Budget Comic Buyer’s Guide Pt. 4: The Physical Approach
By John Dubrawa
I can never go completely digital when it comes to comic buying. I love the feeling of stepping into a comic shop too much. Cracking open a physical book for the first time and catching the aroma of the ink on the page is intoxicating (unless it’s that Harley Quinn Annual #1 that smells like pizza burps). You simply cannot beat the number of senses that are activated when holding a physical comic book—no, not even with the latest iPad and its retina display technology hullaballoo. As luck would have it, opting to go the more traditional route when it comes to purchasing comics can lead to some cost-cutting measures able to shave a few bucks off that weekly comic bill.
But first, a forewarning: There aren’t a lot of techniques I’ve found to save a substantial sum when purchasing physically. For as much as the traditionalist in me wants to claim that buying books the old fashioned way is the cheapest way to do so, it’s simply not true. Purchasing books digitally or waiting for the trade is still going to result in the biggest savings overall, however, for those like me that can’t break that tie to their local comic shop, here are a few tricks of the ‘ol budget buyer’s trade:
DISCOUNTS, REWARDS & SALES (OH MY!)
Local comic book stores thrive on repeat business, so it’s only natural that they offer discounts or rewards to customers that set up a monthly pull list to guarantee their business each week. I haven’t been into a shop yet that doesn’t have some sort of incentive implemented for those with a pull list, be it a simple discount off other merchandise (like trade paperback and hardcovers) or loyalty credit good for a future purchase. One store I used to frequent would give $1 back for each $10 spent, which doesn’t seem like much but if I’m spending that $10 anyhow, why not accept this free money? You like free money, right? Of course you do! The point is, ask what benefits a shop offers for setting up a pull list and reap those savings immediately. Most shops only require one measly book for an official pull list, too!
Another handy-dandy tip is to follow your local comic book shop on social media. It might seem like giving in to the technology demands of these darn kids with their darn antisocial tendencies but it’s also a great way to know when your shop is having any kind of sale or promotion. You could wind up stockpiling on a bunch of back issues, trades, or even current issues for a fraction of what they would normally cost. Keep an eye out around Free Comic Book Day (that would be the first Saturday in May) for even more promotional and savings-y goodness.
Oh, and don’t forget to always ask about special discounts given to active military or those who serve as policemen, firefighters, etc. if applicable.
COMICS BY MAIL
Even though mailboxes have primarily become a receptacle for bills, solicitations, and the occasional wrongly addressed envelope, they can also be used for distribution of comics (and for a fraction of the price!). Services like Midtown Comics (www.midtowncomics.com) and Discount Comic Book Service (www.dcbservice.com) can deliver physical books directly to your eagerly awaiting hands and typically offer between 10% and 50% off cover price. This is ideal for those that still want to read physical books but either cannot get a local shop or don’t have one available in their area. Shipping costs are waived over a certain amount spent and delivery can be set-up to be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Those with a longer monthly pull list can save a boatload of cash this way, but even if that pull list is a little on the slender side, it never hurts to plug in a few titles hypothetically and see what kind of savings you could be reaping. You can even get a few of those lucrative variant covers on there, too!
And from what I’ve heard through feedback of those that use the service, comics are packed well enough that they shouldn’t be damaged but there’s always that risk. Fortunately, returns and replacements appear to be a relative breeze.
For those that are lucky enough to gain a rapport with a circle of likeminded individuals each week at a local comic shop, why not harness that penchant for spending an inordinate amount of money on comics and save a little scratch together? Much like how I mentioned trading digital codes among friends in a previous article, swapping physical books among a group can cut down on costs each week. Read one title and pass it along to someone else in exchange for another title. It’ll not only allow you to read more titles in a given week, but having other people that have also read the same title in that close of a proximity should lead to some stimulating conversation. You can even go all adult and turn that faction of friends into a fancy-pants book club. But for books with pictures.