We posted a version of this a year ago, just before the first ever Local Comic Shop Day. Our feelings on the matter remain the same, and we thought it would be best to reiterate that stance, now that the “event” is nearly upon us once more. The TL;DR version? We do not participate in this day, as it promotes the idea that comics are for collecting at premium prices over the idea that comics should be read, first and foremost, for enjoyment.
Today, many in the comic book industry will be taking part in Local Comic Shop Day. We will not – or rather, we won’t be in an official capacity. We have some reasons, which we’ll get into shortly, but first, some context.
The idea behind Local Comic Shop Day is simple: a brick-and-mortar store signs up, and they are given access to product made available for exclusive sale on that day. In theory, this would be a good opportunity to present the best of what the industry and medium has to offer. In practice, this isn’t what happens.
Last year, each and every title was heavily allocated – meaning that shops would not get their hands on all of the copies of items that they had ordered. This lead to an event where items that had been offered to retailers at a premium price, were being sold at a premium price to customers. Anyone who might have come into shop expecting to get something cool to read was offered slightly altered versions of already released products, at inflated prices. What does that say about our industry?
This year, the offered items were not as heavily allocated (and some weren’t allocated at all), but if you sweep through online resellers, you can see some shops are already selling their LCSD product at a premium to any takers. This should not be what the day is about.
Traditionally, the comic book industry has a pretty hard stance on supply and demand – which is to say, if something is in short supply, and high demand, many will adjust the prices as an attempt to balance the scales. This fact alone isn’t terrible – the push and pull of supply and demand is a dance every business partakes in. Where this breaks down for us is the blatant contradiction of the event’s purpose, and the reality of what will happen. The purpose is to drive people into stores so they can get their hands on something they won’t be able to find online at a place like Amazon. This in and of itself presents a huge opportunity for the industry to put its best foot forward, and make sure supply has a chance of meeting demand. Instead, it is bringing out some of the most regressive tendencies of this industry.
Now, a caveat: we say that the Local Comic Shop Day product will be on shelves at an inflated price. That might not be the case in at all stores. Much like we are afforded the freedom to decline our participation in the event, a store can pretty much set whatever price they want for the product they get in for the day. The only fixed price, is the cost of the items. In some cases, that set price is akin to what a retailer would get ordering regular stock – but for some of the premium items, the cost is a lot higher. Again: a shop does not have to charge more money. Prices will vary as every store decides what they would like from this event, and balance that against what they can afford to offer. On our end, we looked at what officially participating in this event would say, and decided against it, for the second year in a row.
We’ve whispered this before in a few places, but rarely come right out and say it: we are categorically against practices that lend to the inflation of the price of comics. We might be called Variant Edition, but we are not a store that chases variant covers. If a publisher is asking us to order 100 copies of a book to get 1 special cover (or worse, 5,000 copies of a book to get 1 special cover), we aren’t going to do that unless we believe there is a sustainable interest in that title. If we goose our orders to get a special variant, we will probably end up sitting on a bunch of comics that will go unsold – and will have to charge extra for the special cover. That’s not a system designed to get stories into the hands of readers. That is a system designed to treat your enjoyment of a story as a commodity that can be manipulated by deliberately limiting bits of stock. We don’t want to do that. We want to make sure you can get your hands on the product that you want, for the price of a reading experience, full stop. This, of course, means we will not be participating in Local Comic Shop Day until such a time that the product is offered for a reasonable rate, without deliberate stock limitations.
A couple of final notes: while we are not interested in the format of Local Comic Shop Day, others will be. Both retailers and consumers alike will partake in the day, and find their own meaning in it – and that’s absolutely fine. Our opinions are our own, and do not or should not reflect those of others. If a store is comfortable with the formatting of LCSD or if a person is interested in having a cool exclusive, that’s awesome. Everyone finds joy in their own way, and I know that I personally have cool “exclusive” items that cost extra for me to obtain. I decided on my own that owning a limited version of a product would be cool, and made the purchase. That was a personal choice, and I encourage everyone to make their own personal choices in regards to what they want, and in what format they want it in. As a business, however, we can’t support a structure that is manipulating supply to create a demand.
(Please also note that just because a retailer might be participating in the event, that doesn’t mean they are into manipulating supply and demand. We’re not saying this to point fingers, just to explain where we are coming from personally, and as stated before, everyone will be coming at this event from wildly varying and equally valid standpoints.)
In lieu of Local Comic Shop Day, we will be offering all of the products available for the day, in their regular formatting, for their regular prices, as supply remains. We will also be running a 25% off sale on our back issue section, for all those looking to beef up their collections with stories from the past. We feel as though this is more in line with our approach to the comic shop business: providing content to all those who want to read comics (and might not even know it yet!), for a reasonable price point. We’ve been told that our back issue prices are already some of the best you’ll find in the city, so stop by for an even better deal!