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Friday, February 01, 2008

Butcher on Convention Sales -- I've been waiting eagerly for The Beguiling's Christopher Butcher to weigh in on the issue of convention sales, and now he has.

Everything Butcher has to say on the subject (or any other, generally) is worth your attention, but here are some quotes I found particularly relevant to the discussion as it has evolved:

* "It’s actually more advantageous for us–as a local retailer–for these publishers to do big launches of these books...because more often than not, it’s these big launches/pushes that help put the books on the radar of our customers on the first place."

* "I’ve worked on the publisher side of the table...at The San Diego Comicon, selling books that had not yet been released to direct market comic book stores...I would say that the number one question I was asked was 'will this be available in comic book stores?' when confronted with a debut book...customers want to honour their preorders and don’t want to lug around books at a show that they can get at their local store in the next month." [Emphasis mine]

* "I’m actually a lot more concerned, on the release-date front, about Diamond’s continuing inability to process books that they receive as a distributor as fast as the bookstore chains. Most bookstores are receiving manga, “mainstream” book publishers graphic novel releases, and magazines like Giant Robot, between a day and a month before Diamond gets them into my store."

What's fascinating to me about Butcher's observations on the issue is that he is, without question, one of the most experienced retailers in North America, working for what remains, to date, the very best comic book store I have ever shopped in. His thoughts on this particular issue echo my own experience and beliefs exactly, despite knee-jerk criticisms from people like "comics retailer" and CBIA overlord Robert Scott that I, as a mere customer and blogger, have no say in this matter, and no worthwhile opinion to offer, because I can't possibly understand his perspective behind the counter.

Trouble is, Bobby, that my perspective and philosophy about what makes a good comic book store and what retail environment I will choose to spend my money in is formed in large part because of my experiences in good comic book stores like The Beguiling, Million Year Picnic and Modern Myths. It's my bad experienced in low-rent superhero convenience stores that has convinced me over the years that most of the stores within the direct market are hopelessly broken and doomed to extinction, while the good stores -- the ones that operate professionally and welcome the money of any customer who wants to buy any kind of comics in print -- are the ones that will thrive long after the Android's Dungeon/Robert Scott model of superhero pandering has marginalized itself into oblivion, or nearly enough so as not to make much of a difference.

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Blogger David Wynne said...

You know what I found most interesting about that? The reluctance for fear of upsetting other retailers. What kind of industry is it when people feel like they can't express their opinion on something like this?

01 February, 2008 09:02  

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