Quick Hits FCBD Edition

Now that Free Comic Book Day has passed and I've been able to get some sleep, time for a few thoughts on the event as a whole:

*By far the best promotion for the event was our school contest -- the schools that sent in the most students receive $150 in graphic novels for their library. At least half of our visitors signed in as part of the contest, nearly all of whom were unfamiliar.

*The total number of visitors was about what I had anticipated (maybe a few less) but I ordered enough books for between two and three times as many visitors as I had expected so we have extras to use as promotional tools for quite awhile (first up is to send a few copies of several titles to each school library that had students participating in the event at MacGuffin).

*The most disappointing result was the way that traffic completely died after about 5:00. We had only a dozen or so more visitors after that point. To make matter worse, inker Marc Deering had offered to spend a few hours at the store that evening after finishing up an appearance at another store. He was a great sport about it, but I was disappointed that more people didn't get a chance to meet him and see his work.

*Something of a corollary to the above, I was surprised how few regulars came out for the event. We did have a few Reserve members and a few others who come in on at least a bi-weekly basis, but I was expecting to see quite a few faces who didn't make it in. Still, the purpose of the event was to expose new people to comics and promote the store to them, and it was effective at doing that.

Finally, I'd like to mention the issue of limits on free comics for this event. From the largely informal research I've done, it appears that a majority of comic shops set a limit on how many free comics each visitor can get. That limit varies widely with some shops only allowing visitors to choose a single free comic (pointing out that the day is Free Comic Book Day, rather than Free Comic Books Day). More common is a limit of 3 to 5 books per person, which is fairly reasonable, and seems even more so in a shop that is only offering the 10 Gold Sponsor Books. Several forward thinking shops, though, create gift bags with all of the Gold Sponsor books that every person gets and then allow the visitor to choose 2 or 3 additional books from among the Silver Sponsor titles, as an example (for those curious, the Gold Sponsor books are almost universally less expensive than the Silver Sponsor books).

At MacGuffin, the only restriction we enforced was a single copy of each title per person. We had all 29 free comics available (the most popular was Superman/Batman) and allowed each person to take up to 29 with them. This is of course the reason that I ordered almost three times what I anticipated demand for, because had we been swamped, there may have been a shortage. The only way that we would have considered limiting the number of comics each person could have is if we began to run out, and the plan at that point was to use the stacks of overstock we have from the first few months we were open.

We had several customers tell us they felt guilty taking so many books, but as I reminded them, that's the point of the day and really of MacGuffin. Our goal is to expose as many people as possible to as much variety as possible and to limit the availability of such inexpensive promotional materials would be incredibly counterproductive in achieving that goal. Therefore, if you visited another shop on Free Comic Book Day and weren't able to get one of the titles you were interested in, stop into MacGuffin and we'd be happy to let you have a copy of whatever title you missed out on. And for those of you who came by on Saturday, thank you for making the day such a success.


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