The FCBD Puzzle: Part Two

I had a publisher ask a few questions about yesterday's FCBD breakdown that got me thinking about what makes for the ideal FCBD book. For us, the key is that the book function both the day of by drawing in old and new customers as well as having legs as a promotional tool long after FCBD. Ultimately I think the latter is more important, but it's all a part of the package. The way I break down the parts of that package, in descending order of importance:

#1: Quality content that is accessible to new readers but leaves them looking for more. This can be all new material or reprint but it needs to be both really good and really easy to get into. Creators with solid track records can help alleviate retailer concerns about this when ordering.

#2: Backed up by a catalog of related titles that we can point these new readers to when they like what they see. Preferably something directly related like Scott Pilgrim, but titles by the same creator or that are similar in tone should work too.

#3: A good cover. It is SO much easier to sell any product when the first thing the customer sees is an attractive package. This year I would say that Image's Future Shock (even though the same idea was just used in New Warriors), Free Scott Pilgrim (which derives most of its essential goodness by working off of the title's play on words) and X-Men/Runaways are the most immediately striking covers (maybe that's just me, but I think they'll stand out a bit more than some of the others). The solicitation art for Bongo is horrible, but at least its not the finalized cover. Which brings me to:

#4: Good solicit copy in Previews. Neither Bongo nor Dark Horse have the actual cover featured. Probably nothing they could do about that, except maybe plan a bit farther ahead, but it makes me a bit leery about what we'll get when they show up. If there's not at least one Simpsons character on the Bongo title, it'll be a huge mistake. As for the copy itself, I was under the impression that the Star Wars/Conan flipbook was reprint material until Kurt Busiek informed me otherwise. It's helpful to know what the story will be and who's actually writing/drawing it.

#5: This is more of a corollary to #3, but stand out from the other offerings. Arcana Studio Presents, World of Aspen, Jack the Lantern, Liberty Girl, Claypool and Buzzboy are going to find it difficult to stand out on the day of because they're promoting the same sort of story/characters as Marvel, DC, Image and each other. Mr. Jean and Owly may not be as visually striking (although I prefer both of those covers to the above) but they'll stand out based on subject matter alone (as conveyed through the cover).

#6: Price. As I mentioned yesterday, we set our dollar amount and percentage of that for each title, so how many we get depends on how expensive the title is. Obviously this is going to vary because each company's printing cost is going to vary, but I would hope that the companies involved see this as an opportunity to increase their own sales and would eat some portion of the printing cost themselves (they may do this already but if so it's kept quiet).

Ultimately I think publishers should look at FCBD as a chance to expand their market by helping retailers expand ours. The retailers that last are Ultimately in this to make money and if we're going to do that its by expanding our market and turning our regular customers onto new product lines.


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