Imagine for a moment what chaos might be wrought if one of Belltown’s biggest crack dealers were to pull up outside the entrance to the Battery Street tunnel and announce that his product was going for up to 90 percent off its normal retail price. Now replace “dealer” with “Amazon” and “crack” with “Marvel comics,” and you have some idea of what took place last weekend.
Marvel Omnibus books are collections of Marvel comics. Think of them as the DVD box sets of the comic world. For about 12 hours last weekend (including the key at-home-surfing hours for comics lovers, late Saturday night), Amazon listed many of these omnibuses for $14.99—a huge discount off the normal $50–$100.
The reaction among Marvel fans was, as you might expect, glee. Like the world’s largest spontaneous nerd orgasm. For a few blissful hours, their heroes displaced the beautiful boys of Twilight on the Amazon best-seller lists.
The glitch was soon fixed, but now the question is, who gets to keep the books? It’s unclear whether Amazon will simply cancel the orders—and risk angering a lot of Marvel fans—or let them stand and swallow the loss. At press time, Amazon still had not responded to inquiries from Seattle Weekly or said anything publicly on the subject.
But based on comments from readers of the Daily Weekly, it looks as though what the company’s doing—at least in some cases—is splitting the difference. So, for example, if you ordered five copies of a single omnibus, Amazon may send you one but cancel the other four. Basically, they’re making it possible for fans to get what they ordered, but not to get enough copies to turn around and make a quick profit. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about nerds, it’s that they’re very entrepreneurial.