The Ongoing eBay Direct to Newsstand For Sale Ratio Project.
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11 minutes ago, divad said:

This was not a common practice where I grew up. The retail center of town was one block. In the 60's there was only one "store," a small market that had a deli counter, a candy shelf, Bayer aspirin and Tums lol and a spinner rack.  A drugstore started up in about 1968, and a 7-11 followed in 1973. Hardly an urban metropolis . . . but halfway between NY and Boston. It was a hugely different world back then.

But then, don't pay attention to the old guy . . . :preach:

And only real Cities had "Newsstands" - that was something you only saw in the movies, or train stations.

 

BACK IN THE DAY....we were able to buy comics at two places in Barrington, Illinois, roughly 40 miles northwest of Chicago. The Rexall Drug on Main Street OR the 7-11 on Northwest Highway. The Rexall Drug would hold books for you for one afternoon but they didn't always get everything. Once @Moondog opened Moondog's Comics opened in Mt. Prospect in 1977 it was a lot easier.

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3 minutes ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

No, just wanted to get a sense of the time frame you were talking about. One of the great undocumented aspects of the comics publishing industry is just how the mechanism worked from publisher to printer to distributor to vendor to reader in the time before the Direct market (which is fairly well documented.) It seems no one kept many records of that process. Seems fairly straightforward, but there are all sorts of questions that are unanswered, or inadequately answered, like "how did vendors deal with collectors in the days before the comics specialty store?" and the like.

For example...did Edgar Church have a special relationship with his local vendor(s)? It's been mentioned that he did. How did that work? What did the vendors receive, and how did they go about ordering it? Did they order it? I know there was a large segment of vendors who "got what they got", and weren't able to order anything specifically. Were there distribution channels whereby someone COULD order something specifically? Did any large vendors/vendor chains attempt to circumvent the ID system that existed back then? Would they even have been allowed, since DC had its fingers in all of those pies back then, too?

So many questions....

My (incredibly limited) experience with comics as a young kid (1978-1982) was that they were sold on spinner racks at my local 7-11, or sometimes at the drug store, and the thought of asking them to "reserve a copy" would have been unthinkable to me (I grew up in the SF Bay Area.) I didn't buy or read comics as a kid, with perhaps a couple of very rare exceptions, but I do remember them being a presence in the 7-11s that I frequented as a kid playing soccer on the weekends.

Thanks for your response! 

I worked at the local drugstore as soon as I turned 16, in 1971.  They had taken over selling comics in town because the distributor was the same one who sold all of the magazines (mostly fashion and sports and Playboy.) The magazines (and comics) were literally thrown off the truck in bundles wrapped in unused newsprint paper bound with jute or cord. The initials of the retail vendor (in this case TD) were hand-marked (with marker or ink?) on the newsprint and sometimes on the side of the bundle alone when newsprint wasn't used. One of my jobs when opening the store was to bring the bundles of magazines and comics into the store.  Once the head cashier arrived, it was my job to unbound the mags and comics, and stock and un-stock the shelves. This is why many SA and early BA books had banding marks - boxes were not used for periodicals. They were treated just like newspapers. At first we didn't date stamp anything, because there was no reason to. All of the comics and magazines I took off the shelf were put together and returned to the distributor as unsold. This was especially important for the magazines which had a much higher cover price. (to be cont'd).

 

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35 minutes ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

By the way...I don't think I ever saw a real "newsstand" until I visited Washington DC as a teenager in 1985-1986. They probably had them in San Francisco, and maybe Oakland, but that would have been it. However, as mentioned, comics were a regular feature at 7-11 and Borders, Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, K-Mart, etc.

As I mentioned before, a 7-11 had opened in town in 1972 or '73, but the other companies to my knowledge didn't even exist then. There was a "King's" next town over, that I believe later became K-Mart.

Correction, they became Mammoth Mart (or the other way around), but not K-Mart.

 

Edited by divad
King's Department Stores was a chain of discount stores in the Eastern United States. The chain started in 1956, in Brockton, Massachusetts. They expanded to about 190 stores when, in 1978, they purchased the bankrupt Mammoth Mart.

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1 hour ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

For example...did Edgar Church have a special relationship with his local vendor(s)? It's been mentioned that he did. How did that work? What did the vendors receive, and how did they go about ordering it? Did they order it? I know there was a large segment of vendors who "got what they got", and weren't able to order anything specifically. Were there distribution channels whereby someone COULD order something specifically? Did any large vendors/vendor chains attempt to circumvent the ID system that existed back then? Would they even have been allowed, since DC had its fingers in all of those pies back then, too?

So, just in case additional details are of interest, I was 12 in 1979. I was starting to get the collector bug, but newsstand distribution was spotty... Howard the Duck #1 and Star Wars #1 were already “legends” among those of us who were into comics, and so getting access to the books we wanted was always a goal. This was the era of Byrne X-Men, and the launch of Micronauts and New Teen Titans, and we were all run collectors who didn’t want to miss an issue.

Distribution was spotty, but comics always arrived on the same day (Tuesday, IIRC), but the books wouldn’t be racked until the following day. For a select few, if we showed up Tuesday afternoon or evening, the store clerks would let us go through the books early... there were probably 4 or 5 of us that were allowed to do this. I was younger than the others who were doing this, and probably learned of the opportunity by watching them...

We had no influence on what was ordered, and I don’t even know how much influence the stores themselves had on this. The books were a mix of Marvel, DC and Charlton, though generally not other publishers of the day like Archie or Gold Key. Generally, if a store was getting a title, it would get every issue, so we could keep our runs intact, but stores did not carry all titles (hence, the need to build relationships with several stores at once). We would often see titles advertised, but then not be able to find those titles. The DC Implosion was particularly confounding for us, as we had no idea if these many new titles (Vixen? Demand Classics? The Deserter?) were real or not.

I would say it was a “good will” marketplace, where store owners and store clerks were dong their best to be helpful, and build long termcustomer relationships. This may reflect that fact most of these stores were small, independent operations, and not part of larger chains.

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11 hours ago, divad said:

I worked at the local drugstore as soon as I turned 16, in 1971.  They had taken over selling comics in town because the distributor was the same one who sold all of the magazines (mostly fashion and sports and Playboy.) The magazines (and comics) were literally thrown off the truck in bundles wrapped in unused newsprint paper bound with jute or cord. The initials of the retail vendor (in this case TD) were hand-marked (with marker or ink?) on the newsprint and sometimes on the side of the bundle alone when newsprint wasn't used. One of my jobs when opening the store was to bring the bundles of magazines and comics into the store.  Once the head cashier arrived, it was my job to unbound the mags and comics, and stock and un-stock the shelves. This is why many SA and early BA books had banding marks - boxes were not used for periodicals. They were treated just like newspapers. At first we didn't date stamp anything, because there was no reason to. All of the comics and magazines I took off the shelf were put together and returned to the distributor as unsold. This was especially important for the magazines which had a much higher cover price. (to be cont'd).

 

About a year into working there (1972 or early 1973), we were told to start date-stamping the comics (a month in advance of after the arrival date). If we couldn't find the date-stamp (a common occurrence), we were told to write the date in the price block with a pen. This had nothing to do with the direct market (as it didn't exist yet). I was told that the distributor wanted their returns to occur within a window, between one and two months after the date of receipt. Before then, we could return anything that had sat on the shelf for over a month, no matter what date it was. The date-stamp was necessary because the cover dates of comics (unlike magazines) did not accurately reflect either the receipt date or the publication date. If I knew then what I know now, I would have negotiated with my boss just to sell them all to me for the return price. But like others have said above, as a youngster, I lacked the confidence to "make deals" or request favors.

Edited by divad
correction at strikeout

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23 hours ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

There were ads, as far back as the 30s and 40s, encouraging readers to "don't miss out! Reserve your copy at your local newsstand/vendor today!"

Obviously, that was possible, on some level, even back then.

In the history of comic book hype (appropriate for most of the topics in this board category), this example might be the only time "you'll miss the treat of a lifetime if you fail to buy a copy!" wasn't an overstatement. lol

MoreFunComics31_Action1_ad_inside_front_cover.jpg

I love how we get some answers for a bunch of debates right here.

Are comics magazines?  Yep, Action Comics #1 was a "dandy new magazine".

Was Action Comics #1 distributed well?  Yep.  "10c at all Newsstands."

Were readers more interested in characters or artists?  "Written and drawn especially for you by your favorite artists!"

When did the gimmicks (non-story enticements just to get buyers) start?  "SPECIAL PRIZES AND AWARDS!"

lol

 

Edited by valiantman

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On 9/12/2018 at 9:53 AM, divad said:

This was not a common practice where I grew up. The retail center of town was one block. In the 60's there was only one "store," a small market that had a deli counter, a candy shelf, Bayer aspirin and Tums lol and a spinner rack.  A drugstore started up in about 1968, and a 7-11 followed in 1973. Hardly an urban metropolis . . . but halfway between NY and Boston. It was a hugely different world back then.

But then, don't pay attention to the old guy . . . :preach:

And only real Cities had "Newsstands" - that was something you only saw in the movies, or train stations.

 

Here is a photo of the store I bought my first comics at:

 

97354.jpg

In running the searches to find this again, I just found out that the proprietor, Frank Petraitis, recently passed away in 2016 at the age of 92. :(

 

Edited by divad

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On 9/7/2018 at 7:08 AM, jsilverjanet said:

I’d prefer to see Spawn 1 as I think the ratio for that one would be interesting 

Spawn 9 too

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I can attest that it was easier buying books off of newsstands for me than in the local shops in the mid to late 1980s (We had 3 Comic Shops in my Neighborhood.  )From 1984-1988 I delivered newspapers before and after school in NY. 11-15 Years old. We lived a few Blocks North of Hells Kitchen and  My area was apartments and some retail stores Tuxedo Shop, Hi-Fi, Florist,.... and a Comic Shop  (Comics for Sale on Columbus between 72-77th z( not sure what address. ) NY had Morning and evening editions..  So I can tell you that Newsstand is where most books of mine came from even though I delivered Evening papers to a Comic Shop (Comics for Sale).  Pauly the Newsstand Guy who also got his papers after school at the same place (1 Bundle each) He read Comics while he worked, He ALWAYS had books.   Books were 1.00 then and I even would use my Subway tokens that my parents gave me to buy books. So I have such a Mix but Here is the Kicker.  Comic shops had Limits (not that I could afford Multiples)  usually no more than 2.   Secret Wars for example some later issues Including 8 I couldn't get in the COMIC Shop. Probably Gone by then.  By 1986 After this went on the Pauly the Newsstand Guy Saved me Multiples or anything.  He was a Good Dude.  Probably Has 50 ASM 300s Stashed away somewhere...  Just a Story to share

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On 9/11/2018 at 1:36 PM, RockMyAmadeus said:

I was thinking about this over the course of this thread, and I thought it would be useful to list factors that would affect the CURRENT existence and distribution, as represented by available copies for sale on eBay, of both newsstand and Direct market copies over time.

Direct market copies:

  • Non-returnable. All copies printed = all copies (theoretically) sold. All copies sold = all copies distributed. Very high survival rate.
  • Generally sold to collectors. High survival rate, and in better general condition.
  • Could usually be obtained from original dealers long after publication.
  • Often subject to speculation, with multiple copies available from multiple sources on a regular basis.
  • Not distinguished in Statements of Ownership with newsstand copies. Impossible to know actual print run, unless stated by publisher.
  • After demise of SoOs, no print run data available at all.
  • Sales data on Comichron represents only initial sales numbers in North America, as reported by Diamond, and includes ALL VARIANTS (if any) in those numbers
  • Increase over time of "comics specialty shops", which sold (mostly) Direct copies. More care given to preserving and maintaining both existence and condition of copies.

 

Newsstand copies:

  • Printed and distributed on a returnable basis. 20-50% survival rate, in general, from initial print run. Unsold copies returned and destroyed (though not always.)
  • Generally sold to readers. Higher attrition rate over time, and in worse general condition.
  • Rarely subject to speculation, and usually distributed as single copy sales to readers.
  • Not obtainable from vendors after initial sales window
  • Not distinguished in Statements of Ownership with Direct copies. Impossible to know actual print run, unless stated by publisher.
  • After demise of SoOs, no print run data available at all.
  • After demise of SoOs, no sales data available at all.
  • Not sold (generally) in comics specialty shops. Only made their way to such shops as aftermarket items. Little care given to preserving and maintaining both existence and condition of copies.
  • Potential tendency to be over-represented on eBay, due to perceived value differences with Direct copies.

Any other factors that would influence the state of these books in 2018? Any that you disagree with, or that could be worded better? 

I don't necessarily have another qualifier/disqualifier bullet to add to either but perhaps a better indicator of scope/ratio could be obtained by keeping a running count at a large comic oriented convention.  Harder to show evidence unless video documenting your searches but you could probably improve the accuracy by minimizing a lot of the over-representation factor for Newsstands on ebay (your last bullet above) as dealers tend to not spend a whole lot of time cultivating their long-boxes with regards to newstands/direct editions especially for non-key books. 

Longbox distribution of comics tend to normalize the importance of the issues for the sake of the run.  A dealer may pull 194 and 300 from his ASM run and put on his wall/ebay but he will leave ASM 193 (June '79 issue) and 192 (May '79 issue) whether Direct or Newsstand.  You can then keep a count of how many ASM 193 DM vs NS you come across vs ASM 192 DM vs NS and see what the ratios look like at the end of the show.

Of course mentioning that on here I've thus disturbed the quantum particle that may now change the state of the ratio from what it was to what it now is.  I'm hoping that those issues are relatively unimportant enough to keep anyone from "manipulating" the distribution in every dealer's longbox from here on out.

Too late to try this in Baltimore but I might try this exercise with ASM 192 & 193 or any other popular long box title from May and June of 1979 at NYCC and keep a count as I dig though each longbox and post findings on here.  Just from my past experience longbox diving for ASMs I can honestly say I have come across DM editions of those 2 books WAY more than 6% of the time.  I'd be willing to hypothesize it will be closer to 50% of the time.  I think Rozanski is mistaken about the year for when the percentage DM distribution was at 6%.  I'm more inclined to believe that DM distribution was 6% the first year they began a DM edition.  I think it steadily increased until going full bore in 1979.

Very cool exercise.

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4 hours ago, justafan said:

I don't necessarily have another qualifier/disqualifier bullet to add to either but perhaps a better indicator of scope/ratio could be obtained by keeping a running count at a large comic oriented convention.  Harder to show evidence unless video documenting your searches but you could probably improve the accuracy by minimizing a lot of the over-representation factor for Newsstands on ebay (your last bullet above) as dealers tend to not spend a whole lot of time cultivating their long-boxes with regards to newstands/direct editions especially for non-key books. 

Longbox distribution of comics tend to normalize the importance of the issues for the sake of the run.  A dealer may pull 194 and 300 from his ASM run and put on his wall/ebay but he will leave ASM 193 (June '79 issue) and 192 (May '79 issue) whether Direct or Newsstand.  You can then keep a count of how many ASM 193 DM vs NS you come across vs ASM 192 DM vs NS and see what the ratios look like at the end of the show.

Of course mentioning that on here I've thus disturbed the quantum particle that may now change the state of the ratio from what it was to what it now is.  I'm hoping that those issues are relatively unimportant enough to keep anyone from "manipulating" the distribution in every dealer's longbox from here on out.

Too late to try this in Baltimore but I might try this exercise with ASM 192 & 193 or any other popular long box title from May and June of 1979 at NYCC and keep a count as I dig though each longbox and post findings on here.  Just from my past experience longbox diving for ASMs I can honestly say I have come across DM editions of those 2 books WAY more than 6% of the time.  I'd be willing to hypothesize it will be closer to 50% of the time.  I think Rozanski is mistaken about the year for when the percentage DM distribution was at 6%.  I'm more inclined to believe that DM distribution was 6% the first year they began a DM edition.  I think it steadily increased until going full bore in 1979.

Very cool exercise.

By all means, you should do this and report here. I'm currently out of town "in-between" Baltimore and NYCC, so I won't be able to run new numbers until I get back, but that's not preventing anyone else from doing it.

I cannot do what you suggest, because I spend very little time at dealer tables. I even forgot to visit @FlyingDonut at Baltimore. :(

That said, I'm not quite sure your suggestion is random enough to work, but you never know. More data is always useful. 

PS. Rozanski is GREATLY mistaken about his estimates, which is unfortunate, because the ignorant keep repeating it as gospel. Those numbers are easily shown to be inaccurate, merely using probability models.

I suspect Direct market distribution was NOT 6% at any point, from its beginnings in 1973/1974 on, precisely because such large players...like Western (through their Whitman 3-pack program)...were involved very early on, and it was such an attractive model. "What? I get a much bigger discount, and the only caveat is I have to keep what I don't sell, instead of devoting manpower to the returns system? Sign me up!" I've NEVER EVER EVER seen the "6%" quote confirmed from Shooter, anywhere, but I suspect. 

THAT said, however, 50% is much, much too high for any book that came out PRIOR TO June, 1979 cover date. After? Probably not hard. Before? Much, much more difficult. There's a reason for this, but no one has really figured out what that reason is. There seem to be some "obvious" theories...but they're just theories.

"Big/small diamond" Direct issues prior to June, 1979 are much, much, much scarcer than their newsstand counterparts. Like maybe 1 in every 50, randomized (which, yes, puts us at 2%...but again, we're 40 years removed from their initial distribution.)

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