Sporadic Sequential
Friday, June 30, 2006
John's Pointless Complaints about Late-Shipping Comics

Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Pre-Ordering

In a development that shouldn't really surprise me, it turns out that frustrations over pre-ordering don't go away simply because you stop pre-ordering from comic specialty shops. Two recent orders at Barnes & Noble were delayed by late-shipping books:

Culprit #1: Drawn & Quarterly, for delaying the release dates of both Get a Life and Maybe Later. Both of these were originally scheduled to ship on June 13th when I ordered them. Now, however, I've been informed that they'll ship one month later on July 13th. (So I guess "a few more weeks" equals roughly five weeks.) Drawn & Quarterly's site shows the books as scheduled to ship on June 30th, so, if I'm lucky, maybe the delay won't be as long as I've been told to expect.

Culprit #2: Dark Horse Comics, for once again pushing back the release date for one of their books. (See this link for earlier complaints about how Dark Horse's publishing schedule frequently fails to match up with reality.) This time it's for Oh My Goddess: Volume 3, which was originally scheduled to come out June 28th. Now B&N says it'll ship a month late on July 28th. (Dark Horse's site shows the release date as July 26th, but Amazon currently shows the release date as August 16th, so I may have to wait even longer for this book.) At least the delay isn't as long as it was for Oh My Goddess: Colors, a book originally solicited back in August 2005 but now pushed back to September 6, 2006!

Actually, now that I think about it, pre-ordering from sites like B&N or Amazon does lessen the frustration surrounding late-shipping comics in at least three respects:

(1) The big booksellers don't charge you until something actually ships, unlike the online comic shops, who generally charge you once you place your order, which means that cancellations and other adjustments are only processed when they're officially announced, which can often be months (if not years) after the books were originally solicited. Tracking whether I've received everything I've ordered and whether my account has been credited appropriately is a level of inconvenience and annoyance I shouldn't have to put up with as a customer.

(2) The big booksellers are much better about updating me in a timely fashion about changes to an item's publishing schedule. In both cases, B&N emailed me to let me know about the delays in my orders. With online comic shops, I could see which late-shipping comics were still outstanding, but there was no indication when those late books might arrive. (In all fairness, this is probably because Diamond doesn't always put out much information about late comics from companies other than Marvel and DC.) Often a delayed comic would simply sit on the outstanding list for months and months until it was abruptly cancelled.

(3) If a portion of an order is significantly delayed, the big booksellers will generally ship out the other portion of my order immediately for no extra charge. I've found this to be the case at both B&N and Amazon, even though I always choose their free shipping options. With online comic shops, you'll get a regular monthly shipment as long as you're always placing regular monthly orders, but as soon as you stop ordering every month, they wait until all outstanding items are available to ship them out. Which means that in some situations books that are ready to ship can be held hostage by a lone late-shipping book that never materializes.


Er, I guess it turns out I don't really have much to complain about after all. I mean, yeah, it's still theoretically annoying that these books will be late, but in practice I know I wouldn't have gotten around to reading these books right away anyway. (I still have Locas sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, fer crissakes.) Really, I was reacting out of habit based on the way delays used to inconvenience me. Now, I'm really not that put out by such delays. So...I guess...thank you? Thank you, big online booksellers, for helping me mellow out and pre-order books without all the worry!