Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

December 13, 2012

Missed It: Image Comics Curbs Expectations Of Open-Ended Multiple Printings On Certain Comic Books

imageThere's a full write-up at Robot 6 on an apparent decision announced by Image Comics to curtail the policy of automatically reprinting successful titles deep into the serial runs in order to meet additional demand. There are some interesting issues at play there, and none of them are goofball fans, 90 percent of them sporting wacky sobriquets, ranting about greedy companies out to get retailers. Basically, it's a meeting of tensions in the way that market is set up. Allowing retailers generous access to more comics via additional printings allows them to throw support behind titles in their incipiency as they get an idea of what the demand will be in their stores. A publisher like Image, whose model depends on the creators funding additional print runs, might worry that this is enabling retailers to underorder on certain with the idea they can lean on the notion that more copies will be available, while more aggressively ordering from other companies. The idea is that certain titles have earned the trust of retailers as to their performance in order to be more aggressively ordered the first time around.

The risk, of course, is that you make angry supportive retailers that no matter if it's fair in the little-kid sense of the word or it isn't, really do need the room carved out for them by the Image approach to best manage their entire offerings while still driving traffic to those books. I also have some sympathy for the position that it's the publisher that should bear overprinting from the beginning rather than the retailer making sure their orders reflect perceived potential demand. From my standpoint as an outsider, my vastly under-informed standpoint, it's always seemed like there are several delicate tensions in the market where the policies of one publishers can generate room to maneuver that benefits others -- or at least doesn't come back in full to the publisher offering the support via whatever means they're doing so. My hunch is that this kind of thing is more about finding what policy works best as opposed to the bombast that sometimes comes out in rhetoric about such moves, the betrayal of trust stuff or even the "you're doing it wrong" accusations. It seems to me this is a give and take thing, and we'll see if the move has the desired effect.
posted 5:00 pm PST | Permalink

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