Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Variant Covers - a discussion.
So, what do you people think of Variant Covers?
Personally, I have no problem with them. If a variant cover is a nice image and it's of Spider-man or Transformers, then 9/10 times I'll be a sucker and go for it.
Professionally? I fucking hate them. I can see they are an underhanded sales trick with nothing more in mind than inflating sales, and I am quite happy to make my money with them. But they are a real headache. Espceially as Marvel don't list them during the initial ordering phase.
Case in point: Neil Gaimans revisioning of "The Eternals".
Neil Gaiman can sell a book, DC know this, Marvel know this, we know this. This book was always going to sell in good numbers, but more improtantly for Neil's work, this will have a long, healthy book-shelf lifespan with mass-market appeal. The comic will pay for itself, the Tpb however, will be a nice cash-cow for Marvel.
I was initially going to order about 15 copies of this title, as I thought a lot of people (myself included) will wait for the Tpb. So I went with 15.
Then a few weeks later I got a Marvel mailer, and it said "John Romita Jr Variant cover for the Eternals. 1:20". Meaning in order to receive 1 variant I have to order 20 regular. What the hell, its only 5 more than I was going to get, and one of our customers is a MAJOR JRJR fan so it was a guaranteed sale.
Then a week or so later, they anounce that a "super limited John romita Jr Variant Cover Sketch Edition, 1:50". Quite a leap, but the JRJR fan will most likely want it so it keeps a regular happy, and this way we can order another of the 1:20 covers anyway, so what the heck.
Weeks pass, then the order comes through. We have about 30 copies sat on the shelf not doing much, except gathering dust and making it look like I don't know what I'm doing. I've always wondered if customers see a lot of copies of a book, do they wonder "Ah, the retailer has faith in this book. This must be a good book." or do they say "Ah. A turkey, this book must be a turkey. It's just sat there not being bought."
In truth, the customer is probably happy shoping for the things they know they want, and are quite happy to ignore quantity.
So the book sells fairly well, the regular JRJR fan buys the variant covers, we put one on the wall at a reasonable rate all is good.
And then we notice there is a third variant (or a fourth cover), which I had better get for the regular. Even though the cover isn't by JRJR it's become a completist thing now, so I contact the old distributors hoping to order at least one copy.
Andy at Diamond: "Ah, the Coipel Variant. Limited to only 10 per account".
Now remember, I only want one...
..but only ten per account! I must be able to sell all them and make a profit, surely. I place the order, it seems silly not to take full advantage, after all, it's an incentive, right?
So, that's a total of 63 copies of Eternals #1, a title that I had only intended to order 15 copies of.
I'm sure there is a point, or a moral to this. Somewhere.
Posted by Sid at 2:59 pm