Wizards Magically Appearing on Invoices

Tomorrow MacGuffin will receive the Wizard Magazine 2006 Mega Movie Collector's Edition, a title we did not order because it was not announced until two weeks ago. Generally in this situation, the product is included in the Diamond Dateline, a weekly newsletter that all retailers receive from Diamond updating product information. This is how we learned how to order the Superman/Batman FCBD book since it was added to the promotion after the event. The problem with Diamond Dateline is that there is so much extraneous information and outright advertising (no, not in a Diamond product, never) that it's easy to miss the details and several stores failed to order any copies of the Superman/Batman FCBD book as a result. Wizard (and presumably Diamond) felt that rather than risk the same thing happening with their extra special movie issue, they would simply send retailers however many copies we had ordered of the last issue of Wizard. They did that same thing with last year's movie issue and were absolutely blasted by retailers, so this year they will allow the issue to be returnable and will not charge retailers for any copies until after the returnability window is over. Johanna Draper Carlson broke down the details shortly after the issue was announced to retailers and pointed out the major flaw with this practice, namely the principle behind it.

This is another example of publishers and Diamond not treating retailers as partners or even customers but rather as sales agents. My job is not to promote any single company except MacGuffin (ignore for a moment all of my First Second posts please). When Bob Wayne indirectly blames retailers for the limited growth of the OYL titles, he's essentially saying, "sorry about that, our sales reps weren't paying attention, but don't worry we'll make sure we print up enough to take care of those of you they forgot about." By sending retailers these issues without any prior agreement on our part, Wizard is essentially saying, "we understand the market better than you and believe that you can sell as many copies of this movie issue as you can of a regular issue of Wizard." In both instances retailers are treated more like employees of those publishers than customers.

Yet, retailers would have gone nuts had Wizard chosen to distribute this issue solely to their newsstand market (where it's likely to have more traction anyway). How do I know this? Because the outcry has already begun about Top Shelf's decision to sell the limited edition autographed copies of Lost Girls directly to consumers via their website (and likely directly to consumers at the San Diego Comic-Con as well). Nevermind the fact that this particular book is particularly risky for Top Shelf and such a practice will likely allow them to at recoup enough costs to avoid going under entirely. If the books sell like mad, then sure it was an unnecessary decision to cut out an important part of the sales chain. But at the same time, there are many, many direct market stores that will not carry this particular product signed or not. Now imagine if Wizard had distributed a much more "mainstream" product directly to consumers and via other channels while excluding the direct market entirely. There would be calls for a boycott of Wizard altogether (not that I'm saying that's a bad thing).

What this boils down to is that we, as retailers, like to complain whenever a sales situation is set up that doesn't conform to our preferred methods. At the same time, we as retailers have the smallest individual voices in the industry and are therefore often in the weakest financial position.


Blogger Drew Moss said...

yeah, I used to work at a Book store in Hampton during my Highschool/College years, Benders,
and Diamond is a hard nut to crack. I remember when Marvel tried to Distribute their own books. What a nightmare.

I have definately enjoyed your latest entries in your blog and look forward to more.

11:52 AM  

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