Well, after two months of solid work, Badger Comics is now online. I cannot express the amount of work I put into the site so far. Every thing on the site should be live now with the exception of the subscription service, which I can assure you I am diligently at work on even as I type this (no, really). The final parts not related to the subscription site went up tonight, including the banner ads, a general faq page, as well as quite a bit of cleaning up around the site. I still have a few things I am working on, pertaining to free shipping at a certain dollar amount, and many many things pertaining to the subscription service. Really, I have sampled many of the other services out there and I am not boasting when I say I really feel this will be one of the most comprehensive comic book subscription services on the internet. But I don’t want to give away too much right now, so you’ll have to wait for the rest later.
I really wanted to touch on something that is in the site’s FAQ page though. It’s in the “What Do You Stock” section of the FAQ. When I began working on getting the site going, I am not going to lie about my intentions. Essentially I wanted to look at buying around 150 or so comics a month (actual issues), throw them up on ebay, and make enough to cover the books that I actually wanted to keep for myself. Selfish, maybe, but then again most capitalism is at its roots. Along the way of starting this business however, and after much reading on the state of the industry, it became aware that the comic book market, though seeing year over year growth for a number of years now, is still at one of its lowest periods it has ever seen in its history. I have already gone into some of this in earlier posts, such as the direct market just striving to stay above water and the nature of collectibility in a retail market. However one of the things I haven’t gone into is actually reaching for different markets.
Now, I certainly don’t mean disrespect to any comic retailers out there, online or offline. Anyone who is able to stay in business in a market like this certainly deserves much credit. However the one thing the direct market has always pineed itself on is the sure thing. Order in loads what you know can sell and generally stay away from or order thin on items you have very little personal knowledge on or might tend to be slightly risky. Again, capitalism at its finest. And again, no disrespect to the stores that do this. It is difficult to be in the business of selling a little bit of everything vs. selling a lot of just a few things.
So where I’m going with this is I am going to see how or if I can make the former work. There are probably at least a dozen sites online where you can subscribe to Batman and Spider-Man comics. There are probably ten times that many sites on the internet where you can actually BUY those same comic books “off the shelf” so to speak. But what about Screwtooth #1, which according to Diamond Distributors only sold around 1,704 copies, and Jeremiah Harm #4, which only sold about 400 copies more? Are there really only 2000 people in the country who want to read these comics? Heck, your average trash techno-spy thriller typically sells 10 times those numbers. So why are many comics selling at under 2000 copies, and many more selling just above 2000 copies? Because the top books that dominate the charts are the ones that retailers have figured out for years now how to sell. They are the ones retailers have figured out how to predict sales for. They are the “safe” books. And unfortunately, as a retailer once you fill out your order booklet for your safe books, there isn’t a whole lot of spare change left over for the risky books. Especially the books that will sit on your shelves, or even worse, in the dreaded back issue bins. But don’t even get me started on those. I’ll save that for another post.
So if you haven’t figured out already, that is what my current goal is with my site. Sell those copies of Screwtooth #1 and Jeremiah Harm #4. Sell the romance books to the women (or guys), the teen romance books to the girls (or boys). Sell the techno thriller books to the Clancy fans and the courtroom dramas to the Grisham fans. Sell the autobigographical books to the people who are more interested in real life, and yes, sell the superhero, science fiction, fantasy and action books to the current buyers of comics. It is not my goal to lure away current buyers from stores. They can keep their customers. There are 300 million people in this country. There are more than enough customers to go around for the 3000 or so direct market stores. My goal is to go after people who don’t read comics, or even better yet the ones who are positive that comics and graphic novels don’t hold anything that they are interested in.
If you enjoy reading, there is a comic book for you. Just give me the opportunity to figure out which one it is.