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Monday, August 18, 2008

Jim Crocker on Kramers Ergot #7 -- I know, I know, I said I was done with this subject. But when the owner of my favourite comic book store in the United States weighs in on a subject as controversial as the $125.00 price tag of the next volume of Kramers Ergot, I have to give him the floor. Ladies and gentlemen, Jim Crocker of Modern Myths in Northampton, Massachusetts.
How many will you order for your shelves?

How many would you guess you may preorder by request of regular customers?

MAYBE one.

Do you think $125.00 for a 96 page anthology is a reasonable price for your customer base?

$125.00 for 96 pages is pure art-house gimmick pricing. It's comics removed from any even remote expectation that they're going to be read by ANY sort of mass audience and reduced to elitist art-world gallery projects. They're not comics at that point, they're basically museum catalogs of contemporary works that happen to have a narrative joining the pieces.

Will you offer it at a discount, either to customers pre-ordering it, or on your store shelves?

I don't offer anything else at a discount, why should I offer this? At that price it's basically a convention/Amazon exclusive in all but actual name.

How do you feel about Amazon's discounting of the book (currently over 30 percent off) and how it might impact your store, or the direct market in general.

Meh. When you've got hundreds of millions in venture capital and can lose more money than I'll see in my entire life for 5+ years, how does the market actually apply to you in any real way? Amazon isn't retailing, it's using something that looks like retail to move stock. Nearly everything they do is destructive to the long-term health of publishing, but the same can be said of most publicly-traded, solely profit-driven companies in any field they operate in. 'Hating' them accomplishes as much as 'hating' aggressive childhood leukemia or those little voles hating the dinosaurs did. We just scamper around scavenging for what they miss and try not to get stepped on.

Bottom line: Amazon discounts EVERYTHING. The impact they have on any individual title is just part of the mix these days, like hurricanes, UPS truck breakdowns, and convention pre-releases.
My thanks to Jim for letting me know his plans and thoughts regarding Kramers Ergot #7. And anyone who has not set foot in Modern Myths has no place casting aspersions at Jim's opinion. He is the savviest and most forward-thinking comics retailer I have met in the United States, and his store runs a very close second behind The Beguiling in terms of being the very best comic book store I have ever set foot in. For him to respond so negatively to the price point of KE7 should be food for thought for anyone involved in the publishing of this book. Modern Myths the most alternative comics-friendly shop I've set foot in in the US, and for him to regard the book with such reluctance, tells me the vast majority of comic book retailers will not be supporting the book at its currently-expected price point.

As for me, and the process of deliberation I've engaged in these past few weeks trying to decide whether to order the book was decided this past weekend, when I re-read Kramers Ergot #5 and #6. Both were priced about $35.00, both had far more than 96 pages, and both had more than 50 percent of their contents flipped quickly through by me as I realized that either they weren't comics, or weren't good enough comics for me to bother reading. The occasional appearance in the pages of KE volumes 5 and 6 by artists like Kevin Huizenga and Dan Zettwoch was not enough to offset the self-indulgent tripe contributed by alt-comix divas like CF, Ron Rege and Paper Rad.

So, no, I will find better things to do with my comics-buying money this fall than spend it on KE7. And given the likelihood of a print run in the high hundreds to very low thousands, I'm guessing the creators whose work I do want to read, such as Dan Clowes and Chris Ware, will be smart enough to collect their KE pieces down the line in future volumes of their own work. And like Jim says, if they don't, chances are very few people will ever see those stories. And what would be the point of that?

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Blogger The Estate of Tim O'Neil said...

You like Modern Myths? Really? I live about 10-15 minutes away from it and I have to say if I need to buy a comic I go out of my way to avoid that store - an unfriendly, downright rude shopping environment that makes me actively try my hardest to avoid giving them money unless I have to - ie, if its something no one else around would stock.

My mileage varies, obviously.

19 August, 2008 14:50  
Blogger Alan David Doane said...

My mileage couldn't vary any more, obviously. I've never had a single bad experience there, and my entire family has had great experiences finding stuff that suits their interests. The store is clean and stocked better than any other US shop I've ever been in. Sorry to hear you haven't enjoyed the same sorts of experiences there.

19 August, 2008 15:08  
Blogger David Wynne said...

ie, if its something no one else around would stock.

...revealing words. So, what you're saying is, they stock all the good stuff other stores ca't be bothered to sell?

Sounds like a pretty good place to me if only for that reason.

(And makes it all the more noteworthy that they won't be ordering KE7)

20 August, 2008 03:24  
Blogger Alan David Doane said...

Good call, Dave. The reason I make the four-hour round trip to Modern Myths is BECAUSE I know I'll find comics and GNs there that I can't find within my usual 50-mile selection of 4 or 5 shops. Most of those are quite good at what they do, but none can match the diversity of product at MM. (Or the excellence of the nearby restaurants, to boot!)

20 August, 2008 05:27  

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