Ilan Strasser of Fat Moose Comics in Whippany, New Jersey is feeling the pain from Marvel's out-of-stocks on trade paperbacks:
2004 ended up being a down year for Fat Moose Comics and Games. Unfortunately, we experienced just under a 10% drop in gross revenues. It is safe to say that there are several factors which contributed to this decline. But at our store, one factor stands out among the rest -- the continuous unavailability of Marvel TPB's over the course of the last year. Even the best selling TPB's have been unavailable from time to time -- just this past week I could not reorder Volume 1 of the Ultimate X-Men.
It is extremely difficult to sell TPB's from a sequentially numbered series to new readers when the earlier volumes are not available. It is unconscionable on Marvel's part to allow this situation to go on for months on end, especially when one considers that their whole editorial framework revolves around the production of monthly story arcs which are constructed specifically to be reprinted in the TPB format. I have tried unsuccessfully for months to get Vol. 1-3 of the Mark Waid Fantastic Four's and Vol. 1 & 2 of the Captain America series. These are just two of many examples I could cite.
If Marvel doesn't want to make reorders of monthly books available, fine. But Marvel has a responsibility to keep their entire tpb line in print all the time. Why? Because many, many retailers have invested significant amounts of dollars and shelf space to promote these manufactured storylines. If Marvel responds by saying that at any given time, a varying 80% of the line is available, that is not good enough, especially when some titles are unavailable for long periods of time. 100% availability 100% of the time -- nothing less is acceptable. It's a matter of corporate responsibility.
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