Erica Friedman, President of ALC Publishing (which puts out yuri, girl/girl manga), has written a very good analysis of the manga business. (It’s also applicable to any comic publisher.) She’s tackling the question of how to get books into the hands of readers.
Fans want to buy books without pre-ordering, but there are a number of factors working against them getting what they want that way, especially from smaller publishers. Distributor quotas and procedures get in the way, too, hurdles that customers may not be aware of.
She does make one error; she says, “[Diamond] can’t resell books that have been returned to them to another bookstore.” That might be the way things should be done, but comic store retailers have reported receiving books with stickers on them from large bookstore chains, so it obviously does happen.
But to get back to her comments, I would sum them up as saying that there’s innate tension between trying to get books to everyone who wants them and making a profit. There’s some discussion in the comments of the need to create demand and awareness, as well.
One outspoken fan ignores much of the detail to insist that publishers must keep every volume of a series in print regardless of profitability. In comics, it’s often the case that publishers declare something “sold out” when plenty of copies are still available at the retail level.
This fan also says that, “Distributors and shops are nothing more than middle men who have little impact,” which just isn’t true. For comic shops, if Diamond doesn’t carry you, you don’t get ordered. For manga, the Borders chain in the US is having huge effects on publishers. (First, for making titles possible, when they agreed to carry them; now, during their cutback, causing publishers to cut back their lines in response to the possible loss of that significant market.)
I think fans can make more intelligent cases for what they want to publishers if they demonstrate an understanding of the challenges faced by publishers instead of just saying “well, you *should*”.Similar Posts: DC and Marvel: From Mainstream to Irrelevant § Retailer Reacts to Viz Exclusive § Minx Selling More in Direct Market? § From the Front Lines: Nina Paley on Kids Reading Free Manga § Digital Manga Turns to Kickstarter to Bring Book Back in Print