How Hard Is It to Buy A Marvel Essentials on Amazon?

I don’t know about you, but when the holidays come around and the relatives want a cheap-ish gift, I usually send them some links to Marvel Essential volumes on Amazon.  They’re relatively inexpensive, my relatives don’t have to figure out where the comic shop is (in rural areas, this can be an issue) and they like the thickness of the volumes when they wrap them.

Imagine my shock Thursday night as I was online and noting the massive amount of Essential volumes that were out of stock.  Marvel’s inability/unwillingness to keep tpbs in print has been a hot button topic in recent months, but this is a bit beyond anything I would have expected.  This doesn’t mean Diamond doesn’t have some copies in the warehouse for the DM, but my experience with Amazon has been if they think it will take a few weeks to restock, you’ll see a 4-6 weeks to ship notation and they’ll take your order.  Here’s a list of major Essential series, how many volumes are out and then the ones where the only purchase option on 12/1 were the “used & new” 3rd party resellers.  I’m not listing Dazzler/Ant-Man/Human Torch.

Maybe Marvel’s just selling really well and it gets restocked shortly, but this seems like an awful lot of titles to be out of and a few of them have pre-orders on new printings available in 2012…

The Amazing Spider-Man 1-10

Vol 5 out
Vol 6. on pre-order in a few weeks

Vol 7 out
Vol 8 out
(Unless you want to pay for the library binding)

Avengers vol. 1-7
Completely in stock

Captain America vol. 1-6
Completely in stock

Classic X-Men vol. 1-3
Vol 3 out (They _might_ get more of the library binding)

Daredevil vol. 1-5

Vol 1 out (pre-order for April ’12 printing)
Vol 2 out (pre-order for May ’12 printing)
Vol 3 out
(pre-order for May ’12 printing)
Vol 4 out

The Defenders vol. 1-6
Vol 1 out
Vol 2 out
Vol 3 out
Vol 4 out

Doctor Strange vol. 1-4
Vol 1 out
Vol 2 out

Vol 3 out

The Fantastic Four vol. 1-8
Vol 1 out
Vol 2 out

Vol 3 out

Vol 4 out
Vol 5 out
Vol 6 out
(pre-order for Feb. ’12 printing)
Vol 7 out

Ghost Rider vol. 1-4
Vol 1 out
Vol 2 out
Vol 3 out

The Incredible Hulk vol. 1-6
Vol 1 out (pre-order for Feb. ’12 printing)
Vol 2 out
(pre-order for March ’12 printing)
Vol 3 out
(pre-order for April ’12 printing)
Vol 4 out
(pre-order for May ’12 printing)
Vol 5 out

Iron Man vol. 1-4
Vol 1 out

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man vol. 1-5
Vol 1 out
Vol 2 out
Vol 3 out

The Punisher vol. 1-3
Vol 1 out
Vol 3 out

Thor vol. 1-5
Vol 2 out
Vol 4 out

Web of Spider-Man vol. 1
In stock

Wolverine vol. 1-5
Vol 1 out
Vol 2 out
Vol 3 out
Vol 4 out

Vol 5 out

X-Factor vol. 1-3
Vol 2 out
Vol 3 out

X-Men vol. 1-9
Vol 1 out

Vol 9 out

Comments

  1. Suzene says:

    My recent “Are you kidding me?” moment for out of print TPBs was Marvel releasing vol.2 of Classic Alpha Flight (a mere four years after the first collection!), and advertising the OOP vol.1 trade on the inside cover. That collection has been unavailable from Diamond for about two years and is currently going for $50 – $70 on ebay and Amazon. Lots of luck getting folks to go for that instead of torrents.

  2. DanielT says:

    As Suzene suggests, it’s like they’re goading people into illegal downloading. This goes to show that “digital preservation” can be more than simple piracy.

  3. I wonder if they are just stopping the whole essentials thing. I’ve seen themin 50% off sales at more than 1 shop. Hell tfaw just moved a bunch for $2 a piece.

  4. Happening on the other side of town. None of the JONAH HEX trades are going back to print…so only less than half are available…and of those, just a few copies left.

  5. Jerry Ray says:

    Amazon just isn’t very good at selling comics collections. Stuff shows up WAY after the direct market release (if at all), they’re unreliable about keeping stuff in stock, etc.

    Tales of Wonder is one excellent online retailer that specializes in collected editions. Their prices are competitive with Amazon, their customer service has always been great for me, and they actually get stuff on the direct market schedule.

    I can understand why it would be nice if Amazon was more reliable, since they’re kind of the world’s default bookstore at this point, but if you buy a lot of collections, a specialized comic retailer is going to do a better job for you.

  6. What? Man, All-Star Western is selling for me at 10x previous JH levels, and lots of people are JUST STARTING to get into Hex`!

    DC is CRAZY to let those books go, unless they are planning on larger “2-fer” sized TPs.

  7. Pedro Bouça says:

    Trev, they wouldn’t reprint them if it was the case…

  8. damn, and I really wanted black and white comics on crappy paper too.

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    New printings are $19.99 .

    Hulk v. 1 (2012) = $19.99
    Hulk v. 1 (2006) = $16.99
    Hulk v. 1 (2002) = $14.99
    Hulk v. 1 (2000) = $14.95

    $14.95 was the price of the first Essential volume, Wolverine (1995).

    From my bookselling experience, publishers usually just change the price on the cover of backlist titles (along with the cover art), not issue another new edition. Stores have to adjust their pricing when dealing with the older copies, but that’s easy if the barcode is scanned, which has an embedded price.

    This cuts down on returns since the book never goes out of print. The distributor just ships out the latest cover, just like grocery stores ship out new cereal boxes with the latest movie promo on the front. The UPC never changes.

    Marvel screwed up with the scheduling. With an additional printing of the same edition, it’s just a matter of getting the books from China in a timely manner, like DC did with the Watchmen surge. With a new edition, there’s additional scheduling, additional sales calls, additional data entry…

    This is happening during the Holidays, so Marvel is losing even more money. Of course, they’ve never actively marketed for the holidays (the bestselling Marvel title on BN.com is the Castle tie-in, at #11,648 (#1796 overall on Amazon, #74 on the GN list)).

  10. Torsten Adair says:

    The bargain prices are for series which didn’t sell (Marvel Handbook, Marvel Saga).

  11. Can’t you just get them used? Seems like almost everything is available used. I have had a great experience with this (buying and selling, for that matter). Folks are usually pretty honest about the state of their used books and plenty of people read a title one time and then sell it.

  12. Snikt Snakt says:

    Great way to push people to go to the Torrent sites, by not having tpb’s still in print…

  13. Torsten:

    “$14.95 was the price of the first Essential volume, Wolverine (1995).”

    I think they started out at $ 12.95. That’s what the first printing of my SPIDER-MAN volume from 1996 says.

  14. Some of the volumes get more material added to them – my first two volumes of “Essential X-Men” are the original editions which don’t include the Annuals; later editions do.

    But I expect it is actually a symptom of Marvel’s rumoured “never keep more than a couple of volumes in print” dictate.

  15. For most of the rest of the year, I can at least see Perlmutter’s decree about inventory making sense, but come Oct 1 why wouldn’t you check your backorders, double that print run and ship them out, then have enough to fulfill through the holidays?

    ORRRR, start aggressively digitizing the backlist. Bad supply chain work on Marvel’s part either way. Half the people I am shopping for have TPBs and GNs on their lists this year.

  16. @Jerry Ray

    My collections I pre-order from Amazon usually come the week after the official release. Like the recent TMNT ultimate collection. It came last week and it shipped that Saturday for me(got it Tuesday). As for stocking collections, I remember when the first New Gods Omnibus I had it pre-ordered but they sent me an email saying they sold out form their initial orders and would get a more quickly, I had the Omnibus in less than a month later.

    That said, Tales of Wonder is good. I order from them every once in a while.

  17. Jerry Ray says:

    @ C. Towns

    That’s kind of the opposite of my experience – I’ve pre-ordered stuff from them (or kept an eye out for it to become really, truly available) and watched that stuff slip later and later (by weeks) until I eventually gave up and cancelled the order and got the stuff from Tales of Wonder. The most recent thing where this happened was for that “Marvel Comics in the 1970s” book from TwoMorrows, but I’ve seen it happen with Marvel and DC stuff, too. Maybe I just have bad luck, I dunno, but places like ToW seem a lot more predictable and reliable for comics stuff to me. (I love Amazon for books, CDs, DVDs, games, and such, though…)

  18. This one kills me:

    Thor vol. 1-5
    Vol 2 out
    Vol 4 out

    Marvel released BRAND NEW editions of Volumes 1 and 3 along with the new Volume 5. Good luck getting a full set since you can’t buy the even numbered editions. I tried all summer to find Volume 2 and was stopped at every chance. Seems like the Movie Stars should be perennially in print.

  19. @ Dave
    eBay … Typed “Essntial Thor” into the search engine, and Volume 2 and 4 are right there.

  20. BryanD says:

    Random experience just today with Amazon, I had Showcase Presents: GHOSTS on my wish list, and it’s listed as coming out in Feb. Visited my local shop today and what do I see, the very same thing sitting right there for sale, which I thought was kind of strange.

    Course I bought it right then and there.

  21. AfterHours Al™ says:

    My nearest comic shops had been BEGGING people to buy their remaining Essentials and Showcase volumes. They finally jettisoned their stock at deep discounts.

    Now they are not stocking the most recent volumes at all.

    Sounds like those old pranksters Supply and Demand are at it again.

  22. stealthwise says:

    They’re letting the Jonah Hex’s go out of print at DC? Fuck’s sake, I’ve been slowly getting caught up via trade on those.

  23. The book trade frequently gets titles a few weeks to a few months after the Direct Market.

    Two examples:
    The Mad Archives, Volume 1, shipped to my Barnes & Noble six months after the DM sold it.

    Lost Girls, which I ordered at B&N with my employee discount, arrived in December, and was the Third Printing. The first printing went on sale at SPX that year.

    I don’t blame publishers selling to the DM first… the books are non-returnable, and frequently subsidized second printings.

    My grumble… when a publisher sells out of something at the DM level, and does not go back to print for the trade or library market. (IDW… reprint Simonson’s Thor book NOW.)

  24. ByranD,

    You’re going to want to return your copy of the Showcase Presents Ghosts to your comics shop.

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/11/24/dc-recalls-and-reprints-showcase-presents-ghosts/

  25. MHoward says:

    Send your relatives to add the comics to watchmyitems.com and perhaps they will be able to get alerted if amazon restocks anytime soon..

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