Monday, March 23, 2009

Finding What You're Looking For

I was kinda worried about today's post, mostly because up until about ten minutes ago, I had no idea what to write about. Now, this weekend certainly gave me a few interesting options, as I (finally) got around to watching the fantastic Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog episodes by Joss Whedon, and I even played the Nintendo Wii for the first time ever.

Hilarious as it was to see game golfing, and even though I really enjoyed Dr. Horrible, I'm just not in the mood to do a review-y kind of post this morning.

So, instead, as I climbed into my car on my way to the office a couple hours ago, and I looked down at the floor and saw my Previews Order Form sitting there, underneath a left sneaker (don't ask about the right sneaker), nearly two full weeks late, I came to two realizations.

The first one was, wow I need to get this into my LCS as soon as possible and hope it'll be OK. And the second was, I should really blog about Previews.

Actually, come to think of it, I had a third realization, as well. More like a question, actually. And that was, where on Middle Earth could my other sneaker possibly be? And the answer to that will, for the time being at least, remain a mystery to all involved.

So, onto Previews then. Now, if you're a person who heads to the comics shop every Wednesday, then you likely know what Previews is. For those who may not, a quick summary. Basically, Previews is a phone book-like monthly publication and is put out by Diamond Comics Distributors. As you likely already know, Diamond is the company that acts as the middle man and gets comics and other merchandise from the publishers to the retail stores.

Retailers (and customers, as you'll see in a minute) use Previews to order the comics, books, toys, posters, statues, and whatever else you see in your LCS. And they do this on a monthly basis. When you crack open one of these bad boys, what you get is a rundown of everything shipping from all the comics publishers in business right now.

Each issue of Previews contains shipping information for products that will be in stores approximately two months down the road. As a fer example, this Wednesday sees the release of the April issue of Previews, and this book will feature product shipping in June.

Now, Previews (and Diamond, for that matter) is the only way for retailers to get their books and things, so it's an essential tool for them. But, Previews can also be a really great tool for consumers, as well.

I'm sure you've all seen that giant stack of these things, either on a table, or most likely, on the floor of your LCS. And I'm sure many of you have picked up the book, looked at that $5.99 price tag, and put it right back. I did the very same thing for the first three or four years of going to the shop on a weekly basis.

But, pretty recently, I decided to spend the extra six bucks a month in order to utilize the catalog. And I'm glad I did. While I'm not the biggest fan of Diamond being the only game in town when it comes to purchasing comics, I have to admit that, as a consumer, I love Previews.

As you can probably tell by past entries here, I typically don't stick to mainstream, Marvel and DC books each week. And, while I certainly buy books from those companies, I tend to venture out and read a good amount of independent titles, as well.

And, because every LCS has a limited amount of space, retailers just cannot afford to go crazy and purchase a bunch of titles and things beyond what's available from the biggest publishers. And Previews is set up to feed right into this mindset, as the big-name companies (Marvel, DC, Top Cow, and Image) take up pretty much the first half of the book, and everyone else is relegated to the back.

But I'm one of those people that likes to go out and find something new to read, and one of the only ways to "discover" new talent in comics is by poring over an issue of Previews.

So, if you're like me, and you find yourself reading off the scheduled releases each week and going, hmmm...I wonder if my LCS will have that latest issue of Boneyard, or that latest trade from TwoMorrows Press, then do yourself a favor and pick up this month's Previews, take a look through the book, and simply fill out the handy little Order Form with all those Indy gems you find.

Then, your retailer will take the form, and order the books you want so you know that you'll not have to scour the globe searching for, let's say...a right sneaker.

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