ComicsPRO is the only trade organization dedicated to the progress of direct market comic book retailers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

ComicsPRO States Position on Publisher Convention Sales

In advance of the coming convention season, ComicsPRO is releasing the latest of its ongoing communications to the comics’ industry at large, a "white paper" related to debut sales at conventions of merchandise retailers have yet to receive.

Carr D’Angelo, ComicsPRO board member and owner of Earth-2 Comics in Sherman Oaks CA, commented "Publishers often ask ‘What do retailers want?’ This position paper clearly states our desire regarding publishers selling their books before they go on sale at comic book retail stores. We prefer to work with publishers as our partners in business. When publishers sell to our customers before we even have the product, it makes for an uneasy business relationship."

"Pre-release convention sales by some publishers have negatively affected their ability to penetrate Direct Market retail channels," added Benjamin Trujillo, ComicsPRO board member and owner of Star Clipper in St Louis MO. "By clearly explaining the reasoning behind retailers' decisions to not stock titles from publishers engaging in pre-release convention sales and making a case for an even playing field, we’ll be encouraging publishers to adopt sales strategies that will benefit themselves and the Direct Market overall."

As the industry’s only retailer trade association, ComicsPRO has three main goals:
1) For direct market retailers to speak with a single, strong voice on important industry issues
2) To provide educational and mentoring opportunities to current and future retailers in an effort to expand the comics specialty market
3) To offer opportunities for retailers to reduce common fixed costs.

More information and membership applications are available at

The following is the text of the position paper related to publisher convention sales:

Issue Presented
Direct Market retailers purchase their inventory under a non-returnable arrangement. With very few exceptions, Direct Market retailers are obligated to pay for the material they purchase from a wholesaler, regardless of their ability to ultimately sell that material. This non-returnable arrangement is one of the cornerstones of the current distribution system.

Some Direct Market-oriented publishers gain a significant portion of their sales from direct-to-consumer sales at conventions and other fan-driven gatherings. ComicsPRO acknowledges that publishers should have access to as many revenue streams as possible in order to become and remain profitable. ComicsPRO asserts that direct-to-consumer sales of material prior to their release to retailers adversely affects potential sales in Direct Market stores belonging to our membership. When customers have already purchased products directly from a publisher before the retail channel is even able to stock these items, the cash flow and bottom lines of Direct Market retailers are noticeably impacted.

Market Efficiency
In order for a market to function efficiently, all market participants should have equivalent access to the goods offered. If one or more participants has early access to market offerings, all other participants in that market are affected, whether through realization of full sales potential, or from less tangible concerns including reduced consumer confidence in a product line or a manufacturer.

Convention Sales
Conventions, even regional ones, will have national sales impacts. East Coast-based customers frequently travel to West Coast conventions (and vice-versa). It should not be assumed that sales impacts are limited to the region where the event is hosted.

Request for Action
ComicsPRO requests that publishers refrain from selling direct-to-consumers in any manner until the same product is received and available for sale by all members involved in Direct Market retailing.