With New York City announcing that they were going to suspend public transportation starting tomorrow and almost nobody in Manhattan owning their own vehicle, many businesses are opting to close for the weekend. Even with safety concerns notwithstanding, this makes sense for most retailers, who probably wouldn't make much with only local traffic in the neighborhood and who would have to worry about how their employees would get there to cover their shifts in the first place.
But when I received an e-mail from Midtown Comics saying that they would not only be closed for the weekend, but that online ordering for next week would be affected, it gave me pause. This is a major retailer in the New York area. So big, in fact, that they have Jim Lee and Geoff Johns signing at their midnight release party for Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 next week.
The effects on Midtown are expected to be pretty minor, with a day or two delay in getting the online orders out the door--and of course most consumers who absolutely have to "have it now" aren't going to be ordering online for delivery anyway. Still, there's a larger issue than just one store: if the hurricane turns out to be a massive disruption for New York, what will that mean for distribution of the biggest publishing week in DC's recent history? And if there are distribution problems (after all, it's a hurricane weekend and then a Monday holiday), how would that effect the company's massive digital push?
A spokesman for DC Comics had no comment, but the frequently-asked retailer questions DC recently circulated about their New 52 initiative sheds a little light on the subject of weather delays: "If no comics were shipped out on the scheduled day from our printer to Diamond, we would attempt to delay the digital release to match. If the delay is regional, we would not have a way to delay digital releases for only one region of the country."
To me, that seems to indicate that even if New Yorkers can't get their waterlogged hands on physical copies in time for their scheduled midnight release parties (which in itself seems unlikely but plausible), the rest of the country is unlikely to see similar delays and the digital day-and-date launch should continue unaffected. Anything, of course, is possible since DC is headquartered in New York (for now), but it seems impossible that, aware of the Monday holiday and the need for retailers to have early access for midnight releases, there wasn't something planned to get copies into delivery trucks before now.