An interesting column on Newsarama.com today, the current installment of Moonstone publisher Joe Gentile’s HOWLING @ THE MOON looks at smaller publishers having to deal with bookstore returns, something one doesn’t have to consider in the comic book direct market.
So much is said online about the growing graphic novel market in bookchains and mainstream retail, but little is said about how fundamentally different that market is in terms of how it works, and the potential impact that has on any future publishing landscape. Returnability is a different animal.
You can read the column HERE
This all brings up an important point, yes bookstores offer an in to a potentially infinitely larger market, a real tool to grow the industry, but it does come at a price, the bookstore market is a completely different business model. It may be more beneficial to retailers, and buyers, giving them the opportunity to offer/see a wider range of product, at little to no risk, but it definitely has an impact on the publisher. Specifically, can the little guys play in this market?
Or, does this drive a completely different pay model for creators who partner with publishers moving in this market, and take away from the creator rights the comic book market has acheived? And is that a bad thing, or a necessary evil (see TokyoPop OEL contracts etc.).
Lot's to think about...
As I do think about it though, in terms of a self-publisher, and how brutal the direct market is... How would eating returns in the bookstore channel compare to the problems faced in the direct market? One of the biggest hurdles to the direct market is getting retailers to stock you book, and take a chance on it, you have to spend time and money to claw your way in. Perhaps with bookstores, there would be less of that and more opportunity to offer your product to a wider audience, with all of the risk being on the back end. That is to say, instead of killing yourself for sales in the direct market with a product you feel can acheive if only given the chance, and most likely coming up short of your potential (at a high cost), you have maybe an easy in at the bookstore market, and if your product is as strong as you think, less of a concern about the back end (returns)...