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The folks behind niche online DVD rental service SmartFlix have launched Heavy Ink, a new web-based comic book subscription service. While they are in public beta you can get 20% off with free shipping, and they offer a wide range of titles.
November 02, 2007 | Permalink
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20% off and free shipping is going to be a tough sell, good luck to them. I buy from dcbservice.com and they offer the majority of stuff at 40% off, with some 50 and 75%. Indy stuff tends to be 25-35% off.
November 02, 2007 at 05:25 PM
DCBS does sell at 40% off.
(a) they lock folks in to pre-ordering three months in advance, and once you're preordered, you can't cancel
(b) they don't sell individual issues
(c) they don't carry or sell back issues
In the post-Amazon, post-Netflix world,
their shipping charges of $6 up to $20 are outrageous.
At DCBS four $3 comics at 40% off, plus $6 in shipping comes to $13.20.
At HeavyInk, the same four comics, with free shipping, are $9.60.
Plus, DCBS doesn't offer anything approaching HeavyInk's "triple your money back" guarantee.
Also, many consumers don't like to have a limited selection, and also don't like to be locked into preordering a substantial fraction of a year in advance.
We did extensive customer surveys while figuring out our website features (recommendations engine, social networking, extensive talent database, blogs, etc.) and pricing model, and have found that there is a very large group of people - not necessarily the most hard-core, price-sensitive fans - who are more interested in the service and price point we provide.
The great thing about a competitive market, though, is that there doesn't have to be just one solution that's right for everyone - the more the merrier!
November 03, 2007 at 12:31 AM
They don't sell individual issues? That's funny, seven individual issues were part of an order I just placed. Limited selection? I can purchase anything listed in the Previews catalogue.
The back issue market is dead right now anyway, so no back issues is not a concern.
3 months in advance? I placed an order on Tuesday for items scheduled to come out in December. They will charge me for these on or just after the 15th of this month. And I've cancelled items before with no problem, they offer excellent customer service. I agree with your last line however.
November 03, 2007 at 06:36 AM
Who cares about all that? What about the free shipping price difference? That should have been the first point mentioned (in both posts).
November 03, 2007 at 09:01 AM
**** They don't sell individual issues?...Limited selection?
Want to buy the current issue of Ex Machina at HeavyInk? Here's the link (http://heavyink.com/comic/939-Ex-Machina-31). Want to buy it at DCBS? Their search page lists a few graphic novels, and NO ISSUES AT ALL.
How about the current issue of Batman? HeavyInk has it ( http://heavyink.com/comic/2154-Batman-670 ) ...and I can't find it at DCBS (maybe that means that they don't have it, or maybe that means that their search feature is broken).
**** The back issue market is dead right now anyway, so no back issues is not a concern.
I might be missing something, but... what does this mean? I can tell you that since we launched, about half of the items we've sold have been things that DCBS doesn't have in stock (current issues, or ones a few weeks back).
If you're arguing that DCBS doesn't cater to anyone who wants to purchase the current or recent issues of a title, then I agree with you.
**** 3 months in advance? I placed an order on Tuesday for items scheduled to come out in December.
So you placed an order in October for things scheduled to ship in Dec.
OK, I was wrong. I will correct my statement to say "DCBS requires you to order 2 months in advance".
We shouldn't even be arguing about this - we both understand that DCBS and others in their niche operate by buying just what has been pre-ordered by customers, unlike real brick-and-mortar comic book stores, and unlike HeavyInk, which invest in general inventory so as to have stock on hand.
**** They will charge me for these on or just after the 15th of this month.
So you get charged three or more weeks before your items ship?
HeavyInk charges when your sealed and stamped package is scanned out and handed over to UPS or the Post Office.
Anyway, DCBS is a win for some types of consumers. If you
* don't want reviews,
* don't need recommendations,
* don't want an RSS feed of new titles, issue, and shipments,
* know what you want two months ahead of time,
* don't mind being charged three weeks before your order ships, and
* spend $60 or more per month on comics
... then DCBS can save you approximately $4.
Everyone in that market category should definitely use DCBS in preference to HeavyInk.
November 03, 2007 at 10:01 AM
Oh god, here we go again.
Why don't business owners/employees know they should never *ever* get into a public argument about their business. You can not win the argument; it's too subjective. You can only draw people who want to argue, and drive away dozens, hundreds, or thousands of potential customers in the process.
November 03, 2007 at 11:48 AM
"Why don't business owners/employees know they should never *ever* get into a public argument about their business."
That's because some business owners/employees cannot take criticism. When criticized they take it much too personally and feel they must respond by attacking.
I, for one, would not do business with people like that. In fact, after looking at the SmartFlix web site a few months ago I wouldn't take a chance because of how much they charge for their rentals, (as opposed to how much it would cost to purchase them) and another concern that I have about what they are renting (not the titles but something else that I will not mention, at least for right now).
November 03, 2007 at 03:47 PM
You're right that business owners often feel criticism strongly, and feel the need to respond.
I hope that I haven't been widely perceived as "arguing" - I think that DCBS is a find service (I've said so twice up above), and I didn't expect to change Howard's mind - if he buys $60 or more of comics, and already knows what he wants, such that he does not want recommendations or reviews, then DCBS is the right choice for him.
We did a fair bit of market research up front, and we know that there are people like Howard. We considered delivering the price point and features that would attract customers like him, and made a conscious decision to offer a different set of features and prices.
In retrospect, my comment "Everyone in that market category should definitely use DCBS in preference to HeavyInk" does read as quite snarky, but - in all honesty - that wasn't my intent. I recognize that there is a market segment that wants what DCBS is delivering, and HeavyInk will not compete for those people.
To tie all of this back to the title of the blog we're at: some folks want to watch movies the same day they heard of them. Other folks just want to watch one movie a month. Some folks watch movies in waves - a lot one month, none the next.
None of these folks are ideal Netflix customers.
...and Netflix doesn't try to cater to them.
Similarly, HeavyInk is going after a certain customer demographic, and is the best choice for those customers...and it is not going after other customer demographics, and is not the best choice for those customers.
I'll stand by my statements, though, that if someone wants to purchase back issues, or current issues, wants recommendations and reviews, and spends less than $60 / month on comics, they should at least look into HeavyInk.
November 03, 2007 at 05:03 PM
Your first comment and this last comment seem to me to be measured and professional.
Your second comment, in response to Howard - and I mean no offense - but it sounded argumentative and sarcastic.
I've seen business proponents get into arguments here once or twice before, and it went badly for them. They quickly get outnumbered - like a shark feeding frenzy - not an enjoyable thing to watch.
November 03, 2007 at 07:49 PM
You're right, the second one doesn't read the way I wish it did.
That's my fault, and I'll work on improving my communication style.
Thanks for the honest feedback.
November 03, 2007 at 10:09 PM
In my opinion, "Heavy Ink" looks to be the perfect substitute for me for tracking down issues I can't find in the local comic shops or for issues that I didn't pre-order through Heroescorner.com.
I've used DCBS, but I've since switched to Heroes Corner. The site are very comparable, but I find Heroes Corner to be slightly better, due to their free bags & boards and the free monthly shipping on orders over $75. Their prices rival DCBS prices, but, like DCBS, they are a pre-order service.
Putting that argument aside, Heavy Ink looks to be the site I'll visit to track down certain issues that even the good comic book store in my area can't get; namely, Dark Horse's "End League" and "Gigantic." The discounts and free shipping also make me even wonder why I should even bother taking the time out of my day to visit the stores that may/ may not have the titles that I'm looking for in stock.
January 07, 2009 at 11:47 PM
These comments must be pretty old because Heavy Ink now charges 99 cents for shipping. That's still not bad, though.
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February 10, 2010 at 07:25 PM
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