Sunday, January 15, 2006

Tales From The Comic Box #3

I'm here at the store today watching the playoffs and helping customers. Not a bad day if I may say so. So let's dip back into the recent past from another blog and talk once again about "readers vs. collectors".

Last December, Kevin (as in Beaucoup) went to two stores in Vegas. One, in his desciption, was dark, dusty and full of bad swords, while the other was clean, bright and fully stocked. It set off a firestorm from readers of his site of their stories, including mine. With his permission (more like I hope you don't mind), I'll reprint what was said here. WITH SPELLING CORRECTIONS FROM ME! SO YOU CAN READ IT!

I should really talk about my adventures of working in a comic book store sometimes. I've had some very interesting times there. And yes, I've had to stop a few guys from opening up the bags. I've had really one complaint from a guy, who was a subcriber (two books, both "Star Wars" comics) who had gotten upset with me because I wouldn't let him open it up.

"Well, the owner lets me do it all the time."

"Do you ask him?"

Well, ahhh, no, but I just tell him afterwards."

"Then you must be going to the wrong comic book store, because you whould have gotten your head shoved up your colon. We got rules here. You don't rip open a bag of Doritos to see if they changed the taste every day."

"You know what? Just cancel my subcription! If I can't take the plasic off a comic, then I just won't come back!"

That's when I grabbed his sub form, came from behind the counter, tore it in front of him and then, bowled up. I have no problem punching a fanboy, nevertheless a fanboy who's gonna mess up the product without me knowing it. Oh, and he hasn't been back since and we havn't lost business.

The whole thing for me is alot of stores have there own thing about the bag'n board. Ours is if you ask and we know you well enough, then you can look, just be careful. If not, and you just look like your casually browsing, the answer is no. Simple. I'm sorry you had a bad experience at the first store, Kevin. I'm very glad you found one that's much better.

Oh, and Merry Christmas.

Kevin's response...

I probably wouldn't buy anything at the shop you worked at, then.


Call me a cock about it or whatever, but I think buying a comic is the complete and total opposite of buying Doritos. Doritos have consistency, get stale upon opening, and contain cheesy goodness. Comics are the product of writers and artists getting together to produce results that can vary wildly.

Opening a new comic and looking inside tells me almost instantly if it's something I want to spend money on. Comics are not "collectibles," or an investment - they're a medium.

I'll open up a novel at a bookstore and turn to a random chapter to see if I like the style. I'll download a sample MP3 to see if I like an album enough to buy it. Why can't I decide that I want to look at the inside of a recently produced comic in a shop where I've already expressed interest in spending a stack of money without having to track down someone and asking permission?

Oh, right - because bagging comics helps them "keep" their meager value.

My response...

I'm sorry that you feel that way
about it, but understand at least where I'm coming on this, at least at my side.

We have had loads of problems with guys coming into the store and just ripping open the bags to just see what was in there and putting it back in the slot, damaged. Now, if I were to take that same damaged book and sell it to you at the same price tagged on it, even if the book was gone from fine to fair according to Overstreet, you'd be pissed off. There are those who care about how the condition of the book, along with the artwork and story. So, to make it easy for everyone, we ask not to open the plastic. We'll be glad to do it for you.

Now, I can say that one thing we do that maybe no one else possibly does in the country is shrink wrap the trades. Once again, it's for the buyer's ease of mind that the book isn't dogeared and in great condition when they purchase it and we will remove the plastic for you to take a look at it. We do recieve complaints from folks who would like to look at them but can't due to the wrap, but the "thank you"s far outweigh them. After all, how many times have you gone to a Barnes and Nobles and seen a book that has been looked over and over, but never bought? We'd rather sell you a book that looks as clean as the day you got it from Diamond.

Like I said before, I'm sorry I won't be able to get your business, Kevin. But, we take pride in our store and have been that way for 18 years. We have bright lighting, stocked and clean shelves, and wonderful displays and room to move around. I care about the customer and their purchase to make sure they get the best product. Yes, it's sequential art we're selling. But, it's also a business.

Here's the link to our page. Take a tour...

Thanks for letting me talk about this here, Kevin.

Finally, another reponse from Kevin...

Sam, I understand exactly where you're coming from, but I guess the whole "collector" versus "reader" mentality kicks in with an argument like this.

As far as the "not wanting a reader's copy" goes, I suppose putting a copy to read on the shelf while keeping bagged ones behind it would be a compromise that would make me (dude that spends far more on comics than he should) happy while making "them" (people who masturbate over the Wizard price guide) happy. Hell, I might be more inclined to shop at a store that did that. Of course, the cost of buying an extra issue on lower-selling books would be a bit of a pain, but I wonder if it would lead to more sales of books that are right on the edge of the Average Superhero Comics Reader radar, like Sleeper (RIP)...

Well, to get my point across in this post, since can do that here, it's not the new comics that we shrinkwrap or bag as soon as they come in, it's the trade paperbacks, Kevin. As for the fate of Sleeper, which I also thought was a great book, it didn't have enough of an audience out there to enjoy it, hence the cancellation, twice. One person buying two copies of the book still possibly couldn't help the sales of it, as good as it was. I do know that the reprinted trades do very well. Once again, we take pride in what we sell, but once again, the keyword here is "sell". After all, it a store that sells comics. Pure and simple.

So fellow comic reader or comic collector, what do you think of all this. Weigh in your comments. This debate won't go away anytime soon.

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