Dean Phillips of Krypton Comics in Omaha, Nebraska saw other retailer comments on back issues (see 'Dan Veltre of Dewey's Comic City, Sharpening the Sword--Back Issues, Part 1' and 'Part 2') and says back issues remain a significant portion of his business:
I have been reading quite a few comments on reducing or eliminating the back issue section of many comic book stores. I understand that a section of a store that is not bringing in enough dollars per square foot must be dealt with. The added expense of paying for, displaying, and managing back issues can and has broken the bank of many retailers. I just thought I would throw in another point of view.
My store has 'comics' in the name, and I think that we should offer COMICS. I don't want Krypton Comics to be just like the big book retailers. Other than a great atmosphere and product knowledge, what sets my store apart from a bookstore is my huge selection of single issue comic books. I have a large portion of my store dedicated to back issues. I am not just talking about the last two months worth of X-Men. I have a pretty big selection of comics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s right up to recent hot books.
What does devoting this amount of square footage to back issues get me? I sell more back issues than any store I know of! I am talking about a single store in a city of less than one million people with four other comic book stores in the area. The lion's share of my income is generated by new comics and graphic novels, but approximately 25% of my revenue is back issue comics. I believe this is because we love comic books; we actively promote the single issue comic. I go to great lengths to try to have a wide variety of comics arranged in a very nice store fixture (not boxes on a table) and in alphabetical order. My customers know where to find that comic they missed a while ago. Why force them to go to the Internet?
With comic companies already trying to cut out the middle man (that's you and me) and selling Internet subscriptions directly to our customers, keep the money in your store! Sell your extras on eBay or a Website for some extra cash, but get rid of your back issues entirely? I don't see the point. How is a comic book going to gather a following if people can't read it in pamphlet form? How are you going to know how many TPs or graphic novels to order without a proven track record? If for example, Y: The Last Man was only put out as original graphic novels every six months, how many would you order for #1? You don't know that book is better than sliced bread without the buzz surrounding the back issues!
Again, I understand the problems with back issues. They take up a lot of space and cost money to order. You have to really work at it to reprogram the guys who say, 'I am just going to wait for the trade.' These people don't understand that without the proven sales of a monthly, there would be no trade made of many books. I am amazed at the amount of retailers saying they can't sell back issues. Go ahead and get rid of them, I am redesigning my back issue bins to accomodate two-thirds more stock. I will gladly take your customers money if you don't want it!
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.