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POS Follies Part 6

Brian Hibbs


So, first off, thanks to those who gave me Excel tips in the last post — yep that’s what I’m using. Wish I had those BEFORE I started doing the eyeball sort, but c’est la guerre.

‘sfunny, I’ve been using Excel for like a decade (maybe more?), and I haven’t got the SLIGHTEST idea how like 75% of it functions. I generally only need it to sort, or move chunks of data around, or that level of depth — most of those options in the, say, “Tools” menu? Don’t even know what they do.

ANYway, done with the majority of the database futzing — yesterday and today I went and scanned in most of the barcodes that MOBY didn’t already have (something like 600 of them?), but that was a pretty fast process, really.

There’s still TONS of stuff w/o barcodes, or stuff that HAVE barcodes, but which won’t scan, no matter how much I try — but I have to say I’m more pissed about the former than the latter. There’s a couple of surprising (to me at least!) publishers, like Heavy Metal, who never bothered to put barcodes on any of their books. I really can’t figure it out.

I can get all of the comics that don’t have them — typically small/self-published books, or from publishers that didn’t believe there was enough “critical mass” of retailers USING them for the time/expense in doing them, but my life will certainly have more of a pain in the ass from the OPTIC NERVE or LOVE & ROCKETS of the world, where we still sell 3-5 copies of each and every issue, each and every month. Having to slow down at the reg to either consult the “cheat book” (a binder with a bunch of non-barcoded items in it, with a user-generated barcode), or type-and-find into MOBY to look them up is not going to be fun.

I can deal with that pain for L&R or OPTIC NERVE, but I suspect that, come, oh let’s call it 2009, I will no longer stock publishers-who-don’t-barcode just from a hassle-vs-profit point of view, if they’re not selling L&R numbers for us.

Anyway, as things stand, I think I’ll be “done” with the database, latest, this time next week. Next week has several other things that need to get done (Tilting! And the SUPER SECRET THING that will make you go “whoa!” when we announce it [Very Soon!]; oh, and, just for good measure, the blackline of PREVIEWS showed up today, so ONOMATOPOEIA is presumably next week too!), so it will be “next Friday”, rather than “Tuesday, latest” it would have been otherwise.

Really, all I have left to do is to set the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary distributors for the non-brokered publishers, which, I think, is less than 6 hours work. (It is probably 3, but I have to factor time to look-up-and-confirm-pricing on a number of books) My BIG PROBLEM with this, is there’s a lot of items in the databse I’d want to set Cold Cut as the Primary, or Secondary-after-Direct-From-publisher, and I’m kind of dreading the possibility that Cold Cut might either close or drastically mutate in the next 3-6 months, causing me to have to edit thousands of records inside MOBY (not nearly as fast as Excel…. which could do it in about 9 keystrokes, total) — in MOBY, you have to individually open each individual record of a product (or, I think, group — which would make changing L&R, for instance, one action, rather than 20-something different ones)

The funny thing, is my orders to Cold Cut are probably poised to triple or better, because I won’t be doing that ad hoc bullshit method I’d used before, but I’ll now have a “one button” process to deal with it, and the encouragement to hit that button more.

I really and truly hope they find a buyer no later than San Diego, and that said buyer understands the potential they have there — with just a couple of tweaks, Cold Cut could become a significant player, picking up the vast majority of the non-exclusive reorder business in the DM.

I want to comment on this a bit, because I think something that Dan Vado really needs to be stated again, a couple of times.

[So, in fact, let me give myself a clean paragraph break to make it easier to link, and take a deep breath to refocus my thought here]

ANY publisher who has signed a distribution deal with Diamond, that does not have exclusions, for Cold Cut or Last Gasp, or even possibly a new startup, where that publisher is sold to retailers at an “F” (45%) discount or less has made a terrible, terrible mistake that they really NEED to rectify at their next contract negotiation.

Why? Diamond assesses a 3% reorder penalty. That means your 45% discount, just dropped to 42%. Guess what? If Diamond is distributing your books, that means Baker & Taylor and Ingram has them. ANY chimpanzee, who pays on time, and places an order of 10 or more books (not of a single title, for a whole ORDER of books! Cake!), gets AT LEAST 42% off from B&T.

And Free Shipping.

And Returnability.

THEREFORE, at a 45% or lower discount — again, that’s the “F” code, or a “H” code for 40% — it is actually CHEAPER for retailers to buy it from the Distributor that *Diamond* is selling to, than from Diamond, on a Reorder (and, in many cases, on the initial)

You want your retailers to get the BEST POSSIBLE PRICE on your wares, don’t you? So they make lots of money, and buy MORE of your books, right?

THEN MAKE SURE there is competitiveness in the marketplace.

I kind of die inside when I ponder a company like Achaia — they’re exclusive to Diamond, no exceptions; They’ve been quietly building up a line of high quality titles with a fairly broad “real human” appeal… but because they are “Buy/Sell” with Diamond, DIAMOND DOESN’T HAVE THEIR BOOKS *IN STOCK* MOST OF THE TIME.

To give you a good example, for the last few weeks I’ve been buying my copies of the MOUSE GUARD HC from B&T, rather than Diamond BECAUSE DIAMOND HAD NO COPIES, and B&T *did*. I’d kill to be able to buy, in open stock, virtually anything that Achaia produces… but because of the deal they locked themselves into, I usually can’t.

Tom asked why the New Boom doesn’t seem to be translating for publishers or certain aspects of retail? That’s because the only publishers, on reorder, that retailers can “keystone” (double their investment) are the four brokered ones — the ones without any 3% reorder penalty. Everyone else, you’re crippled at the outset because of a regressive policy that dates from a different time of distribution. Even if you’re an “E” (50%) publisher — your Onis, your DEs — you’re 47% on a reorder from Diamond, *and* dependent on Diamond’s whim of whether they *stock* your comic or not. Not “will order it, if a customer asks”, but *stocks*.

Think about that VERY carefully the next time your contract comes up for renegotiation. Because I have to tell you that I think about those things constantly, and I’m the one buying your books.

[*puff* *puff* OK, rant over]

So, ah, where was I?

Right, assigning dists to the database. Quick process, I’m hoping. Then… Hm, another pass through the “series” codes (I want to make sure it understands that, say, BPRD, is actually the SAME book, despite restarting at #1 every 5th issue), and maybe futz with the author and illustrator fields a bit.

And after that, it’s just another 2 weeks of scanning and looking for errors I missed before, but not the intensive 10-13 hours a day things I’ve been doing the last few weeks.

I figure, since I’m working from an existing database, that, of the data I’ll be using (way under 10%), I’m still going to have 1-200 books with some sort of error that I didn’t catch, and won’t until things are running. But, hopefully, I’ll be able to deal with those on the fly, and that they won’t be too disruptive as things run.

But, pretty much, the overwhelming bulk of the Scary Database Project is pretty much done. There’s still doing the physical inventory, and entering that data, but that will just be an ugly 8 hours that can’t be done until the last second, anyway.

Right. Off to have some recreation, then back at it for Saturday…

Oh. And did I say to watch out for something Really Cool in the next few days?

Well, do.


One Response to “ POS Follies Part 6 ”

  1. It sad that he’s going to miss the 1st game. Mark is such an amazing athlete.

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