Everyone once in a while I find an old post that I find interesting. With the permission of the original site, I’ve reprinted it here. Does it still apply? Are there things to learn for the future? Let me know.
I would like to reprint two of my late blog’s postings here. 2 Years later, I still think it applies. Wonder what you think. Why good ideas don’t work. Part 1 Spend enough time on the message boards and you hear enough suggestions or ideas on why comics don’t sell better. Some of the more common suggestions to improve the sales of comic are as follows:
- They are too expensive
- We need more all-ages books
- We need more female friendly books
- The big two publishers, DC and Marvel, are too dominant and we need variety (less superheroes)
While I agree with most of the reasoning behind these suggestions, the proof of the matter is these ideas, when implemented, have never worked. Spiderman year one, by Kurt Busiek, sold for $.99, was well done and was all ages friendly and it failed. The Crossgen books are supposed to appeal to female readers and we know all about their struggles. If people across the board continue to say they want these things, from retailers to fans, why don’t they succeed? It’s very simple. For these ideas to work, and they can, we need a fundamental change in the very business structure of the industry. It’s the direct market that prevents any of the above ideas from not only happening, but also having an impact. Allow me to explain. Due to the speculator bust and more importantly, in my opinion, the fallout from the distributor wars, we are left with a direct market that is a shell of what it was a few years ago. From having 5,000 plus comic shops in the country to in my estimation, maybe 600 legitimate comic book stores, we have effectively eliminated the possibility of any new reader buying a book on impulse. In fact, new reader impulse buying has always been a weakness of the direct market. When I was a kid a hundred years ago comics were sold mainly on the newsstand. There used to be this belief that the readership turned over every seven years or so. Now we are left with a hard core, aging, comic book geek clique, that is not turning over (maybe dropping out) and wants what they want. They are being serviced by business owners who are themselves hard-core aging comic book geeks, who are selling them comic books written and drawn by hard-core aging comic book geeks. And people expect things to change or have an impact? Now in the retailers’ defense, they have to sort through an enormous amount of titles to order for their store, with no returnability. And a track record of most new companies going belly up leaving, them with tons of unsold and unwanted product. They are doing what they need to survive. And selling a book at $.99 just takes up space from a more profitable product. There are some retailers who are smart enough to think long term, and carry a variety of product in their store, but the bad storeowners outnumber them. So what can we do? First the industry needs to make a decision. Is the direct market going to be a key part of our future or not? Do we need to return to the newsstands, like Archie etc.? Do we do both? Whatever choice we make, we need to have the appropriate strategies in place to take advantage of THAT MARKETPLACE. People talk about how we need more cutting edge creators working on the books. I would settle for less of them and more creative and competent BUSINESSMEN running the industry. In part 2, I will discuss what we can do to save the Direct Market.