'This could change the face of comics': Is coronavirus comic book shops' biggest villain?
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10 hours ago, the blob said:

I don't understand how these places don't have some online capacity. It's like the 60 year old guy at my office who has to schlep in on the subway and hour each way because he cannot work from home because he doesn't have Wi-Fi ( and isn't able to get it any time soon). Jeez, why not have an eBay account and list the 50 free items? I know why.... None of these guys want to deal with shipping stuff.

Those of you who think online sales will keep a lot of these shops in business will likely be proven wrong.  Hundreds, maybe thousands, of shops trying to transition to more online sales... what effect do you think that will have on eBay prices with a deluge of similar product all being dumped online at the same time?  We don't do much online... a few items per week... and you're right... I don't want to deal with shipping lots of stuff.  I already work 60 hours per week... where would be the time?  Right now, my staff, who posts what we do post, isn't allowed to come to work due to state lockdown.  There's no one here to photograph items, write up listings, send out invoices, pack up the merchandise, and haul it down to the post office.  The few items we had on the week before the shutdown were nothing special... but we had no bids on any of it... that's never happened before.  Shop sales were down 40%... before the shutdown. 

A lot of folks on these boards seem to have protected incomes (retirement, essential workers, less-affected states?) judging by the way everyone talks about all the stuff they'll be ordering online.  But even after this virus has run its coarse, for weeks and months after there will be a downturn in buying disposable-income items like collectibles.  I had tagged some items on Heritage this week to potentially bid on... no matter how good a deal they might end up being, that won't be happening.  I just paid out $10,000 in bills and payroll today with no income for the past week... and we're on mandatory shutdown for another week, and likely that will be extended.  I just saw where no one can sell their houses right now (who wants to hold an open house?)... we may come out of this with another real estate collapse on top of everything else.  There's a bit of stir-crazy shopping going on right now... but as credit card bills show up I think you'll find that online sales will get softer and softer over the coming weeks and months.  Of course, I hope I'm wrong.

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On Bleeding Cool --

"Since the Diamond Comic Distributor shutdown and the closure of DC's printer Transcontinental in Canada, there has been much discussion wondering what DC and Marvel Comics would be doing, regarding comic books published this coming week. A number of publishers have declared they will suspend publication, print and digital, while many comic stores are also shut down. But DC Comics has remained resolutely silent regarding this issue. That changed tonight as they have now announced something very different to retailers. 

While they are making all comic books from over a week ago until the end of June returnable, it seems that DC Comics will not stop printing or distributing comics. They have sourced other printers, as we heard they may be, but also other means of distribution. As it stands, DC Comics is exclusive to the direct market through Diamond Comic Distributor but only it seems while Diamond are actually in the business of taking new product."

Diamond did us a favor by halting distribution and leveling the playing field for states on mandatory shutdown.  Looks like DC is bent on undoing that.  It also seems Penguin is maneuvering to replace Diamond (another article).  Also-- if they put Diamond out of business, how will this affect Alliance product?  Sounds like a lot of unnecessary flux and uncertainty is being added into an already stressful situation.  After 36 years, I think it's time for Bookery to pull the plug on new comics.

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Bookery said:

Those of you who think online sales will keep a lot of these shops in business will likely be proven wrong.  Hundreds, maybe thousands, of shops trying to transition to more online sales... what effect do you think that will have on eBay prices with a deluge of similar product all being dumped online at the same time?  We don't do much online... a few items per week... and you're right... I don't want to deal with shipping lots of stuff.  I already work 60 hours per week... where would be the time?  Right now, my staff, who posts what we do post, isn't allowed to come to work due to state lockdown.  There's no one here to photograph items, write up listings, send out invoices, pack up the merchandise, and haul it down to the post office.  The few items we had on the week before the shutdown were nothing special... but we had no bids on any of it... that's never happened before.  Shop sales were down 40%... before the shutdown. 

A lot of folks on these boards seem to have protected incomes (retirement, essential workers, less-affected states?) judging by the way everyone talks about all the stuff they'll be ordering online.  But even after this virus has run its coarse, for weeks and months after there will be a downturn in buying disposable-income items like collectibles.  I had tagged some items on Heritage this week to potentially bid on... no matter how good a deal they might end up being, that won't be happening.  I just paid out $10,000 in bills and payroll today with no income for the past week... and we're on mandatory shutdown for another week, and likely that will be extended.  I just saw where no one can sell their houses right now (who wants to hold an open house?)... we may come out of this with another real estate collapse on top of everything else.  There's a bit of stir-crazy shopping going on right now... but as credit card bills show up I think you'll find that online sales will get softer and softer over the coming weeks and months.  Of course, I hope I'm wrong.

A Few of my LCS's use Facebook videos that are "live" and you can claim in the comments and use PayPal to pay, you save on sales tax. There more than likely won't be a flooding of ebay....

Of course the few LCS's that do this, did this long before any virus...... they can preview new book Wednesday on Tuesday night and ship them Wednesday morning :) they put pull list info online as well and ship at the appropriate time :) 

But now that Diamond is kaput for a while, they will all be struggling :( 

Edited by ADAMANTIUM

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9 minutes ago, Bookery said:

 

While they are making all comic books from over a week ago until the end of June returnable, it seems that DC Comics will not stop printing or distributing comics.

How long until we hear about speculators hoarding these books because they have "limited distribution"?

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1 hour ago, sfcityduck said:

How long until we hear about speculators hoarding these books because they have "limited distribution"?

Good point, as I doubt DC/Penguin would make an effort to ship any of these new issues to Canada so there may be a regional shortage.

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2 hours ago, Bookery said:

I just paid out $10,000 in bills and payroll today with no income for the past week...

Your overhead is $10k a week, every week? :eek:

Good luck, hope you can weather this storm. That's a massive hit to take every week without sales. 

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There’s a huge difference between publishers sourcing TPBs and HCs through Ingram/Penguin/etc and sourcing floppies that way. There are a dozen options already for ordering graphic novels. When I sell to local libraries they’re upfront about their exact terms from several different distributors and they give me a chance to beat it. When Diamond puts a bunch of evergreen Image collections on a 70-85% off sale, one of my first phone calls is to my library clients offering to hook them up. 

BleedingCool is in the business of selling advertising. And they intentionally framed those articles to make them more sensationalist (something they’ve done for years because it works). But there’s a difference between “we sell our collected editions through several distributors” and “DIAMOND ABANDONED US SO WE’RE ABANDONING THEM !11!!!1!!”

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22 minutes ago, lighthouse said:

There’s a huge difference between publishers sourcing TPBs and HCs through Ingram/Penguin/etc and sourcing floppies that way. There are a dozen options already for ordering graphic novels. When I sell to local libraries they’re upfront about their exact terms from several different distributors and they give me a chance to beat it. When Diamond puts a bunch of evergreen Image collections on a 70-85% off sale, one of my first phone calls is to my library clients offering to hook them up. 

BleedingCool is in the business of selling advertising. And they intentionally framed those articles to make them more sensationalist (something they’ve done for years because it works). But there’s a difference between “we sell our collected editions through several distributors” and “DIAMOND ABANDONED US SO WE’RE ABANDONING THEM !11!!!1!!”

Thanks.  It was a poorly organized article, and I may have misinterpreted that, then.  Good to know.  I'm trying to keep up on multiple articles and responding to Facebook inquiries... so I may have read through it too quickly.  I'll look it (them) over again.

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26 minutes ago, october said:

Your overhead is $10k a week, every week? :eek:

Good luck, hope you can weather this storm. That's a massive hit to take every week without sales. 

Pretty much.  This week was a payroll week, and the utilities are heavily-skewed to the last week of the month.  But other weeks there are other bills (building mortgage hits about mid-month).  Of course, this includes new product orders (usually $4000-$6000 per week), but those will be on hold after this week, so the next week's bills will be far lower.  I've agreed to pay my staff for another 2 weeks even though we're in mandatory shutdown.  If the $1200 per person payment comes through from Fed, that should get them through another couple of weeks after that.  Beyond that, they'll have to seek unemployment... but that's a full month from now based on the above, so hopefully it won't come to that.  I'm uncertain what I can personally apply for... but if it's a loan, even at 0%, I'll pass... I don't like loading up debt with no guarantee what income will be like, even months down the road.  My wife's still working (military contractor job, albeit from home right now), so that should help get us through for awhile.  The shop will likely survive if this doesn't last for months (or goes on and off for months, if waves of virus ebb and then resurface), but it may be different... new comics may be a logical casualty, as I've stated before.  We'll see. 

BTW -- on a different subject-- I would have thought with so many stuck at home, these boards would be buzzing with activity.  But there seems to be only a small pool of posters right now.  And am I the only shop-owner posting here now?  I haven't seen any others discussing their situations, plans, etc. 

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8 minutes ago, Bookery said:

Thanks.  It was a poorly organized article, and I may have misinterpreted that, then.  Good to know.  I'm trying to keep up on multiple articles and responding to Facebook inquiries... so I may have read through it too quickly.  I'll look it (them) over again.

You didn’t misinterpret. It was intentionally sensational. I won’t call it clickbait because it doesn’t quite go that far. But Bleeding Cool frequently stays just this side of South Park reporting cannibalism, because they know it will get them ad revenue. 

My BIG takeaway from this is that DC is committed to continuing to print floppies. If Diamond folds (unlikely) they’re willing to explore other avenues to keep publishing. It’s not like Lee’s Comics where recent events are enough to bring an end that was likely coming anyway. DC seems to be signaling they’re willing to endure some pain to get to better times down the road. It’s easier to say that at week 3 than at month 3 so it might change. But ending their radio silence gives me a bit of hope.

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Well... it appears I'm not the only one confused about the Bleeding Cool article... and it may be more DC's fault than BC.  This just posted (comments from retailers and a former Diamond VP) --

While a number of comic book publishers have announced they are suspending or restrictingpublication, physically and digitally, DC Comics announced last night that they are going to use multiple distribution options to get their comic books out in the world. physically and digitally. Which means a new printer, new distributors, venues that are still open and ComiXology/Kindle. Retail venues could include comic stores that are not yet shut down, bookstores, or mass-market stores more widely open for essential items. There has been a lot of concern about these plans, raised by the more outspoken comic book retailers.

Which does raise the fear that the obsession of certain comic book fans may lead them to travel from one shut down state to another state in search of a comic book, or from one sold-out store to another, potentially spreading the coronavirus as they go. In a world in which travel is being discouraged as much as possible, this would seem to be an anathema to that. Especially in a week when DC Comics is planned to be publishing Batman #92, featuring Punchline on her first covers.

There are other concerns about the effect this may have on the existing direct market. Cliff Biggers of Dr No's in Marietta, Georgia, writes, "So every major publisher of comics who has revealed their digital comics plan during the COVID shutdown has presented a united front to support brick-and-mortar comic shops and NOT try to move our print clientele to digital comics… except for DC. And now they have also issued a vague, unclear statement that they are looking at alternative methods of getting books to readers in areas where selling is allowed–but they DON'T specify that they're talking comic shops only."

Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience, San Francisco, California states "DC's announcement is disgraceful: by separating stores into have and have-nots they are going to hasten many stores' demise, and they are encouraging retailers to violate stay-at-home orders and risk their health for corporate profits. Further, not in the announcement, but buried in comments in the retailer threads (how disgusting, how cowardly!), they are not going to halt digital release of new books. This is a dire mistake, and even a tiny amount of cross-channel conversion will put the majority of retailers in enormous economic peril, when coupled with the above. I have never been more been more emphatically disheartened and disappointed by a so-called "partner".

Jesse James Criscione of Jesse James Comics wrote "Well, it was the ONE company I was glad to part ways with…..They are not a team player and continue to prove that point….. LCS Remember this day."

John Tinkness of Another Dimension Comics in Calgary, Alberta said "Many retailers are already in enormous economic peril due to the current shutdowns. ANY move DC or any other publisher makes against the best interests of the Direct Market could be fatal for the entire market."

 
 
Randy Myers of Collectors Corner, in Baltimore, Maryland added "Agreed, never thought that DC would make a decision less helpful in a crisis than Marvel to the survival of the Direct Market but here we are."

William Schanes former VP of Diamond called it a "Disastrous statement… no details, just fuels speculation"

Don Alsafi of G-Mart Comics in Chicago, Illinois posted "DC has just revealed themselves to be the enemy of the Direct Market. And releasing digital is nothing less than *training* comics readers to not buy from their LCS. It's the most shockingly stupid, absolutely destructive thing a major publisher could do."

Lawrence Docherty of Larry's Comics in Chelmsford, Massachussetts states "DC hasn't really told us their plan. They plan on alt distributing comics at some date. Every DC Comic that goes in sale digitally is sub only at my shop forever. I don't boycott, I'll get customers anything that they want. Yes even if it's Batman. If I was DC I'd make Batman #92 digital only this Wednesday. There's NO better book in the market to find digital ceiling with. Of course, there's no better book to betray the direct market and ComicsPro with. Let's not forget, on the forums we've been booted from we were told a crackerjack team of ComicsPro members were working behind the scenes with DC for a Solution for retailers. They own this."

So it looks at least if there is a lot of blame to go around. Possibly not the punchline that DC Comics were anticipating.

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DC definitely doesn’t stand for Damage Control. Woof.

Personally I’m not going to make a blanket statement that I’ll never stock shelf DCs based on one terribly worded and vague email. But I can tell you that I already shelf more copies of publishers that treat me better. Valiant calls me 5 or 6 times a year to chat for a half hour about what’s selling my shop, what’s going on with their storylines, movie plans, etc. Image calls at least a couple times a year checking in. Last time it was about how I felt about the way they solicit “frontlist” and “backlist” stuff, but that meandered into an hour on the phone about TMP t-shirts, Skybound merch, MillarWorld collections and anything else I wanted to talk about. Heck, when I had a problem with misprinted Monstress shirts, Skybound didn’t even make me jump through Diamond hoops. They sent me replacements themselves that arrived 3 days later. Didn’t even charge the freight.

DC’s never called my shop once. 

I get the same 55% discount from both. But guess which company I more enthusiastically recommend?

I’ll wait and see what the “revised” DC stance is. But that was an ugly ugly first draft. 

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I don't usually handle the new comics part of the business... I do collectibles (and bills and payroll and bookkeeping... lots of that) but since my staff is on stay-at-home orders from the state, I'm trying to interpret this part of the market as best I can... so apologies if I'm not getting this right.  

Previously, I posted DC's announcement of plans during the next few weeks, which sparked a lot of anger among retailers and others.  On the one front, at least, it appears DC is now withdrawing this Wednesday's digital releases save for a few trades and a couple of freebie items.  But it appears Marvel is going ahead with a full 27-title release of this Wednesday's comics on digital.  I read updated articles on BleedingCool and (in accordance with lighthouse's caution, also checked Comixology's releases for April 1).  Unless I'm missing something, isn't this going to severely impact sales of the physical comics when we finally do receive them... since the plots will have been out there several weeks ahead of time?  Retailer thoughts?

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The novelization of Phantom Menace was on the shelves four weeks before the film came out. It had no real impact on the ticket sales for the film. 

Having digital copies of comics released before the floppies will certainly affect the speculator interest in the printed versions (both up and down). But for readers and collectors I doubt there’s much impact. I have customers all the time telling me they saw this comic or that one posted on Reddit or imgur in its entirety and they liked it so much they wanted to find the real thing. We have several subs who only collect trades and hardcovers. They obviously could read any of that material digitally long before the collected editions are out. But they don’t care.  

It might move a small percentage from print to digital. And will absolutely play havoc with the flipper/speculator market. But I don’t see a big impact from folks with stacks of short boxes at home.

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On ‎3‎/‎29‎/‎2020 at 10:50 AM, Bookery said:

Those of you who think online sales will keep a lot of these shops in business will likely be proven wrong. 

I don't think many people think it is enough for a typical shop to make up all the lost income, but $300 or whatever a week is better than nothing if you can gear up, are a small shop, etc.. Maybe it isn't though, I don't know how the aid to small businesses will work. I still don't understand why some shops don't have any real on line presence. You've given perfectly legitimate reasons why you don't, they're the same reasons I don't have thousands of listings up while having a 30,000 or so book collection -- I am exhausted and busy with my other responsibilities -- but I also think you're someone who has done what you've been doing a long time and haven't felt a need to adapt because whatever it is worked (just like I, for the time being, can pay my bills without working ebay 20-30 hours a week). I walk into a lot of shops and the owners don't seem to be working all that hard or efficiently (or having their employees do the same). As for a flood of inventory...a decent # of people on these boards have more legitimate back issue stock than 90% of the stores out there, myself included. My comic room would probably be in the top 5-10 inventory wise among NYC comic shops (which is not saying much, I admit). 

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On ‎3‎/‎29‎/‎2020 at 1:17 PM, october said:

Your overhead is $10k a week, every week? :eek:

Good luck, hope you can weather this storm. That's a massive hit to take every week without sales. 

Bookery has 10+ employees and he has been a good boss and hasn't fired them. Frankly, I wish you did have some online stuff, I might be buying it.

 

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This is the e-mail I got from my LCS.  In it they talk a little bit about the DC/Marvel thing

Alternate Reality Comics update: We're still ONLY doing MAIL ORDER (requests at ralphmathieu@gmail.com, we can mail what's in your file and or other wonderful comics & graphic novels we have in stock), thank you to those of you who have used our mail order service the past week.

Comic industry UPDATE: As you have probably heard last week, Diamond Comic Distribution announced that they're putting shipping new comics on PAUSE, which means no new comics this week. None of us know how long our lockdown PAUSES will be for. Diamond Comics doesn't know how long their PAUSE will be and they haven't updated us as to when they expect new comics will happen again as they have in the past.

Comics Industry UPDATE part 2: DC and Marvel HAVEN'T been great at communicating with comic store retailers & customers about what their plans are. DC & Marvel are working on a response, supposedly looking into alternative distribution and resuming before Diamond Comics is back from their PAUSE.

Ralph's perspective on what's going on in the comic book industry during this horrible virus: I firmly believe that DC, Marvel, and Diamond are working on what the best thing to do while cities / states are on lockdown and for what will happen after the lockdowns are over, there's a lot of variables, but their responses so far have just prompted more questions (again, I know they have a lot of concerns that need to be addressed and they want to be thorough in their future responses). But I also FIRMLY believe that any means DC or Marvel use to get their titles back to stores while lockdowns are happening is WRONG. This will create a bigger divide of have and have nots among stores and really hurt the retail base, especially when the lockdowns are over. The sports industry and Hollywood are on complete PAUSE, why can't the comic book industry do this!? People shouldn't have to worry about keeping up with new comics during lockdowns and not knowing what their situations will be after the lockdowns.

Thank you for your patronage of Alternate Reality Comics over this past 25 years (and eight years prior when my store was called Dungeon Comics then owned first by Steve Marino and then by Blake Phillips, who passed the torch on to me back in 1995), I certainly hope to see many of your happy faces when we're over our lockdown periods for many more years. Any sharing of this would be appreciated so that more people within the comic industry can see that a lot (probably most from what I'm seeing and hearing from fellow comic store owners) of comic store owners want printing and publishing to be on PAUSE while the lockdowns are happening.

 

I, Ralph, and Team Alternate hope that all of you are well and safe.

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26 minutes ago, the blob said:

Bookery has 10+ employees and he has been a good boss and hasn't fired them. Frankly, I wish you did have some online stuff, I might be buying it.

 

Actually, that was the old days.  We still have a 16,000 sq.ft. store-- but only 4 of us operating it at present (as of Feb.).  I haven't fired anyone... but have not replaced them when they've moved on.  But as you can see, there's simply no time for us to transition to more online activity, nor to hire and train someone new to do it.  I can transition the current crew to do more of this... but only if I close down some in-store departments... which may be the way we have to go.  Again, though... selling our stock in-store has never been a problem for us... until now, and it would be pretty hard to have foreseen a mandatory shutdown.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/29/2020 at 12:57 PM, Bookery said:

Pretty much.  This week was a payroll week, and the utilities are heavily-skewed to the last week of the month.  But other weeks there are other bills (building mortgage hits about mid-month).  Of course, this includes new product orders (usually $4000-$6000 per week), but those will be on hold after this week, so the next week's bills will be far lower.  I've agreed to pay my staff for another 2 weeks even though we're in mandatory shutdown.  If the $1200 per person payment comes through from Fed, that should get them through another couple of weeks after that.  Beyond that, they'll have to seek unemployment... but that's a full month from now based on the above, so hopefully it won't come to that.  I'm uncertain what I can personally apply for... but if it's a loan, even at 0%, I'll pass... I don't like loading up debt with no guarantee what income will be like, even months down the road.  My wife's still working (military contractor job, albeit from home right now), so that should help get us through for awhile.  The shop will likely survive if this doesn't last for months (or goes on and off for months, if waves of virus ebb and then resurface), but it may be different... new comics may be a logical casualty, as I've stated before.  We'll see. 

BTW -- on a different subject-- I would have thought with so many stuck at home, these boards would be buzzing with activity.  But there seems to be only a small pool of posters right now.  And am I the only shop-owner posting here now?  I haven't seen any others discussing their situations, plans, etc. 

Before I say anything please don't take offense because I mean none by any of what I am about to say. There are multiple venues for your shop to utilize to help your sales. Instragram, Facebook, and Ebay are the top 3 as well as Amazon and Mercari that FB sellers are trying to convince others to join. This is the time you have an opportunity to set up a system and establish how you want to do it. Once established it will provide you another form of income as your shops recover when they re-open.  

We are more then happy to help you because we want shops like you to survive. I can send you a list tomorrow if you want it of books I am looking for from different decades if you will take it and ship the books. I wish you were closer to me because I would live at your store, but you are around 6 hours away from me.  

A shop with your massive inventory is a gold mine online once you have the time do it. And yes it will take some time to learn, establish a system, and build a clientele. But here's the thing they will come. You could even go around all this and start your own website which would lower overhead as well. 

Have you ever considered selling here on this board? There are a lot of people with deep pockets looking for books that I am quite sure you have in your inventory. Plus you wont have to pay ebay costs only paypal.

Just some suggestions. You have posted here for several years and I want to see you here for many more.

 

Edited by fastballspecial

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