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August 7, 2013

DC Announces Allocation Of 3D Covers At Last Possible Minute Heading Into A Month-Long Promotion…

... and a bunch of other words I'm not all the way sure I know how they go together. Let me try, though.

imageSo between this article by Kiel Phegley and this rant from retailer/advocate Brian Hibbs, what I've pieced together is that DC has announced that they can't match orders on all of the 3D-cover editions of books from their "Villains Month" promotion. The reason they give is that the 3-D covers result in enough of a delay that they are not able to react to fulfill orders even though they printed an extra ton of this stuff. As a result, they are going to "allocate" what they have based on an unclear set of standards that will likely short a bunch of people, if not all of the Direct Market-served hobby and comics shops, in ways that will make for some pretty panicked decision-making when the books finally show up. Further, Hibbs maintains that whatever portion of that hassle involves self-inflicted wounds is merely retailers acting as they've been trained to act, a kind of late-ordering habit from which they were not warned away and for which they have been rewarded several times. As far as the impact within the shops, this means that most retailers have already and in good faith worked with at least some of their customers in terms of having them anticipate, order or perhaps even advance-buy these books, and they stand a very good chance of not even getting those books now, let alone the ones that a more casual fan might expect them to have. Allocations being what they are, these shops are at an even greater risk of disappointing people that invested or at least anticipate certain permutations of this event -- getting all the Batman-related 3D covers, say, or getting a complete run. All of this puts the retailer in a bind, a bind that will not be shared by the publisher because the whole thing makes the 3D covers and perhaps even the covers that will be subbed for them hotter, more collectible commodities.


You know, comics does this every so often. There's this way of spinning incompetence -- or even understandable mistakes -- as helpless and unfortunate circumstances due to the powerful force of the fundamental awesomeness of some item or event. "Don't look at the fact that we didn't prepare well enough to handle paying customers: this show's super-popularity is crushing us." That kind of thing. In this case, it sounds like there's going to be some doubt in the retailing community that this was unavoidable, due to the lateness of word being sent out, and rumors that what's really at issue is the high cost of the 3D cover process. I doubt that there's going to be serious blowback, though, particularly if there end up being short-term gains. I think Hibbs has an interesting take on it in that something like this can almost be seen as a natural outcome of the messed-up world that is selling comics based on dubious, manufactured collectible value. The idea there is that as long as there's money to be made short-term, or maybe even just the "excitement" of "how darn popular this item/event is" to be enjoyed, or in some cases maybe even just a promise of a quick return to normal, it honestly doesn't matter if things are screwed up for a month except, maybe, for one concern: it's yet another failed opportunity to improve on lasting, sustainable relationships with readers based in great part on providing them with entertainment to be consumed in a reliable, professional fashion.

I suspect Hibbs may also be right in that if this becomes enough of a "thing" that DC gets some buzz and heat from it in a "whoa, so much demand!" way, other companies may push at the margins of what's acceptable in order to try and one-up the good folks at DC in search of a similar success story. Comics!

if i'm not supposed to have this goofy image, someone please tell me and I'll aubible
posted 7:35 pm PST | Permalink

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