Friday, August 29, 2008

Pondering Comic-buying Habits

I find myself at an intersection of a couple of different issues and I am not 100% sure where I am going to comedown on this so I thought I would ponder “out loud” to the crowd and see what comes of said pondering.

I have recently found an online ordering service for the comic books and various other items advertised in the monthlyDiamond Previews catalog. This service offers discounts on comics ordered through them that range from 30% to 75% withthe majority of what I would order on a regular basis being around 40%. There are also discounts on the othermerchandise listed which varies greatly.

It will come as no surprise to you guys that I read comics but I think you might be shocked at the amount of money Idrop each time I visit the comic book shop. While Nan’s offers me a 10% discount on comics and supplies the additionalsavings I can see from this online service is a huge incentive to go with them. To illustrate how much of an incentivelets look at the order I put together for October:

$389.15 is what my order would cost if I pay full retail price however this includes several things which I would notnormally buy so lets cut it down to just the comic books and trade paperbacks I would purchase. Removing themiscellaneous items brings the full retail total down to $226.83. At Nan’s I would get a 10% discount against thistotal (22.68) so I would be paying $204.15 before tax. Tax on this total is $16.84 which brings me to $220.99 by thetime I am walking out of the door.

Compare that to my total of $254.46 for the entire order (including the $162.32 of merchandise and supplies I removedfrom the calculation above) with shipping.

In a purely economic sense there is no question that I should be using the online service however there are otherconsiderations which have me feeling a bit guilty for my decision to use this service.

As a general rule I prefer to support local merchants rather than big chains or internet vendors even if I end up payinga bit more at said local merchant. I value the relationships one can build by becoming a regular. If the people aregood at what they do then they will learn your tastes and be able to recommend other authors/artists/movies/cigars/scotchthat might interest you and just not be on your radar. You loose some of this when dealing with people via the internetbut the bigger picture is that I think local businesses are valuable to the community and if I do not support them thenthey will go away only to be supplanted by the Walmarts and Borders of the world.

This decision is made a little easier because Nan’s is not actually my first choice for comic stores in the Houston area. If they had better hours or a more convenient location I would prefer to shop at Bedrock City Comics. The storesthemselves are brighter, more pleasant places and the personnel have always been very friendly and helpful even thoughI am not a regular. By contrast the customer service at Nan’s is about what one would expect from a bunch of insularcomic nerds. I like the guys well enough and can chat with them now, but I had to earn that right with my, lets behonest here, not terribly hard earned cash. (On the flip side of that, I do share an office with Brian so…)

Oh well I think I have wandered off-point here pretty well however I have pretty much done away with any guilt I hadover dropping Nan’s like a bad habit and embracing the internet. I hear it is the way of the future. And in COMPLETELYunrelated news which is probably only of interest to Rob and Lapp the most recent issue of Blue Beetle features a weaponwhich bears the warning : POSSIBLE THEOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS.

God I love comic books.

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