Diamond on Barcodes, etc.

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The subject of Diamond-carried publishers has been a hot topic of late here on The Beat, and while we hear that official notification is forthcoming to publishers, we thought we’d go to the source and ask Diamond VP of Purchasing Bill Schanes to comment on the roll-out. His response is below.

We did break the news about Diamond requiring bar codes on all products at the Diamond/Alliance Baltimore Retailer Summit last week. As we get final feedback from the beta testing on the Diamond Comic Suite Point Of Sale (POS) system, and more and more retailers put POS systems in their stores (Comic Suite or one of the others offered), without bar codes, any item without a bar code won’t be readable to the growing number of retailers who either already have or will be installing POS systems in the near future.

Diamond is sensitive to our publishers concerns (both large and small) and if one considers that retailers are the front lines of the business to the consumer base, we need to give them the tools they need to run their businesses as best as possible. While we recognize that for some small press publishers this maybe a new unanticipated expense which as a percentage of their overall business could be a challenge, we hope they look at the larger picture, and with bar codes, there is a higher likelihood of more retailers to be willing to bring their comics into their stores because they should recognize that the publisher is doing their part of not only supplying a compelling store, but also assisting the retailers with making the sale as easy as possible to ring up to the consumer.


We also asked Schanes about the Countdown question, but he had no comment.

Comments

  1. Don’t you think it’s a little strange that publishers haven’t actually been informed yet? This is the kind of thing that, for smaller or boutique pubs, is a significant financial investment… the more time they have to save up for this the better, and it seems a little like it’s going to be sprung on them, at this point.

  2. “we hope they look at the larger picture, and with bar codes, there is a higher likelihood of more retailers to be willing to bring their comics into their stores because they should recognize that the publisher is doing their part of not only supplying a compelling store, but also assisting the retailers with making the sale as easy as possible to ring up to the consumer.”

    Yeah, a barcode will surely steer the vast majority of comic shop owners will immediately order small publisher’s books, just because they’re complying and helping make the shop owners’ life a little easier.

    Who the hell are they trying to kid???

    “Hold on there, lets not order a ton more books from Marvel or DC, let’s order several copies of this small publisher’s book, because you see, he’s added a barcode!”

    Oh yeah, that’ll happen.

    It’s just another cost that will continue to force more and more smaller publishers out of the shops.

  3. Ditto on what Richard said.

    Bill Schanes’ comment has got to be the most transparent attempt at an asinine excuse ever. “Hey indy publishers, your sales will actually go up because retailers will order more books that have bar codes!”

    I can just see it now, some Marvel/DC-centric retailer flipping through Previews…”Hey, Kings & Thieves has bar codes on the cover now. Sweet, I’d been waiting for just that incentive to start ordering more books from this publisher!”

    Whatever.

  4. The Beat says:

    Dara, probably not, but PERHAPS someone who was on the fence will take a chance. Maybe. Let’s face it, this whole business is marginal on many levels.

  5. Maybe I’m not understanding this correctly, which is embarrassing, but where is the great cost in putting barcodes on comics? A small publisher might publish about ten graphic novels a year or fewer. Ten ISBNs are $275. ISSNs for floppies are free. A program to make barcodes, Easy Barcode Creator, is $128. So you’re out about $400, and $128 of it is money you won’t have to spend again. Nobody wants to spend $400 if they don’t have to, but that and an additional cost of about $300 a year should not be a make-or-break amount of money.

    Making a barcode with a program is easy. It takes all of about two minutes to make one and place it in a book’s layout file. ISBNs come with a handy logbook so you can keep track of which you’ve used for what. So it’s not much time and effort.

    I must be missing something.

    As I’ve said before, the publishing industry has been using ISBN and ISSN barcodes almost universally for more than 30 years. An ISBN means your book can be sold in bookstores and at Amazon.com. Shouldn’t comics and graphic novel publishers want that kind of legitimacy?

    That said, I do think it’s odd that Diamond hasn’t done anything to inform or educate publishers about this.

  6. I do wonder about the assumption that micro-publishers SHOULD be in the direct market. Is it really in their interests? If your budget is so tight that barcodes are an intolerable burden, wouldn’t you be better off just doing a webcomic?

  7. Jennifer: I think there’s some confusion as to what exactly is required from Diamond. I’m not a “publisher” per se, so my understanding might not be correct, but here’s the difference I see:

    You’re talking about ISBN numbers, which are fairly inexpensive to get in lots of 10 (like you mentioned). But I think what Diamond is asking for are UPC codes, which look to cost a minimum of $750 with an annual fee of $150 (see the site http://www.gs1-us.info/)

    Paul: you’re correct in that the “micro-publishers” never really had an incentive to go through Diamond anyway, so this new policy shouldn’t make a difference to them. And honestly, Diamond wanting to force everyone towards a POS system is fine, it’s their business call. What I was objecting to was the completely bogus rationalization of how it’ll actually help small press publishers. Talk about corporate PR BS.

  8. Well, I’d certainly agree with that. If anything, Diamond might be better off being open about the fact that they’re not really offering a service suited for publishers of that size.

  9. Dara, if it is the case that Diamond is going to require UPCs, I will eat my bonnet.*

    *Please note that I do not actually own a bonnet, so this promise is an empty one.

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  1. [...] [Retailing] Heidi MacDonald gets a quote from Diamond VP of Purchasing Bill Schanes on the subject of barcodes and the new point-of-sale computerized tracking system. [...]

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