- Posted by Johanna on December 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm
- Category: LinkBlogging
iFanboy runs the numbers on the DC Universe Online videogame which, if they’re right, will bring in as much as the entire comic publishing line, with the potential for much more. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars of subscription revenue here.
Brian Hibbs, noted comic retailer, is pessimistic about the direct market: “Seventeen of the last nineteen months our sales have been down compared to the same month a year before. In most cases by at-or-near double digits.” Now, he’s got some local issues, like construction near his store, that might be deflating sales, and he also acknowledges a poor economy slow to recover and high unemployment, but mostly, he blames the content. Events have burned out readers. Too many titles with particular characters or brands. Customers have been taught not to try new series, because they won’t be around for long. Prices too high.
Where he used to stock everything DC and Marvel published, now 20% of those books are pre-orders only, which means no visibility on the shelf. Go read his column for a better explanation, not so abbreviatedly summarized, but basically, as a comic retailer, he’s unhappy with what he’s being asked to sell. And he’s noting that all this crap has broken the habit for what used to be consistent readers. They’re no longer collectors, so they can’t be counted on as habitual buyers.
You’ll note that it’s not surprising that one of the legs of the comic retail square (publishers, distributors, retailers, customers) tends to blame another when it comes to bad business, as Tom Spurgeon points out. But I tend to be in sympathy with Hibbs’ complaints — although I think it’s a good thing customers are being more selective, in the hopes that it will drive the others to provide better products and service. It will be a shame if good shops have to go out of business to make that message clear, but it looks like that’s what we’re facing.
Unfortunately, as Robot 6 spotted, the publishers aren’t getting the message.