Random Links

I’m looking forward to Viz’s upcoming Shojo Beat Manga Artist Academy (due in October). It’s a how-to-draw book with an adorable panda learning from talented creators, including Mayu Shinjo (Sensual Phrase) and Yuu Watase (Imadoki, Fushigi Yugi).

Does this mean that Marc Silvestri is next in line to run Marvel? Probably not, since Top Cow is only handling art with scripts provided by Marvel.

Beaucoup Kevin rips into comic retailers who want consumers to know how tough the business is.

While, yes, I would like to buy my comics from a local shop, I can go just about anywhere I please for them without any sort of guilt over you not being able to pay your bills, OK? In fact, I’m the sort of person that hates it when businesses start bringing their operating costs into the customer relationship. You don’t worry about how I make the money to buy your comics and I don’t worry about how much you pay for rent, OK?

You know, Mazda never has to beg people to tell their dealership to carry the cars. I’m just saying.

Speaking of inadvertently negative messages, Colleen Doran is plugging her new collection [link no longer available] A Distant Soil: Coda by putting up an Amazon ad, so she gets a cut. (Whereas if you use that link, I get a cut.) Currently, the ad is showing a price of $12.23 US.

If she thinks the book should sell for just over $12, why did she cover-price it at $18? This is the kind of thing that makes retailers cranky, when creators send their fans to discount outlets. Then again, Amazon can get the book to almost anyone. It’s a vicious cycle, where retailers don’t want to support creators who undercut them, so creators find different outlets, so retailers don’t support them.

9 Responses to “Random Links”

  1. James Schee Says:

    If I click her link, then click your link to order, can I get you both a cut?:)

    I guess I can understand retailers being cranky some what. Yet with the publishing schedule of this series in tpbs (once every 2 years or so?) it doesn’t really line up with most of the week in and out buyers anyway.

  2. Rich Johnston Says:

    I put Flying Friar up for download above cover price for that exact reason…

  3. Ray Cornwall Says:

    I doubt Colleen had even a whisper of a say into how much Amazon charged for the book; such things are usually negotiated by Image’s distributor and Amazon. None of that discount comes out of Colleen’s check; that’s all distributor discount.

    It’s a WalMart world, and we’re all stuck with nothing to drink but Sam’s Cola.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Of course Colleen doesn’t control what Amazon charges (although I’m told that that’s partially affected by what discount the publisher is willing to give them). What she controls is what she publishes on her blog, and sending readers to a discount retailer the same day the book appears in comic stores at full price will annoy some people.

  5. Ray Cornwall Says:

    How many stores do you think bought more than subscriber pulls of the book? 50? 100? Granted, I wouldn’t want to annoy some of those stores, because they’ve probably bought a lot of her stuff. But even with that, how many stores who buy a fair amount of her work will really complain?

    I can’t say I blame her, and that has nothing to do with the fact that she drew a cute little space shuttle in my copy of Orbiter this past weekend at NYCC.

  6. colleen Says:

    Apparently, the only person annoyed by this is Johanna.

    The likelihood that the very modest sales this book got in the direct market have been hurt by an amazon link is about…oh, nil.

    Most people would rather pay full price for a book the day it comes out in a shop rather than wait to get it from amazon and pay the shipping charge, too. However, since many comic shops didn’t order it, I feel about…oh, zero guilt for telling fans where they could order it when fans told me their shops don’t carry the book at all.

    And by the way, Johanna, I suppose you did not notice that I direct link to Mile High Comics on the home pages of both my websites, and encourage readers to buy my back issues from them, a service for which I do not get a cut.

    I no longer do my own mail order and don’t really feel any reason to feel gulty about telling people where they can go to get reliable mail order service. It’s also nice to incorporate the assumption that every mail order sale is a loss to a retailer. Perhaps sophisticated urban types take their comic shops for granted, but those of us who have to make a 3 hour round trip to get to one often have to rely on mail order. I have had to mail order almost all of my comics for almost two years.

    By the way, I tried outsourcing all of my mail order operations two years ago, only to receive absolutely not one penny in the ensuing two years from that company. If Amazon can provide the service instead, so be it.

    Apparently, you have no problem with linking to amazon to get a cut on sales of books you did not create, but somehow think creators who do is bad for comics, even though the vast majority of retailers in the country do not order some of our books at all?

    Changing the goal posts of your argument from alleging that I wanted the book to be sold for $12.23 (I didn’t make that decision), then admitting you know very well I have no say in what Amazon charges (I don’t, and when I first started putting up the amazon links, the book was not offered at a discount), and then alleging that you know this move has annoyed some people, the only one of whom appears to be you, strikes me as rather odd at the least.

    If I hear from any retailers, I will take this matter seriously, but I would bet money that not a single comics retailer has lost a single sale out of my posting a link to amazon. Since I can go directly to my amazon sales link and look at what exactly has been ordered, I can only conclude that there is no cause for complaint here. I have made roughly three bucks off this link, which I posted primarily because it is the easiest way to get a graphic of the cover on my blog.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Points about “most” or “many” or “no one but you” are unprovable online, and what I hear as an industry observer is obviously very different from what people tell you. If you’re curious (but it’s not really worth bothering), googling “Larry Young” and “Khepri.com” should bring up more examples of retailers upset about publishers sending shoppers to discount online stores.

    It doesn’t surprise me that many shops don’t stock the title, although I think that’s a shame. I haven’t seen it around here, in part because the retailers I talk to would rather support more regular-appearing titles. That’s not an attack — I’ve found your analyses of the economics of self-publishing very enlightening, and I applaud your financial responsibility — but a realization of the economics involved in building regular readership. Many creators are caught amongst a lack of good choices, as you indicate when you mention the problems with your mail order history. This was intended to be another example of a difficult choice self-publishers have to make.

    You’re right, I didn’t notice the Mile High links, because I only read blogs through RSS, so I rarely see home pages or their ads. Oh, and what you call “moving the goalposts” I call “clarifying misunderstandings”. No point in being dogmatic about semantics, though — I’d rather converse than posture online these days.

    If you’d like the code to reference the Amazon issue cover without the price link, I’d be happy to send it along. Thank you for adding your viewpoint to the discussion.

  8. colleen Says:

    I’ve actually tried using the code to post the image without the amazon link. In fact, I spent half the morning trying to do just that. When I post the image to my site, I get a little box and a question mark. I do not know why. I welcome your suggestions.

    I did finally figure out how to post the image without the prices, but I still get the amazon frame.

    I have read Larry Young’s comments, and I understand that retailers have a problem competing with discount stores, but is my book selling six copies via Amazon any real competition? I mean, really? It’s one thing if 1,000 people run to Amazon to buy the latest X-Men book, but small press sales? Come on!

    The same logic that retailers use to NOT stock our books-“They don’t sell enough to make it worth our while to stock”- is the same logic they rail against when we find other outlets to sell our books. I would LOVE it if more retailers stocked my book, but they don’t. If it doesn’t sell more copies, I can’t produce more. if I can’t produce more, retailers have less incentive to stock. If they don’t stock, I don’t make money, and I can’t produce more. If I didn’t have Book of Lost Souls money coming in, I would never have gotten the latest GN out. So, thanks Marvel! This book may very well fund the entire ending of my A Distant Soil series!

    A retailer that does not order my book in any quantity because it is not produced more regularly really doesn’t have cause for complaint if I post a link to Amazon, do they?

    Yes, it’s a vicious cycle, but there’s no viciousness in putting up a link that brings in a whopping six sales. I would be very interested in hearing directly from a retailer who has lost a sale here. And since those same retailers routinely post their discounted GN’s and comics on amazon at even deeper discounts than are sold by Amazon, any retailer can compete directly and sell there if they choose. This directly affects my ability to sell higher priced new copies, too. But I doubt any retailer would appreciate it if we complained about them for hurting our new copy sales!

    There is certainly a case to be made for your argument here, but A Distant Soil is not the poster child for this cause. Small press sales are not what concern retailers.

  9. Johanna Says:

    I sent you the link structure I use in email — hope it works for you.

    For many retailers, it’s the principle of the thing, regardless of actual sales, and you’re right, some of those who complain wouldn’t buy the book anyway.

    That’s one of the things about comics as an industry that creates such love/hate — it’s full of dedicated individuals riding principles until they drop.




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