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“We’re kinda drug dealers”
Over the past three and a half years, the Two Guys with PhDs Talking about Comics have interviewed a variety of artists, writers, editors, publishers, educators, and scholars, but in all this time they have not yet interviewed someone from the retail side of comics culture. Until now. In this episode, Derek talks with Christina Merkler, the co-owner of Discount Comic Book Service, one of the largest online retailers of comics (and, in the spirit of full disclosure, an official sponsor of The Comics Alternative). They begin their conversation with a little background history, Christina describing what it was like when her husband, Cameron, came up with the idea for the business and decided to start with an all-online shop. What began as a small Internet-driven service out of their home in 1999 eventually turned into a brick-and-mortar store, multiple online storefronts, and the growing multi-state operation that it has become today. Christina describes how now, with the DCBS remaining in Fort Wayne, IN, and the InStock Trades warehouse being in Memphis, TN, the Merklers feel like they’re all over the place and constantly on the go. But they’ve no plans to rest on their achievements, and instead, are at work on future growth plans. Derek also asks Christina about the competition they’ve had over the years, the ins and outs of pricing, their relationship with Diamond Comic Distributors, their attempts at getting into the digital comics business, the decisions that go into their monthly specials, and their strategies for good customer relations. In all, his conversation with Christina is a revealing look at the store-front business side of the medium and the many details of how, literally, the books by the creators the guys discuss every week get into the hands of the readers.
After listening to this interview, be sure to head on over to Discount Comic Book Service and InStock Trades. And when you do, please send them an email and tell them that the Two Guys with PhDs sent you!