Who Buys Minx?
Not one of the Minx titles makes the Top 750, nor does any CMX title except for Megatokyo, which is OEL. Looking deep into the Long Tail, Minx’s Plain Janes sells 3201 copies, none of the other four Minx titles even manages to crack a meager 800 copies sold in the bookstore environment. Aren’t those books specifically designed for the bookstores, and the customers that shop there?
— Brian Hibbs (link no longer available)
I think that’s been assumed, but the more I look at the Minx line, the more I think it exists to be a solution to a non-existent problem. DC looked at all the teen girls reading and buying manga and decided that they deserved a piece of that market. But those girls were plenty happy with the product they already had. What incentive do they have to spend the same money on shorter books without the serial hook?
If I had to reverse engineer the target market from the material and its marketing, I’d say that the Minx books were designed to sell to people who could be convinced that that’s what teen girls wanted (instead of the teen girls themselves), and who had a predisposition to put stock in the DC brand when it came to comics. Which means direct market retailers who are uncomfortable with the large amount of manga to choose from and would rather stock a smaller line from a publisher they already know (or who prefer American comics over ones with those foreign author names). Alternately, library and similar purchasers, who might be impressed by the reviews and press bought by DC’s extensive marketing budget for this project.
(Hibbs acknowledges the latter possibility as well, saying “the DM and BookScan accounts are not the grand total of all venues possible — there are also library sales, book clubs, academic sales, and probably another dozen channels that I’m not thinking of — it is entirely possible that these works could be doing gangbusters in those channels, and we’ll never have any way of knowing…”)
No one’s come close to estimating Minx sales through the direct market, although ICv2 stated while interviewing DC head Paul Levitz, “It looked to us from the first numbers we saw that the direct response was stronger than the bookstores which was sort of the opposite of what I would’ve expected.” Levitz didn’t confirm that but didn’t exactly deny it either.
The thing is, the BookScan numbers show sales to actual customers, who take the books home to read them. The direct market numbers show sales to retailers, who think what they buy can be sold to someone else. Is this a case of a product that sells better to resellers or gatekeepers than end customers? Like Grandma picking demure clothes for a Christmas gift when Suzy really wants that imported leather miniskirt?