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The origin of direct-sales/newsstand split

Monday, October 14, 2013 5:46:56 PM
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The beginning of the system of marking comics differently according to distribution system made news in The Comic Reader 167 (April 1979, pp. 5–6). As a matter of historical interest, here is how the news was then reported:

Those of you who purchase your Marvel comics from comic shops may have noticed that the UPC computer codes on books you got in March have been nullified by a black bar through them. This is evidently because certain dealers who have been purchasing under the pre-payment, non-returnable system from Phil Seuling and Jonni Levas's Seagate Distributors have been returning stripped covers to local distributors for credit they're not entitled to. Also, it appears that the Whitman style editions, with the diamond over the normal number/date box, omitting a cover date entirely, are going to be substituted for all the regular issues for all direct-mail dealers. Since certain of us are picky about which edition we get, there are worries among some of the dealers we've talked to that this measure, done to prevent unethical returns, will ultimately adversely effect [sic] their sales.

It's interesting, I think, that concern over getting "the right" version emerged immediately upon Marvel's implementation of this program.
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