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

March 12, 2007 Copies of 300 “Evaporate”


The comics business news and analysis site has a succinct piece up indicating that despite assurances just last week that there were enough copies of 300 to meet demand considering the 300 movie and Dark Horse's previous problems getting movie-related books to outlets in a timely fashion, what we know today is that all copies out there have been sold and newer copies are weeks and weeks away from hitting the ports. Whether or not this leads to another lost opportunity for Dark Horse to fully capitalize on movie-driven interest in one of their titles has yet to be seen -- I guess it could be argued that all comics shops and bookstores anticipated both the demand and likely supply and ordered perfectly as a result.

Are there any retailers out there that can sum up supply and demand issues on 300 in their stores? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) I'll put anything I get back into this entry, starting below.


Chris Butcher, The Beguiling: "The Beguiling has definitely experienced a surge in demand, and it's one we were able to meet thanks to massive, massive stocking on the title. If we had to rely on Dark Horse and Diamond's ability to get us the product in a timely fashion, I know that we would've experienced frequent periods of unavailability. I'm not really happy about not having any faith in this supplier, but we learned from the last few movies that this is, unfortunately, the way we have to do business with Dark Horse to make our customers happy."

Mike Sterling, Ralph's Comics Corner: "I've had some demand, but not a huge amount. This time around, however, Dark Horse has mostly been able to keep 300 in stock and available for reorder, with the exception of a couple weeks ago when they canceled one of our pending orders (which would have arrived the week of the movie's opening, ensuring we had no copies for people who just saw the movie and had to have the comic). However, I do have copies coming in this week, so I'm hoping the demand will still be there, though traditionally demand for movie-inspiring comics tends to drop off as soon as the movie itself is released."

Rory Root, Comic Relief: "Demand for 300 stays strong. As seems usual in these cases there are very strong sales leading into the film's release date. Also as we've seen before, a comic related film that has a relatively unknown origin -- see Sin City, Ghost World, American Splendor, V, to name just a few, tends to have strong sales after release if folks like what they see on the silver screen.

"Anticipating both strong demands for 300 and some interruption in availability Comic Relief laid in stock to last awhile. We have over 100 copies in stock of the GN and a few dozen of the Art book as well.

"It seems that over 100,000 copies of the book have gone through the system by now. I heard reliable reports of multiple 40,000 copy reorders moving through DCD and DBD, and one presumes PGW as well.

"Which sort of puts a different spin on Michael's comments [in the article]:
Last, the additional 15,000 copy order 'en route' from Asia is around two months away, meaning that the copies currently in stock in retail stores, soon to be at Diamond, and at book wholesalers will be all of the supply available to the market for some time. Martens did say that additional copies had been ordered beyond those 15,000 copies in an attempt to catch up with demand.

"This book has exceeded just about everybody's expectations. Though I do wish Dark Horse had a fall back printer on the continent to expedite turn around in these high demand times."

Eric Thornton, Chicago Comics: "The build-up on 300 has been going on since the first preview, actually. We've sold boatloads of the book in the past four months, and Diamond was only out of it for a two-week stint, which is much better than the situation with Hellboy or Sin City. So, fingers crossed, knock on wood, things seem to be running smooth on Dark Horse's end meeting the retailers need."

Dan Shahin, Hijinx Comics: "We have a deep reserve of 300 for sale at Hijinx, mostly because I was burned on Hellboy and Sin City by their lack of availability at the crucial date and swore it wouldn't happen again. It's been the featured book in store and online for about a month and sales have been great.

"The peak period for sales on comic adaptations seems to be about a month before release of the feature through about a month after release of the DVD. Then, if it's good it can stay a steady seller for years and lead readers to other good comics. A book like Road to Perdition would probably not still be in print, let alone have spawned sequels, without the hype of Hollywood attached."

Brian Hibbs, Comix Experience: "Just like Sin City and Hellboy before it (and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and History of Violence and Road to Perdition and Ghost World, and and and...), there's been an enormous amount of pre-film-release interest in 300. Historically speaking, that kind of increased demand tends to sputter out once the film version is actually released.

"Also like Sin City and Hellboy before them (but not the others), because it is from Dark Horse, there have been... issues with the regular in-stock availability of 300 during this period. Dark Horse appears to be stridently risk-adverse when it comes to maintaining inventory, and I believe they've left an awful lot of sales on the table because of it. Backorders are fairly reliably shipping, but many retailers are adverse to backorders as a principle. Either way, there have been weeks that we've not been able to rack 300."

Alex Cox, Rocketship: "Demand for 300 has been steady and solid, but manageable to date. We've moved a pretty even amount since the ads first started popping up, and they were available pretty regularly up until today. As of last night we had a couple of copies left. It's done really well, although the price tag is a bit off-putting for the average customer. With that in mind, and adding all the people that will walk in, flip through it for ten minutes, and leave when they've had their fill, it's a book that doesn't Fly Off The Shelves like say, V For Vendetta. Still a solid seller, though.

"Given Dark Horse's availability history with in-demand books, any time we can order the book, and actually have those orders filled, it's a nice surprise. If it's actually sold out and we won't see another shipment for two months, I will be frustrated, but like I said... that's par for the course. It will mean immediate lost sales for shops, lost sales for DH... but what can you do? Publishing is a hard business.

"To answer your question more succinctly, yeah, it worries me. But this is one of those things you can only shrug your shoulders at. Getting angry won't make the boat go faster."

Jim Hanley, Jim Hanley's Universe "As always with Dark Horse, there are two main concerns.

"First is that their books cost retailers more than those from other Diamond exclusive publishers, owing to Dark Horse's setting a short discount on them.

"Second is the fact that Dark Horse consistently underestimates demand for their books that get turned into movies. The retailer struggle to have stock available began with Hellboy, continued with Sin City, and is still an issue with 300. In the past, DH reps have said that they are still gun-shy due to massive overestimation on Star Wars Episode One tie-ins. The thing is that Star Wars came out eight years ago. By this time, one would hope, they would have gotten over that financial hit and learned their lesson about how a movie affects sales of their core properties.

"Thankfully, the next movie that Zack Snyder is scheduled to make from a comic book is Watchmen. DC will not screw the pooch on that, should it get made, the way Dark Horse seems to have done yet again."

Name Withheld By Request: "I work at a Borders store and upon hearing the news of 300 being unavailable, I checked. Both distributors Ingram and Baker & Taylor had copies available, with Ingram having about 1200 and B&T near 300 (with 200 available for "Easy Shipping", that is, a direct shipment from B&T's warehouse to a customer's address.)

"Whether or not these figures are accurate, I'm not sure. I'll check again tomorrow and Wednesday to see if they hold true."
posted 4:43 am PST | Permalink

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