I am sure many of you out there are familiar with Free Comic Book Day (FCBD), which takes place the first Saturday in May every year. And, I am also sure many of you participate in this great showcase of comic fandom. FCBD is a great event geared towards attracting new readers into comic shops, as well as boosting sales from their regulars. Whether or not the “newbies” that come in for the “freebies” actually become regular readers needs to be taken as a case by case basis, specifically in regards to each shop. If I were to hypothesize I would bet that most newbies that come out for this specific Saturday don’t become longtime readers, but on the other hand the actual number that do is irrelevant. What matters is that it DOES attract new eyes in general. And, this is a good thing. For example, if 100 new readers were to come out to one specific shop and only 10% of them became long-term customers that’s still 10 NEW customers. And those 10 people may buy 20, 30, 40+ books every month. If you extrapolate those figures out, those few people could make the difference for struggling stores. Every sale counts, for sure. And events like FCBD can be an easy way to get those “newbies” in the door.
What I am driving at here is that events like FCBD are important and that there need to be more of them across the board. Perhaps it’s multiple FCBD’s per year, or maybe it’s something else like publisher specific sales or giveaways for all shops. For example, Barnes and Noble runs a Buy 2, Get the 3rd Graphic Novel Free event every year on DC books. This seems to draw a lot of sales for them both in store, as well as online. I don’t always hit up their sale, but if you are in the market for DC books it is a definitely a good deal. Other books stores like Half Price Books run similar sales and giveaways throughout the year. I realize that every comic shop is different and that many of them do run sales, promotions, pull-list discounts, etc. and that is all great. But, on the other hand, there needs to be more long-reaching events, sales, promotions etc. like FCBD that send a message to EVERYONE that it’s cool to read comics and if you just take a few minutes to look you will find something that meets your interest. Gone are the days of nerds reading their comics hiding in their room or in the squalors of their dark and dirty basement. With comics and fandom as mainstream as they’ve ever been it seems like a no-brainer that we should be doing everything we can to get new people on board. And if that takes giving away more “freebies” then so be it.
At our base level we as humans, and consumers, are cheap. We like to get the best deal we can. This is why we come out to events like FCBD and various sales. I know it sounds shallow, but it works. So, in the end, who do I need to speak to in order to get more events like FCBD? And when can we get the ball rolling on this so we can get more readers? Excelsior!