Doug: Below you can find my controlled rant that I decided to post on two ratings sites. I do read such sites most of the time to gain information about products and/or companies, but in this case did not do my homework ahead of time. But I wanted to be sure that future shoppers would have access to my experience. Here it is:
I used the Internet to shop for IDW's John Romita Amazing Spider-Man Artifact Edition. Two Cats Comic Book Store in San Francisco by far had the best price I could locate. In fact, they were over 20% better than the dealer with whom I usually place orders for books of that price/value. I placed my order via the Two Cats website early on May 1 2015, a Friday. My PayPal account showed a deduction later that same day. However, the next communication I had from Two Cats was on May 7 when in checking my account on their website it showed the order was "In Preparation". I phoned the store directly on May 12 to inquire about the situation -- eight business days after my order. I was told by the female clerk that "it takes time to get orders ready". My thought was, if it takes that long perhaps Two Cats should not offer Internet sales.
The next day, May 13, my account showed that the book had shipped. However, I never received an email in confirmation, no tracking number, etc. I had asked the clerk the previous day how the package would be shipped -- she stammered around and finally concluded that it must be through the U.S. Postal Service. Needless to say, I had no confidence that a) the package had truly been shipped, and b) it would arrive safely (the latter statement is no reflection on the USPS, who I've used 100s of times for eBay business).
The book arrived today, May 19 -- 18 days after my order. To say I am disgruntled at the time it took to receive such a costly book would be an understatement. When I have purchased Artist Editions from other dealers, they have come in large boxes with several cubic feet of static-free packing peanuts cradling the books' outer boxes. Not so here. My book was in it's storage box, and then a makeshift box of corrugated cardboard was wrapped around that. That's it -- no liner, no cushioning, nothing. Obviously the book's storage box is dinged up on all four corners. The book itself is fine, although I'm not convinced that part of the delay was due to the employees perusing it over a week-and-a-half's time. Let's just say the spine didn't creak when I first opened the book.
So while other reviews for Two Cats seem positive in terms of the in-store experience, I will not place any future orders via the web, regardless of the price. In retrospect, I'd rather have paid retail price for my book but gotten it in 3-4 days. Live and learn, I guess.
Doug: I've included some photos of the packaging so that you can see how flimsy it was, as well as damage to the inner box. What makes me mad about that is that the inner box was designed for long-term product storage -- that it's cushioned on the edges is perfect, as these books are huge and heavy! But I've been able to give the book a thorough look-over (as has my eldest son, in wide-eyed amazement), and it's come through the shaky passage in great shape. As I've said previously, I cannot recommend these books from IDW enough -- they are a peek straight into the creative process of comics history. Just wonderful!
Doug: So while I would not steer you toward Two Cats Comics, I would sure like to sing the praises of a few other Internet vendors with whom I've had nothing but success stories to tell. The guys and gals at In Stock Trades are fabulous beyond belief, both in pricing and in shipping speed. After Amazon (and recently to be honest, before), they have been a steady go-to for the trades and hardcovers I purchase. Remember -- it was In Stock Trades from whom I purchased by first four Artist Editions. The care they took in packaging the books is detailed above, and you can see the photos on the link just above.
Doug: Other dealers who have been solid are Cheap Graphic Novels -- check out their Bargain Bin (I have!) and Tales of Wonder. I've snagged some great deals from both of these companies. I'll also give a shout-out to Edo Bosnar for tipping me off to the folks at The Book Depository in the UK, who will ship those lovely little digests of Marvel love for free. Those things are just great!