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August 13, 2013

By Request Extra: An About Comics Warehouse Sale

imageThey actually call it an "Empty The Warehouse" sale. What's going on is that the printer that stores some of About Comics' books for them, Lebonfon, is apparently moving away from that part of their business, and is giving the small publisher an opportunity to have cases of certain books shipped their way. Nat Gertler's company is in turn extending this to interested retailing parties -- or, one supposes, fans with a retailing-sized appetite for a bunch of books at a go. So it's not really a "By Request" deal, in that there's no money being asked for for another purpose, but I thought the arrangement interesting enough I wanted to call attention to it.

I exchanged e-mails with Gertler. He pointed out that this is actually a later stage in an ongoing relationship between publisher and printer that's been evolving for a while now. "It is painful, but it would be much more painful if About Comics hadn't gotten out of the traditional publishing/direct market model a couple years back now and switched our new and back-to-print volumes to a print-on-demand & digital strategy," he told CR. Gertler went on to say that the printer, with whom they had been working since the company's first trade, "had raised their warehousing prices by 60 percent around the time we were transitioning to print-on-demand..." This had prompted them to have some books destroyed, cut contributors in on some cheap deals to acquire more copies of their work, and to make a donation of books as premiums to the CBLDF. "I did manage to quickly sell off a lot of things to some obvious markets -- selling off all of our warehoused cases of The Blank Comic Book, making a deal with the Schulz Museum Bookstore for the warehoused copies of our Schulz collections, and even getting Diamond to order a year's worth of some perennial books in advance by offering them a substantial discount to do so. So this is all painful but not disastrous, and in some ways is ripping off a Band Aid brand adhesive strip all at once, rather than yanking one arm hair out at a time."

Another longtime Lebonfon client, Dan Vado at SLG Publishing, told CR he was unaware of a change in that part of his relationship with the printer, but pointed out, "I do not do much new stuff anymore." He further noted that this is was more of an added service the printer supplied; it was never what he and SLG would have called a "core efficiency."
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