I’m trying to remember instances where I’ve ordered product directly from a publisher.
I know I’ve ordered stuff from Viz when they were having a big sale on some of their out-of-print titles. (If you like Rumiko Takahashi’s long-form stories like Maison Ikkoku, I’d recommend taking a look at the shorts in her Rumic Theater books. They’re lovely and more in the josei vein than Takahashi’s readily available work.)
Top Shelf has had big web sales before, and I took the opportunity to sample some stuff. (I ended up seeing why some of the books were on sale, to be honest, but they were so cheap that it didn’t sting too much.)
I’ve gone directly through Fantagraphics for the manga-themed Comics Journal Special Edition 2005, because it seemed like the easiest and most certain way to get it quickly.
So the reasons come down to bargain-driven curiosity (a notion put forth by Rivkah in this comment at Love Manga) and a sort of convenience, or at least certainty that I would get the product I wanted promptly, and I couldn’t get it as easily from any other source.
I’m still on the fence about what I’ll do with Dragon Head when it goes exclusive to the web. I like the book a lot, but I feel kind of badly about trying to lure people into reading it when its delivery system is going to change markedly halfway through its run. (Maybe it was just John Jakala who I lured. I still feel badly.)
And I really don’t feel like adding one more outlet to the list of places where I buy comics. I go to the comics shop because I like to throw at least some support to a local entrepreneur who’s trying hard (and it’s the only reliable source I’ve found for books from Fanfare/Ponent Mon when they eventually ship, unless I want to order them from fine purveyors in other countries). I order on-line when I’m trying to catch up with a series, have a discount, and can get free shipping. And I go to bookstores when I feel like browsing, know there’s a sale or have a discount card, and feel open to trying a new title.
And when that place doesn’t offer discounts or free or even apparently reduced cost shipping, the notion is even less attractive to me. It’s more work, and it ends up costing more than manga from anywhere else I buy it. (Even the LCS doesn’t throw in a shipping charge.) There’s also a part of me that looks at Tokyopop’s web site and screams, “You’re going to enter your credit card information there?” (Yes, I know the publisher and shop sites are run separately. I didn’t say this small part of me was logical.)
Sometimes I feel like I should consolidate my purchasing activity, maybe by looking at that Discount Comic Book Service. But I’m pretty comfortable with the pros and cons of how I buy comics now.