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Thursday, April 17, 2014 

Monopolies don't help the medium

Wired is trying to tell everyone that Amazon didn't ruin comics by buying out Comixology. Well gee, no one ever said they had. As a distributor, Diamond's had a monopoly on market for nearly two decades. They say:
Is the concern is a distribution monopoly? If so, the direct market is in no position to criticize: over the last 15 years, Diamond Comics Distributors has consumed almost all independent print distribution in comics, and dictates practices and policy to retailers and publishers alike. The idea that print comics are somehow more independent than their digital cousins—or a scrappy underdog fighting the good fight against evil corporate profiteers—is frankly ridiculous.

No idea has proven more damaging to the comics industry than the myth that its professionals—not just creators, but retailers, even distributors—work for love and not money. It’s a philosophy that has justified exploitation of creators and theft of intellectual property. It’s allowed the entire industry to pass the buck for its failures—from publishers to retailers, and retailers to —for decades. And it’s why the comics industry lingers in a frozen adolescence, clinging to a shrinking target audience like a sea captain railing at the storm—when the real problem is the rotting wood of his own hull.
True, that's how far the medium's fallen. Even conglomerates have no idea what to do with comics companies they own, other than use them as a movie wellspring. But that doesn't mean it's a good thing Diamond is the only significant distributor for comics today, even if pamphlets is their chief specialty. Yet that's probably to be expected when the mainstream companies throw away all their cohesion for the sake of the speculator market.

Again, this is why I think comics have to abandon the pamphlet format and go for something more along the lines of paperbacks. If they did so, and even shaped up their writing talents, I think a lot of book companies would be more willing to publish their products, and it would make it easier to build up the number of distributors once again. Nor can they work for just money. If there's no love, there's no money either. Were somebody with a heart to come along and buy out the publishing arms of the majors for starters, I'm sure something could get done. Of course the distribution monopoly is nothing to be happy about, but so long as there's no interest in making artistic improvements, then there'll be no new distributors.

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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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