Monday, September 9, 2013

The Bloodbath That Has Become Trade Paperbacks!

Kind of teaser/trailer title for a blog entry but it is true in the figurative sense. What has essentially happened in the comic book trade paperback business is that the customer can pretty much find any trade in print online for drastically reduced prices - that's the good news.

The bad news is that comic book retailers are having a tough time making any money off of trade paperbacks. Why in the world would anyone pay $14.99 list price at a brick-and-mortar comic book store for the extremely popular Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye when you can get it for $8.78 directly from Amazon OR starting at $3.78 for NEW copies or $4.00 for USED copies from Amazon sellers? Yep, that's right - the USED copies start at a higher price than the NEW copies...weird. Comic book retailers order their merchandise from Diamond Comics Distributors and unless they are the highest volume sellers in the world, the best discount the normal comic retailer can get is 50% off the retail price as their wholesale price - that doesn't include freight so add another 2% or so on top of that. Well at 48% off of $14.99 for the Walking Dead TPB, that comes to around $7.79 just for the COST of the book so retailers are already several bucks behind the going online price right out of the gate - can't make any money that way.

Anyway, you have heard me talk about the state of the comic book industry as it applies to me and my business at comic book conventions here and here. When I saw a LOT of dealers at conventions blowing out BRAND NEW Marvel trades at $5.00 a pop (i.e. the "The Bloodbath" that I alluded to in the post title), I knew I had to get out of this part of the business and get out in a hurry! The other "epiphany" was when customers would come to my booth with an Amazon printout of prices for the books they were wanting to buy and asking if I could match Amazon's prices...obviously I couldn't without taking a substantial loss.

Now you might be thinking that the Walking Dead deal above was a "one-off" - i.e. the exception that proves the rule. However, if you are a long time comic collector, YOU KNOW that IS the rule. Just for kicks and giggles, listed below are the Top Ten July 2013 Trade Paperbacks and Graphic Novels in Quantity Sold as reported by Diamond Comics Distributors. The prices from Amazon are as of 9/9/2013 and most likely will change over time. These are BRAND NEW BOOKS for goodness sakes!

Publisher Description Retail
1 2 Marvel Hawkeye: Little Hits, Vol. 2 $16.99 $12.68 $8.93 $9.53
2 10 Dark Horse Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search, Part 2 $10.99 $9.08 $6.29 $6.29
3 7 Image Saga Vol. 2 $14.99 $11.70 $8.43 $5.99
4 22 Image Saga Vol. 1 $9.99 $8.48 $5.70 $5.00
5 47 Marvel Black Bolt: Something Inhuman This Way Comes - One Shot $7.99 $7.75 $7.75 None
6 8 Marvel Kick-Ass 2 Prelude: Hit-Girl Hardcover $19.99 $17.48 $13.40 $14.48
7 20 DC Comics Fairest Vol. 2: Hidden Kingdom $14.99 $11.48 $7.24 $8.09
8 3 DC Comics Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach - Deluxe Hardcover $29.99 $22.11 $16.48 $14.52
9 17 Image Invincible Volume 18: Death of Everyone TP $16.99 $10.59 $6.99 $8.09
10 4 DC Comics Before Watchmen: Nite Owl/Dr. Manhattan - Deluxe Hardcover $29.99 $22.11 $13.40 $13.40

OK, enough of this exercise - be on the lookout for a six-part series coming up that might help some of you make a nice little chunk of change! First part will be out later this week and all parts will be published within a week!

As usual, comments/questions are welcome and solicited.

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