Longbox Graveyard is moving to Canada next month. My move is a tale for another time, but in advance of my move and starting today I will be putting several lots of comics and games up for sale on eBay. Support Longbox Graveyard and add comics to your collection — check out my listings below!
I had planned a similar review series for DC’s Rebirth, but for any number of reasons, that project never came together. I’m offering a large lot of Rebirth books for sale — click HERE for details.
A couple single #1s are also for sale — click HERE for my general eBay listing. I will be adding more lots of graphic novels and games in the weeks to come, so check back often!
Thanks in advance for your support. Tell a friend!
Thought I’d start the New Year off by looking backwards at the best performing Longbox Graveyard posts of 2016. Most are legacy posts from the early days of this site, with a new article elbowing in at the top of the list.
Drumroll please …
A testament to loading your blog title with powerful keywords, this post is four years old, but still pulling respectable search engine traffic. Mostly it is an ode to why I can only seem to buy high and sell low on eBay, which means I’m no roadmap for that place …
“Top Tens” and “Spider-Man” are among the most most attractive content on this site, so it is no surprise that a post containing both of those things ranks so highly. It is a formula that will appear several times in this list. Guest author Mark Ginocchio of Chasing Amazing hit it out of the park with this 2013 article, calling out Spidey’s fights with Hobgoblin, Green Goblin, Venom, Morlun, and … (click to find out!) as the top web-head battles of all time.
I remain an enthusiastic subscriber of Marvel’s Unlimited digital subscription service. I first reviewed the service in 2012 — this updated review looked at the service after it evolved into an iPad-native format. If I was really chasing clicks, this would be one of the articles I’d gin up with keywords and new information, as there seems to be a hunger out there for information about Marvel’s service.
Remember how I said that Spider-Man Top Tens drew my best traffic? Well, here you go. Mark mentioned that he’s working on a Spider-Man book — hopefully he will raid the fine work he’s done for Longbox Graveyard for print.
And the Spider-Man trend continues! Spidey isn’t my specialty, and I’d really be lost without generous guest-bloggers to cover Marvel’s top hero. In this case, it was was Dan Gvozden of Superior Spider-Talk who rode to the rescue. And, yes, Dan does tackle MJ vs. Gwen, but not in this post … you’ll have to scroll down a bit to find that one.
Everybody loves a good secret base. Did I really rank the Pet Avengers Mansion above the Bat Cave? Yes I did. (Sort of). Nice to see this post is still drawing comment three years after publication — I suppose I deserve my comment section censure for omitting the Legion of Superheroes cool rocket ship clubhouse from my list.
The sole new article from 2016 was this article from last January about the popular Match-3 Marvel puzzler. Quite a few addicted players of this one out there (and I remain among them, despite the take-this-game-and-shove-it conclusion to the post). Maybe 2017 is the year I quit this game. Maybe.
Here’s where you’ll find Dan’s MJ vs. Gwen opinion. (I would have wimped out and picked Aunt May).
Gaming content has generally fared pretty well here at Longbox Graveyard. My post on Capes & Cowls was a good performer for many months, and this comparative review of two comic book deck-builders keeps getting views (and is due for an update, as both games have evolved quite a bit since my review). I’m not playing either game right now for lack of opponents, but Legendary is supposedly coming to iOS in 2017, and that might reignite my interest.
And finally, the #1 Longbox Graveyard Post of 2016 was …
This has been my top post since it was first published — it caught a Google search wave on the run-up to release of the second Captain America movie, and it’s been chugging along ever since. It’s another post long overdue for an update, especially in view of Baron Zemo’s appearance in Captain America: Civil War. But I’m not changing the bad guy at the top of the list … and no, it’s NOT the Red Skull! Want to know who ranks as the baddest Cap villain of all time? Add a click to my pile, I’m not proud!
And with the old year taken care of, I wish all Longbox Graveyard readers a Happy 2017. See you back here every month or so for more nostalgic comics goodness!
Happy Holidays to Longbox Graveyard readers far and wide.
The holidays ate me alive this year (in a good way), and so I failed to participate in last week’s holiday installment of Super-Blog Team-Up … but the week after Christmas is prime time to sleep in and catch up on cool comics, so I hope you will visit each and every one of these blogs for a special helping of super-powered holiday cheer!
- Between The Pages: The Ghost of Supergirl Past
- Retroist: Christmas Knight
- Superhero Satellite: 4th Annual Holiday Special
- The Unspoken Decade: The 1991 Marvel Holiday Special
- Chris Is On Infinite Earths: Christmas With The Super-Heroes #1
- Crapbox of Cthulhu: !mpact W!nter Spec!al #1
Here’s wishing my Super-Blog Team-Up comrades and comics readers everywhere a peaceful holiday season and a better 2017. See you in the new year!
Thought I’d take a moment to promote two of my favorite things in life: comics, and dogs who type!
That’s Akela Talamasca, “Twitter’s spirit animal and a Typing Husky.” Akela has long had one of Twitter’s most entertaining feeds, and in recent months that feed has been supplemented by fast, funny, and furious outbursts of Silver Age comics goodness in the form of Comics Breakdown.
Problem is … if you miss one of Akela’s Comics Breakdown Tweetstorms, then you miss out on the fun.
Problem solved! Comics Breakdown is on Storify!
Yep, just go to Akela’s Storify page and you can find archived versions of past Comics Breakdown episodes. It’s just like reading them on Twitter, only you aren’t interrupted by the horrifying news of the actual day! WIN!
Thanks, Akela, for being a bright spot in a dark age. And if you like what Akela is doing, here, then vist the Akela Talamasca Patreon page and pitch in a dollar or two. Dog food doesn’t buy itself, you know!
Surprise — Amazon is testing out the bookstore business!
The program is in its infancy, with the first store opening in Seattle, and the store that I visited debuting just two months ago. Other stores will follow in Portland and Boston, and only time will tell where things go from there. Will Amazon’s push into physical retail finally put paid to your favorite comics shop or bookstore? Does Amazon bring anything special to the table besides deep discounts and even faster fulfillment than same-day delivery?
Read on to find out!
I visited Amazon’s meatspace outpost in the Westfield UTC Mall, an upscale fashion venue in northern San Diego. The store itself was a stone’s throw from an Apple Store, and directly next door to a Tesla showroom. The shop was clean and well-lit, and maybe just on the small side for a book store … at least compared to the airplane hanger dimensions of your average Barnes & Noble. The aisles felt a bit narrower than I am used to, and the racks were tall, too, so you couldn’t glance up and see across the store. The effect was more cozy than oppressive, but I expect it could get tight in there with Christmas crowds.
That slightly-smaller footprint meant this Amazon store was stocked differently than a big box book retailer. I didn’t see a periodical rack, a cafe, or anyplace to sit down and read. This wasn’t a library, kid! Aside from a healthy amount of floorspace given over to Amazon’s digital goodies, such as the Kindle, almost everything here was books — the stacks of cat calendars and gaming product that occupy center aisle at Barnes & Noble were in short supply.
Books, also, were in short supply. There were no more than three-odd copies of any given book on the shelf, and everything was displayed cover-out, meaning the shelves carried a fraction of what you’d find packed and stacked into another bookstore. The clerk described the books on offer as “heavily curated” — limited to those titles rated most highly by Amazon readers. (I also got the impression the stock turns pretty quickly). While this reduced opportunity for discovery of new things, it also made for a fruitful browsing experience. I’ve found the paradox of choice to be a real thing, and knowing that every book on the shelf had to pass some soul-destroying Big Data test let me explore with confidence. Having every book racked cover-out also allowed me to quickly scan the shelves.
The user experience of the store took some getting used to. I don’t know as it’s worse than the usual retail bump and grind, and it might have been better — I’m still making up my mind.
I was greeted by staff as I entered the store — it reminded me of an Apple Store in this regard. It was a friendly and non-intrusive “welcome to our store” sort of greeting. The staff didn’t need to put a sales hammerlock on me, because they knew I’d boomerang back to them in confusion after wandering the store for a few moments.
The first thing that confused me was the pricing system. When I think of buying books from Amazon, I think of discounts. So foremost on my mind — did the store match Amazon’s online prices?
The answer was yes … sort of.
Prices weren’t displayed on the little placards identifying each book. Neither did a placard’s bar code register anything for me when I viewed it through my Amazon iPhone app (about which more in a moment). No, to find prices, you needed to turn the book over and look for the list price. (Duh). No different than any other bookstore in that regard.
But you could also take a book to a scanner for additional pricing options, which came down to this — Amazon Prime members get Amazon pricing, and everyone else paid retail. And only schmucks pay retail!
This method was intriguing. If you were interested enough in a book to take it off the rack and carry it over to a scanner, I’m willing to bet you would follow-through and buy it, especially when that scanner beeped up a nice discounted price. I didn’t see shelves or tables near the scanners where you might dump a book after scanning it, so it was kind of on you to either walk it back to the shelf, or walk it up to the purchase station.
Checkout is another place where the system was different from conventional retail, at least for Amazon Prime members. A sign near checkout alerted me to scan a QR code with my Amazon app, then to present my phone to the clerk. The clerk scanned my books and then scanned my phone. My order appeared on a touchscreen, showing everything I bought and the discount I received. I signed with my finger and my transaction was complete, with charges billed to my Amazon account. This was about as many steps as paying with a credit card, but using my phone this way was new, so it felt a little awkward. I expect it would improve with familiarity.
And about that smart phone app — it really was essential equipment to use Amazon Books, along with a Prime membership. Without those things, this was just a small bookstore with limited selection. With the app, you could check prices through the phone, rather than walking over to a scanner. And as a free bonus you didn’t have to feel guilty about doing it, as I do when scanning a barcode at Barnes & Noble to decide if I really want it now, or if I could wait a day or two for a discount.
It did feel like there was a piece missing, though — and that piece was digital. In a very real sense, Amazon’s brick & mortar operation is a feeder for their digital ecosystem. Everything in the store pointed me toward the value of a Prime membership and the convenient utility of their app. But while Kindles were well-represented in the store (with a section of their own, and individual Kindles embedded in the book displays), there was a gulf between paper and digital books that I expected to be bridged here.
The value proposition would have been for a free or discounted digital copy of any physical product I bought to automatically arrive in my account, but no such service was on offer. It would have also been handy if there was a one-touch solution for buying digital editions right where the books were racked — maybe by tapping my phone on the display plate. Instead, the clerk encouraged me to use my Amazon app to scan barcodes to make purchases or put something on my wish list the way you would in any other store. It felt like transferring trains at the station, instead of going directly to my destination, and this (admittedly small) bit of friction discouraged me from grabbing digital books when I might otherwise have given in to impulse.
But I did buy a couple physical books, and it has been a long time since I did that in a bookstore. Even with a limited selection, brick-and-mortar retail beats heck out of digital when it comes to browsing and discovery, and in this sense Amazon Books proved the best of both worlds — I walked out of the store with two books I didn’t have in mind when I went in, and I got them at Amazon’s discounted rate.
So the store was a big win all around, right?
I enjoyed the browsing and buying experience and would likely visit this shop every week if it was closer to home, but three things stick out for me.
First, I really would like a better convergence of the print and digital worlds. That there is still a divide between print and digital inside an Amazon brick-and-mortar outlet feels like a missed opportunity.
Second, as much as the curated selection of books suited my particular needs, I am sensitive to how this system throttles the discovery process. Amazon already exerts an unhealthy influence on the market by what they do and do not chose to show at their site, and this is only exacerbated in the reduced display space of their physical environment.
Third, I do sympathize with every other physical bookseller, who have survived the firestorm of the Barnes & Noble vs. Borders beatdown and seen their business undercut by Amazon’s online discounting only for Amazon to come after them on their home turf. Choice is good for readers, and discoverability is good for authors, and neither of those things will be especially well-served if brick-and-mortar Amazon stores drive everyone else out of business.
But that might just happen. A great local bookstore is a treasure, especially when staffed by enthusiastic readers who offer their own recommendations; or sign you up for an author’s in-store appearance; or when they host book clubs and meet-ups; or even when they just invite you to pet the bookstore cat. Amazon’s store might only offer part of that experience, but the store is still fun, the purchase process is novel and (mostly) painless, and everybody loves an Amazon discount.
Bookstore purists might turn their noses up at Amazon’s operation, but I am reminded of when Apple jumped into the music market with iTunes and the iPod. Apple’s digital music was inferior to other options (and if you don’t believe me, ask an audiophile the next time you have three hours to be harangued about digital music quality), but the end-to-end experience of doing music the Apple Way was greater than the sum-of-its parts, and the iPod conquered the world.
Will Amazon’s store disrupt the bookstore market the way the iPod disrupted music? Only time will tell! In the meantime, I’m going to read Paper Girls, which I bought off the shelf today at Amazon’s discounted price … but please let me know your thoughts in the comments section, below!
Next: #166: A Tale of Two NerdWalks