Bleeding Cool has been reporting in-depth on recent moves by Marvel Comics to overship their comics to comic stores, so retailers receive more than they ordered. Ostensibly to ensure retailers have enough copies to meet demand rather than their own conservative ordering practices, this has also had the side benefit of skewing the Diamond Comic Distributor stats – counting the extra free copies as "unit sales" on the monthly charts and marketshare.
Firstly, a reminder to stores, if you don't want overshipped comics – or to pay the freight charges that come with them – then you don't have to. Diamond Comic Distributors will allow you to opt out. But the cost-per-comic is so low, I'd argue you'd be mad not to. Especially when there is so much you can do with them.
Here are a few examples. Add your suggestions in the comments and maybe I'll add them…
- Fill Your Pullboxes – the official reason that Marvel overships is to encourage sampling – so do so. Take your free comics and put one in every one of your customer's pull lists. If out of 100 people, 3 add the book to their order every month as a result, that's a score. Also you provide value to your most committed customers!
- Save Them for Free Comic Book Day – with all these free Marvel Comics, maybe you need fewer of the official FCBD titles. Or maybe you can just giveaway more.
- Discount the cost of the comic you get free – rather than give away your 100% extra copies of Hawkeye #1, why not try selling all copies of Hawkeye #1 at $1.99? People do value what they pay money for – but also love a bargain.
- Offer money back guarantees. You can do this anyway, but you'll be less worried about them coming back in poor unsellable condition if you din't actually pay for them in the first place. Okay, there's only so much you can do with Solo #2, but still.
- Use the comics as external promotional tools – put store identifying stickers on your comics, and get stacks to hospitals, doctors, dentists, banks, anywhere where people might be sitting and waiting. Who knows who might pick up a comic that hasn't done so in years and make a bee-line to your store?
- How about to the above, but hand them out in person? Get a cosplayer or two to hand them out in areas with strong footfall.
- Leave stickers copies on public transport. Most may well be trashed – but then they were free, right? But it could also spread your message long distance…
- Add them to mail orders. It shouldn't change shipping costs to add a free comic to a mail order. Again, it's added value and a reason fro people to return to you – and love you.
- Art college – they'll love to chop them up, stick them on canvas and then try to bilk someone into paying $1000 for the finished article. In return for supplying raw materials for their Lichtensteinish works, maybe get a free one back of your choice?
- Wallpaper. No joke, comics can make great geek-themed wallpaper. As long as you don't mind covering your walls with Great Lake Avengers.
- Digital codes – those comics still have their digital codes in, right? You may not be able to sell the print versions, but how about stripping the digital codes and selling them en masse on eBay for a buck each?
- Fuel. Seriously, it's cold out.
- Bird cage lining. Give Polly Parrot something to read while she poops.
- Public restrooms. Go for the human variety. You may not want the copies back, but stickered copies may appeal in places where there's a lack of reading material.
- Donate to charities. Still with those stickers on – because you aren't a charity. Check with your accountant what you can declare against tax in such an instance.
- Grab bags. Take one of all the free comics you get and put them out as grab bags. Ten comics for two bucks. Perfect for the grandparents who wants to buy their grandkids… something.
- Furniture. Pile up the comics, and sit on them. Think "Game Of Thrones".
- Arrange them on the store's roof to spell out rude words that can then be seen on Google Earth.
- Turn them into paper mache and build your own twenty-foot effigy of Stan Lee.
- Shredded copies can be used as effective packaging for more valuable titles, or even toys and statues. Just take the staples out first!
- Get One Million Moms to condemn the comics, so that people rush to your store to see what all the fuss is about. Charge $10 each.
- Get Bleeding Cool to suggest that the comics may possibly be valuable as they star a character who might, but probably won't be, starring in Spider-Man Homecoming.
- CGC them all up. Even though there are so many, as you can see they are going to be heavily mistreated, so there won't be any mint condition versions at all. So if your copies are still in good nick, why not? Charge $100 each.
Any more for any more?