In a letter to retailers (that was then published by Bleeding Cool), Jennifer deGuzman revealed that Image will no longer be publishing second prints of later issues for titles like “Saga” (#7 of which just sold out), “Fatale” and more high-profile top-selling books. While it may sound a bit shocking at first, the reason behind this move makes perfect sense: orders on well-performing titles like “Saga” are decreasing despite critical acclaim and always selling out at a distributor level, so Image is no longer going to pour money into second printings in order to make sure the first printing gets the sales intended.
Granted, this is not a blanket action. It’s safe to assume that a #1 issue of a new title that sells out will get a reprint, but the move seems intended to prevent some retailers waiting on titles to hear if they’re good or not before ordering while all the while pouring money into variants and other gimmicks from other publishers. There’s certainly a demand for Image books as the company’s profile is higher than ever before, but when amazing titles like “Change” or “Legend of Luther Strode” are seeing drops in orders for the second issue (38% and 21% according to the letter, respectively), both of which are receiving great reviews (including from us, with “Change” our Pick of the Week this week) — well, as Darth Vader would say, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
As the letter reads,
I have some bad news: SAGA #7 is sold out. Sounds like good news, right? Well, it’s not. First, it means that retailers under-ordered it. And second: We will not be reprinting it. Should we have overprinted? We did. Should we have told you specifically “Order a lot of this one”? Well, did we really need to?
This is SAGA we’re talking about. Issue #7 was its return after a brief hiatus that had fans of the epic by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples as restless as cats in heat and following on the heels of the release of a trade paperback that is moving like wildfire (it’s is still on the New York Times Bestseller list). And its FOC came just two weeks after I quite single-mindedly harangued you about order numbers decreasing with each issue of even our most popular titles, using math. (Math, people!)
What’s even worse news is that orders for SAGA #8 decreased 4% from orders on #7. It will not be reprinted either. We have decided to cease second printings of single issues of titles that are known over-performers in hopes that it will help initial sales find their proper level. That’s marketing-speak for “You know this sells, so you’d better make sure you order enough!”
It’s basically summed up in the later quote, “Knowing you can count on reprintings has encouraged caution when none is called for, and that hurts you as much as it does us.”
And, as you may remember, Eric Stephenson said on his blog that sell outs aren’t as good as we may like to think they are. “Selling out — it’s great PR, but ultimately, it’s not exactly great business,” Stephenson wrote at the time, explaining that it was better to have the book in stores rather than create a roadblock between customers and the product. The lack of an issue will discourage some readers, perhaps even resulting in collectors who obsess over first prints not to check out a title entirely or trade wait it, which hurts sales. “If it’s not there, on that rack, it’s a missed opportunity. Even if more copies are on the way, or a new printing is planned, there’s no guarantee the opportunity to make that sale is going to come around again.”
So this is both good and bad news, really. The bad news is that if you miss the first printing of these titles, you’re out of luck. Nobody likes hunting on eBay for books with jacked up prices, although we’ve probably all done it at one point or another as we kick ourselves for not taking chances the first time around. But the good news is that hopefully this will help retailers decide on which of their Image books they’ll order in higher numbers — and, lets be honest, Image is publishing perhaps the most critically-acclaimed comics around right now. They might not have Batman, but they certainly have just about everything anyone else could conceivably want, hitting every kind of genre imaginable in one way or another.Continued below
In fact, I can remember when I was younger and Marvel announced that they would not be reprinting as many comics as they were, and while my younger mind had no real idea what this meant when told to me by my comic guy, one lesson became clear to me: ask in advance for what I wanted, create a pull and get to the shop early every week in case something new and cool came out. That last part didn’t stop me from mostly buying Spider-Man books primarily, but you get the point.
And, for what it’s worth: “Saga” #8 is a fantastic issue. The book literally gets better with every issue. If you didn’t pre-order or add “Saga” to your pull, you might want to change that. Definitely one of the best comics coming out right now.
So believe in the titles that sell and believe in your ability to sell them. There might not be a second chance.
For the full letter, head over to Bleeding Cool.