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Saturday, October 14, 2017 

It sounds like Publishers Weekly is going against the specialty stores

Publishers Weekly wrote about new competition between comics stores and mainstream bookstores for selling graphic novels, and it sounds like veteran Milton Griepp isn't being very nice to the specialty stores, nor the trade paper site themselves, for that matter:
The comics marketplace has become a contest between bookstores and the direct market, Griepp said, as well as “a battle of the formats” between traditional periodical comics and the growing popularity of graphic novels. He noted that comics shops are “struggling to accommodate their legacy consumers while appealing to new readers,” many of whom are either unfamiliar with comics shops, uninterested in traditional comics, or looking for new retail options.

Part of the problem, Griepp explained, is that the comics shop market can be conservative in what it offers consumers. Indeed, the channel can sometimes be hostile—or perceived to be hostile—to new kinds of comics content or even new kinds of fans. A new generation of comics consumers are looking for material that includes works about and by women and LGBTQ people and works aimed at middle grade and teen readers. This is an emerging class of comics consumers—part of a younger indie and manga-influenced generation that isn’t focused solely on superhero comics—that the traditional comics market, which continues generally to cater to an aging straight white male clientele and to focus on stocking periodical-format comics, often struggles to attract.

Griepp argued that these new comics consumers can find what they want a lot easier in the book trade—either from traditional book publishers with newly launched graphic novel imprints or from a new generation of indie comics houses, which are more likely to focus on book-format comics. “Books [graphic novels] offer a complete story, good value, and broad distribution,” he said. This is in sharp contrast with the periodical format focused on serialized “incomplete” stories sold at a comparatively higher price than books.
They're making it sound like the specialty stores are actually deciding what consumers may buy there, and obscure the real problems at hand - it's the forced diversity practices of Marvel and DC that are alienating even newer fans, including people who saw the movies, but weren't part of a crowd desperate to see Iceman turned homosexual. Nor were they in favor of draining Carol Danvers' femininity, as has happened lately. If and when they want stuff like LGBT subjects, they get it in the independents, and the smart consumers aren't asking the Big Two to go miles out of their way to forcibly change any established cast for the sake of twisted visions. Point: many specialty stores can and DO sell manga along with indies, so to make it sound like that's not the case is unfair to the store managers. Not to mention the implication comics stores don't actually sell paperbacks/hardcovers is also ridiculous. I've bought plenty of paperbacks at specialty stores myself, and highly prefer them over the pamphlet format. At least he's right about the pamphlet prices, which, as I once calculated, can amount to more for a whole story than the paperback does.

Also, it's worth noting that mainstream bookstores can offer what superhero consumers want too. The specialty store is basically the way to provide more room a bookstore could lack, since they can offer  a larger selection. And if the specialty stores wanted to, I'm sure they could sell far more paperbacks and hardcovers one day than pamphlets, which all companies should honestly stop producing and just go with graphic novel format only given the high prices, which aren't justified by the poor writing the Big Two have become flooded with, along with even bad artwork that Marvel's noticeably becoming full of. Plus, how come online stores like Amazon don't count? Undoubtably, some consumers who have difficulty finding a product directly in stores find the web deliveries advantageous, and they even offer discounts the traditional stores may not.

It's just so hilarious but also sad how even the business papers are doing a disfavor to the stores, all in order to advance their ambiguous political agendas at the expense of anybody who respects mainstream superhero comics.

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My local comic store has told me before that the trades don't sell as well as the floppies. Maybe this has changed. Actually, DC and Marvel encourage "trade waiting" by padding a story into multiple issues so they can collect it as a trade as if the storyline mattered as much as the longer events. Could that be part of the problem?

You honestly think the average consumer with his typical attention span will be able to hold his interest on a comic book title if publishers switch to the format you want?

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