“Rich, just an observation. You recently reported how DC Comics was outselling Marvel in terms of graphic novels and trade paperbacks in comic stores. Yet in every comic shop I go into, I’m more likely to see Marvel hardcovers on the shelf? What’s going on?”
It’s not just DC trade paperbacks selling quicker than Marvel, Retailers are relatively good at replacing stock, and DC never likes to keep much out of print, and rapidly restocks. So, like you say, what’s going on?
A conspiracy? A fixing of the results? Certainly DC Comics have more perennial selling graphic novels, with the likes of Sandman, Preacher, Transmetropolitan, Watchmen, V For Vendetta, Y The Last Man, Kingdom Come and the like, each year finding new readers. Marvel has exploited this kind of series less, with the possible exception of Marvels, The Dark Tower and Ultimate Spider-Man (with a couple of volumes of that run usually out of print).
So how come some retailers prefer to order more Marvel books, even if DC books sell more, and for longer?
It’s all about money. It’s been pointed out that Marvel has a policy not to keep multiple volumes of series in print, and to keep as little in print as they can get away with, which maximising revenue on the books they do publish. But Marvel do like to collect and publish pretty much everything hey can, even if it’s just for on print run. And they also like to do it in hardcover, the Premier format.
Which means, on a regular basis, Marvel has to empty large chunks of their warehouse. And they do this by offering excellent deals to retailers. Dropping the prices from double figure price points to low single figures and giving away free hardcovers with certain sizable orders, they make the deals so good that retailers only need to sell one copy or an order at full price to pay for the rest.
Marvel also run a programme, every month for the last six months, l have run a promotion every month where retailers can order ten brand new Trade Paperback releases for a major discount as well as four brand new hardcover releases for a smiliar discount, the identity of which is chosen by Marvel
They are not alone in offering deals like this, but Marvel does go far and frequent with them. DC Comics doesn’t have similar promotions for their books. Which means, for many Marvel books, the retailer will make a much greater profit on each sale, making the orders very attractive indeed.
Both are models that suit each publisher, and as we’ve seen, DC gets far higher sales on its collections in comic stores. But Marvel, by playing long tail sales – and getting the stores to operate as mini-Marvel warehouses, also has the benefit of the shelves representing Marvel’s branding more than it will DC.
It’s almost as if they did it on purpose.
And, of course, nothing beats The Walking Dead...