Brian Hibbs, owner of legendary San Francisco store Comix Experience, explains why he won’t be stocking Marvel’s Avenging Spider-Man #1 on his shelves:
Over time, Marvel Comics has unilaterally decided that the initial solicitation [for a comic] is fairly meaningless, and that books are not finalized until before the FOC date (typically 3 weeks before publication), and anything about the solicitation can change for any reason. I think this is a low down process because, as a working comic book store, a significant amount of our consumer education and outreach is done in the subscription model — I really do need 10-12 weeks to get the information out, and collect it back (not from my capability, mind, but from how fast the typical consumer reads and responds).
Marvel and all of its employees are well aware of solicitation and marketing deadlines — they fall in the same ways and means each and every month, there are no surprises anywhere in the process. I find it personally impossible that something as significant as full, free, digital codes in every copy wasn’t decided well in advance of catalog deadlines, just from a manufacturing standpoint, so for Marvel to not announce it until well after orders have started to be collected is thoroughly dirty pool.
I also strongly object to, as a retailer, not being able to opt out of something that I have a very hard time seeing as anything other than an attempt at trying to building a database of “my” customers so that Marvel may try to convert them to digital.
I also have a major problem with Marvel doing it on such a high profile book, after the retailers started promoting it, where Marvel knows full well that most retailers will just swallow it because they have no other choice.
This isn’t a blanket boycott – Those customers who pre-order the book will still get copies – but it is a bold move, and one Hibbs is completely aware of the consequences of (“I know that certainly at least one person is going to come along and insist that I’m harming myself more by forcing my customers to go elsewhere to buy this comic, and that by doing so not only will I fail to make my point, but that I run the risk of losing that customer in total,” he writes), but it’s a point of principle he’s standing up for:
At the end of the day, I have to make decisions that make sense to me, that allow me to sleep properly at night, and that don’t inadvertently give my “partners” a “stamp of approval” on things that I vehemently disagree with — whether that is the digital itself, or the playing fast-and-loose with the solicitation process. If they’d played honest, if they’d made it a choice that involved my consent, then I very well might have brought in a copy or two just to see what the demand might be (because I’m closing on 200 copies of “Justice League” sold, and not a single person has even mentioned the digital copy to me, so I’m not thinking this is an actual selling point) — but is it too much to expect my publishers to approach me fairly and honestly?