Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Own Private Boycott

So, without naming names (should I name names?) I have decided today to boycott my local comic shop.

It's a personal choice and my reasons may not apply to anyone but me. Over the past few years I have spent a couple of THOUSAND dollars there, twelve to twenty bucks at a time. I went to the store in question because it is close to my house and they seem like nice enough guys. I don't hang out there and I don't mention my "pro" status to try and get a discount. It's just a convenient place to drop by to get my latest 100 Bullets or Hellboy fix. Maybe I'm lazy.

They carry a reasonable assortment of indie comics along with the mainstream stuff, but when it comes to the books I've personally worked on, they never cease to IRK me.

I first noticed this back when my Weasel Guy/Witchblade comic was published. You see, my local comic shop organizes their comics by publisher. I know everyone has a system but, call me crazy, don't comic shops want to SELL their books??? Weasel Guy/Witchblade was published by Hyperwerks before they fell under the Image imprint. Therefore, the shop did NOT display the comic near the Witchblade comics, but on a foot-level shelf far away from them. Just because that's where they hid the other Hyperwerks titles. Does anyone out there think that's a good way to sell a book called Weasel Guy/Witchblade?

Maybe the store is a non-profit organization.

A couple of years later, when we were putting out our Comiculture anthology magazine, Rob Tokar and I went to several local shops, introduced ourselves and dropped off preview copies to the owners. We told them that we were local artists and wanted to do whatever was necessary to sell the book. Two comic shops in LA that I don't mind mentioning are HiDeHo and Golden Apple Comics. Both of those stores greeted us with enthusiasm and set up in-store signings so that we could help push our new product. But my local shop barely greeted us with lip-service. The owner recognized me as a regular customer, but that didn't really help matters. Maybe we got him on a bad day. He ordered 3 or 4 copies of each issue and naturally hid them in a hard-to-find space. Not near other anthologies, but near some magazines ABOUT comics. That tells me that he didn't listen to our pitch or open the magazine to see what was inside.

Today is Wednesday and there is a new book coming out that I'm eager to get my hands on from Slave Labor. I don't know if it will be available at my local shop, but I really can't bring myself to go there because I know they did not order a single copy of my latest book, Belle Starr: Queen of Bandits, published by Moonstone Books.

Am I a moron, or what? Why have I continued to give these people money? LOTS of money?!

Today I "Mapquested" a comic shop that is a few miles farther away. I've never been there, but I know the manager a little bit. He deserves my money much more that these other guys. I don't know if HE ordered Belle Starr either, but that isn't the point. Even if the trip is less convenient, I feel like I should stop rewarding the other place for running a shop that infuriates me.

What do you think?

19 comments:

Don Hudson said...

I think you are totally within your rights to shop where you feel wanted. I know the place you are talking about because I have been there as well. They are next door to a movie studio lot and they have a built in customer base. I am of the opinion that there is always someone interested in your business. Too bad your LOCAL comic shop has little interest in your books.

Anylady said...

Pretty funny...you sound like me with Wal-mart...no matter how many times they annoy me, I keep going back. Although I will say that I spend less and less on each purchase and the purchases are fewer and further between. The only way you can get back at them is by hitting their bottom line.

Rich! said...

I think you can't change people unless you continue to have a relationship with them.

Are we talking about Comics Ink?

Rich!

catbuccellato said...

I completely agree. If the store really wants to sell books that are related, then they should be displayed in the same location! Cat

Steve Buccellato said...

I'm not sure about "naming names" in my personal boycott. Does anyone else have an opionion about that?

I don't know if I'm too interested in changing people anyway. Or rather, I don't know if I have the power to change anything at that shop. I think I'm more interested in finding someone who is WORTHY of my business...and rewarding him/her.

Steve Buccellato said...

Thankfully, my wife agrees with me! ;) That's why we get along so well.

Sara Kocher said...

I don't think Steve wanted to name them, since he's a comics pro and not that kind of guy. But hey, I don't earn my living in comics, so...Richard, yeah, I'm pretty sure it's Comic Ink.

I've worked in two different comic book stores, each organized differently, but this place is on its own little sucky planet. I simply can't find anything in there for the life of me. Every single time I'm in there to pick up a particular comic, I have to ask for help to find the darn thing. I've even had trouble finding certain DC comics on their badly organized shelves, so it's not just the independents that they're shelving stupidly.

Steve, if you have a recommendation for a good (or even decent) comic shop on the Westside, let us know.

Karl Altstaetter said...

I think you should name names..

I think I know the place...(Starts with comics ends with Ink) and I know the owner and he is a very by the book kind of fellow. He has a system that works a certain way and he does a good job of carrying a diverse amount of comic products in a very small space.

Perhaps he didn't know enough about the book to order it. I'd say ask him to carry it and see if he is willing to.

That being said. If you don't like the vibe there vote with your money and shop somewhere else...

But if it's the store I'm thinking of...than it is very easy for you to get to...and it's a serious drive to get to HiDeHo...maybe you want to split your money up and just get floppys there and get your GN' and TPB's somewhere else...

Steve Buccellato said...

I'm not going to say if you guys are correct about which place I'm talking about because my point wasn't just to bash a store, but to get your opinions (thanks, btw).

Catherine asked me if I talked to the owner about his system for organizing books and I had to think about it for a while. I don't think I did ask him regarding Comiculture. But I think I DIDN'T because previously, I HAD asked him about the odd racking of the Witchblade crossover. If I remember correctly, he just stated that it was his policy to rack books by publisher.

I don't know, why is "because it is the policy" a good answer? Isn't selling the books more important to a store owner than aome strange rule? What is the fear--that they wouldn't be able to find it? Isn't it more important for the customers to find it? They DID order the book, after all. I assume it wasn't so they'd be stuck with the inventory.

What's really important is the following: If a store owner does not sell the issues he orders, he will NOT order more books by that creator/publisher in the future. And he shouldn't.

But, if he doesn't sell them because nobody can FIND THEM, then the creator/publisher's future sales will be hurt because of some idiotic store policy.

That ain't right!

Stephanie N said...

I agree one hundred percent with everything you said.
Those guys sound like jerk offs, and they don't deserve anyone's business, let alone someone who works in the business that is allowing them to have that store to begin with.
My local shop is awesome, they always discount me and I have a lot of friends there.
It's worth the walk, even though there IS a closer one to my place full of surley clerks. And because we have an account there, we get free stuff and nice shop mugs at x-mas. :)

Karl Altstaetter said...

If it's the store I'm thinking of than the people there are not jerk offs. Just because they don't carry a certain product and rack it in a certain order.

I think they rack it a certain way because of floor space..the dominant product in the store comes from the big two..so it dominates the space..if he racked every book in alphabetical order it would move some of the higher selling product to the middle shelves...

it works in his store with his space...

this is another can of worms...but it does fall on the
publisher to get them to carry it...

but in todays market...all the money is tied up in some Infin-house of M All Star ultimate fiasco..

In answer to your question he is actually making more money by not carrying your book and buying more Infin-house of M All Star ultimate fiascos at a better discount from Diamond.

but..

I feel your pain...

Sell shit over the internet(s)..it's the only way!!!

Steve Buccellato said...

Karl, I agree that he shouldn't carry a book he isn't able to sell.

The situation with Belle Starr is frustrating on many levels. NONE of my local shops seem to have ordered it. That sucks, but it IS the nature of the direct-market biz. If books were returnable, people might be more adventurous with the orders. Also, I don't believe the publisher does much in the way of publicity, so I'm not surprised if nobody knows about the book.

What I don't understand (using the Weasel Guy/Witchblade example) is why a store owner would make it difficult to sell through on an item they DID order!

Limited shelf space or no, if you have a product that says "Witchblade" on the cover, it doesn't take genius to realize you may want to put it where the Witchblade fans will find it.

Oh, and for the record, I don't think they are "Jerk-offs" at my local shop. But, the store Stephanie shops in sounds very nice!

Karl Altstaetter said...

As you well know I understand your frustration...

I wonder if he would carry it as a trade rather than a floppy...

Steve Buccellato said...

Karl: Do you mean Belle Starr? If so, you are probably right. Randy Lander at The Fourth Rail wrote a review of "Belle" last week in his "Spotlight on First Issues." He said the story would work better as a single graphic novel rather than a 2-issue series. I agree with him.

Karl Altstaetter said...

yes I meant Belle Starr. Do they have plans to do a trade...because it might have a better chance as a trade..

Steve Buccellato said...

I doubt that they plan to collect the 2 issues. Ever. They probably have a big inventory of unsold single issues. Maybe if Mark Ricketts and I become the next Jim Lees...

Sara Kocher said...

Karl, I agree that the store staff are not jerks. They're nice people and they willingly help me locate books. But shopping in their (or his?) store is an exercise in frustration because I cannot find things that are in there, somewhere. I can't find books from the majors, let alone the minors.

Wish there was a good economic solution to reduce the risk to retailers in stocking more obscure titles. One that wouldn't put the obscure publishers out of business either.

Comics have been loosing readers at an amazing pace and I think the economics are almost as much to blame as the content. Rich has a nice kind-of-related piece on this in his blog at http://idontmakethisstuffup.blogspot.com/2005/10/preaching-to-converted.html

Steve Buccellato said...

Overshipping books is one good way to deal with the direct market's hesitation to order more "risky" product. Of course, a store owner neads to order SOME of that book (non-returnable) in order to get the extra overshipped books that they can return if they don't sell.

I don't know how that applies to the "boycotted" store, in general, but it's an interesting tidbit.

Marie said...

I'd name 'em. Or tell them why you are leaving.

Unless of course the point is to blow off steam, not to request they change their ways. Which is a totally valid thing to do, IMHO.