Retailer Brian Hibbs considers the problems with publishers polybagging comics for sale:
Well, let’s take bags for the example: bags cut down on browsing, they don’t “sit right” on a rack (as they generally don’t have a true edge), and they look shabby. There’s some interesting questions on the secondary market as to whether or not a bagged comic without the bag is still “mint.” They add shipping weight (which we retailers pay for), and, based on recent experiences, they’re both prone to more distribution damages as well as taking up more room in shipping boxes, increasing costs.
What’s the upside for the retailer for any of this tradeoff?
I admit, the idea that polybagging could hurt sales by cutting down on browsing never occurred to me – in part because my local store bags everything before sale – but I do wonder how much the loss of browsing is offset by any “I have to know what’s inside! Maybe I should buy it!” impulse. It’ll be interesting to see what (if anything) happens to sales of the Ultimate books longterm as polybagging the issues becomes matter of course.