Daniel McAbee of The Tangled Web in Spartanburg, South Carolina saw the news on Barnes and Noble's exclusive Ultimate Spider-Man hardcover (see 'Barnes & Noble To Publish Ultimate Spider-Man Collection'), and the response from John Miller of Lost Realm (see 'John Miller of Lost Realms on B&N Ultimate HC') and sent us this comment on his strategies for competing with big box competition:
After reading Lost Realm's John Miller's comments on the B&N Ultimate Spider-Man HC, I wanted to fire another shot over the bow to other comic shops.
I talked to a manager at my local B&N (two blocks away) about their growing graphic novel section and their growing dip into my pockets. He informed me that the news isn't good and that B&N is in the graphic novel game for the long haul. He also informed me that they will be doubling the size of their graphic novel section in the coming weeks thanks to good sell through and profit margins.
More and more, I have noticed many of my customers coming in and looking at my 'New Release' manga rack and telling me how good some of the titles are because they have already read them. Many of them tell me that they give me 'first shot' at their business, but when Big Boxes get the books weeks or months early, they buy them there. Many of them also tell me that they guessed that we 'just weren't going to carry that title' because they had already bought the first three volumes before we ever received volume one.
It's time to hunker down, boys and girls and get ready for the slow, increasing creep into our business. B&N and others have noticed the demographic and are going to ride it until it isn't profitable enough for them. This doesn't mean that we should just throw up our hands and surrender but it does mean that we have to get off our collective butts and compete!
We have formed a Manga Buyers Club card to give to our customers to give them an incentive to purchase ALL of their product from us. When they fill their punch card with $12 minimum purchases, they get a $10 credit to use on anything in the store. We are also offering a 'Money-Back Rack' of risk free mange for them to try. In the past we had more manga titles than anyone, and we still have a substantial lead, but with more and more attention from the Big Boxes, that may not be the case by years end. We are trying to act now to minimize the damage that they can do to our customer base by giving them incentives to stay loyal. It used to be easy to be in the Manga game, but now we have to work harder to make the same money from the same buyers.
As far as the B&N exclusives go, I have always had the B&N Marvel Masterworks to sell to my customers at regular retail thanks to bulk buying of them from my local store. I have already placed an order for the Ultimate Spider-Man as well. I encourage everyone to do the same if they are interested in having the books for themselves.
Times are getting tougher, but we can still hold our own against the Big Boys; we just have to try harder than before.
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.