Tuesday, January 6, 2009
For Thought: Back Issues
Found this article today at Newsarama:
Shop Of Ideas: No More Back Issues!
It's an interesting approach these guys have taken, completely eliminating the back issue stock of their shop. I can see some benefits here as well as some drawbacks, but I am interested: what do you guys think?
Would you be happy if your LCS decided to up and liquidate all of it's back issues? Or would you welcome the opportunity for new, perhaps lesser known stuff to take it's place?
What do YOU think?
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It all depends on what kind of shop you want to run. Both shops I had were "inherited" as they were, including all that post-boom inventory. From 5-4-$1 bins to themed grab bags to sets to eBay, I devoted eight years of my life to liquidating back stock. Maybe one of the reasons I closed my shop instead of pursuing a new owner was to finally see the place empty! Closure!
I love comics, but loathe clutter, so I have a similarly philosophy when it comes to my personal collection. As soon as my nephews reach reading age, them boys got an inheritance of their own coming!
I live in one of the nation's largest cities, with my pick of well-stocked shops, but I choose mail order. My concern is reading books as cheaply as possible without stealing. I have online dealers, so I don't have to dig for overpriced back issues that aren't being stocked, anyway. I have friends, and I have blogs, so I don't need shops.
On the other hand, were I still interested in being in this business, I'd try to emulate these guys. You can buy trades at Barnes & Noble or torrent single issues, so what the modern comic shop needs to sell is an experience. Creator signings and a sense of community, like a bar for geeks with no legal limit (outside the Adult Catalog.) Being a glorified bartender slinging four-color brew kept my under-financed shop open into the new millennium, and gave my partner and I the comfort to have a choice about our future. We were sick of the repetition of it all, but tending to the emotional needs of nerds is more important than whether you have DC Comics Presents on tap.
A lot of it boils down to what kind of shop your LCS is trying to be. Are they trying to be the shop that is like the local record store and has something -- literally -- for everyone in there? Or are they trying to be the shop that just happens to have DC Comics Presents on tap? It's a legitimate question of clientele as well as what interests the owner.
Personally, I like back issues. As you can see from my Unbridled Capitalism and Discount Bin Find posts, most of my back issue collecting is for cheap stuff. So I don't see combing through discount bins for hidden gems to be part of the "collector" mindset. I liken it to looking through the used CDs at the aforementioned record shop. So to see that kind of stuff -- discount bins and other castoff oddities -- disappear would be disheartening.
The big dollar stuff, pfft, you can find whatever you want (for the most part) online with better grading and prices.
Personally I like the model which Heroes & Dragons in Columbia, SC used to use in their old location, where they had a whole seperate retail space for their back issues. It satisfied both camps pretty well, since I could look through back issues without bothering the guys there to look through the indies. Now, I understand that not everyone has that option, but man, when it works it works.
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