1:03pm PT by Graeme McMillan
Will This Change How People Buy Comic Books?
Diamond Comic Distributors, the primary distributor of comics in the North American marketplace, has announced a new system to simplify the pre-ordering and purchase of comic books in stores for customers unfamiliar with (admittedly complicated) market traditions.
The system, using new cloud-based software Pullbox, will allow customers to manage advance orders online, with access to searchable catalogs for upcoming releases and the ability to create shopping lists, wish lists and manage standing orders within the system. Those lists will then synch with the customer's chosen physical comic shop, which will then have copies of the desired material on hand within a set period.
Pullbox will be released with additional functionality for comic book stores, including allowing retailers to set their own ordering requirements and guidelines, allowing retailers to approve or deny new Pullbox customers, and synching Pullbox orders with offline orders and existing online systems and POS software.
The intent of the new system is to answer criticism of the current ordering system of the direct market (the name given to the network of comic book stores that Diamond traditionally services); under the current system, print runs are set based on the pre-orders received by retailers three months in advance of comic book issues being released. That often translates into the availability of particular issues being limited upon release, with many customers unaware of a said comic's existence before that point. Publishers, comic book creators and customers alike have often complained about the insularity of the current system and looked for an easier way to allow newcomers to become aware of, and pre-order, titles.
Pullbox will be released for free later this spring to customers, with retailer pricing to be revealed in coming months. A demonstration of the system will take place in April's Diamond Retailer Summit in Chicago.