Tuesday, April 17, 2007

IN CASE U MISSED IT: Future Formats?

Over on the always informative comics blog THE BEAT, Heidi covers discussions on the format crossroads the US industry has come to, spurred by some OGN creators musing on ramifications of that process vs monthly production (specifically in terms of revenue generation), which then spurs all kinds of thoughts and speculation on where we're heading...
Is this the death of monthlies?
Are Graphic Novels/OGN/TPB/Manga and the bookstore market the future?
Is it digital?
Digital to trade?

Hop on over and check it out HERE
and again HERE
There are some very interesting points and views shared.

As for my thoughts an independent publisher in the direct market?
From what I'm reading, seeing, and hearing around the industry, the market is definitely less promising than it was even 2 years ago, and new approaches are fast becoming the norm, as opposed to first starting out with monthly serialization via comic shops.
More and more are forced to start out via the internet, or trade, as selling in the low range of distributed independent publishing is simply not viable.
And I muse more and more on a hybrid of the trade first approach...
Smaller collections, or page counts, somewhere between a monthly and a trade.
The pros of which would be yielding a higher price point (and conversely fewer runs at a printer) than a monthly, but also yielding more frequency in the market than the straight-to-trade approach, thus allowing for more chance at revenue and exposure than publishing less frequently.
Something I've not really seen anyone doing.
To me, with Diamond's thresholds being set at about where a moderately successful indy can hope to distribute, that is around 1k in distribution at the current 3-4$ cover price, it behooves one to go for the higher price point of the trade, at a 10-15$ cover to find a better chance at success.
So why not try something in between, say a 2-4 issue length collection/format (anywhere from 48-96 pages, as opposed to 120-200), priced in the 5-10$ range, that one could release about twice a year (as opposed to every 12-18 months)?
A lower price point than a trade for readers to try, with a higher price than a monthly (and less runs at a printer) to allow for more opportunity for profit in sales.
(This would also make it easier theoretically for a self/small-publisher to maintain schedules, a huge challenge for those attempting serial publication in this position)
Which of course, as with straight to trade, could still be serialized first via the web.

Or, another variation a friend mentioned they were attempting with their next OGN, don't start serializing on the web until your work is complete (or at least enough for a collection), so you can offer the print version to the web readers immediately, and potentially capture more sales from readers not wanting to wait out the serialization? (The opposite of the current popular approach of collecting as you go)

Just a couple of ideas on future format/approach to publishing comics I've not heard discussed...

What do you think?


Jason Berek-Lewis said...

Hey J, I think you are on the money. I LOVE collecting trades and one of the things turning me away from indys at the moment is the fact that you have to wait forever for the floppies to come out, so what hope waiting around for the trade?

I really like the internet serialization - to TPB model. IF I ever get the money and the balls to self-publish, that is the route I would follow.

So, are you sticking with floppies for Super Real? THAT IS THE QUESTION!

Jason Martin said...

Ha ha!
Yeah, I am.
The first arc is 6 issues, so I don't want to switch format in the middle of that (and issue 4 is already solicited)...
Otherwise I'd like to collect 1-3 (and possibly special 1), then just do another 3 to 4 issue collection once 4-6 (and special 2) are done, but I have stock of 1-3 and special 1 singles, so it's kind of redundant to do that now.
But definitely a trade after 1-6 are out (next year)!

Issue 4 and Special 2 are in production now...

joeldanford said...

Starting to lean that way myself, J. In fact that was kinda my orginal plan. Just got a bit sidetracked with this other movie stuff.