February was my worst month in 5 years. Now, I know why. Just a general lack of excitement. And my first reaction is to blame the publishers. Not enough good books came out. My customer count was down. My average transaction was down. Waa waa waa.
But I also know I’m a bit worn down. Low sales mean less money coming in means paying bills is tougher. But we are all in that position. I get it. Just some days it feels oppressive and its hard to get myself pumped up to be at the store.
So things aren’t great. Luckily I foresaw this and my orders were lower than usual. I’ve been seeing this the last few months. Orders cut to the bone. not as much rope as usual. Not as many copies on the shelf for future sales. My standard 1st issue orders for some publishers have been cut in half. I can’t take the chance on them anymore. Most times we are ordering blind. I have no idea what is coming out. What the books really are. What the demand might be. I have also seen sales on the oddball comics and graphic novels drop. There is less extra money out there, so taking a flier on a $40 HC from a small publisher (or, heck, even Marvel) just isn’t going to happen right now.
(Example: I was doing the Marvel section of the February Previews this morning. The front of the section is the new #1s. I have 2 holds for X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold. Well, clearly, I need to order more than 3-5 copies. But how many. This is a big new renewal of the X-books. But, so far, only 2 people have asked for them. So its a gamble. I want to order 50 copies and make this a big thing. But its a $5 book, which means each unsold copy hurts a lot more than an unsold $2.99 book. So I am forced to be cautious.)
I ran numbers and I can see what the problem is. Some things are under-performing. There is not that excitement to get there at lunchtime on Wednesday. To not have things spoiled online. (I think that can also be associated with comic websites changing so drastically that people don’t frequent them as much. I can’t remember the last time I was on CBR or Newsarama, but that has something to do with changing my weekly email format and no longer searching for previews.)
So, this morning, while doing the Previews order, I had my “come to Jesus” moment. For far too long, I have just been sitting here waiting for people to come in. Letting the publishers do the heavy lifting. I basically had a store that carried comics. I ordered them. Customers came in and bought them. And it worked fine for 10 years. But, as with everything, things have changed. The books are still coming out. Heck, this is an awesome time for comics. There is so much really good stuff out there. But, I realized that just putting the stuff on the shelves is not enough. I need to do more.
Friday was a really nice eye opener. I decided to try doing a Book Club again. Why not? I’ve seen some other stores doing it. Well, we had a GREAT turnout. 15 people, I think. Far beyond what I had hoped. So that is now my touchstone, the thing I will remind myself of. Its up to ME to get people engaged. To get them in the store. To get them excited about a book. To get them excited about comics.
I need to get more engaged. I need to read more. I need to talk books up more. I need to do more to make people come into the store. But I need your help.
I am just writing this for the website. I’m not going to share it on Facebook or Twitter. This is really just for me. Thinking out loud. But, where I need help is spreading my message. It’s all about reach. The more people that see posts, the more people that can see them. Huh? What I mean is that if I post something and you like it or share it, more people will see it. Facebook has that lovely algorithm where even if you follow my page, you may not have my post show up in your feed. But if you like it or share it, it expands and grows. Same thing with Twitter.
So I am going to do my best to be more engaging, to make sure that you know more about what is coming out each week. To help you find the things you may be interested in that you didn’t even know existed. I’m just asking for your help in spreading the message.
That’s all I have for now. Lets see if I can actually follow through. Lets see if I can have a rebound in March. And, please, let me know if its working. Let me know if you are getting something because I mentioned it or you saw something about it on a post I made. If making a new display made you want to pick up a book.
I’d really appreciate it.