple of you sent me the letter from DC Entertainment about September's 3-D covers being allocated after a big build-up, and the various moves DC has made in response to this. I guess the main piece of news is that they are going to re-solicit the "complete set" orders, so that -- I'm guessing -- fans that wanted the whole bunch of them can still get them, just in early 2014 rather than when they're coming out. I suppose that's a solution, although you end up in a potential Deathmate
situation of orders reaching fans far, far after the hype cycle that may be a factor in their being interested in the order. This also opens up DC to the charge of profiting from an artificially-created demand situation they themselves facilitated, with the vast majority of the pressures that came about as a result settling on the retailer. What else...? Well, it looks like the allocation list is up now, and retailer can at least cut orders if they want, as long as that information is into DC by August 23. I don't suppose many will use that opportunity to bail out in a hardcore way -- too many have customers that enjoy these aspects of comics, and desire to serve them -- but at least there's some flexibility in how they approach that month, if only flexibility in one direction.
The belle of the ball here is probably this section:
5. Why didn't DC print at least as many copies of each of the 3-D motion cover issues as they do on the regular monthly series?
Orders greatly exceeded DCE's expectations. We did not anticipate that the demand for these covers would be as large -- or larger -- than the demand for each monthly series. The 3-D motion covers also required a much longer production time than normal covers, so we had to set print runs on these issues out of cycle. As more retailers saw sample copies, orders continued to build beyond the print runs we had set. There was also a physical limit to how many copies we could print due to availability of the special cover stock.
That just sort of sounds crazy to me, although admittedly this isn't my field. 1) I can't imagine they didn't expect these 3-D motion covers to sell super well and if they didn't maybe they should have, and if they should have but still didn't maybe a shrugged-shoulder "we are helpless before the awesomeness of our product offering" stance isn't the way to go here, despite its effectiveness for years and years now. 2) They didn't seem to do anything in the ordering process from the retailer's side of things even in terms of getting information to retailers to reflect this supposed structural impediment. 3) If there were limitations all along, maybe that should have been communicated up front rather than after orders were in, and maybe goosing the system with preview copies when you knew there was a limited amount of oxygen in the submarine was probably a bad idea, too. Brian Hibbs' general take that there is a very established way that retailers do orders now that is encouraged by these companies, and that what happened here runs even more counter to that emerging and pretty much already right there set of practices, also rings true.
So I hope retailers remember this and stay mad, and weather the storm in fine enough fashion that they stay healthy and can make strong decisions the next time something like this comes around, only with the full knowledge that this kind of thing may be the result. Comics has this weird aversion to rewarding good behavior over time, and the end result is a corner of the industry that is both dominant but that also probably operates as the lowest percentage of its reasonable potential of any expression out there.
posted 6:30 am PST
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