It was an incentive that Image Comics used to build the launches of its titles over the last few years. Giving retailers the opportunity to order the first issues, even second or third issues of a new series, and make them completely returnable if they ordered lots, based on that shop's sales of previous series. Which meant step by step, Retailers ordered more and more numbers on launch issues from Image, and some of them sold very well indeed. It was by this process that the likes of Saga, Sex Criminals, Jupiter;s Legacy and East Of West found a large audience that might have been otherwise denied them due to retailer conservatism.
However, the mechanism, copied by other publishers, had been criticised by some retailers, as tying up cashflow in comics that may not sell as well, and a problem that increased incrementally, each month making it harder for some stores to justify.
This year, Image have used that incentive a lot less, but its return was discussed with retailers at the ComicsPRO meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, a few weeks ago.
And now in its place is a new returnability incentive, where retailers are eligible for full returnability depending on how large their store is, measurable by the discount level they receive – bigger retailers get bigger discounts from Diamond.
As from June, the smallest store only need to order 15 copies of select Image titles in order for the comics to be fully returnable. While the largest stores need to order 1500 copies.
The first titles to be made returnable in this fashion will be Outcast #1 and The Wicked + The Divine #1.