So in the last couple of weeks we’ve been hearing from a lot of people a variation on the line “hey, have you heard about [established, but newly aggressive, competitor]?” And I’ve generally replied “dude, they’ve got all the subtlety of an airhorn at the ballet. Yes, it’s been on radar…”
Competition is good. There are lots of ways of going about it – most of which I’ll happily cop to, some of which I’d call shenanigans if I were feeling charitable (and déclassé if I were feeling uncharitable and fancy). Personally I value our competitors & I’ve never wanted a monopoly, because I don’t think this scene would be healthy if there were only one game in town. Competition makes us all work harder, which is better for you. That said, I’ve had a lot of people worriedly asking what this specific market shift means in a way they’ve not before, so it feels worth addressing.
I continue to believe that the UK’s independent comic scene is better off with printers who are embedded in the culture and community, who treat comic printing as something special and separate from other forms of commercial print, and who offer a lot of advice and support along the way. I’m not going to claim that we’re perfect, but I still think that we are that company. When it comes to the combination of price, quality and service I’m as convinced as I was on day one that we can’t be beaten. We’re not here to do every job, but once we take it on it matters to us as much as it does to you.
That said, part of being embedded in the community and wanting what’s best for the scene is listening to feedback and acting where you can. What I’ve been hearing lately is that while people are happy to pay a little extra for a special service the times are tight and cost is king. Kinda like you’d get your vegetables at the farmers’ market, but maybe not your meat every single week because you’re not, like, made of money. Comics are a collaborative business – we’re trying to turn a profit without taking on so much that we can’t do a good job, but your need to stay on budget is heard and understood as well.
Which is why I am delighted to say that as of today most existing quotes you might have are invalid.
Following some pretty intense negotiations on costs, as well as a broad review of how we spend our money and how we could be a bit more efficient about it, we’re putting in place as of right this very instant a new backend that lowers prices across the board. We’ve stress-tested the new model until everyone was very bored of me insisting on another go around, and I can say with 100% confidence that we’re not compromising either quality or service to get this done: it’s the same old service, brand new prices. Best check in with an email if you’re nearly ready or just about to launch a KS.
Are we going to be the cheapest on everything? I don’t know, I haven’t run every single comparison & we’ve never been interested in winning a race to the bottom on cost alone anyway. But we’re going to be there or thereabouts, and there’s always going to be space to have a conversation about pricing if you want it. Are we still going to give you the best customer service out there? I’m still solely responsible for delivering that and I say yes. I say it resoundingly – I honestly don’t believe that there’s anyone else in the market who cares about making your books the best they can be more than I do. Are we going anywhere? Absolutely not. Comics are too much fun to leave to the generalists.