An eBay Experiment


The mail slot brings me an e-mail of a sort I get semi-regularly, this time from a gent named Sean Heatherly:
I was recently turned onto Astro City by some friends. Rather than tracking down all the individual issues, I’ve been trying my best to grab all the hardcovers. The wraparound art done by Ross on each book is really beautiful.
I’ve been having a lot of trouble tracking down the 2nd hardcover volume. Did Confession have a very small print run? Would you happen to have an extra copy that you would be willing to part with? Or would you know of somewhere I could get one? Let me know. I admire your work and hope to hear back from you.
I’m glad Sean’s liking the series, and to answer his questions:
1. Yes, Confession has the smallest print run of any of the Astro City hardcovers. The reason it worked out that way is because the first one, Life In The Big City, sold out like a shot and went to a second printing. That was how the way the publishing plan worked back then—we’d do a signed edition, and when and if it sold out, do a second, unsigned run. But Confession was done right around the time DC bought Wildstorm, and they do things differently. They rarely go back to press on hardcovers (or rarely did then), and so Confession never got that unsigned printing. As of the third volume, Family Album, DC did much bigger print runs, to keep the books in stock. So there’s only 1200 copies of Confession, which is a respectable number for a hardcover of that era, but nowhere near enough to match the demand.
2. Alas, if I’d been selling my own copies, my stock of them would have been long gone years ago. It’s dwindled as is, what with giving copies away to relatives and the like. And I don’t know of anyone who’s offering them for sale; they come up on eBay now and again, and get snapped up when they do.
But I’m trying an experiment here. I do have one or two spare copies left. And when I say one or two, I mean it literally—if I have a third, aside from my personal reference copy, I’d be very surprised. I can’t just sell it to Sean, because that’s not really fair to the other people who’ve written and asked. So I’m putting one up on eBay, to see how it goes.
The book can be found on eBay at: Astro City: Confession Hardcover Rare
And when I say “I,” I actually mean a friend of mine has put it up, because I don’t actually know how to go about selling things on eBay. I’ve bought things, on occasion, but I don’t want to have to learn how to post something for sale and deal with the mechanics of it all. But there it is up on eBay, and it’s mine. I’m very ambivalent about auctioning it, because it feels like I’m trying to profit off the collector’s market, and I’d much rather there were just lots of copies out there at cover price for anyone who wants them. But there aren’t, so I’m trying this to see whether I feel like, once it’s done, I’ve made a copy available to collectors in a fair way, or whether I feel like a greedy leech and don’t want to do anything like it again. We’ll have to see.
But a couple of notes: This is a signed and numbered hardcover, with a tip-in sheet drawn by Brent, and signatures from me, Brent and Alex. I’ll be happy to sign it again, or personalize it, for whoever winds up buying it. And we’ll be including a bonus—the original run had dustjackets that aren’t printed all that well, so the printer did a replacement run that was sent out to retailers, but few of the new ones seem to have made it to the people who bought the books. I have some of the replacement dustjackets, and we’ll include one with the book.
And I’m announcing it here, to get the news out to people who are likely to want to buy it because they’re fans of the series, rather than someone who wants to buy it and flip it, or whatever. I hope this sounds like a decent plan to the people reading this. Let me know by e-mail or on the message board if you have any comments.
That said, I’ll move on to another e-mail about hardcovers, this one from Eric Doyle, who writes:

Are we going to see any more Astro City hardcovers?
I have them all and was wondering if they will continue?
That’s a much easier question to answer.
Yes, you’ll see more hardcovers. We’ve done hardcovers of every book collection yet, and have no plans to stop. Next one will be the second Dark Age volume, sometime next year, and after that a collection of the Samaritan, Beautie, Astra and Silver Agent specials, once those are done and ready to collect.
And who knows, maybe some day there’ll be Astro City omnibus editions or Absolutes, or who knows what else?

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