- Posted by Johanna on January 21, 2008 at 9:44 am
- Category: LinkBlogging
More updates on the issue of convention pre-sales:
Alan David Doane talked to publishers about whether they planned to stop convention pre-selling. (An after-the-fact obvious idea that I wish I’d thought of!) Many would only agree to comment anonymously — a shame, but understandable, given the tenor of some of the discussion. One had such bad experiences with monopoly distributor Diamond that he “indicated that his future efforts will work around Diamond to get right to retailers wherever possible.”
Another “major non-superhero publisher” told Doane that they considered pre-sales “a key marketing tool in building good word of mouth for their books” and that
convention sales in this way improve sales within the direct market by creating additional demand for a given work. He told me that if convention signings on new books are done away with, there will be less demand for the books, and therefore lower sales for the direct market retailers.
That many of the discussed works went on to sell out and require additional printings suggests that he’s got some basis for his opinion. Of course, no one can know how much demand there would have been without pre-sales. Frank Santoro was willing to go on the record:
We need those sales and that connection with our core audience…. The benefits are endless. There are no downsides.
He goes on to say that the direct market is only about 20% of his sales, which makes his choices reasonable for him. (I’m not familiar with Santoro’s work, but here’s his website and an interview.) Larry Young also responds, saying that they’ve never done pre-sales and so don’t plan to change anything.
Doane goes on to wonder whether this discussion brings to light a bigger issue, that of how or whether direct market retailers are prepared to face a future of change. He likes to soapbox much more than I do (I just don’t have the energy for that kind of passion), but it’s a good question, and one I’ve been pondering myself lately.
Let’s end with Dirk Deppey’s colorful metaphor about how direct market retailers are prisoners of a superhero-focused branch of the industry:
Indeed, given the disparity between how much retailers depend on Big-Two superhero titles and how little they depend upon — well, everything else, really — it’s difficult not seeing this argument as the equivalent of an older brother picking on his younger siblings because he’s powerless to do anything when Dad comes home drunk at night and beats the shit out of him. ComicsPRO cannot yet affect meaningful change where Diamond or the Big Two are concerned; one suspects that they need to vent their frustrations somewhere.