For decades, the business strategy of comic book publishers in the Diamond monopoly direct market system has been simple: sell the comics to retailers, and then the comics are retailers' problem. But in a shocking move Tuesday, explosive publisher BOOM! Studios announced a novel plan that could turn the entire industry on its head: what if we tried to sell comics to readers?
Partnering with retailer point-of-sale system ComicHub, BOOM! will target actual readers in an attempt to convince them to buy copies of Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora's Once & Future #1, in addition to making the comic returnable for members of the BOOM! Guarantee program.
A press release elaborates:
BOOM! Studios and ComicHub today announced a new partnership for comic shop retailers in support of ONCE & FUTURE #1, kicking off the year's most anticipated new series from New York Times bestselling writer Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Star Wars) and Russ Manning Award-winning artist Dan Mora (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Klaus).
Through this partnership, BOOM! Studios will pair its industry-leading retailer incentives in support ONCE & FUTURE with the burgeoning international reach of ComicHub's network of comic book specialty stores to directly promote the series to customers utilizing the platform. Additionally, retailers who are also members of the BOOM! Guarantee program, the industry's gold standard for returnability programs, can sign up for ComicHub and receive $100 off their startup fee when they sign up at Retailer.Comichub.com. The combination of risk-free, affidavit returns on the entire ONCE & FUTURE comic series and eventual collection combined with ComicHub's next generation suite of customer, retailer, and publisher tools will allow the publisher to assist retailers directly in maximizing their sell through at launch.
It's a crazy idea, but it just might work. Instead of sticking retailers with copies of comics nobody will ever actually read by offering "incentive" programs that encourage ordering more copies in order to obtain rare variants that can be sold for higher profit, even as the regular copies sit unsold on shelves, BOOM! is looking to actually drive customers into comic book stores to buy the regular copies of the comics, for reading, theoretically increasing both profits and audience.
"BOOM! Studios has long been comic book retailers' best partner. ComicHub is part of the evolution of how comic publishers and comic shops will partner with each other in the future," said Filip Sablik, President of Publishing & Marketing, BOOM! Studios. "The combination of BOOM!'s Guarantee program, the best returnability program in the industry, and ComicHub is potentially game-changing by allowing us to reduce risk for our retail partners and help them sell through their inventory of ONCE & FUTURE for even greater success!"
This partnership, the first between ComicHub and a comic book publisher, lines up perfectly with the company's stated goal to "ensure the print comic industry continues to thrive in the digital era". With innovative data technology and services that ensure that comics retailers give the very best service available to their customers, ComicHub has quickly made a name for itself as the newest standard for Retail Information Flow and Point Of Sale services in the comics industry.
"Our mission with ComicHub is to not only supply comics retailers with modern information tools to manage and promote their stores, but to also engage publishers in the information management for stores, marketing to promote directly to BUYING customers, and to provide transparency in the sell-through information flow," said ComicHub's Head of Sales, Atom! Freeman. "In BOOM! Studios, we found a partner who values both the conduit of information to retailers and fans and the insight into how their books are actually being sold."
Partnering with ComicHub also sends a clear message, as the system is based around point-of-sale, or tracking comics that retailers actually sell to customers. The comics sales rankings released by Diamond each month and extrapolated to actual unit and dollar sales estimates by sites like Comichron refer only to copies sold to retailers, allowing savvy publishers to game the system by convincing retailers to order more copies with Marvelous gimmicks like variants, reboots, super-mega-crossover events, and market flooding, which inflate sales numbers but don't actually increase readers, something common sense in any other industry would dictate is not a good long-term strategy.
It's interesting to see BOOM! take a different approach… but innovation in the direct market system is often met with heavy resistance from those who benefit from the status quo. We'll see if it works for them.
Once and Future #1 is set to hit stores on August 14th.
Debuting in August 2019, ONCE & FUTURE explores the mysteries of the past, the complicated truths of our history and the power of family to save the day…especially if that family has secret bunkers of ancient weapons and decades of experience hunting the greatest monsters in Britain's history!
When a group of Nationalists use an ancient artifact to bring a villain from Arthurian myth back from the dead to gain power, ex-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire pulls her unsuspecting grandson Duncan, a museum curator, into a world of magic and mysticism to defeat a legendary threat. Now the two must navigate the complicated history of the McGuire family and combat the deadly secrets of England's past that threaten its very future.