Not Selling To Me

I had the opportunity this week to visit The Beguiling in Toronto for the first time.  Having heard they had a very large selection of books, I wanted to see what was available.

For those who have never been there the store is divided into two sections: second floor mainstream comics, first floor everything else.  I gave the second floor a walk-through and spotted a bunch of great books but I spent the bulk of my time on the first floor.

There were many, many books I wanted and I could have left with an empty back account and a van full of hardcovers, but I’ve been hunting one in particular: Little Nemo In Slumberland So Many Splendid Sundays by Sunday Press, first print.  It’s a gigantic book, 16×21″, and a significant investment at $125 USD.  There have been three printings but I’m holding out for the first print and am willing to pay more to get one, but nothing crazy.

I spotted a copy on the wall, took it down and brought it up to the front cash.  Here’s my conversation, as verbatim as my memory can provide.

Me: Can you tell me if this is a first print?  How much is it?  (No price sticker).

Clerk: It’s $125.  I’m not sure which printing it is but we’ve had it a while.  I can check their website.

Me: If it’s a first printing I’ll take it.

Clerk: There’s a third printing so I would guess it’s a second print; we’ve had it for quite some time.

Me: Can we check to see what printing it is?  If it’s a first printing I’ll take it.

Clerk: How do you propose we do that?

Me: Open it up and check.  (The book is shrink-wrapped).

Clerk: No, we’d prefer to keep it shrink-wrapped.

Me: That’s your decision.  (I put the book back).

So they’ve had this shrink-wrapped book for a while without any takers.  Could be that’s because there’s no price but the clerk was able to tell me that pretty quick. Plus it was on a high shelf that most couldn’t reach, but I’m 6’8″ so it was no great feat. We can’t expect anyone to know the pedigree and printing of every book in the shop, and that’s easily remedied.  The clerk didn’t know the printing and after looking at the publisher’s website made a guess. I was surprised they were unwilling to open the shrink-wrap up to make a sale, or know for certain what printing it was.  It seems the possibility hadn’t entered the clerk’s mind, as I had to suggest it.

Was I asking too much, or out of line making my request?

Scott VanderPloeg Written by:

Editor-In-Chief. Scott works in I.T. but lives to eat and read. His other ramblings can be found at eBabble. Art collection at Comic Art Fans. Joe Shuster Awards Harry Kremer coordinator.

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18 Comments

  1. November 2, 2011

    You are not out of line making the request, but they aren’t out of line denying you either. $125 is the current price for the 3rd printing so even if you bought it for that you would have not lost anything if it wasn’t 1st printing (except that you want the 1st printing). However, and especially if they have a shrink wrap machine, if I had a book that was on the shelf for a while I would probably open it up to see if I can make the sale. But if it wasn’t 1st printing, the lack of shrink wrap might prevent future sales, so I can see both sides of this torrid tale of comicery.

  2. Peter
    November 2, 2011

    as far as I’m concerned shrink wrapping doesn’t matter. It’s eventually going to come off, its really just for transit.

  3. November 2, 2011

    I suppose it entirely depends on what you are buying the book for… if it’s as an investment, you want the first OOP edition because it’s value is closer to $200 in the secondary market.

    If it was just to read, then why not get the recent third printing (that came out in August) which has been revised and includes new material – 9 Sundays that weren’t in the first or second printings. If I were interested in reading this material I would go for the most complete one.

    While the Beguiling does have a certain number of back issues priced accordingly, they are primarily a bookseller and you’ve given away your collector not necessarily a reader status in your request for a first printing.

    Since he was confidant it’s not a third printing because it the copy was there before August, it is either a first or a second printing and he knows it’s unlikely to be a first printing at that price because you made him research it… but I think what he basically did was leave the decision in your hands, not his. The book is there, the price is $125. It’s your money. If he opens it and it’s a second print he knows by your questioning that you don’t want it, and then he has to have it shrink-wrapped again or sell it unwrapped. If he opens it, and it is a first printing, he’s quoted you a lower than market price and maybe Peter B. doesn’t want it sold at $125.

    You were the next contestant on Let’s Make A Deal.

  4. Charlie
    November 3, 2011

    There goes Kevin, over complicating another simple question.

    I’m a first print collector myself. Not for necessarily for investment purposes… but for the higher quality. I’m also a fan of Beguiling books. I love the store… but I will admit, the staff could lighten up a bit. I wont get into details but I was once accused of stealing a book until the casher saw that my book had a Yesterdays Hero sticker on it from neighbouring store.

    But being the incredibly open minded person that I am, I can understand their attitude. Their attitude is also not unique. A lot of comic shop owners are a bit jaded these days. I suspect, in part due to the challenging market. Not all of them can drive a Maserati like Walter. As well, the fickle nature of collectors and fanboys, many of whom are more trouble than they are worth.

    Having said that, it is retail so I’m of the mind set that the “customer is always right”. I understand that some customers are trouble but this was Scotts first time and the request was not unreasonable.

    It’s unfortunate that the simple concept of service is lost on some people. And like a pebble dropped into a pond… it has a resonating effect.

    – – – – – – – – – –

    BTW, I was at a design conference today… Chip Kidd was one of the speakers and apparently he was asked to “write” a Batman GN. He showed us some prelim pages and it looked awesome. Chip Kidd is well known for his book designs but he’s not a writer. The premise is interesting but I’m tempering my expectations… To be honest, I’m now a less of a fan of his work after hearing him speak.

  5. November 3, 2011

    And here’s Charlie again… Does Scott feel he received poor service at the Beguiling because the clerk wouldn’t remove the shrink-wrapping?

  6. Charlie
    November 3, 2011

    Hey Kev, what’s your position, and the FanExpo, on people selling artwork of Marvel and DC characters? For example, I’m not in the industry but if I set up to sell pictures of Batman that I created… would this be frowned upon?

  7. November 3, 2011

    I don’t feel I received bad customer service, but because of what happened I didn’t make any purchases.

  8. November 3, 2011

    If Marvel and/or DC tell us it’s not allowed then we would have to address it but otherwise there’s no position.

  9. Charlie
    November 3, 2011

    Thanks Kev. So it would be okay if I printed up t-shirts and posters of my own fan boy art based on popular characters? I just want to be clear so I don’t unintentionally stumble into Granito territory…

    Any chance that FanExpo would take a commission rather then a flat table fee? It could work out well, or at worst you might get less for that 1 table.

    – – – – – – – –

    So this post is a simple log of Scotts excursion and not an interpretative study on good or bad behaviour from of both seller and buyer? Hmmm. Don’t non-sales happen all the time for various reasons?

  10. November 3, 2011

    Granito stole from other artists, copying their art and claiming it was his own. If you are publishing or marketing illegal products with Marvel and/or DC trademarked characters then Marvel and/or DC can take you to court. FanExpo doesn’t take commissions.

  11. November 3, 2011

    Kev, I was wondering this the other day. How is it that artists are able to sell sketches for any character, even though the a larger company owns the rights? Technically aren’t they making money off of someone’s else intellectual property? Is this one of those industry things where because it keeps fans and talent happy the companies look the other way?

  12. Ed Campbell
    November 3, 2011

    I think they parent companies have never cracked down on artists selling their sketches at shows because it is free promotion of their brand.

    Yes the artist is making money, that Marvel/DC/Whoever doesn’t get a cut of, but fans are buying sketches of characters that they like. Even obscure ones, that builds brand recognition.

    It’s like a gesture of goodwill that helps promote their own characters.

    Future artists get recognition and meet people at conventions. If the parent company sued everybody sketching a Batman or Spider-Man, there wouldn’t be anyone left from the talent pool to find new artists.

  13. November 3, 2011

    Answered perfectly Ed! It’s not been an issue yet for the publishers. It keeps the artists and fans happy, helps train new artists in how to draw their characters, and it’s free promotion. However, it’s my understanding now that if Marvel artists want to make prints of their work they have to get Marvel’s approval and the company will manufacture the prints for them. At some point, if Disney gets more proactive they follow the routes paved by other companies, such as Bongo, that do not permit their artists to draw the Simpsons or Futurama characters or make prints of their work.

  14. Charlie
    November 3, 2011

    I’m thinking about producing some limited edition prints, only these wont be colour copies… But I still need to work out the costs to see if it’s even viable. I’m not a pro so it will be mainly for fun, based more on design rather than illustration.

    Does anyone see any legal, ethical or logistical concerns with this idea? It would be a nice change for me to work on something for fun and take a break from corporate work. After listening to Chipp Kidd… I’m feeling a little inspired.

    My apologies to Scott. The retail consumer relationship is a very meaningful topic… didn’t mean for it to veer off.

  15. Laura
    November 10, 2011

    I wrote out a big response, but deleted it. It came down to both the customer and the employee could have gone about the whole situation differently.

    The clerk could have been having one hell of a bad day. Yesterday was terrible for me at work all because one customer decided to sexually harass me early in the day, and that sent me into a pretty bad depression spell. I tried to cover it up for customers, but it can be hard.

    You never know what is going on in someone else’s day, and that goes both ways for both customer and clerk. Scott could have been more patient, and the clerk could have been a little more willing to go the extra step.

    I say call it a mulligan and try again.

  16. Chris
    January 3, 2013

    Thumbing around and came to this – you probably have answer by now but Nemo first edition is a dark blue background, and second edition is a black background. I don’t know how the third edition is but with an additional set of art it in itself becomes an added value.
    Chris

  17. January 3, 2013

    Thanks Chris: I finally picked up volumes 1 and 2 first printings.

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