I went to my local comic shop to pick up some back issues I was missing and noticed the selection wasn’t quite what it used to be. I’m not normally picking up a lot of back issues, so I talked to the clerk about it and it turns out that back issues (unless they’re rare/expensive) really don’t get a lot of business. The best value-per-square-foot-of-floor-space they can get is on new merchandise, so they reduced their stock of back issues to make room.
Not wanting the inconsistency of price, selection, and quality that is generally offered at eBay, I chose instead to take my search to some of the online suppliers. To that end, I bring you the Comic Back Issue Showdown: Midtown Comics vs. Mile High Comics!
|Criteria||Midtown Comics||Mile High Comics||Verdict|
|Web Site - Search, checkout, and overall usability.||Looks like many other online storefronts and the checkout process was fairly simple. Was harder to find back issues by title than it was to find a specific numbered issue. Search results can be difficult/overwhelming to navigate.||Very cluttered. I had a difficult time figuring out what had been added to my shopping cart and determining how to check out. Really could stand some UI help. Decent search, and results get grouped by title/volume before breaking down into issue, which was helpful in browsing. Unfortunately, my frustration with the cluttered UI overshadowed my enjoyment of the search feature.||Midtown|
|Price - Comparison of pricing on several random issues in stock in both places.||Seems to have a decent, low everyday price on items. Not sure how often things go on sale.||Higher everyday prices, but a distinct reliance on sale pricing to bring things down to a more competitive range. I’ve been told there’s a mailing list you can join that sends out frequent sale codes. I’m not sure I like having to join a mailing list or wait for a sale for low prices.||Midtown|
|Selection - Comparison of what’s in stock for randomly selected popular titles.||Recent back issues are usually in stock and in good quality. Older back issues aren’t as available. Much of this seems to depend on the popularity of the comic as well.||Both recent and older back issues are in stock. Doesn’t seem to be based on comic popularity or how old the issue is.||Mile High|
|In-Process Order Information - How much information you’re given as your order gets processed.||When you place your order you get an email notification it’s been received. When it ships, you get a notification of the shipment. You can check order status on the web site.||You get an email when you place the order, when it’s received by the store, when they start fulfilling it, when it’s packaged, and when it’s shipped. You can get additional order status by emailing them.||Mile High|
|Shipping - Methods of getting your package to you.||UPS||UPS||Tie|
|Packaging - How the comics arrive at your door.||Package arrives in a large, flat cardboard envelope. Inside the envelope your comics are in a Midtown paper bag and each one is bagged and boarded. There is an additional board inside the bag for added reinforcement. The invoice is nicely printed and easy to read. Comics were not damaged.||Package arrives in a thin cardboard box that exactly fits the size of the order. All comics are bagged but not boarded. The invoice is itemized, but printed on a line printer and not the most appealing. Comics were not damaged.||Midtown|
|Overall||I really like the web site, the packaging and the prices. I wish they had a little bigger selection, but what they do have is good and complements the Mile High selection. The packaging on my order was great. The search could use a little help, but generally this was a pleasant experience.||Aside from the search, I can’t stand the web site. I can’t tell you how much this irritated me. I talked to a friend of mine who has also used the site and he knew exactly what I was talking about with all the little “gotchas” and quirks in the ordering process. Awesome selection, but the pricing… not thrilled with having to wait for a sale. Also wasn’t as impressed with the packaging - I’d have felt better about it if each comic was both bagged and boarded.||Midtown|