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#205515 - 04/14/99 12:52 AM Re: "Demystifying" NextPlanetOver.com
NPODaves Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/09/99
Posts: 29
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Still going...

ANDREW: Robert has it right; we're buying our products from publishers through Diamond at the same price as everyone else.

ROBERT: You've clearly done some research into the process of "virtual retail," but I guess that's also what graphicnovels.com is all about!

RICK: NextPlanetOver.com's funds have been raised 100% from outside the comics industry. And I'm not sure what you mean by an "edge" for Geppi or Diamond if we go public?
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David Reid, Co-Founder
NextPlanetOver.com

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#205516 - 04/14/99 07:36 AM Re: "Demystifying" NextPlanetOver.com
Rick Veitch Administrator Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 3531
Loc: Vermont, USA
DAVE SAID: "NextPlanetOver.com's funds have been raised 100% from outside the comics industry."

The question was 'who are the investors?'

DAVE SAID:"And I'm not sure what you mean by an "edge" for Geppi or Diamond if we go public?"

I think one of the things many comics industry mavens are worried about, is that Diamond will succeed in leveraging its Direct sales monopoly to end up owning the 'Connect Sales' market. If that sounds paranoid, it is a Pavlovian form of paranoia, i.e. learned from very real experience;-)
NPO's exclusive deal with Diamond does look like a first step in a direction that (historically) leads to Diamond or Geppi taking control of NPO. Some scenarios anyone who experienced the last 10 years in the comics business could imagine (I'm sure others can amplify with scenarios of their own):
*NPO, with Diamond's exclusive, builds up its business so it is the 'Amazon.com' of comics, then goes public. Does Geppi have an option on shares? With insider knowlege of the offering could he go in and scoop up enough shares to put him in the driver's seat?
*NPO runs into trouble. Geppi does exactly what he did with AnotherUniverse.com and takes control of the company for its debt to Diamond.
*Geppi makes you guys and your backers an offer and buys NPO lock stock and barrel.You guys walk away rich men (maybe) and the rest of the comics industry is still in a straightjacket.

Also: You didn't address my question about the possibility of hundreds of little internet retailers competing with you.


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#205517 - 04/14/99 01:26 PM Re: "Demystifying" NextPlanetOver.com
Tim Gagne Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 433
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
NPOdaves-

As to purchasing inventory, are you going to be able to sell items thet are "liquidated" as full price? (Kudos to you if you are, if not look into it)

Does this also extend the life of product, i.e. DC comics used to (possibly still) require Diamond to inventory and destroy after 90 days all remaining books. (Not sure how foggy my memory is on this, but it should be close). In any event, this seems to be a spot where you can help all parties make some $$ out of dead weight. Again, if this is right kudos, if not look into it.

Plenty of interesting things to discuss, but I have a feeling most answers will be the standard "our exclusive limits the amount of information...etc. etc." response that really stifles all conversation. The industry as a whole seems to think that these big secrets need to be kept so someone else won't go charging headfirst into a declining market. Maybe I'll run into you two at a show and can ask questions in person. Not to attack what your doing, but to maybe show where the fuss is.

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#205518 - 04/17/99 02:33 PM Re: "Demystifying" NextPlanetOver.com
Joe Zabel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 2546
Loc: Cleveland Heights, OH 44106
Michael McNeil has made a very interesting proposal above for a non-profit comics distributor. But I have to be skeptical about the perpetuation of such a service. Maintaining a non-profit entity requires a lot of work. And publishers aren't making very much use of the existing non-profit avenues.

For example, I looked at the Connect Sales Directory for books published in March. Seven titles were listed. I looked for April-- five titles listed! The CSD charges no fee, and there's practically no effort needed to list one's books. And comicon.com has thousands of viewers a month! So go figure.

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Joe Zabel
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Joe Zabel

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#205519 - 04/29/99 12:05 AM Re: "Demystifying" NextPlanetOver.com
NPODaves Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 04/09/99
Posts: 29
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Couple of replies to some of the post-Wondercon traffic in the post-Wondercon moment of free time:

RICK: First, who are the investors? This gets pretty close to my threshold of getting too naked in front of an audience that may or may not include potential competitors, and I'm not interested in that. What I can tell you is that our investors see the potential of broadening the market for comic books with an aggressively marketed internet retail offering, and that's just what we're going to do.

However, I know that's not the answer you're looking for. So I'll tell you this: our investors are seasoned investors in Internet companies, and have made some great investments in companies you've all heard of. We'll be making a press release about this in the near future as the ink dries on a few things.

Second, I can also assure you that we've seen the lessons of the past, as have our investors, and we're not about to make the same mistakes. Diamond has been a great partner for NextPlanetOver.com, but that's where it ends. All of the conspiracy theories are interesting, but simply not accurate.

Third, as far as competing with potentially zillions of little internet retailers: NextPlanetOver.com is being built with the mission of "overserving the needs" of our customers, and we simply believe we'll be able to do that in a way that will bring us new and loyal customers. To the extent that lots of smaller retailers can do the same, that's only good for everyone, as it will bring new customers to the industry. Can smaller retailers compete with larger ones? Sure they can; it's how smaller specialty shops in any industry thrive by finding a "specialty" to be the expert in, whether it's a particular product line, a geographic area, or any number of things. But naturally, we wouldn't have entered this industry and taken the risks we did if we felt that we didn't have some competitive advantages which would make us successful in any of a variety of competitive landscapes.

TIM: As any prudent business should, NextPlanetOver.com will try to make as much money as we can on our products. We're here to be profitable. And if liquidated products can be sold at retail price, we'll give that a shot for sure. I've always believed that part of the reason liquidations happen, especially in comics, is because local retailers have "saturated" their local markets' demand for a particular product. NextPlanetOver.com naturally will have access to a much larger market than any one brick-and-mortar retailer can reach, and thus what might be perceived as stale inventory in one neighborhood could be hard to find in another.

This also leads to how we really believe we can work with retailers. NextPlanetOver.com will not be carrying "back issues" per se; and we believe there are lots of ways we can work together with retailers to help them sell their inventories of back issues to markets outside of their local reach.

As far as publishers having to destroy inventories, that naturally is not in the scope of our relationship with Diamond and as Paul Levitz would be the first to tell you, is between Diamond and DC. All I can tell you is that if it's available we'll try to sell it. No secrets here, it's just not a question I have the power to answer!

Dave
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David Reid, Co-Founder
NextPlanetOver.com

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