Is Wednesday going to be Tuesday soon?

201007171405.jpgAt the April retailer summit in Chicago, Diamond broached the possibility of making Tuesday new comics day instead of Wednesday, in accordance with retailers’ wishes to get comics a day early to avoid a Wednesday morning stocking rush and so on. (The biggest Diamond accounts already get Tuesday delivery.) While most industry types at the show felt that Diamond wouldn’t be asking this question unless they planned to go ahead with it, it is still very much in the thinking stages.

Diamond has been running a retailer survey on their website for a few months, polling shops on what day and delivery method they think would be best, and whether a $5 weekly fee to cover the costs of policing the system and prevent early sales would be reasonable. The fact sheet can be read here. We’re told that over 1,000 retailers responded, but Diamond hasn’t decided how to move forward yet.

We’ve been provided with the survey answers. While 52 percent think Tuesday on-sale would benefit their business, some 66 percent are less excited about that $5-per-week charge which would go towards a roving spot check crew to make sure comics weren’t being sold early. And while 75 percent think Tuesday would be a good thing, 44 percent think going up against movie, book and music releases on Tuesday would NOT be a good thing. A lot of uncertainty about this move, overall.

A historical note: Wednesday-is-new-comics-day has not been in place since the great god Kurbee descended from the clouds. In the early days of the direct market, Friday was new comic day, and at one point comics were delivered twice a week — Tuesdays and Fridays. So please, don’t say this would change everything forever and nothing would be the same…because in the end, it’s just a business move.
What do you think? Wednesday or Tuesday? Survey results below:


During the Retailer Summit2 in Chicago in April, Diamond introduced the possibility of delivering New Releases to retailers the day before they go on sale. Also discussed was the possibility of changing the New Release day from Wednesday to Tuesday each week.
In an effort to anticipate and answer questions retailers had about these ideas, Diamond prepared a Q&A
. Additionally, Diamond polled retailers in June on a Day-Early Delivery Retailer Survey, the results of which are presented below.

“We know that decisions like these aren’t Diamond’s alone to make,” said Roger Fletcher, Diamond’s VP-Marketing and Sales. “Such a significant change will take a consensus with retailers, publishers, and their printing partners. Of course, the potential impact these changes make on direct market retailers and specialty stores means that your opinions carry a great deal of weight, and we thank the nearly one thousand retail accounts that completed the survey

Fletcher said Diamond continues to have discussions with publishers to determine if a consensus can be reached on potential future changes.

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DAY-EARLY DELIVERY/NEW RELEASE DAY SURVEY RESULTS

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1. Do you think your business would benefit from receiving products a day early? My business would:

Benefit significantly

52.17%

Benefit modestly

23.82%

Not benefit

15.14%

I’m not sure

5.40%

It would hurt my business modestly

1.35%

It would hurt my business significantly

2.12%


2. Do you think the Direct Market would benefit from receiving products a day early? The Direct Market would:

Benefit significantly

44.65%

Benefit modestly

28.25%

Not benefit

13.50%

I’m not sure

11.38%

It would hurt my business modestly

0.96%

It would hurt my business significantly

1.25%


3. Under this proposal, retailers who elect to receive their shipments a day early would be charged a weekly fee – not to exceed $5 – to help fund 3rd party monitoring of compliance with the new comics on-sale date and associated Diamond costs. I feel that this fee would be:

Very reasonable

30.09%

Somewhat reasonable

38.28%

Not reasonable

26.52%

No opinion

5.11%


4. Retailers electing to receive their shipments a day early would be required to agree to hold their shipments for sale until 10:00 a.m. on new release day, and – if found in violation – agree to accept penalties ranging from suspension of day-early delivery privileges to complete revocation after three violations. I feel these penalties would be:

Very fair

70.49%

Somewhat fair

7.62%

Not severe enough

16.01%

Not sure

2.70%

No Opinion

3.18%


5. One motivation for moving new release date to Tuesday is to get comics in-sync with other entertainment media – such as books, DVDs, and video games – that release new titles on Tuesdays. Do you think your business would benefit from getting in sync with other media? My business would:

Benefit significantly

21.02%

Benefit modestly

22.47%

Not benefit

34.62%

I’m not sure

11.48%

It would hurt my business

10.41%


6. How do you believe the majority of your customers would respond to the proposed Tuesday release day? I believe my customers’ response would be:

Positive

37.42%

Negative

19.09%

Neutral

35.00%

Not sure

8.49%


7. If given the choice between Monday delivery for Tuesday on-sale, and Tuesday delivery for Wednesday on-sale, what would be your preference? I would prefer:

Monday for Tuesday

27.10%

Tuesday for Wednesday

51.98%

Either Mon. for Tues. or Tues. for Wed.

10.80%

Neither

8.20%

Not sure

1.93%


8. Would you prefer the status-quo (Wednesday delivery for Wednesday on-sale) over either of the above options if schedules could be adjusted to prevent day-late on-sale for weeks with Monday holidays? (Note FOC and Reship Reorder lead times would still increase under this scenario.)

Yes

29.89%

No

55.06%

Not sure

15.04%   

.

[PS: Special thanks to Mark Chiarello for producing the comic that I'm gonna use EVERY TIME I run this story!]

Comments

  1. John Benton says:

    The impact for me is entirely psychological.

    I’m one of the few people among my friends who doesn’t see Wednesday as “Hump Day.” My weekly trip to the comic shop is a ritual, a welcome respite in the middle of the work week, and enjoying that ritual lifts my spirits as we head for the weekend. On weeks like this where the shipping date is pushed back, everything seems askew for me.

    Moving to Tuesday dilutes the impact and the benefit of that ritual. There’s fewer days of work before and more after. It just doesn’t feel the same.

    I could wait a day and still do it on Wednesday, but that carries two difficulties — my store selling out of a book that’s not on my pull list, and the inevitable spoilers which will occur. That, and the urgency is part of the fun. On weeks where I’ve had to put off buying due to some obligation, getting my comics the next day just doesn’t seem right.

    Okay, so what’s the practical impact of that decision? I’m willing to spend a bit more on this special indulgence each week. If the importance of the weekly event is diminished, then I’m more likely to cut on-the-bubble books and less likely to “impulse buy” or experiment.

    Mind you, this may all become a moot point if/when DC shifts their base price to $3.99. It’s an indulgence… but I still have limits.

    -J

  2. As a customer and a M-F, 9-5 drone, I much prefer the mid-week comics dose. Something to look forward to, a break in the cycle of torment and a reason to make it through the week. Tuesday is just too damn early.

  3. @John and @Darrylayo – I think the idea here is that the on-sale day is still Wednesday, but that retailers could get their books on Tuesday so there’s not a mad panic every Wednesday morning to get stuff unpacked and ready for sale.

    I’m not sure why this is such a huge issue for comics. Back when I worked retail, CDs and DVDs all came a day before release so you could get them into inventory and on the shelves after close. And there sure as heck wasn’t any “policing” fee…

  4. I “voted” to keep a Wednesday release but to allow everyone to receive their books on Tuesday. In my case, I have to get up before dawn, drive 8 miles to the UPS facility, get my boxes, take them back to the store and speed sort them in order to be done by the time I have to open the doors. If I did not do this every week then I would have to wait until 3-4 hours after opening for UPS to show up, which would anger the people who are already waiting for me to unlock the door at opening. Yes, I have people waiting outside my door. Every. Single. Week. It’s incredibly stressful and I would LOVE to be able to sort and shelve after close on Tuesday, at my own pace, not to mention save on gas and milage of my weekly drive. I have no problem paying $5.00 a week for this potential privelege. My time and my sanity are totally worth it.

  5. Glenn Simpson says:

    Just out of curiosity – why does Diamond, or the publishers, really need to police the release date? Who is harmed if one shop decides to re-open from 7pm to 10pm on Tuesday night and let people pick up their books?

  6. mark coale says:

    given the slim margins on which some stores operate, especially those where there are a number of stores in the area, some retailers would be harmed.

    Anecdote: back when there used to be 7 stores in northern DE, I knew people who would go to one store over another because they opened at 11 rather than 12, only for that reason.

    I’ve long been for day-early shipping and sizeable penalties for stores that broke street date. I never expected Diamond to ever actually do it, though.

  7. It sounds like you’re actually conflating the components here into ONE question, when these are actually TWO separate issues that retailers were asked to vote for, and provide their feedback on:

    * Do we want day-early delivery, with a $5 weekly charge going to policing that?

    * Do we want to change the on-sale date from Wednesday to Tuesday?

    So, combining these two separate issues:

    - We could get comics on Tuesday to put on sale on Wednesday.
    - OR we get comics on MONDAY to put on sale on Tuesday.
    - Or we receive and put on-sale on Tuesday, or Wednesday.

    It sounds like most retailers want to keep release day to Wednesday, but would like to receive products a day early for processing. Which seemls like kind of a no-brainer to me….

  8. DanielT says:

    Anybody know what inspired Diamond to explore this issue?

    I can’t help but think about Hastings getting into the comics business and how helpful to them it would be if new comics came out the same day as new CDs and DVDs.

  9. Ooh, ooh! Can we go back to twice-a-week delivery? I like that option.

  10. “I “voted” to keep a Wednesday release but to allow everyone to receive their books on Tuesday.”

    62% of retailers agree.

    “Who is harmed if one shop decides to re-open from 7pm to 10pm on Tuesday night and let people pick up their books?”

    All of the honest retailers in the area that lose sales to the cheating retailer.

    “Anybody know what inspired Diamond to explore this issue?”

    I’ve heard that it is either DC higher ups who want to sync promotion for releases on Tuesday between comics, film, and DVDS or that it is a result of Marvel switching book distributors away from Diamond. Their new distributor will release their trades one day early (on Tuesday) to the bookstores. Currently, bookstore books are released six days after the direct market.

  11. Glenn Simpson says:

    @Regan Clem – just to clarify, my intended question was, what harm is it in letting all of the retailers sell the product as soon as it comes in, in whatever hours they wish?

    I am interpreting that that gives one store an advantage over the other only because some stores may get books earlier in the day than others, which is not within the retailers’ control.

  12. Retailers have been asking for street dates for years. There was a lot of resistance because everybody assumed at least one store in town would break the street date and sell their books early, hurting the other shops and forcing them to do the same (making Tuesday the new Wednesday).

    And that may very well happen too. Which is the reason for the $5 a week policing bit.

    But based on some special early release books done over the last year it doesn’t appear to be as big as a problem as initially assumed.

    Right now I think the main question is when the street day will be. Diamond & publishers may or may not want to be able to distribute books to both the Bookstore market and Direct market for same day release.

    Some stores think keeping new comic day Wednesday with the bookstores putting the books out the next Tuesday is an advantage they might not want to give up. Plus some people are used to Wednesday and want to keep it.

    Others argue comics are already competing for disposable income against DVD’s, movies, books, etc.. and new material coming out a day after is already hurting them. Same day release gives them a fighting chance for those dollars.

    There are also concerns about the numerous Monday holidays screwing up their shipping and release dates.

    So it does appear that stores are going to get street dates, it’s just the when and how that needs to be worked out.

  13. Nate Horn says:

    I’m all for stores getting books a day early so retailers don’t have to try to cram picking up and sorting new merchandise on an already crowded day. It seems like a no-brainer to me, too.

  14. michael says:

    here’s the thing. I don’t own a comic book shop, so I don’t know how business works. They should do whatever is best for them.

    What gets me, is that while new comics can be delivered a day early, why is Diamond so uptight about selling those same comics on that day? Shouldn’t it be up to the retailer? Who cares when a comic book is sold? If a store gets ‘em, they should be able to sell ‘em. It just sounds like a lot of nonsense to me.

    Also, since Wed. has been ‘the day’ for so long, it does kinda distrupt things, if comics are sold on another day.

  15. Synsidar says:

    Shouldn’t it be up to the retailer? Who cares when a comic book is sold? If a store gets ‘em, they should be able to sell ‘em. It just sounds like a lot of nonsense to me.

    Street dates are important to big retailers. They can be fined for selling an item, such as a DVD, in advance of its street date.

    SRS

  16. From a consumerist perspective, it matters little. “Early” very quickly becomes the standard, then people will start grousing that they can’t have their Tuesday books on Monday.

  17. “some 66 percent are less excited about that $5-per-week charge which would go towards a roving spot check crew to make sure comics weren’t being sold early”

    Oh great – just what retailers need: Geppi’s Gestapos coming in to knock a few skulls in for some petty lunchroom money. Has a good ring to it.

    Actually – that spot check crew idea harkens me back to when I was managing Rookies & Allstars in North Hollywood, Ca and people would come in asking for the new Crow Comics (published by Dark Horse? – my memory escapes me) that Diamond wasn’t carrying due to that mid-nineties distribution monopoly war Diamond and Capitol City were engaged in. We didn’t have a Capitol City account, only Diamond & Heroes World. I had found a store in Tarzana with a Capitol City account who was willing to order 10 copies a month for us and no sooner on the first day I put those books up on the shelf did some troll from Capitol City came strolling in and was told we were violating “their” policy and was told to take them off the shelves. Of course, I laughed in his face.

    So in hindsight, I suppose these new guys are not to trifed with if they just happen to pop their heads in a store near you.

    ~

    Coat

  18. Street dates are important to retailers due to the amount of work involved on new comics day. Getting the books can be a hassle, IF your UPS or Fed Ex is willing to let you go to their hub, you can pick up the books yourself early.

    Some don’t though and you need to rely on their driver to get the books there in the morning. Which may or may not happen, depending on the driver. I’ve heard or some store owners “bribing” delivery drivers with fresh baked cookies or some other stuff to try and get them to come there early. Or they meet them at where they HAVE to go first and grabbing their books them there.

    In extreme cases, some stores have to wait until late afternoon before their books arrive. The entire day is watching the die-hards waiting for the new comics. Shortages? Overages? Have fun figuring that out. You put them out, customers buy their books and leave. You figure out the best you can with whatever you got left. It’s not a professional way to run a business. Also a very sloppy way of keeping track of your books and money. You’re behind the ball, not on top of it.

    Another issue, more and more comics, including DC and Marvel books have ‘surprise’ controversial material in them. Retailers who live in more sensitive areas of the country can end up in a lot of hot water if the wrong person buys one of those books. If they can at least flip through the books before putting them out on the shelves they can at least decide if they are age appropriate to the kid who’s might be buying them.

    Some retailers would like to flip through the books just for making recommendations to their customers. Perhaps let a customer who’s following a particular crossover or character about a book they’d likely want to get but may not know about.

    And retailers that do have Tuesday delivery now say being relaxed, prepared and ready Wednesday morning is a huge benefit that you can’t really put a price tag on.

    But all that goes up in smoke if one dumb/desperate/unethical retailer in town decides they don’t give a shit about the rules and break street date to try and get more customers. They are out there and Diamond will need that $5 a week policing money. They are sure to get a number of calls accusing a local competitor of breaking street date, which may or may not be a legitimate claim.

  19. The Beat says:

    To all you people who wonder what the big deal is, street dates are standard operating procedure for ALL entertainment media. The reason it hasn’t been used in comics is that the publishers/Diamond don’t trust most of their retailers to hold to them. It’s a maturity thing.

    As several of the comments here indicate, what I’m hearing is that the Tuesday move is favored by publishers who want to tie in with other media releases.

    Anyone who is really interested in this issue should read Diamond’s fact sheet, which explains the options.

    http://www.comicsbeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/newscenarioqa_rev.pdf

    There are lots of procedural changes in ordering and FOC that would take place if new comics day moves. It’s not simple and that’s why no decision has been reached…yet.

    That said, I expect that because this is all being discussed, a change will be made, even if only to universal street dates.

  20. I’m an internet only account. To get my shipment a day early, I’d have to pay $5 a week. How will somebody police my non-store (internet site)??

    I could get them a day later to avoid the $5 fee, but with the high amount of damages and shortages I have, some of my damaged items may be out of stock by the time I get the shipment (a day after most other retailers). Just this past week, 75% of my shipment of X-Men Second Coming #2 was damaged, with no replacements!!

    I’m am in favor of the Tuesday release though – I think it would be better for the industry.

  21. Nate Horn says:

    I think the $5/week police team is beyond stupid. Someone else said it right when they said it’s going to be some minimum wage guy at a desk fielding calls from a bunch of people going store to store paid in comics. It’s just a scam by Geppi.

    Entertainment street dates are a dumb idea and always have been, but it’s the convention, so whatever. I think comics would benefit a lot from being sold like cars – the dealers and publishers would market the Hell out of this week’s books and discount the Hell out of last week’s books. Of course, that would require the publishers actually treating retailers like adults, which isn’t going to happen, because the publishers are selling to Diamond. Diamond sells to the retailers, and since the retailers own the books they buy from Diamond, they should be able to do whatever they want with them.

    But whatever, comics are quickly running down the road to obscurity anyway…. Selling them on Tuesday won’t make a difference in how fast they can get down that road. In the meantime, Diamond should treat the retailers like the adults in the room they are and just give them the books a day early so those poor guys can actually run a business instead of jumping through hoops all day.

  22. Nate Horn — I think you need a time out.

  23. Brendan T says:

    One bit of room for thought:

    That $5 a week fee adds up to $20-25 a month. While that doesn’t seem like much, that’s about $40-60 in product. And it’s $260 a year, again about $520-600 in product which can’t be ordered now.

    Adding even a small fee like that can really add up to tigher orders and other problems, especially since the profit margin on many stores is barely enough to skate by (and the markups aren’t really large enough to allow stellar money to be made). It’s the stupid little straw that could potentially break a lot of smaller stores in the long run.

    And I just love how they refer to it as a weekly rate to make it seem like a small fee.

  24. Brett says:

    Street dates are also important because the stores that put product on sale before another store gets the business first.

    I know a few stores that used to put dvds on sale when they were delivered, usually a week before a street date. Those stores were the go-to-stores if someone didn’t want to wait until the following week for high demand product, which means the stores which adhered to the street date lost customers to those who put them on sale at the time of delivery.

    And talking about comic delivery dates, I’m dating myself now when I say, I remember when new comics day was on Friday and I remember when they were delivered 2x a week, on Tuesday and Friday.

    It didn’t make a difference what day new comic day was back then, people adjusted their habit accordingly.

  25. Street dates…
    Working at Barnes & Noble, we would get weekly updates on what we call “Strict On Sale” titles. Each box came stamped with the street date, and usually a toll-free number to report violations.

    I don’t know if anyone was ever punished (anything in the Publisher Weekly archives?), but it was followed strictly by us.

    Aside from the big media titles (Harry Potter, Stephen King, Hilary Clinton), we never had customers waiting in line to buy the latest title. We closed at Midnight every day, so if someone really wanted the book, we had them wait in line, then rang them up at 12:01 AM.

    I don’t think the general public knows that Tuesday is “new release day” for books, CDs, and DVDs. It’s not like Soylent Green, with people storming the shelves, trying to get the latest new release before it sells out. (And let’s be honest… if someone wants something before it ships, they can always download it illegally.)

    Were I voting, I would opt for:
    * Tuesday shipping, Wednesday sale
    * Monetary fines to fund the policing, along with shipping and discount penalties. (You get caught, you get treated like a new account, with worse discounts.) Public notice as well. Thursday shipping. Make it a nuclear option, so nobody tries to break the date.

    Wednesday sales have another positive aspect: various news outlets promote books on Sundays (usually 60 Minutes) and Mondays, for sale on Tuesday. If comics ship Wednesday, media outlets will cover press releases on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. (Remember Captain America #25? It hit that morning via the Daily News and other sources.)

    Can Diamond refill orders quickly to hit the weekend? Suppose a local store sells out of a title on Wednesday. Can it get more stock in time for Friday evening or Saturday?

  26. Torsten: “I don’t think the general public knows that Tuesday is “new release day” for books, CDs, and DVDs.”

    I can only speak from my own experience, but I worked at a record store for 5 years, and our customers sure knew Tuesday was new release day. We would get a TON of business on Tuesdays (Tuesdays and Saturdays battled it out as our biggest day of the week) especially for new rap releases (our store’s biggest sellers).

  27. “Can Diamond refill orders quickly to hit the weekend? Suppose a local store sells out of a title on Wednesday. Can it get more stock in time for Friday evening or Saturday?”

    Not really. I think you have to have the order in by noon Wednesday to get it for Friday. That is tough to do on a Wednesday. But if the new release day was Tuesday, you could come in Weds morning to see what you need for the weekend and get the order in. But, that is assuming there are any left at Diamond, what with Marvel announcing sell-out the day before the books ship lately.

  28. Synsidar says:

    I don’t know if anyone was ever punished (anything in the Publisher Weekly archives?), but it was followed strictly by us.

    I know from experience that retailers violating the street date on new music releases have been fined. I wasn’t informed as to the dollar amount — it would hardly be the same as a fine for a criminal offense — but the fine would be a deterrent.

    One reason for adherence to street dates: Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Kmart, and other retailers place ads in newspapers for upcoming releases, often in combination with sales. The system, with stores matching each other’s advertised price, offering substitutes in case of sellouts, and having sales for specific lengths of time, only works when stores follow the rules. Adhering to street dates makes good business sense. If a comics shop relied on advertising and sales to bring in customers for specific products on specific dates, the owner would be ticked off by competition violating street dates.

    SRS

  29. Glenn Simpson says:

    It’s all too organized and civilized. I don’t like it.

  30. Torsten – it’s pretty much common knowledge embeded into the public conscience these days that Tuesday is new release day.

    Especially when you’re in possession of a Blockbuster rental card. Everyone flocks to grab the newest releases on Tuesday evening before they all get sold out on the following weekend.

    And Sunday newspaper circulars for Target or Best Buy pretty much cements it.

    ~

    Coat

  31. Al™ says:

    Unfortunately, if there was to be a $5 monitoring charge, my retailer would find a way to pass it on to pull list subscribers.

    The stores here post the new books Wednesday night after 8pm, so new comics day for me is effectively Thursday anyway.

  32. John Benton says:

    @Ben: “And there sure as heck wasn’t any “policing” fee…”

    There was. It wasn’t specifically called out as such, just like there wasn’t a “janitor” fee. It was baked into the rest of the cost.

    In Diamond’s case, they’re being (surprisingly) forthright about this. That five dollars was going to be necessary no matter what, so they’re telling retailers from the very start that it’s an element in the decision.

    -J

  33. Let’s rephrase the question: is it worth $5 a week to radically imrpove your sanity and business?

    That’s two (NYC) or three (everywhere else) cups of joe a week.

  34. Tim Gagne says:

    The reason there were two ship dates in the past is there were printers other than Ronalds (World Color in Sparta, later Sullivan down in Alabama I believe)plus the various independent books. There were also warehouses across the country, Diamond & Capital had at or above 20 + each at one time. As the warehouses consolidated and printing shifted almost 100% to Ronalds for the big 4, a single release date was the most viable option.

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