Okay, you walk into a store and are looking for a few specific comics. How do you find them?
People who run comics stores have a serious problem every week. How do you organize your books so people can find them quickly and easily?
Some places keep them in categories such as “New This Week,” “New Last Week” or “New Two Weeks Ago.” That’s great for people who are weekly regulars … they know what they want. But it’s tough for others to find things if they can’t remember what week the comics they want were released.
Other stores group them in ways the customers can find the big “families” of books, like all the Batman titles in one place or all the X-Men books together. But what do you do with the rest?
Probably the most successful way to organize comics in a store is to put them in alphabetical order, usually with little “New This Week” and so on signs in front of the books.
But this is also fraught with danger.
IS IT BATMAN’S DETECTIVE COMICS OR JUST DETECTIVE COMICS?
A lot of the Bat-titles work really well in alphabetic order, like Batgirl and Batman. Often, DC will change the name of the title to make sure it gets placed next to these, something like Batman’s Detective Comics. However, that’s not the case currently, and that also includes other Bat-family books like Catwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws. If you add many more words to the title of that last one, you might need wider paper!
But this gets much worse when one considers the X-Men books. There’s All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and many others all over the place. You can’t put X-Men at the beginning of the title because many of them already have that word there. It would sound awful to say, X-Men: All-New X-Men! Yikes!
Superman also has Action Comics as well as the self-titled book. You could have Superman in the name of that last book, but Action is such a tradition that people already know who’s in the book (although Lex Luthor took it over not too long ago).
And that’s not all!
BOOK NAMES WITH EMPHASIZED WORDS
Ultimate Spider-Man is getting a reboot to become Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man. When you look at the promo posters, it reads more like miles morales: the ultimate SPIDER-MAN. (Sorry for the shouting!)
So, as a conscientious comics shop owner, do you place that under “M” for Miles Morales or under “S” for Spider-Man? Or even both?
I always worry about comics called “All-New” because those words tend to be smaller as well. I’ve had to direct several people looking for X-Men because it was called All-New X-Men when I’ve been in stores. They didn’t notice it was that way on the cover.
AND THEN THERE ARE TRADES
Most stores keep their trade paperbacks separate from the monthly books, but that’s not always true.
I’ve been to several shops where the trades are kept next to the monthly titles, hoping the buyers will go for the bigger books.
Trades can be a problem, though. Let’s say a customer finds out that trades are cheaper than buying all the individual issues. What he or she may do is bag the monthlies in favor of the trades. A store can lose money that way!
THE “ULTIMATE” SOLUTION
In my experience, there is no “best” way to do this. But if you’re a store owner, choose one you like and stick with it. There’s nothing worse than having customers get used to one way of doing things, then changing it! A lot of fans just won’t keep coming back if you do that.
For the fan, t I recommend you find a store you like, figure out how they do things, and stick with it. Granted, every so often, a store sells out of something and you have to go somewhere else, but normally this is what I have done.
Even comixology mixes it up, so going digital requires some getting used to!
Still, it’s worth it to plunk down your money, then get home to read your new stack of books! Personally, I put the ones I think will be best on the bottom so I end on a good note, but sometimes, if I’m just too busy, I start out with the good stuff so if I can’t get through them all, I’ve at least read the most important ones!
Honestly, this is part of the fun in comics, exploring and finding out what works best for you. I used to buy from a store who would let me in when he’d come back from the distributor because I had to be at work before he opened. Boy, did I spend a lot of money there!
Whatever works for you, keep reading your comics!