Thursday, March 02, 2006

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Bookstores at what cost?

An interesting column on 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)...


Cary said...

interesting link there with a lot to think about. i have seriously considered putting all my comic into one trade and going the bookstore rout.

also, Super Real is a great book man! keep up the good work! i can't wait for the next issue!

Jason Martin said...


If I had it do over, I'd seriously consider direct to trade, or some smaller scale, between "singles" and graphic novel... maybe 3 issue length OGN's collected into 6 issue trades.
My main hang up for not doing direct to trade has always been the price point, you just can't logically expect people to shell out 10-20$ on an unknown book/creator. However, with the current market and economics, you might still do better with far less sales at that price point then with singles. It's a viable option (and it's a lot easier to hit Diamonds numbers at a higher price point). That's all in relation to the direct market... bookstores are another animal, but as I say, maybe not much more difficult (on the surgace) than the dm (I have no experience here).

"also, Super Real is a great book man! keep up the good work! i can't wait for the next issue!"

Thank you so much!
Spread the word!!
I'm hard at work on issue 3 as we speak, and issue two will be in shops late March!
Look forward to your response!


Javier Hernandez said...

First off, I'll vouch for Jason that he's working on ish #3, he was on the phone with last night while working on it!!

Ya know, another possibility for an indie, is to publish online and then collect the story, and cool extras, in a trade. I read this either on another blog or in Jason's WonderCon report..... :)

But really, we gotta remember, not only do we have the DM, the 'bookstores' and Cons to sell and show our work at, but we got our 24/7 websites too!

It's really a matter of indie creators getting really creative and aggresive with promoting their books.


Jason Martin said...

"we gotta remember, not only do we have the DM, the 'bookstores' and Cons to sell and show our work at, but we got our 24/7 websites too!"

As Jav and I have discussed, and many folks in and around the industry/medium, digital technology is lurking, waiting to pounce, with an as yet to be determined new format that will make all this print stuff moot!

So even if trends continue or evolve in graphic novel/bookstores, it could all be blown away by the pending digital revolution!

As much as we complain, or worry about the direct market, it's health, indy publishers, etc, imagine if Marvel and DC went mostly digital. How would all former print comics be showcased as they are by the very nature of the direct market shops? It may be tough to get your book noticed ordered on shelves, but what if you're only competing with the world wide web?

Okay, crazy ramblings for the day out of the way...
back to Photoshop for me!

Crazz said...

I briefly touched on this recently in one of my columns, specifically on what Joe was talking about with the layout of trades in the big box just sucks ass man, there's no real way around that at all. BTW Jason, that Joe Gentile guy, he owns the local comic shop I go to and who will be the receipient of some cool promo stuff for Super Real #2 I'm told!

PS... He's got a total of 4 stores too!

Jason Martin said...

Cool, I didn't realize he was a retailer too? And owns multiple shops/chain?!
He's a regular Mike Richardson (owner of Dark Horse, and an LCS chain here in Oregon)!

As for "some cool promo stuff for Super Real #2 I'm told", would that be the flyers I got you?
Just let me know if you need more stuff (I don't think I sent you enough for 4 stores)!!

And a big thanks to you for getting the issue 2 preview up on TheComicReview too!

Hit me with an email, and we'll have to get you set up as an official SRGMST member and all that!