Monday, September 28, 2020

(Mis)fortune Telling: Amazon Comics?: Part Five: How can comics retailers compete?

Today, I've been exploring how Amazon can and will utilize a variety of strategies to exploit markets. Comics shops are not a specific target, but the industry will suffer collateral damage as customers opt to "get it online" cheaper and easier.

So, how to compete with a billion-dollar corporation which innovates both online and physically?

Here are some suggestions and examples I've brainstormed recently and previously. I've been a bookseller (1994-1997, 1999-2018), and as a comics evangelist, I am constantly thinking on how to connect readers and consumers with amazing comics and graphic novels!

CAVEAT: Some of these are crazy ideas. (But it's not "crazy" if it works and makes money!) Some might not work for your store. I might be naive, not privy to private discussions, or uneducated on local and federal laws. Discuss these down below in the comments. Offer your own as well!

I'll begin in the order I posted the articles from earlier today.

Amazon Travel Truck

A random truck on the streets of Manhattan. Your logo will be more legible.
This one is probably the easiest to counter. Buy a box truck, van, or SUV and have it skinned or painted with your store name and a cool graphic. Maybe that's your daily driver, that you use for both business and leisure. Maybe you're embarrassed to be driving in what you consider a "clown car"? Well, first and foremost, it's a moving billboard. People will notice it. (Add vanity plates!) True story: My father bought a Buick Rendezvous that had been used as a courtesy car at a PGA tournament. It arrived with a giant Tiger Woods adhesive cling advertising Buick and the PGA. Ten-plus years later, he still talks about strangers coming up and asking if they could take selfies with Tiger. (The cling is long gone...I think it lasted a few years before succumbing to Nebraska's climate.) With the right graphic and hashtag, strangers will advertise your business for free via social media.

Talk to your accountant; you might be able to have the store pay for the vehicle, and write it off as a business expense. But aside from advertising and picking up deliveries, you use it to sell comics and other merchandise. Like the Amazon Treasure Truck and food trucks, you'll use this vehicle to sell product locally and regionally.
Toss in a canopy tent for remote locations. Add a banner. A few tables and seats. Sandbags to keep it from blowing away. 

Where do you sell offsite? Flea markets. Book festivals. Street fairs. Highway yard sales which stretch for hundreds of miles. Local, regional, and national geek festivals.

Perhaps like the Treasure Truck, your store truck offers specials, quantity ordered cheap from the Diamond clearance lists!

Want a really crazy idea?
Just as Free Comic Book Day was inspired by Baskin-Robbins handing out free ice cream, why not appropriate the iconic Ice Cream truck business model and sell dollar comics from your Dollar Comics truck? Park it wherever kids and parents are likely to be. The beach. A county fair. The midnight screening of the latest blockbuster. The county sports complex, where Soccer Moms need to keep Geeky Stevies distracted while their daughters get their Hamm on.

If your store buys old comics (mine does, for thirty cents on the dollar value), segregate out the really worn copies and sell those for twenty-five cents. Maybe you've got some old Archie digests you can sell for $2.
I'm not saying you need someone to drive around neighborhoods constantly, but if you've got enough stock (and Marvel and DC are distributing new dollar titles every month), why not?


This is more difficult (otherwise more stores would have more robust sites).

At a bare minimum, retailers should have a basic website listing store locations (with a "get directions" button that redirects to Google Maps), hours, events, exterior and interior photos, social media links, and all the ways to contact the store. Ideally, the store has figured out a way to sell merchandise.

BARE MINIMUM: update your Yelp, Google Maps, and other "phone directory" listings online.

For the past five years or so, I have had this idea on how comics shops could set up an e-commerce website that would be unique to the store, but offer a wide range of merchandise without a lot of hassle.
If only there was a giant warehouse of comics merchandise that could fulfill orders, just like Amazon does?

  • Diamond runs the servers, the IT, all the internet stuff that stores really do not have the time or money to maintain.
  • Diamond maintains stock, website modules, order processing and shipping. 
  • Stores selects which items will be offered on their store-specific website. 
  • Diamond sells the item, bills the account with an online surcharge, and ships the item directly to the customer. 
  • The store expands their selection without the risk of stocking non-returnable product. 
  • The store can also list high-priced (and high-risk) items such as omnibuses, statues, and booster packs.
  • The store discovers product lines which might work well at the store. 
  • Diamond also supports pull lists, wish lists, and online communities.

Diamond moves more product.

Diamond makes money offering a new system and service (which can be funded by profits made from each store).
Stores sell product via a low-maintenance website and compete online with other stores and Amazon.

A customer walks in and asks for something you don't have?

"One moment, let me check our website. Yes, we do have it. I can order it for you, and if you ship it to the store, I'll wave the shipping and give you our web discount."

if you use a book distributor such as Ingram, your store should already have a special orders department which has access to that distributor's entire inventory. Someone wants a cookbook? A dictionary? The latest Hunger Games novel? No problem! Pay for it now, give them a discount, and apply the purchase price to their loyalty card!


This is more difficult, as it requires cooperation among a variety of parties. Heidi MacDonald reported on :
Back in January, a bunch of out of work booksellers launched a project called – it was meant to raise money for indie bookstores and give readers an alternative to Amazon for buying books. Instead of going through Amazon as the middleman, indie bookstores (or anyone who signs up as an affiliate) can set up their own online bookstore. ABA-registered independent bookstores can earn 30% of the profits from online orders – and affiliates can get 10%. The orders are fulfilled via Ingram, the huge book distributor that already works with just about everyone.
For comics, that could be something similar to what I suggested with Diamond above, although with a different fulfillment partner (such as Ingram). Some comics shops are already on, using it to supplement their other sales streams.

An even larger project would be a one-stop portal for all comics publishers. Again, it would require a lot of cooperation, and run by an organization with no financial interest in the medium. The generic Top Level Domain .comics 
has not yet been assigned. With a unified and well-funded initiative from participating publishers, this could become a web-portal which mirrors other sites. www.Marvel.comics for example. The industry group which runs this can repay the angel investors via rentals, just as Tuvalu earns $5 Million annually from their .tv top level domain.

Chain Stores and Mail Order

This is more difficult, as most stores do not have the market capital to dominate in a region.

Again, a federation of stores might be the best option, similar to a franchise model. McDonald's innovation was not in selling amazing burgers, but in creating a kitchen architecture which allowed for quick fulfillment of orders which replaced an inefficient carhop model. That's what impressed Ray Kroc to take over the franchising of the restaurants.

Perhaps someone creates a store system which includes a robust point-of-sale software suite, store signage, appearance, and cooperation. Each store owner selects what they stock locally, but also links their inventory to the nationwide system, so a customer in Peoria, Illinois, can find that rare copy of Superlative Man in a store located in Moscow, Idaho. Store owners pool their orders, so a greater discount is gained. Variants can be commissioned for the chain. A centralized warehouse handles online fulfillment, distribution, Internet, store systems, advertising, merchandising, promotion.

The Future is Not What They Say It Was 

Long time readers, retailers, comixologists, and fans know that the Death Of Comics has been discussed many times. There's always anticipation of how changes will affect various aspects of the industry. My theory: Any radical variable will cause moderate change; it won't be the worst-case scenario; it will not be positive (good) nor superlative (best), but comparative (better).

I think comics retail will continue. Short term, the collectibles market will continue to drive sales, readers still want to read comics, and kids are hungry for new stuff and will tell their friends, because we all want to be cool. However, comics shops also run the risk of becoming an insular or niche market. Record stores still exist, but at a fraction of what existed in the 1990s. On the other extreme, as comics become more popular, more outlets will begin to sell them. Barnes & Noble and Borders with the arrival of Pokemon in 1999; Target and Walmart with Wimpy Kid and Dog Man; Menard's! In the former case, comics shops become a destination for buying new product which isn't easy to find elsewhere; in the latter, comics shops offer a wider selection for fans who want more but can't find it at their local big box store. How stores anticipate those new customers will determine how well those stores survive and thrive.


(Mis)fortune Telling: Amazon Comics?: Part Four: Bricks and Clicks

The recent pandemic shutdown has hit small businesses hard. Already fighting for survival during the Retail Apocalypse, a large reduction in foot traffic has caused many stores and restaurants to shut down in the past months. What happens when the Mom-and-Pop stores go out-of-business because they can't survive in the current pandemic climate? Who fills that void of specialty shops? How might Amazon exploit this opportunity?

The oldest comics shops date to the 1960s, and most of the best started in the 70s and 80s. These stores are mostly sole proprietorship businesses ("Mom-And-Pop") which carry a lot of legal risk. Many comics shops also carry a lot of inventory and operate on tight budgets.

At best, these aging owners will figure out how to pass the torch, allowing younger employees to buy the store and continue the legacy. (This is not uncommon; New York City vegetable grocers are generational, with Jewish owners selling the store to their Korean employees, the Koreans selling it to Caribbean immigrants who are now retiring and selling to Latinx immigrants.)

The second option, conglomeration, is less likely, but has been done before with great effect, especially with local chains: Blockbuster Video in the late 1980s. Wayne Huizenga acquired many regional video rental stores, creating a nationwide chain which became synonymous with the category and the 1990s. It happened again, on a different scale, as Barnes and Noble's Leonard Riggio acquired and conglomerated Babbage's, Software Etc., and Funcoland videogame stores into GameStop.

If done correctly, especially via smaller chains and single stores, the former owners and employees are retained to maintain the unique customer service and community of that locale while updating store systems and branding.

The third option is sometimes the easiest for corporations: wait. Wait for your competitor to make a critical mistake, and then either acquire that business for pennies on the dollar via bankruptcy auctions or stock acquisition, or fill the vacuum left in the market after the company leaves. Sometimes, a company is proactive by region; they see a competitor having trouble in one market or neighborhood, so they enter that area, sometimes by placing a store directly across the street from the competitor.

All three are possible in the Direct Market of comics shops. As with Blockbuster and Borders, computerized inventory systems created successful chains which created efficiencies and profits. Comics shops are unusual retail stores ... they sell a significant amount of product which is "used" or collectible. That requires more expertise from the store owner, but that can be learnt and taught, and even retained if the owner is kept on as an employee. It can also be consolidated and shared more easily with other stores in the chain.

What are the odds that Amazon or another retailer will consolidate comics shops? Pretty good, even in the tough "retail apocalypse" of the past decade. Comics shops create a sense of community among fans and shoppers, based on beloved characters and franchises which are constantly being refreshed and replaced. Unlike most other specialty retailers, comics fans and gamers shop on a periodical basis, as new releases have strict on sale dates and fans are eager to get The Latest Thing. GameStop and Blockbuster were fueled by strong fandoms. Like Barnes & Noble and Tower Records, these stores offered a large amount of items, allowing for discovery and acquisition. Even after chains have disappeared from a retail category (like music), fandoms continue to support independent stores ... they need their fix, and will patronize a record store selling LPs, an antique store selling collectibles, a video store selling DVDs and VHS tapes, or a local ren faire or comic-con offering lots of cool merchandise.

Can a comics shop chain exist and thrive in a small-pond market? I think it's a matter of scale. If Mile High Comics, Lone Star Comics, or Newbury Comics can create a multi-faceted retail chain of stores in a metro area, it is not difficult to expand that nationally. This is how retail corporations originate; someone opens a store, offers a shopping experience which encourages loyalty and innovation, and then competes locally, regionally, nationally.

While Amazon is still considered an online retailer, they have invested in many other industries such as film production, electronics, healthcare, and satellite communications. Their acquisition of Whole Foods Market for $13.7 Billion in 2017 showed that Amazon is not adverse to retail locations, and Whole Foods stores now not only host Amazon Hub Lockers, they also feature Amazon products and services on the sales floor. Amazon also operates Amazon Books, a bookstore chain with 23 locations nationwide. There is also Amazon 4-Star (curated retail), Amazon Go (gourmet grocery), and, circling back to my previous analysis, Amazon Pop-up. Their pop-up stores are permanent, and feature rotating themed inventory, which has included Marvel's Avengers franchise in the past. I would not be surprised if Amazon Pop-up stores become the next staple of shopping malls.

As of 2019, physical retail accounted for only 6% of Amazon's net revenue, but that 6% equals $17.2 Billion. While the current pandemic has paused the global economy (aside from online sales), I expect both the percentage and net revenue figure to rise in the future, partly from filling a void created by empty storefronts, but also from filling the actual physical storefronts. Whole Food Markets and other groceries are re-purposing empty box stores. (My local Whole Foods was built in 1979, housing a Shepler's western wear store, and was remodeled in 2005.) Grocery stores and comics shops are destination retail, as are boutique stores such as Apple and Amazon Books. If there is enough foot traffic and affluence, either on a sidewalk or inside a shopping mall, then smaller stores like the four concepts mentioned above will work, as small retail bays are more likely to be available at a lower cost.

Of course, if those bays aren't available, then the Treasure Truck fills that gap. Brilliant, no? It's kind of a bastardization of the Mason Jar parable, as Amazon tries to fill every shopping niche. It reminds me of Clock King's iconic giant hourglass trap, except that it starts with golf balls, not sand, and small business retailers are the intended victims.

Is this the zero hour for comics shops? Are the sands of time really running out for the Direct Market? At long last has it met a gritty, granulated, inglorious fate? Only time will tell... Tune in soon, as I discuss ways that comics shops can compete now and in the future!

(Mis)fortune Telling: Amazon Comics?: Part Three: Amazon's New Frontier

With a gargantuan online website (, numerous specialty sites (Zappos, IMDB, Audible, Goodreads, Comixology), physical stores (Whole Foods, Amazon Books, Amazon To Go), Amazon actively seeks out new markets to conquer. Online, that territory is marked by domain names, the addresses people use to search, find, and buy items online. 

How would Amazon sell comics and other related merchandise online? Well, two ways. One is they buy an established online retailer and acquire expert staff, as well as significant back-issue inventory. (Quite a few comics retailers are approaching retirement.) The other is they go big, and utilize their gTLD .books as an aggregator for geeky product found on

What’s a “gTLD”? That’s short for “generic Top Level Domain”, which in tech-talk is the last section of an Internet URL. (.com is the best known TLD.) A few years ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers auctioned off a set of generic domains, such as dance, city, and… books. (The entire list is hereAAA to ZW, if you're curious. Comics and manga have yet to be offered. BD is reserved for Bangladesh.) 

Amazon spent a reported $10 Million to acquire the .books gTLD, which currently is parked. (They own 52 gTLDs.) The placeholder is found here, at . The Amazon Registry Services, Inc. DNS Practice Statement for the BOOK Zone Version 0.2, which details their DNS security, is also available, if you're into that sort of thing. There's ICANN paperwork as well. 

Oh, So? Well, after a Top Level Domain, you add the Second-Level Domain (SLD) to create a unique web address.
Amazon could set up a retail site using . See how powerful that is? is just as powerful, selling cookbooks, utensils, appliances, and even ingredients. for university students. for home schoolers. for business books and office supplies. for sheet music. for art supplies. for paper artists. for booklovers (kinda like "Netflix and chill", which is the modern version of "looking at etchings"). ( if those "etchings" are by Aubrey Beardsley.)
[Note: if Amazon does not grab these domains, they would be great URLs for entrepreneurs to set up trading posts within an Amazon-owned domain.] 

Amazon has stated that they will also sell access to that gTLD to publishers and authors, just like Tuvalu sells access to their .tv TLD. (Tuvalu earns about $5 Million a year from licensing that domain.)

Looking at the foreign gTLDs that Amazon owns, there is one that is especially interesting: 
書籍 (Japanese for "books") 

This Japanese domain has existed since August 2013. 33 domains are active, 16 are parked. You can see the list of domains here. Many of them are trademarks, such as Rolex, Google, and Apple, and are likely reserved to prevent cybersquatting, the ransoming of trademarked URLs to corporations. Currently, the active domains redirect to Amazon will most likely follow a similar path with .books, reserving the common URLs for themselves.

When will Amazon utilize their new .book domain, purchased in 2014? Unknown. It's possible they acquired it to prevent others from using it, but this seems very unlikely, given how lucrative this domain can be. (1998) and (1992), both owned by Barnes & Noble, have yet to be fully exploited, so it might be awhile. (Aside from email addresses, both URLs redirect to .)

Something to note: Aside from .com and .edu, most people are not familiar or comfortable with strange TLDs. The adult film industry tried to encourage the use of .sex and .xxx to create a more controlled online environment, yet most websites maintain their .com URLs because that is what people know. There is also the taint from fake websites which mimic a well-known URL. This is mostly a generational learning curve...decades ago, people didn't trust the Internet for online purchases.

Most likely, URLs will interlink and overlap like a Venn diagram, sharing data and content. Zappos could mirror a fashion book discussion group on Goodreads, Twitch can stream a fashion show that is also featured on Zappos, and IMDb would recommend documentaries. It might be that one day, .com will be seen as a relic, like .uucp is today. Perhaps URLs themselves will become invisible, just like IP addresses are today, as people either click on an app or shortcut, or a digital assistant automatically links to the site. Most likely your Amazon Fire or Apple iPhone will not let you leave their "garden of pure ideology" of that device. One day, your loyalty card might require a Loyalty Oath.

Think that is scary? What happens when the Mom-and-Pop stores go out-of-business because they can't survive in the current pandemic climate? Who fills that void of specialty shops? I'll discuss that next.

(Mis)fortune Telling: Amazon Comics?: Part Two: Building a community, online

I continue my look into the possible future markets to be colonized by Amazon. The question:

What happens when Amazon becomes an online specialty retailer of comics, games, and other geeky sidelines? 
Don’t think they won’t, or can’t? 

Ever shopped at Audible, the audiobook website? Check out their logo: 

Maybe you bought shoes from Zappos. Or bought gourmet food at Whole Foods Markets. Both are owned by Amazon.

How can Amazon replicate the unique fandom community found in comics shops? What about the expert advice? 

Most likely they accomplish this by replicating their Internet Movie Database by purchasing a comics database, which would allow members to edit and review titles, and redirect users to purchase items via Amazon, just like IMDb advertises for Amazon Prime Video, DVDs, and sundry. 
(IMDb also offers IMDb Pro, for industry professionals. They could do the same for comics.)

Or they replicate GoodReads (purchased in 2013) which has over 90 Million users reviewing a variety of printed matter.

Or they replicate Twitch, their videogame streaming service. Sure, YouTube currently hosts a lot of geek-centric content. But imagine a comics-based version. Maybe call it “SpeedLine”. A 24/7 Comic Con of content, either generated by companies, creators, or fans. How-to videos. Panel discussions. Livesteams of movie premieres. Pay-Per-View “Hall H” events … comics are a visual medium, so the possibilities are endless! 
Finally, there’s ComiXology, the biggest name in the digital distribution of comics. They started in 2007 as an online community for comics fans. Currently, they are known for selling digital comics. That could easily be the kernel for a much more robust retail presence. (Like many other Amazon subsidiaries, they are producing original content. In 2017, they won an Eisner Award.)

There is also the print-on-demand model. Warner Archives offers their long-tail catalog of cinematic curiosities online, where a singular DVD is manufactured to fulfill your order. With terabytes of digital comics in storage at Comixology, a user could either reprint a single issue, a graphic novel or story arc, or even create a bespoke collection from a variety of series and publishers!
(Would this affect the back issue market? Depends... How much of it is based on people wanting to read a copy or have a copy for the bookshelf, and how much of the market is based on the idea of "comics as fetish item"? Somewhere, someone will slab a copy of the blank Wonder Woman comic.)

How would Amazon sell comics and other related merchandise online?

Well, two ways. One is they buy an established online retailer and acquire expert staff, as well as significant back-issue inventory. (Quite a few retailers are approaching retirement.) And/or they utilize data from AbeBooks (purchased by Amazon in 2008) and create a mirror site which features antiquarian comics, graphic novels, and books.

The other is they go big, and utilize their
.books gTLD as an aggregator for geeky product found on

What? gTLD?
.books? Check my next post as I explore Amazon's new frontier online!

(Mis)fortune Telling: Amazon comics?: Part One: Connecting products with customers, everywhere

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, comics shops and other retailers have been scrambling on how to deal with a massive reduction in foot traffic as state and local governments mandate stay-at-home orders and social distancing recommendations. On top of having to pivot to curbside service, mail order, and new shipping alternatives, there’s the big slumbering dragon which nobody wants to think about: Amazon. Amazon is already a behemoth, and has quietly spread across the country, adding distribution centers nationwide in a variety of sizes and needs. You can get the details here.
  • Sortable (the everyday stuff)
  • Non-sortable (big stuff)
  • Sortation centers (freight)
  • Receive centers (bulk items for promotions)
  • Specialty (seasonal)
  • Delivery Stations
Delivery Stations are the final stop for Amazon Prime delivery, and they exist in almost every metropolitan area. There are also Amazon lockers in every state, usually located at a Whole Foods Market. These are like a short-term Post Office Box, where customers can retrieve an item at their convenience. But also on that list?
Specialty: Amazon’s fulfillment network is also supported by additional types of buildings that handle specific categories of items or are pressed into service at peak times of the year such as the holiday season. Many of these buildings feature part-time opportunities with the option to convert to full-time.
What is this? Not sure. But according to the job posting (since 404'd by Amazon, but still on LinkedIn):
The Global Specialty Fulfillment (GSF) Supply Chain team is responsible for building the next generation supply chain for Amazon’s world-class ultra-fast customer experiences, including Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Go, Treasure Truck, Amazon Business, Whole Foods and other soon-to-launch exciting new businesses. Online grocery and ultra-fast delivery is growing at an exponential rate and with planned expansion and marketing initiatives, we expect volume to grow several orders of magnitude this year and in the future. Come be a part of a 100+ Fulfillment Center and Distribution Center network across North America, Europe and APAC – serving highly engaged customers in as fast as 60 minutes! This is a unique opportunity to play a key role in groundbreaking initiatives to solve challenging and interesting problems as we build the first ever distribution network and supply chain capabilities tailored to grocery and ultra-fast customer offerings.
Wait... "Treasure Truck"? What's that? 

Here's the official site for shoppers. What you see above is basically the entire page. Here's the FAQ. In a nutshell, for consumers:

How do I buy from Treasure Truck?

It’s easy! When it’s an offer day, you can find Treasure Truck at or in the free Amazon app (in main menu under Programs and Features). Check out the offer, then tap the yellow button to find where we'll be that day. Pick a location that works for you, and finish checking out. Then, meet us at your selected time and pickup location to get the goods!
They tell you what the day's special is, you order it online, then pick it up at a specified location.
Pop up retail, really, either via the truck, or even inside a building.
(♫ Oh the Wells Fargo Wagon is a coming down the street / Oh please let it be for me ♪)

What's to keep them from setting up in an empty building during San Diego Comic-Con? Has anyone ever done a pop-up warehouse?!

Hell... what's to keep them from setting up in the Grand Hyatt, which usually doesn't rent all their space to CCI? Or rent an empty parking garage or parking lot? Imagine: every other parking space has an Amazon Prime van parked, each with its own product. You wander like at a flea market. When the van is empty, it leaves and is replaced by another. Run it 24/7 (Tuesday-Monday). Amazon Prime members get in early each day.

Can't get a ticket to Comic-Con? Come shop Amazon's dealers room! Lots of great specials at great prices! 

What's to keep this retail Gorilla Grodd from hosting a few autographing sessions at "Amazon-dot-Con"? Or...taking it on the road and running their own consumer shows?

Of course, the Amazon camel is already inside the tent at most cons, usually via Amazon Prime Video. It's not too difficult to drive a van onto the show floor... every convention center hosts an auto show, and New York Comic Con features Chevy models every year. Tour buses, campers, walk-through carnival trailers are not unusual at publisher trade shows. (Easier to set up and take down, really.)

The Treasure Truck is just a daily exclusive like every other booth offers. Unable to buy a booth at a con? Buy a day on the Amazon Treasure Truck during the show. Heck... Amazon could also do their offers HOURLY, like the cable shopping channels. You'll get more buzz than you would at a booth, at less cost than renting booth space and paying for staff and union fees.

Can't get a ticket to Con? Not at the show? Pick up at a parking garage nearby, or pay extra and have it shipped. Take a look at this map: 

How many of those cities already have a major geekfest?
It's not difficult for the local truck to park outside a show.
It's not much more difficult to have that Treasure Truck make a circuit of shows, just like comics dealers did back in the 1980s. There's a local Amazon distribution center nearby, remember? Even if there isn't, Amazon can still load a semitrailer and have it meet the Truck at any site. If Amazon does it correctly, there's also a rockstar tourbus following where the staff works, eats, and sleeps while "on tour".

It's Amazon Prime Day, but in person. 
(Sweet Rowland Hussey Macy ... what if Amazon staged Prime Day nationwide, like a sidewalk sale or flea market? Or a NYC street fair like Atlantic Antic? Associate sellers could rent booth space, Amazon could make it a road show ... but I digress.)

Treasure Truck, comic cons... What happens when Amazon becomes an online specialty retailer of comics, games, and other geeky sidelines? Find out in the next installment!

(Mis)fortune Telling: Amazon Comics?: Introduction

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, comics shops and other retailers have been scrambling, trying to deal with a massive reduction in foot traffic as state and local governments mandate stay-at-home orders, as well as transitioning to a "new normal" of social distancing and the latest iteration of selfish behaviors.

On top of having to pivot to curbside service, mail order, and new shipping alternatives, there’s the big slumbering dragon which nobody wants to think about: Amazon. Amazon is already a behemoth, and has quietly spread across the country, adding distribution centers nationwide in a variety of sizes and needs.

This is nothing new to retailers. "I'll get it online" is the death-by-a-thousand-cuts, as customers respond to store selection, service, and prices. Of course, those are paper cuts, administered by thousands of dollar bills walking out the door. Some retailers have robust online stores, offer mail order, pre-orders, events, and myriad other tricks and techniques to combat that and other discount retailers online.

However, Amazon isn't just an online retailer. They now have pop-ups, the retail equivalent of food trucks, bookstores, grocery stores, online communities, and a delivery system that will soon rival the U.S. Postal Service. 

Think it unlikely? Consider the Wells Fargo wagon a coming down the street. Or the Sears, Roebuck catalog found in outhouses across the country a century ago. Or the Home Shopping Network.

This series will delve into the many ways in which Amazon is adapting and altering the retail ecosystem that exists now, how it affects the fragile Direct Market of comics shops, and how these small businesses can compete.
  1. How Amazon ships locally, completing the final step from warehouse to household, and how Amazon might disrupt local retail.
  2. Amazon's online websites and communities: Can Amazon replicate the unique experience of a comics shop?
  3. Amazon's New Frontier online
  4. Bricks and clicks: Amazon's physical storefronts, the current retail apocalypse, and the changing landscape
  5. How local comics shops can anticipate change and thrive in the new retail status quo.


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Four-color maps: Where can you find a statue of Captain America?


We start the inaugural article in this series of public art inspired by comics creators and characters with Marvel Comics' Captain America! 
Originally displayed in Prospect Park in 2016 to mark Cap's 75th anniversary, it moved to the Barclays Center for fan activations, before finally being placed inside the Bed, Bath & Beyond complex at Liberty View Industrial Plaza in Greenpoint.

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Today was proclaimed Marvel's Captain America Day in Brooklyn, U.S.A.! #Cap75

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Character: Captain America [Marvel Comics]
Format: bronze statue
Created: 2016
Artist: Comicave Studios, Dave Cortes
Location: Liberty View Industrial Plaza [indoors] Greenwood, Brooklyn, New York City, NY, USA
General coordinates40.659167, -74.004639

Comicave and Marvel discuss the design and conception of the statue:

The unveiling in Prospect Park!  

Comicave offered an edition of 750 1/12 scale bronze replicas for $450 each, and 100 pewter 1/4 scale replicas for $4,000. Is it just me, or does Cap mirror the pose of the Statue of Liberty?