- Posted by Johanna on August 2, 2007 at 7:34 am
- Category: Comic News
Some series I follow have recently created products for audiences outside of the direct market.
Amelia Rules! has just announced a special edition to be carried through Scholastic Book Fairs and Clubs in the US and Canada. That’s a huge potential kids’ market.
They are repackaging existing material into a “best of” 128-page book called Amelia Rules! Funny Stories that will cost only $4.99 and be “manga-sized”. The book will be available this fall with plans to make it available in the direct market next year.
(While researching this, I also noticed that the contents of special issue #18 have been published on the book’s website. It’s a powerful tale about a child coping with her father’s tour of duty in Iraq, but it’s a bit odd that they’ve put it out there for free when the issue, due in June, hasn’t shipped to customers yet.)
Second, Mike Sterling has information on the Simpsons comic available at 7-11s as promotion for the movie. Although most of it is reprint, there is a new story, and the end result of this method of distribution is making it hard for readers to find it. My nearest 7-11 hadn’t even heard of the comic, let alone received any for me to buy.
Last, Supernatural Law has released a Companion volume available only from the publisher. It’s a handbook, a history, and contains unpublished art and checklists. The cost is $10. (I’m guessing that’s because they’re selling direct. To make the same profit per book selling through Diamond, they’d likely have to double the cover price.)
I’m curious, but those types of books I really like to see before I buy, especially since we’re not told how many pages it is or whether any of it is in color. I hope they’re exhibiting at SPX, because then I could check it out there.
Now, why do I care about any of this? Because I like my comic store. I use preorders to ensure (well, as much as you can when dealing with a monopoly distributor who’s still working on what great customer service means) that I get the books I’m interested in, and because I commit in advance, I get a good discount. Mostly, I enjoy the convenience of knowing my books are waiting for me.
By making it less convenient (or impossible) for me to get publications through my preferred vendor, publishers gamble that I’ll seek them out elsewhere instead of shrugging and buying something else through the comic store. That’s a bet many of them are willing to — or have to — take. In most of these cases, the direct market doesn’t matter, because other venues provide a much bigger potential audience (or a bigger profit). The direct market, taken as a whole, doesn’t support these kinds of publications in many cases anyway.
If small publishers have to do their own audience-building, getting on comic store buy lists only when customers pre-order, why shouldn’t they take care of those customers directly, or through venues more convenient to them, or in stores with a lot more walk-in traffic with conversion potential?