Free Can Be Expensive

Free Comic Book Day was this past weekend. A fellow parent introduced me to #FCBD three years ago and I’ve participated ever since. The first two years saw me seeking out books at multiple stores here in town but this year I kept it simple, with a quick stop at The Source along with the likes of Batman, Iceman and select other comic book super heroes who decided to stop (swing?) by. (Sorry, no photos. I had the kids in tow. And the notion of bringing kids into a comic book store could deserve a separate post all its own.)

According to the site devoted to Free Comic Book Day, the event “is a single day when participating comic book specialty shops across North America and around the world give away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops.” Read around in the site a bit and you’ll find among the goals a particular focus upon drawing new readers in to the comic book universe as well as traffic-driving to independent book stores.

More likely than not, #FCBD is also in all probability a means for publishers to gauge interest in new series or titles within existing story lines. A number of the books I’ve picked up at #FCBD events have been printed as “Issue Zero” or given “One Shot” stamps.

Whatever the purpose, the “free” in Free Comic Book Day ends up giving back publishers and independent book stores. We shouldn’t be surprised given the arguments for free content espoused by Chris Anderson in books like his Free, or when we think about the “tease” that is free content–up to a threshhold–from the likes of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal.

In my particular case, three years of FREE Comic Book Day have ended up amounting to the purchase of more than five different story lines from the Battlestar Galactica science fiction franchise from stores I otherwise never would have known existed, let alone visited. They led to countless hours in the backyard throughout the warmer months of our summers, sitting in an Adirondack chair with my bare feet in a cold water kiddie pool as first one kid–then two–splashed around me. They let me unwind at times that I could instead have been reading marketing books, catching up on the news or doing household chores.

Instead, I was more than happy to be reading about “Toasters.” A “free” $175 well spent! Enjoy your loot from Free Comic Book Day 2011!



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