I already discussed that Free Comic Book Day was a huge success, new people are still visiting the site and buying stuff from us, and we’ve made a tiny profit despite the huge expenses of shipping Free Comics this month. This, as Martha Stewart would say, is a “good thing”. What’s not good however is the difficulties we had trying to get “Free Comics” this year because of the exclusionary practices of the Free Comic Book Day committee.
I’m so frustrated by the narrow minded view of the Brick and Mortar establishment. In their mind we have no “overhead”, which is utter crap.
We have servers to maintain, credit card deals to hammer out, shipping to cover, warehousing facilities to maintain, plus the “work” part like inputting product to the site every week, packing and shipping product, ordering, maintaining stock levels. Because we have embraced technology though, we’re considered “not real”.
I find this incredibly offensive. There are stores out there that are literally a tiny, dimly lit, cramped enclosure in another store’s basement (I can think of 2 stores in Toronto off the top of my head who fit that bill, who also pay less in rent every month than we pay in shipping costs).
So because we have no storefront, the Free Comic Book Day committee said we weren’t permitted to buy free comics (retailers pay a nominal fee for these “Free” comics). We called our distributor and explained the situation, and eventually we were allowed to get Free Comics.
This is the second year that we’ve had a Free Comic Book Day offer. We gave away around 100 free comics last year, and it was a great way to get our name out there, and to also let people who otherwise wouldn’t participate in the event get in on it. We benefited because people who didn’t know about us became aware of us, and bought stuff from us.
Today I filled out a form from our distributor and since there was no place to add “other comments”, I added this to the form in one of the fields:
We had a lot of difficulty getting Free Comics from Diamond this year to give away to customers because we are an online only business. We still feel that this exclusionary practice on the part of the free Comic Book Day Committee is wrong. We have gone out of our way to grow the comic book audience, we are huge evangelists for the comic book industry, and we have higher per-customer costs on Free Comic Book Day than any brick and mortar store, but we feel that the benefits far outweigh the costs.
A significant portion of our market cannot get to a local comic store due to distance, and we are a valuable resource to them. Being ostracized by the very retailing community which is benefiting from our evangelism of the product is frustrating.
The idea that we, who have a world class online store, are not on the same level as the most sub-par of Brick and Mortar establishments is both offensive and narrow minded.
If the retailing community won’t embrace those like us who go out of our way to use new technologies to spread the word of comics, then what hope does the medium have?