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Monday, December 30, 2013 

Marvel's stopped selling pamphlets in at least two book chains

Good E-Reader reports that Marvel's stopped selling their pamphlets at Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble. But they don't offer a good theory why. The writer says:
It is very interesting that exactly at the same time BOM and B&N both have stopped carrying single issues of Marvel Comics. This decision is not from the bookstores themselves, but has come directly from Marvel. The big question is why? I can’t remember a time when the entire Marvel universe was more popular than it is now. Perhaps this could have something to do with Marvel developing their own digital distribution platform and intend to phase out Comixology.
Oh good grief! And we thought mainstream newspapers were the only ones ill-informed. Unless he was born long after the early 1990s, he'd do well to consider that they threw away their popularity for the sake of the speculator market. Today, their pamphlets, along with DC's, sell so low compared to movies and music tapes, that this could explain perfectly why they're withdrawing from the book chains now, because few people care to buy such badly written modern gunk. Who in the right frame of mind wants to buy a flagship Spider-Man series where he's possessed by one of his archnemeses instead? Who even wants to buy an Avengers series whose highlights include the deaths of at least 3 notable cast members? This is what surely got them driven out of bookstores in the 1990s, since who'd want to buy something badly written like the Clone Saga? When they turn to mindless "experimenting", it should be no surprise nobody would want to buy them from bookstores, and not comics stores either. Just because the movies are doing well does not mean it's helping the comics.
When it comes down to it, many comic lovers tend to buy their single issues directly from dedicated comic stores and not your average bookstore. Your local comic shop often has a wider selection and a copious amount of back issues.
No, I don't agree with that assessment. If a bookstore is easy to reach, the average buyer will go there. But then, they go on to say:
Barnes and Noble, and many other bookstores often have an elevated rate of comic returns to the publisher every month and likely Marvel said “enough is enough.”
If the bookstores really end up returning sums of issues they didn't sell, wouldn't that suggest nobody wanted to buy certain back issues, because they weren't worth the paper they were printed on? If they didn't sell back issues of specific series, we can only wonder how much luck the comics stores have with the same. I'd say there's every chance Superior Inferior Spider-Man, for example, is but one series neither are having much luck in selling, because of the horrific direction it takes, with only the most mindless addicts throwing away their money over such a waste of trees. Those same addicts could also buy at book chains if they were within reach, but since bookstores usually get larger customer numbers than comic specialty stores, that's probably why aimless addicts couldn't carry those sales alone.

And I don't expect Marvel's digital platform to have much more luck, because some of their offerings will include bad books like Slott's work and Uncanny Avengers, and whatever costs money to view won't draw many people who don't want to waste time on insular storytelling.

Furthermore, single issue pamphlets have long become outmoded, selling for 4 dollars now, so it should be no surprise nobody wants to buy so little for too much. If the medium hadn't sunk into speculator mentality laced with poor writing (and art, as Rob Liefeld demonstrated), we might not be at this point, but that's what happened, and rode comics into such disaster. It is time for comic publishing to adapt to different formatting, but even then, mainstream publishers will have restructure and repair their whole approach if they want anybody to buy their products.

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Hey Avi, do you take the approach that God directly puts certain things in front of us sometimes for a purpose?

The reason I ask is because, as I was almost done writing part of a graphic novel. Currently, I've reached a major milestone in the text containing the story proper, though I still have to make an adequate preface explaining to the writer the characters, items, and terms there-in so that he or she is not confused.

Anyways, I saw your post and thought: "Oh yeah! Avi's a guy who thinks the pamphlet format has run its course and the graphic novel format is the way to go! Maybe at his own leisure, he'd like to give what I have so far a try and tell me his thoughts on the premise and the execution so far."

Admittedly, I started writing my 'Graphic Novel' back when I intended it to be a story arc over four or so issues and have only made major head-way into what would have been Issue 1, but hey, it's still a story that's self-contained enough to be looked at and examined, in my view.

Yeah, I think it's possible that God can put some things up front for a purpose.

Usually, if a story that could be more than 4-5 parts in pamphlets can be written without having to pad it out at the demand of editorial mandates, it can certainly work. But when so many storylines today are written with 6-plus issues because the editors demand it, that's why I've found it becoming unworkable.

Plus, if more comics were published as paperbacks with 50 or so pages, it could both benefit storytellers to allow them to tell a story in as much space as they need without being overlong, and be a good chance to return to the bookstores in formats the marketers could find better. That's why I strongly believe paperbacks are the better way to go today.

Hrmmm...even more interesting info to consider...

So...is that a yes? :D

My question was if you'd be willing to give my script a look and get back to me in month or so.

Why do you call them pamphlets? To me the word gives the impression of "free and educational booklets found in public hospitals and churches": comic books are neither "free" nor "educational".

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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