Last week Bleeding Cool ran the scoop that the number of titles being offered to retailers on Free Comic Book Day would be slashed back to fifty – and that there were complaints from publishers expecting to use FCBD to launch and promote upcoming comics into the direct marketplace.
One retailer on the FCBD advisory board had some salutary reasons for these decisions. Firstly, he told me that the fifty issue limit had been imposed by Diamond Comics Distributor and also that "part of that consideration is at some point they either need to limit the cost of the time and labor to process these books or raise the fee they charge to handle them."
He backed my observation that the aim of the reduction was to provide a greater focus on the comics offered, and a lesser burden for those retailers who felt honour bound to order every item offered.
He told me that he blamed "the locusts who only show up once a year to grab the freebies" and that "publishers who have been participants multiple years without producing actual print material for stores to sell, were an easy elimination. What are they promoting? Themselves, and not the retail experience."
He also went for the bottom line, reminding me that retailers have to pay for the comics they give away on Free Comic Book Day. "Books that were priced more than 40 cents were also easier to ask to be removed, since retailers buy all of these books, limiting the price creep that happens every year is an important thing to remind publishers of."
However, as we observed, I am aware of books that have been cut that were a) under 40 cents and b) were to promote books that were regularly published, so it seems the cuts went further, and more severe than that.
He concluded "between a dozen publishers offering 2 or more books, and the expansion of the number of publishers participating for the first time, there was just going to be too many and too expensive a slate of options."
Which is a very fair point, But now the books that will have made it through are likely to be judged to see if they all fit the criteria, over and above those that were dropped. And not all will…