The FCBD Puzzle

So I'm firming up my February Diamond order (my first with a full month worth of sales data). I have some general thoughts on the order itself, but by far the most difficult part of it was the Free Comic Book Day section. The key part of that of course being that, while free to customers, these titles are not free to retailers. The cost is ridiculously small compared to regular titles, but we're not making any direct money back on these (nor are the publishers I'm sure). So the question becomes, how do I estimate the amount of interest we'll have three months from now when we've got nothing but some advice from other stores to go on?

There's not really an answer to that I guess, but a big factor in my thought process is the potential to use these title even after FCBD if we have leftovers. So, I'm not going too worry about ordering to the point of having leftovers. Instead, we approached the entire day as what it is, advertising. We decided this would be our largest ad buy of the year and set a budget that would include advertising the event itself as well as well as purchasing the product. Once we broke that budget down into its components, we were left with a dollar amount to spend on the product. From there, I broke down the books themselves into a percentage of the total expense based on solicitations and legs of any leftovers. Where the hiccup presents itself, though, is the fact that each title costs a different amount, some twice what others do. So the decision was, do I figure an average price per unit and break down the percentages into units or dollars spent? From a logic standpoint, breaking it down by dollars made the most sense. Certain companies can afford to offer more support by offering the product at lower prices. Couple that with the fact that the goal is to have as much quality material available as possible and it was fairly easy to go with a dollars breakdown over units.

So, the moment you've been waiting for, a quick breakdown of how we're ordering (pending any last second adjustments):

8% - X-Men/Runaways:
To me, this seems like the title that will see the heaviest demand as well as one that has solid legs post FCBD. There are several factors in its favor, chief being the inclusion of all new material. A very close second is the coupling of a company mainstay with a title that we push in the store already. I have to give Marvel credit for going all out this year.

8% - FREE Scott Pilgrim:
This one is a bit riskier, but again, all new material with great legs and several graphic novels (presumably 3 by the time FCBD rolls around) to point people towards if they like what they see. Plus this is another title we push (and sell) pretty well.

7% - Mr. Jean:
This is the only title that I gave a higher percentage based on cost. Another title that we believe in, and one that we hope to use to broaden horizons a bit.

7% - Owly Breakin the Ice:
See Scott Pilgrim.

6% each - Funny Book #2 & Preposterous Voyages of Ironhide Tom!:
2 sets of creators and companies we like to support. These are much like Mr. Jean, aimed at diversifying our customer base.

5.5% each - Bongo Free for All & Star Wars/Conan Flipbook:
Essentially the same strategies from both companies here, using established licenses to push comics. Works for us! Reprint material, though, so not quite as useful.

5% - Superman/Batman #1:
A strong title with a couple of trades to back it up, as well as the "ongoing" series. Not even close to X-Men/Runaways, but not nearly as bad a choice as JLU alone was.

4% - Tokyopop Sneaks:
All OEL material is not helping matters here. Still its manga, so it should at least get some attention. Not the kind of legs it could've had though.

4% - Future Shock (from Image):
New material is a big plus, though I'm not a huge fan of the sampler approach. Still, Invincible, Noble Causes and Godland could get some help from this.

3.5% - Transformers Beast Wars:
Eh. But Transformers seem to still have some popularity, so there you go.

3% - Impact University:
I thought it was a pretty good idea last year and I would think there should be some interest here.

The rest is pretty evenly split among the rest of the titles. We could be way off here, and I'm sure in at least a few cases we will be. But I did the only thing that works for me lately: coming up with a makeshift solution that I don't regret a half hour later.


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