On Saturday, Bleeding Cool ran an open letter by San Francisco comic book retailer Brian Hibbs, of Comix Experience, criticising Marvel over the 99 cent deal for newly released collections and original graphic novels from ComiXology and Amazon that have been running every Wednesday for the last month, including the original hardcover Thanos: The Infinity Siblings by Jim Starlin and Alan Davis. And Marvel EIC C.B. Cebulski‘s explanation at the Diamond Retailer Summit that it is down to ComiXology and Amazon and not Marvel. And stating that Marvel hasn’t done enough — or anything — about it.
Well, another retailer, Michael Savage of Uncanny Heroes of Lakeland, Florida, who was also at the Summit, has his own open letter. To Brian Hibbs. He writes…
Your letter to Marvel has me somewhat confused. It seems, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you’re placing the .99cent Thanos debacle from last week on them. When This was addressed at the Retailer Summit, C.B. was very open about Marvel being just as blindsided by the sale.
Much like Marvel not having control over many retailers having an “Always 25% off” sales on Trades and Hardcovers (we do this in our shop to stay competitive with Amazon), they have zero control over what ComiXology or Amazon chooses to price books at. This applies to print or digital.
Do you want corporate price controls on our products!? Or just controls on our competitors – but not us? It seems like you’re asking for Marvel to step in and control price which would have to be line wide and equally enforced.
The real issue here is we have new competition with massive presence and a digital footprint the size of a continent, and your trying to think, negotiate, and compete against them with a decade plus old style of thinking. We have to be better and smarter than that.
These publishers – all of them – are in the same business as us, they are our partners. We have to sit and listen with eager ears when they present at summits, yes we have to engage in healthy debate, (healthy the key word), and we also have to show some respect for their decisions. If you don’t like where they’re going then fine – just stop ordering from them.
Your letter could have gone straight to C.B. and David. You could have chosen to wait a week, get curious and ask questions beyond your surface level frustration, and partnered with them towards a solution. Instead you wrote your “open letter” to stir the pot, knowing the answer won’t change if you’re asking the same question from the same reactive frustration.
And Sir, before this seems like I’m in opposition, please know that I know you absolutely have done wonders for retailers and I’ve said this before – I respect you deeply. In this instance this fees like it’s more about YOU and less about truly joining in a solution based discussion.
This kind of stuff alienates publishers and retailers and as a group of business professionals if we are going to grow, and thrive, we all do well to follow Steve Geppi’s advice and stay positive, see what’s possible, and work together to keep our “club houses” full of comics fans.
I’m only 18 years new to this business, and maybe have learned a few things in other businesses, and look, I’m open to being totally wrong on this.
I just see a better way, and it starts not with blame and attempted public hanging, but instead with patience, curiosity, dialogue and partnership.
All the best,
Founder and co-owner