Table of Contents
What is the Previews Catalog?
What is a pre-order?
What is an Advanced Solicit item?
What is the Direct Market?
What's the difference between a title and a series?
One can use the two terms, title and series, when talking about a specific comic book interchangebly usually without confusion. But, technically, each term has a different meaning.
A title is the specific identifying name of a comic book, and it is typically found in large letters in the form of a logo on the cover of a comic book. It is also found printed in the indicia, which is that paragraph of small legal print found inside the book on/about the first or last page. Titles are things like: BATMAN, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, ACTION COMICS, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES and AVENGERS. Sometimes what is printed on the cover does not match what is in the indicia. As a general rule, we prefer using the indicia title to categorize comics. But...not always.
A series is a series of comic books with the same title, most typically with sequential issue numbers. We denote series with the year that the first issue was published. So, for example, the difference between the two comic books, BATMAN  #1 and BATMAN  #1, is the series year in brackets. They are both the same title (and same issue number in this example), but they are different series. The 2011 series was DC's New 52 relaunch, and the 2016 series was their Rebirth relaunch. Before the 2011 relaunch, the original Batman series, BATMAN , had been on a 713 issue run. Rarely are there ever two series with the same title in publication at the same time. Occasionally, a series with the same title will be published in the same year as the previous series. In this case, the series years will have a letter appended to the end. For example, SPIDER-GWEN [2015A] and SPIDER-GWEN [2015B] both began publication in 2015. In our categorization scheme, series years that have other codes after a dash denote formats other than the standard comic book format. For example, -TPB denotes trade paperbacks, -HC denotes hardcovers, -MAG denotes magazines, and -DIG denotes digests.
What is a Trade Paperback?
In comics, a trade paperback is most typically a collection of stories originally published in comic books, reprinted in book format, usually capturing one story arc from a single series or a series of stories with a connected story arc or common theme. In the beginning, trade paperbacks reprinted stories from comic books that were difficult to acquire due to scarcity or high value. That was the 1970's and 80's. Many more "readers" (i.e. those who read comics but don't actively collect individual issues) have come to the comic book market since then. These readers as well as libraries have become a large source of demand for trade paperbacks of nearly all series. As a result, publishers have begun almost universally collecting story arcs from series shortly after the issues are published. Trade paperbacks are usually kept in print via subsequent printings and/or editions as long as there is some demand for them.
What is a comic book Omnibus?
While it's tempting to presume that an Omnibus is a bus that eats any type of food, a comic book Omnibus is actually a large compilation of related comic book material (usually with an equally hefty price tag). The term gained mainstream traction in American comics in the 2000's when Marvel Comics launched a line of Omnibus editions. Mostly unprecedented at the time, they are recognizable now as pricey, slick, oversized hardcover editions that consolidate a large amount of material, like a complete run, part of a very large run or an exhaustive collection of everything related to a particular character. Omnibuses can compile as many as 50 issues in a single volume, but also as few as 9 in some cases. Several oher publishers have issued comparable editions for their own material with similar--but not always the exact same--attributes (i.e. Dark Horse's omnibuses are softcovered and not oversized).
What is a variant?
Publishers sometimes publish the same comic book with multiple different covers. These books have the same interior story and contents (mostly), but have variant covers. This phenomenon is more prevalent in the modern era of comic books and--for those who are keenly interested in them--has added multiple dimensions to collecting contemporary comic books. There are several different types of common variant covers:
A comic book can have many variants from multiple categories. For example, MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS  #0 was published with four different regular covers (art variants), one each for four different color rangers. These covers were by the same artist, but with different art. The Red Ranger variant was a retailer EXCL (exclusive) variant, available only from ComicsPRO. (Although, technically, ComicsPRO is not a retailer, they were acting as one with respect to this variant.) Additionally, there were two RETAILER INCV (incentive) variants with the following ratios: 1:50 and 1:100. Retailers could order 1 copy of the variant for every 50 or every 100 copies of the regular covers, respectively, they ordered. This type of variant is typically much more valuable, since their print runs are artificially constrained as a fraction of the regular print run. They are rarely available on the regular monthly retail shelves and have to be pre-ordered/reserved with a retailer or sought in the aftermarket. Also, MMPR #0 had a convention EXCL cover. This cover was only available at WonderCon 2016. It is also a 'connecting' variant, meaning it was the first of four covers that connect to form one image. The three other connecting variants were also convention exclusives--at different conventions that year. Finally, the demand for this issue was enough for Boom! Studios to issue two subsequent printings: a second printing (2ND PRINT) and a third printing (3RD PRINT). Each printing variant came with a variant cover. That makes 13 variants for this one issue. STAR WARS  #1 has at least 75 variants!
There are even more types of variants worth noting:
What is a RETAILER INCV?
A RETAILER INCV is a type of variant cover designed to induce retailers to order more copies of the issue. See 'What is a variant?' for an exhaustive discussion of all of the types of comic book variants.
How often will I get notifications with the recommendations service?
There are two types of notifications associated with our recommendations service: initial and reminder. If you have these notifications enabled, you will get one initial notification message when your recommendations are initially ready, and you will get two reminders before the initial ordering deadline, that is, one about a week before the deadline and one about two days before. You can turn either type of notification off in the Recommendations Preferences section of your My Account page at Spiral Comics.
How do I get text notifications about my recommendations?
In order to send you text notifications, we need the email-to-text address for your mobile phone in your profile and the notifications you want to receive via text marked for Email-To-Text.
1) Find your email-to-text address. Each mobile phone service provider has a unique format for their short message service (SMS) gateway addresses. The format is typically your phone number @ some email domain. The easiest way to find your provider's format is to do an Internet search for "email to text provider" (substitute your provider's name for provider). For example, as of the writing of this FAQ, Verizon's format looks like: email@example.com and AT&T's format looks like: firstname.lastname@example.org (where the numbers would be your phone number). (We only send short messages, so we only need your SMS address. Some providers also support a multimedia message service (MMS) with an MMS address, but we do not need that.)
2) Put your email-to-text address in the Profile section of your My Account page at Spiral Comics.
3) Select "Email-to-Text" (or "Both") for the notifications from Spiral Comics you want to receive via text. Notifications associated with our Recommendations Service are on the Recommendations Preferences section of your My Account page. Other notifications are on the Profile section of your My Account page.
If you have a question about getting text notifications, don't hesitate to send us a note at email@example.com.
Why are there so many/few recommendations for me?
The number of recommendations you receive depends directly on how you have your My Interests and My Titles lists populated. Some interests like BATMAN and SPIDER-MAN generate a lot of recommendations because there are typically many items starring these characters offered by the publishers each month. Other obscure (or historical) interests have very few--or no--offerings associated with them in any given month. The entire catalog of items offered for pre-order can be viewed on the Previews Catalog page. You can add things from this page to your cart in the same session that you view your personalized Recommendations Page. The more broad a category is, the more recommendations it will generate. A best practice would be to only include interests that you are legitimately interested in. If you would like help fine tuning your lists to get the right amount of recommendations that meet your expectations, don't hesitate to send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do I start at the beginning of a series? My Recommendations Page has pretty high issue numbers for most of the comic book series.
Comic books are serialized periodicals, some of which have a publishing history that goes back to the 1930's. Individual issues are only printed for the ordering period (and typically not again) in quantities to the sum of the orders of comic book specialty shops. Issues that are still availble from shops after a subsequent issue has been published are called 'back issues,' and consumers are limited to the stock that an individual comic book specialty shop ordered above and beyond any quantities for its regular customers. This market aspect is the predominant feature that makes comic books 'collectible.'
Starting at the beginning for a very long-running series is probably not feasible cost-wise or time-wise for a newcomer. Fortunately, you don't have to start at the very beginning to enjoy these series as a fan. Publishers have made a general habit in the modern era of writing comic books in convenient story arcs (a group of 3-6 sequential issues that have at least some sort of story beginning, middle and end), as well as creating specific jumping on points for new readers. If you plan to read ongoing series each month as they are published, you could definitely just jump in, pre-order the series each month, and catch up with the story as it goes. Otherwise, you could wait and read the descriptions each month for the series you are interested in. It won't be too long before a new story arc begins or a new creative team (writer/artist) takes over. Then, as time and your budget allow, you could begin to simultaneously chase down 'back issues' and become a graduated 'collector.'
Why do I have two lists, My Interests and My Titles?
The two lists serve markedly different purposes, and, combined, they form the foundation of our powerful recommendations system. A system that only has one list, say for instance, My Titles, does not have the agility to track the numerous changes that the industry experiences. Actual titles can change names, outright cease, or come into being seemingly overnight, and there is no way to make salient recommendations to service members without getting their input on the title changes first. A system with just this one list would be one step behind all the time. Conversely, a system that has only a My Interests list would always be able to include good recommendations, but has no way to weed out individual titles after a service member decides they are not interested in that individual title, but is still very much interested in the overall Interest of which it is part. A system with just this one list would continue to recommend titles that the customer is not interested in month after month. Combining both types of lists for our recommendation service solves both of these problems and forms the foundation of our powerful recommendation system.
How do I stop seeing a recommendation for a title month after month?
There are a few ways you can stop a title from being recommended month after month. If you are not interested in a specific title that you see on your personalized Recommendations Page, you can click the "DON'T RECOMMEND THIS SERIES ANY MORE" checkbox. This will mark the series in your My Titles list as "Excluded." This specific series will not show up in either Section 1 or Section 2 in the future. (If a new series with the same title is issued in the future, though, this future one could still be recommended if it meets one of your interests.) Another way to stop a title from being recommended month after month is to mark the title on your My Titles list as "Excluded" yourself on the Recommendations Preferences section of your My Account page at Spiral Comics. (There is a subtle difference with this method, as this method will prevent any series with that title from being recommended in the future, not just the current series with that title.) Finally, you could "Remove" or even "Exclude" the interest that the title you don't wish to see any more meets. (Please be aware, though, removing or excluding the interest will also prevent any other items which meet this interest from being recommended as well.) Your personalized Recommendations Page gives the reasons for each recommendation, so you can easily evaluate why the item is showing up in a particular section. Removing an interest can also be done on the Recommendations Preferences section of your My Account page at Spiral Comics. As always, you can modify your My Interests and My Titles lists any time on the Recommendations Preferences section of your My Account page at Spiral Comics. If you would like help fine tuning your lists to get the recommendations that meet your expectations, don't hesitate to send us a note at email@example.com.
How do I add/delete interests or titles?
You can modify your My Interests and My Titles lists anytime on the Recommendations Preferences section of your My Account page at Spiral Comics.
I accidentally clicked the "DON'T RECOMMEND THIS SERIES ANY MORE" checkbox. How can I undo this?
When you click the "DON'T RECOMMEND THIS SERIES ANY MORE" checkbox, it marks the series in your My Titles list as "Excluded." You can undo this action by going to your My Titles list on the Recommendations Preferences section of your My Account page, finding the title that was accidentally Excluded, and selecting "Remove From List" for it. If you would like help fixing something in your lists, don't hesitate to send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why are there 4 sections of recommendations?
Intuitively, you'd think a single list of recommendations would work fine. And it could. But we wanted to offer a recommendation service that did even more, a recommendation service that has a little bit of artificial intelligence built into it. Each section has a specific set of conditions, and each comic book is displayed exclusively (if at all) in a single section based on those conditions. Sections 1 and 2 contain items we think you would be interested in pre-ordering. Section 1 is based more on what you've already pre-ordered, and Section 2 is based more on your interests. Because our system can intentionally generate conflicts associated with items that have some aspects you like but also aspects you don't like, we've included Section 3 to list those items that have these contradictions. We know fans have complex thoughts about comic book, such as, "I like everything written by so-and-so, but not his whatever stuff," and we wanted to try to capture those kinds of complex thoughts in our lists. As you look through Section 3, it should reinforce the choices you've made in how you populated your lists. And just in case something got in there by mistake or you change your mind about the relative importance of the aspects of something, it's there for re-consideration. Section 4 is all the stuff you've straight up excluded and exists more as a curiosity than for any other specific purpose.
Does the recommendation system magically predict what I will like?
It's very good, but, ah, clairvoyance would be too bold a claim. Our recommendation system is based solely on the items you've placed in your My Titles and My Interests lists. Then, each month, we meticulously go through everything in the Previews Catalog and try our best to link each item to an existing title and, within reason, add relevant tags. Our success in providing accurate recommendations is based squarely on how the items in your lists match up with our linking and tagging efforts. Essentially, you are telling our database what you like with the items in your lists, and we are telling the database what items match those likes. The actual matching is database driven...there is no person in the matching loop. And there is no "people who like this also liked this" logic in our computations.
Does the recommendation system use other people's interests to compile my recommendations?
No, our recommendation system is based solely on the items you've placed in your My Titles and My Interests lists. We don't use any "people who like this also liked this" logic in our computations.
What's the difference between a tag and an interest?
There really is no difference between the two terms on our site, except that we tend to talk about interests when we talk about you having them or putting them in your list. And we tend to talk about tags when we talk about series and comic books. We tag series and comic books with your interests in mind.
What's the difference between having BATMAN in My Interests list and having BATMAN in My Titles list? Items like BATMAN show up in both lists. Do I need to have them both?
Our database has 298 items that show up identically on both lists, particularly with the most iconic characters who have series titled after themselves. Although you can put an item like BATMAN on both your My Interests list and on your My Titles list, there is a substantive difference between the two when it comes to generating recommendations for you.
Having BATMAN in your My Titles list refers to the single specific comic book title, BATMAN. This list item will generate recommendations for issues of that single specific title only. If, for some unfathomable reason, DC changes the name of the ongoing BATMAN title to BOMBASTIC BATMAN and you only have the BATMAN title item in your My Titles list, you will not receive recommendations for issues of BOMBASTIC BATMAN unless and until DC inevitably changes the title back to BATMAN again, or in the interim you add the BOMBASTIC BATMAN title to your My Titles list. Having BATMAN in your My Interests list does not refer to a single specific comic book title. This list item is much more generic and powerful. Many series are appropriately tagged with the BATMAN tag. So, if you add BATMAN to your My Interests list, this list item will generate recommendations for any comic book issues that are tagged with BATMAN. This will include the aforementioned BATMAN title, but will also include DETECTIVE COMICS, as well as any mini-series (like 1986's DARK KNIGHT RETURNS) or any other ongoing series prominently featuring Batman, including our fictitious example of the BOMBASTIC BATMAN.
If you want a more inclusive set of Batman recommendations, you should add BATMAN to your My Interests list to see all the Batman-related recommendations for consideration. You can conveniently exclude individual series as they are recommended on your personalized Recommendations Page, so they won't continue to be recommended month after month, but you are assured to see them all for consideration. If, on the other hand, you are a Batman purist and only want to collect the one iconic BATMAN title, with no consideration for any other Batman titles, then you could just have BATMAN on your My Titles list without BATMAN on your My Interests list. Having them both will not generate any more recommendations than just having BATMAN on your My Interests list, since the BATMAN series will always be tagged with the BATMAN tag. Other tags that appear on both lists include:
What's the difference between BATMAN and BATMAN FAMILY TITLES in the My Interests list?
Our database has 13 tags in the form of ______ FAMILY TITLES. Some of the most iconic characters and teams have an enduring stable of spin-off titles for their popular supporting characters. Batman has had countless spin-offs such as: NIGHTWING, ROBIN, BATGIRL, BATWOMAN, CATWOMAN, etc. Batman himself does not have a main role in these titles, so they are not tagged with the BATMAN tag. But, in general, the plotlines of these spin-offs are often intertwined with Batman's and fans of Batman typically want to consider these ancillary titles even if they're not interested in all of them. So, they are all tagged with the BATMAN FAMILY TITLES tag. In our database, these two example tags have a hierarchical relationship. BATMAN is a child item of its parent item, BATMAN FAMILY TITLES. This means that all series that are tagged with BATMAN are also tagged with BATMAN FAMILY TITLES, but not all series tagged with BATMAN FAMILY TITLES are tagged with BATMAN. Other tags in the form of ______ FAMILY TITLES include:
Why isn't JUSTICE LEAGUE also tagged with the tags of all of its individual members, like SUPERMAN or BATMAN?
As a general rule, we do not additionally tag team-based titles, like JUSTICE LEAGUE, with the tags of all the individual teammembers, like SUPERMAN or BATMAN, even it they are iconic characters. It's a lot of extra effort to keep track of rotating rosters and to tag the individual issues appropriately, the results are prone to errors, and the utility of that level of information is low for the vast majority of our customers. Most fans of individual characters are familiar with the teams of which their characters have been--or are routinely--members. If you ever have a question about which items to add to your My Interests list, don't hesitate to send us a note at email@example.com.
Why don't you have a tag for ____________ ?
The primary aim of our tagging system is to efficiently curate the vast monthly comic book offerings into salient recommendations for our customers, not to create an exhaustive and comprehensive data set. We have not purposely omitted any tag. It's simply much more likely that we haven't had a call for a specific tag yet. We will always consider adding any tag to our system, if you send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why isn't ____________ series tagged with the __________ tag?
The primary aim of our tagging system is to efficiently curate the vast monthly comic book offerings into salient recommendations for our customers, not to create an exhaustive and comprehensive data set. Our tagging efforts are focused intensively each month on the new monthly comic book offerings of the Previews Catalog. As time allows, we use the opportunity in the present to reach back and add the appropriate tags to related historical series, possibly even adding additional series to our database at that time as well. We have not purposely omitted a tag for any series or any historical series itself in particular. If a tag is missing from a historical series, it's simply much more likely that we just haven't gotten to it yet. If a tag is missing from a currently active series, please send us a note at email@example.com.
Why don't Dynamic Forces items ever show up on my personalized Recommendations Page?
Dynamic Forces "publishes" variant covers and exclusive premiums (such as signed and remarked editions) of other publishers comic books. We treat these items in our database as variants of the original issues. Since many of Dyanamic Forces' items follow months after the original issues are offered, they cannot be rolled up with the other variants of the original issues when they are displayed on your personalized Recommendations Page. The unique aspects of these premium items present a contradiction to our streamlined display philosophy and can cause confusion. Each month, Dyamic Forces items can still be found on our website on the full Previews Catalog Page. Find them easily by filtering the catalog with the "Dynamic Forces" checkbox.
How do I quit the recommendation service?
We'd be sorry to see you go, as there are so many great comic books always coming out each month. To quit, you can send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can click the "Stop Recommendations" button. This button is located on the Recommendations Preferences section of your My Account page at Spiral Comics. You must click the "Edit" link next to "Recommendations Status" to show the button. If you have any unshipped items that were pre-ordered, they will still be shipped according to their estimated shipping schedule.