A Shop of Ideas: Ideology part 2, My Free Comic Book Day

A Shop of Ideas: Ideology Part 1

Hey Fandom! Welcome to part two or the five part weekly “A Shop of Ideas: Ideology”! Last time I gave an overview of our doctrine, which can be summed up in “Entertainment Trumps All”. Then I spelled out our no more back issues ideology, how to blow out an inventory, and a little bit on what to do now that you have time to promote comics. This article I’m focusing squarely on that one day a year that comic shops actually have the opportunity to promote themselves: Free Comic Book Day! We like the idea of Free Comic Book Day, but have enriched it because of its limitations. To us Free Comic Book Day is based on outdated modes of social interaction and the relic of the “comic collector/investor”. We do Free Comic Book Day, but we have a program where Free Comic Book Day could be any day!

The idea behind FCBD is sound, comics should be promoted nationwide and a free sample is cool. From there things go south for us. Herding people to your shop all on the same day once a year isn’t ideal. It’s kind of like Woodstock or some massive peace gathering from the 60s. If you get enough people together you can change things. Well, logistically, we can’t have a great one on one connection with any of these potential new readers. Believe me, we try, but many times the shop gets overwhelmed. Think about what are we giving these potential new readers. While the FCBD output varies and may be getting better, is it really the best we have to offer as an industry or is it mainly all ages and pop culture novelty books? Has there ever been a Vertigo

FCBD personalities

FCBD book? Why hasn’t there been a Walking Dead book, it actually gains readers on its own and is perfect for horror movie buffs. I understand the need for all ages books to hopefully win the next generation, and I love Tiny Titans. However, we also need to show people over 18 that we have product that will wow them, like a Y The Last Man #1.

Also, what is FCBD’s purpose? What is it trying to change or accomplish? Is it trying to get the average person, who may enjoy reading the occasional comic book, to try one and change their mind about what entertainment value comics may hold for them? That’s a goal we can wholeheartedly support. Go to the official FCBD website and find out for yourself. See what they say about the “two very different audiences” for comics. First there’s “The child”, then “the comic-book collector: the more sophisticated reader, who maintains, preserves, evaluates, and files a growing collection”. That’s basically an ad taken from a website about collecting anything from stamps to comics. Also, you learn, “Before you buy any comic to add to your collection, you should carefully inspect its condition. Remember that every blemish or sign of wear depreciates the beauty and value of your comics. The serious collector may buy extra copies of popular titles.” Oh, and the super exciting fun of, “wash your hands first, eliminating harmful oils from the skin before coming into contact with the books. Lay the comic on a flat surface and slowly turn the pages. This will minimize the stress to the staples and spine. With these guidelines, your collection should enjoy a long life and maintain a reasonable condition and value.” That was an unpaid ad for Overstreet Price Guide. So, the big event where we put our best foot forward is literally endorsing what caused the crash of the '90s on its official website. Hey everybody, buy our stuff and YOU make money (buy extra copies too).

We believe FCBD should have nothing to do with collecting at all. It should be a day to get someone to sample a comic and, if what is between the pages means something to him or her, they’ll buy another one and follow the story. It’s not a day to train new possible readers to be collectors; it’s not a day for old school comic shops to try to move their collection (back issue inventory). If you could make money by collecting new comics, why would there ever be the need for a FCBD? Why would comics ever need to be free? Now couldn’t we just collect these free comics every year and cash in later, never spending a buck?

We have the solution to all these problems, My Free Comic Book Day. http://www.myfcbd.com! MYFCBD is for the Myspace, Youtube, DVR, on demand generation! On any day, if an individual wants to come into the shop and get any one comic they desire, they can! We leave MYFCBD cards all over town and have the card printable online. People come in, talk to us, and get a spot on suggestion. This program works great; we have the used cards and the repeat business to prove it. People can’t use a second one, its limit on per lifetime, but they certainly can and do give them to their friends. A comic fan may not be able to drag all their friends to the shop on Free Comic Book Day, but they can, over time, drag these friends in to sample a free comic book. The program lives out our “there’s a comic for everyone” belief, we just go one step further and say the first one is free. It’s also perfect to give a MYFCBD card to everyone that comes for the publisher pre-selected comics on FCBD for them to use when they return.

Any comic shop is welcome to be part of this program. We aren’t saying shops shouldn’t do Free Comic Book Day; we have big plans for it at our shop this year. We are saying a store’s goal that day should be entertaining new readers, not training collectors. Also, we think stores should see the limitations of outreach on a single day and perhaps do our MYFCBD or come up with something else for the other 364 days of the year. What do you guys think? Should Free Comic Book Day be a day to promote price guides, back issues, bags and boards, and collecting with the publishers free offerings? Is a clear “comics can add value to your life” message better for new people? Should the official Free Comic Book Day website change? Thanks for reading, next week we talk about our views on format and variant covers.

aaron@acomicshop.com or jason@acomicshop.com

“A Comic Shop” is located at 114 S Semoran Blvd Winter Park, FL 32792 (407) 332-9636

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Get Caught Up:

A Shop of Ideas: Ideology Part 1, NO MORE BACK ISSUES

A Shop of Ideas: Holiday Hullabaloo

A Shop of Ideas: Life at A Comic Shop

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