Previewing: Fun with Numbers 2.0

Previously on MacGuffin:

I broke down our February initial order by Percentage of Total Order by Dollar Value (followed by the average Direct Market store's order placed w/Diamond for January in parenthesis) :
Marvel: 28.3% (36.8%)
DC: 28.6% (35.3%)
Everyone else: 43.1% (27.9%)

One thing to keep in mind before I throw some more numbers out there is that this is strictly a single months worth of orders placed two months in advance of the product hitting shelves and purchased from a single distributor. As I've mentioned before, a significant portion of our inventory is backlist and thus does not show up on this order (and is often ordered from an entirely different supplier). That said, I feel as though the above breakdown fits our goal or providing a broad cross section of available comic material. To dig a little deeper, though I provide the following breakdowns.

Percentage of Total order by piece (followed by the average Direct Market Store's order placed w/Diamond for January in parenthesis):
Marvel: 31.0% (42.2%)
DC: 31.6% (37.4%)
Everyone Else: 37.4% (20.4%)
(Again for the curious, Image and Dark Horse constitute 14.3% of Everyone Else)

The first things that jumps out at me is the disparity between the dollars breakdown and the units breakdown, which leads to the following numbers (based on only the items we ordered):

Retail price per piece:
Marvel: $3.32
DC: $3.30
Everyone Else: $4.20

What is immediately obvious is that Marvel and DC can afford to sell their books cheaper than "everyone else." When coupled with a discount schedule that is generally anywhere from 5 to 15% better than Everyone Else (minus Dark Horse, Image, Tokyopop and a few others), it's easy to see why Marvel and DC often dominate the shelves. Even at MacGuffin, over half of our February order is devoted to Marvel and DC. Taking a chance on a title from one of those companies is economically easier than taking a chance on most self-published books. Quick academic exercise: A new series comes out from Self Publisher A who Diamond offers at a maximum of 45% off of cover. Meanwhile a new series comes out from DC which for the sake of this exercise, is available at 50% off (although it would likely several percentage points higher for a store that does significant volume). Using the average retail price per piece determined above, each copy of the new series from Self Publisher A costs $2.31 while each copy of the new series from DC costs $1.65. The profit per piece is a bit higher from Self Publisher A at $1.89 vs. $1.65 for DC but unless I'm very confident in Self Publisher A's new series, its a much bigger risk to stock in any depth.

Which led to my conclusion yesterday that we're either developing a very different customer base than average or throwing a nice chunk of change at books that aren't going to sell.

Next time: More numbers! And the mysteries and vagaries of shelf space.


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