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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kramers Ergot #7 for $125.00: Retailers Respond -- In the wake of the latest discussion of the subject, at Comics Worth Reading, I asked some retailers what their plans are in regard to the $125.00 price tag attached to the forthcoming volume of the artcomix anthology Kramers Ergot. Here's what some of them had to say.

1. How many will you order for your shelves?

JC Glindmyder, Earthworld Comics, Albany, NY: "Unless I get preorders for it, I'm going to get one copy."

Robert Scott, Comickaze, San Diego, CA: "If ordered at all, probably no more than one copy."

Jevon Kasitch, Electric City Comics, Schenectady, NY: "Zero."

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

JC Glindmyer: "That would probably be two customers, but the price tag would really scare them off no matter what Tom Spurgeon insists."

Robert Scott: "Probably zero. We sell the Little Nemo Sunday Tabloid books from Sunday Press well enough but this isn't Winsor McKay/Nemo, not to slight the KE contributors. It also doesn't have a historical need to be presented in that format. But I haven't had any input from my regular Kramers Ergot buyers to know for sure."

Jevon Kasitch: "We would preorder as many as customers request. I’d expect that given our sales profile and patterns that number will be zero."

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

JC Glindmyer: "No. At the time, Lost Girls was a hard sell for it's steep price tag- and that was written by Alan Moore who has a huge following. There were a lost of Moore fans who said no to the price tag, opting to pass or wait for an inexpensive version to be published. For a $125 anthology to float it has to have some pretty kick ass creators inside to justify the price point, like Frank Miller illustrating a Alan Moore story printed in the blood of Rob Liefeld."

Robert Scott: "I can't see it being reasonable for any customer base, other than folks who want to own limited edition art which seems antithetical to my purpose which is getting as much diverse comic work into the hands of the public as possible. It's hard to look at this as anything but a novelty, like die-cut or holofoil covers."

Jevon Kasitch: "No, the price is not right for this market. Far too high. This is a boutique book that will appeal to a very small number of customers. I wager that there are 3-5 in [New York State's] entire Capital District [Albany/Schenectady/Troy] that might consider buying it. Probably 1 or 2 that would. We do not have any of them [as customers]."

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

JC Glindmyer: "[We] always offer a discount to preorders -- although, I may give a bigger one for a larger priced item like this."

Robert Scott: "No. The profit margin on Buenaventura books is already poor and with the size/weight of the book making incoming shipping very expensive, even if I felt discounting was valid, I couldn't afford to."

Jevon Kasitch: "If we carried it, and a subscriber bought it they would receive our traditional discount."

5. 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.

JC Glindmyer: "The one advantage I have over Amazon is that people can actually come into my store and look at the book. People tend to purchase things more readily if they can hold them and look at them. Sure Amazon has larger discounts, but as I'm fond of telling people, the fact they can look at the book before buying it, take into account the cost of gas, and their time, they're more likely to enjoy their purchase(s). And of course it didn't hurt that I had 50 copies of Watchmen to sell while Amazon was backordered for two weeks..."

Robert Scott: "It's a poor business practice and definitely hurts publishers and creators as well as retailers. We already know that many publishers are floundering in the DM and this kind of predatory pricing reduces the opportunity for retailers to support this work as anything other than a charity work because even the most ardent DM customer is not going to spend $50+ more than they have to on a book like this and matching Amazon means that retailers must sell every single copy ordered because even selling 9 out of 10 makes it a money loser at retail."

Jevon Kasitch: "Amazon makes an entire class of product pointless to carry. This includes the huge Marvel hardcovers and the DC slipcase and oversized projects. They often sell them at only a dollar or three more that our cost. Cost-careful customers always buy there first. 30-40% off, free shipping, we can’t beat it. We’ll always get any book that is available that a customer asks for, but most folks want to save $50. We can’t do that. We concede the product class."

Thanks to JC, Robert and Jevon for responding to my inquiries; if other retailers I polled respond, I will post their answers in the days ahead, and I invite any retailers with thoughts on Kramers Ergot #7 and its price point to comment on this post or email me your thoughts.



Blogger SRBissette said...

I happily caught up on MOME over the summer, the complete series, via used copies I could find and purchase online -- but this anthology's cost just keeps me away, sad to say.

I'm sure it's a beaut, but I paid $100 in incremental payments in the 1990s for a first-edition copy of Dore's THE RAVEN -- and have a tough time justifying most of the higher-ticket items in the graphic novel market these days (I've stuck with my first-print SANDMAN comicbooks over the $100 collections, and ditto with WATCHMEN, etc.). This is comparable to the high-ticket DVD sets out almost weekly. It's easier to just shrug 'em off with the true-enough "I can't afford this," and hope to one day have access via a library or friend's collection to savor a single reading.

As you've noted, the exceptions -- LITTLE NEMO: SO MANY GLORIOUS SUNDAYS!, Dr. Merkl's definitive DREAM OF A RAREBIT FIEND, and LOST GIRLS -- are truly exceptional, and I have enough of a history with each to save up for the huge purchase price.

15 August, 2008 18:17  

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