Last week I made a bit of a ruckus online by posting this tweet, which has now been viewed more than 315,000 times:
Comics publishers and Diamond, please invest money into building a website that lets readers preorder & prepay for upcoming comics from their local shops. If folks could do this online with a click, thousands more would actually do it.
— Greg Pak (@gregpak) January 18, 2018
Long story short: monthly comic books are sold in the United States through a quirky system that involves retailers ordering unreturnable books from a distributor called Diamond three weeks before they hit stores. The upshot is that you’ll see comics creators and publishers constantly encouraging (begging?) readers to preorder books with their local retailers, because publishers decide how many books to print based on the preorder numbers they get from Diamond. So preordering becomes the one of the very best things a reader can do to help ensure a book’s success and survival.
There are many problems with the system. But let’s focus on one big issue for the moment: in the digital age, consumers are used to clicking a button and buying a thing online the instant they hear about it. But preordering comics tends to be a more complicated process that requires making a special request to a retailer via phone calls or store visits. The vast majority of civilians who might take an interest in a comic book will simply never do that, so it’s not only hard to take preorders from long-time readers, it’s incredibly hard to expand the readership and get preorders from new readers.
But we live in the digital age! Even way back in 2004, when I first started writing comics professionally, there should already have been a website where anyone can preorder and prepay for upcoming comics from their local shops, right? Well, several years ago, Comixology, the flagship distributor of digital comics, built a “Pull List” service that local retailers could use to take pre-orders online. But Comixology has announced that they’re discontinuing that service in March 2018.
After I posted that tweet, a few folks from Diamond contacted me to let me know that the company is working on a new service that will offer some of this preorder functionality through its website, PreviewsWorld.com — which sounds fantastic! Here’s a bit more about that:
Check out this quote from Diamond’s Roger Fletcher in this @McLauchlin article from October. This is VERY EXCITING and I can’t wait to see what it looks like! https://t.co/XnUAubbjgc pic.twitter.com/vdkHKEnKJS
— Greg Pak (@gregpak) January 18, 2018
So, very exciting! But that service doesn’t exist just yet. And as a comics creator, I want to do a better job of providing readers with nice links they can use to preorder my comics online right now.
Thankfully, a bunch of comic stores have created their own solutions, and a bunch of great people recommended them to me via Twitter. I promised to make a master list and share the results. So here we go!
MASTER LIST OF PLACES TO PREORDER COMICS ONLINE
Places I’ve Done Business With Myself
Midtown Comics, based in New York City, has a great website with a previews section where you can search for and pre-order your books, usually at a nice discount. Then you can either have the books shipped to you, anywhere in the world! You can also set up a pull list online, with the option of either picking up the books in person or having them mailed. I buy a lot from Midtown (and do frequent signings there). They’re great. (Creators, if you want to find direct links to your books that you can share online when you plug your work, search for your name and choose to list results “By Date.” Here’s what my list of my books available for pre-order looks like.)
TFAW.com, based in Portland, also has a great website that allows you to select “Pre-Orders” in the search field and then pre-order whatever upcoming books you want, usually at a 20% discount. They also ship anywhere in the world. TFAW also has dedicated pages for Comics Pre-Orders and Graphic Novel Pre-Orders. I’ve ordered a lot from TFAW over the years, and they’re great. (Creators, this is another great website that lets you find direct links to your books that you can share. Here’s what that search field looks like if you search for “Greg Pak,” just in case you were wondering.)
DCBS is another online-only store where you can pre-order books at a big discount. They’ve got a search window on their front page that allows you to find books by title or creator, which is great. Here’s what comes up when you search for my name, for example. You can also scroll over the “Preorders” tab and find pages that list all current preorders by publisher. Multiple folks sang the praises of DCBS to me via Twitter.
mycomicshop.com is an online-only store that has a pre-orders page where, again, you can pre-order books at a substantial discount for mail delivery. I haven’t pre-ordered from them personally, but I’ve bought a lot of graphic novels from them in the past and they’re great. (I also have a soft spot on my heart for them because this company used to be Lone Star Comics, which ran my local comic shop a million years ago when I was growing up in Dallas. Memories!) Worth noting for fellow creators — it doesn’t look like it’s possible to directly link to a public page for individual preorder books here, alas.
Third Eye Comics, a tremendous retailer based in Maryland, has an online pull list service that lets customers preorder books online and then pick them up at the Annapolis or Lexington Park stores. Check it out!
Venues Recommended by Readers and Colleagues
ComicHub is an online service that lets readers preorder comics with a number of local shops across the US, including Fantom Comics in Washington, DC. You can check the ComicHub website to see if your local store is a member. This particular system isn’t designed for creators trying to plug their work — you can’t directly link to public pages for individual books, as far as I can tell. But multiple people told me via Twitter that the service is working great for them for preordering with their local shops.
Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka and Pasadena has a subscription service you can set up online for either pick up in-store or mail delivery. Comes highly recommended by comics writer Jim McCann.
Forbidden Planet in the UK takes subscriptions online, lets you set up a wish list, and lets you select for “preorders” in its store search window. Here’s what it looks like when you search for my books, for example. They ship everywhere.
Page 45, based in the UK, has a Previews section where you can browse through the catalog of upcoming books and place preorders online. In case you were wondering, Kieron Gillen calls this website “HIGHLY CRUSHWORTHY.”
Mega City Comics, based in the UK, allows you to subscribe to comics online for delivery to UK and European addresses.
Comix Zone – retailer based in North Syracuse, NY that also takes pre-orders for mail delivery online.
Atomic Empire – retailer in Durham, NC that lets you subscribe to titles online.
Off the Wagon – retailer in Kent, OH, that lets you subscribe to titles online.
Hypno Comics – retailer in Ventura, CA, that lets you subscribe to titles online.
Acme Comics – retailer in Greensboro, NC, that takes subscriptions/preorders via a pdf that you can download at the bottom of this about page.
Graham Crackers Comics in Chicago, IL, lets you subscribe to series online.
Alter Ego Comics in Bellevue, WA, lets you subscribe to series once you register and login to their system.
If I missed a shop you recommended or if you know of another good retailer or service that lets you preorder comics online, please do reach out to me via Twitter and let me know! I’ll do my best to update this list in the coming weeks and months.
Also and as always, even if a local venue doesn’t appear on this list, visit FindaComicShop.com or ComicShopLocator.com to find your local shops and place your preorders with them directly!