Page 5 of 38 < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 37 38 >
Topic Options
#206484 - 11/14/99 09:30 AM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Pat ONeill Offline
Member

Registered: 08/18/99
Posts: 3064
Loc: PA, USA
>>But, there's also the fact that the vast increase in titles has diluted sales across the board. I'd love to
see some real numbers comparing total yearly unit sales for the last 15 years. I wouldn't be surprised
if units were flat while titles have mushroomed.<<

I started arguing that about four years ago, Jim. It's not unlike what we're seeing in TV--the total number of people watching television has gone up (as the population increased), but the number watching any particular channel has declined as the number of choices proliferated.

I've worked off and on in grocery retailing over the past two decades as well, and managers note the same thing there...over all sales are up, while sales for any particular item are flat or declining.

Best, Pat
_________________________
Best, Pat

Top
#206485 - 11/16/99 06:26 PM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Mitch Berger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 11/16/99
Posts: 1
Loc: New York, NY, USA
Hey Jim,

A little Byrd told me that you mentioned my name when discussing the history of comics distribution, vis-a-vis my attempts at distributing underground comics in the New York area. I'd be happy to entertain questions about that era if anyone is interested.

My reply will hopefully only be a little delayed, as I am having surgery on 11/18. I have an extreemly rare form of cancer (I guess my mom was right about what comics would do to me), called carcinoid, which has spread to my liver. During what I hope will be my recovery period, I will have plenty of time to discuss the early days of direct distribution in New York.

I was encouraged to go into the distribution business by my then mentor, Harvey Kurtzman, who saw distribution as the missing key element to comics entering the mainstream of literature. That was 25 years ago. If factoids like that are of interest to comicon members, I'd be happy to spill what'll be left of my guts as I recuperate.

Mitch

Top
#206486 - 11/16/99 06:46 PM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Gary Colabuono Offline
Member

Registered: 07/23/99
Posts: 32
Loc: Elk Grove Village, IL USA
Mitch:

Hope all goes well with the surgery and you have a swift and comfortable recovery. I'm looking forward to your recollections and stories.

Top
#206487 - 11/16/99 08:45 PM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Chris Juricich Offline
Member

Registered: 09/19/99
Posts: 721
Loc: Berkeley, CA USA
This notion of sales increasing but being cut into thinner and thinner slivers is an interesting, and possibly alarming trend. The experience of Viz Comics when I was their sales manager was that if they published, say, 5 books in a given month with sales of 100,000, for example, one might hope that sales of 10 books would equate to sales of nearly double! But no. Sales decreased across the board for all titles and no discernible increase in profit or sales was apparent.

It's obvious when one considers who's doing the buying, though. Mr. Comic Book Retailer sees that he's bought 5 books which have sold, but with 5 more...well, he just cuts back on them all in order to get all 10 titles in! He's probably on a budget, in any case, and can't spend in the same numbers for the extra five as he did for the original five.

Nonetheless, the notion of the market slivering and slivering essentially begs for a new method of distribution, don't you think? All these publishers and creators with retailers who don't have enough cash to support them. What is left out of the equation are all the potential readers!

Somehow we have to see the creators going directly to the readers...somehow, and through the medium of the web/internet/whatever. Does this mean cutting out the retailers? No, but the retailers are going to have to figure out how to be a part of that relationship as this scary/exciting possibility of 'connect-market' comes into existence.
_________________________
Chris Juricich
Berkeley, CA

Top
#206488 - 11/16/99 09:19 PM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Jim Friel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/99
Posts: 454
Loc: Oakland, CA USA
The phenomenon of sales on individual titles diminishing as the number of titles rises is something I noticed as long ago as the 70s.
In general, with exceptions for outstanding material, the titles taking the biggest circulation hits were usually older, established titles (Action Comics, The Flash, Thor and Captain America for instance). Of course, it became more difficult for newer titles to get noticed for the same reason.

Chris, my experience doesn't bear out what seems to be your assumption that if the titles suffering because of overcrowding of the market were stocked by retailers they would sell--all too many times I can remember seeing racks full of small quantities of last month's books that WERE displayed, but not bought. The financial constraints come from readers as well as retailers--ultimately, they all come from readers, in fact...

Top
#206489 - 11/17/99 01:54 AM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Jim Hanley Offline
Member

Registered: 06/19/99
Posts: 1313
Loc: NYC
Mitch:

Welcome! I second Gary's wish that your surgery is a success. I still don't know what Batton's real name is!

I guess my questions would center on what the process of acquiring UG's was. Did you have to go te each publisher separately? Was it a cash up front business? How did you get stores to try selling these radical comic books? Did you focus on head shops, newsstands. or book stores? All three?

Speaking of which, did you sell to the bookstore that used to be across 42nd Street from the Library? That was the first place I saw undergrounds (on a rack just inside the door.} I remember being offended to see a Mickey Mouse parody in an adults only comic book. (I've never been sure whether it was one of the Air Pirates or a Mickey Rat.) Forgive my innocence, I was an eighth grader at St. Stephen's school, at the time. I would develop more exotic tastes as time went on.

Chris:

I'm with Jim Friel on this one. I've already had an extensive debate on the subject of retailers' diminishing orders with Jean Marc Lofficier on another thread last summer. Publishers, in my experience, don't get the fact that the end consumers are put off by drastic line increases.

The classic example of this was the early Image experience. When Youngblood 1 came out, there was not a number of copies that you could have that was sufficient to meet demand. 500? 5,000? 50,000? Feh!

Gary can tell you of the efforts he lead to get thousands of copies that had been set aside for bagged sets after all of the members of the Direct Line Group sold out and couldn't get more.

Then came Spawn and WildC.A.T.s and Pitt and Cyberforce. All were spaced a month or more apart. They all sold out, no matter how many we ordered. Then there was the interregnum of 2 or 3 books a month, while 10 or 12 were solicited. Month after month, you couldn't get enough Image Comics.

Meanwhile the water was building up behind the dam. When there were suddenly 20 Image Comics a month, there came a time of reckoning. 5,000, try 500. 500 try 50.

If those northern California winters get cooler by and by, I can hook you up with lots of WildStar 1's for insulation (or kindling.)

------------------
"I love him like a brother. David Greenglas." -- Woody Allen - Crimes & Misdemeanors
_________________________
"I love him like a brother. David Greenglass." -- Woody Allen - Crimes & Misdemeanors

Top
#206490 - 11/17/99 03:03 AM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Rory D. Root Offline
Member

Registered: 09/12/99
Posts: 628
Loc: Berkeley,Ca.,USA
Mitch as above good luck.And in that recovery procsess dont forget to tell us a story or two.
_________________________
Comic Relief: THE Comic Bookstore

Top
#206491 - 11/17/99 01:30 PM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Chris Juricich Offline
Member

Registered: 09/19/99
Posts: 721
Loc: Berkeley, CA USA
If the publisher puts out ten books in a month and makes the same profits as if he had sold five books, then there's the publisher's incentive to say screw it, let's stick with five.

I guess what I'm saying is that there is a POTENTIAL readership out there for a number of books that retailers are reticent to buy and put on the stand. The bottleneck here is the retailer's financial constraints, business savvy, or shortsightedness (it all depends, doesn't it?). Am I blaming the retailer for not carrying more books with a risk of ending up in his quarter bins? 'Course not.

BUT...
but not bought. The financial constraints come from readers as well as retailers--ultimately, they all come from readers, in fact...

I suppose you're right, but readers can't buy what isn't available to them.
_________________________
Chris Juricich
Berkeley, CA

Top
#206492 - 11/17/99 01:51 PM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Jim Friel Offline
Member

Registered: 11/05/99
Posts: 454
Loc: Oakland, CA USA
You're right, of course, Chris, that readers can't buy what's not available, but unfortunately too often they're not buying what IS available, and I'm not just talking about speculatively large quantities, as in the early Image situation.

So we're faced with a twofold problem; reluctant (or over-extended) readers on the one hand and gun-shy (or over-extended) retailers on the other. As a former distributor, I've dealt with hundreds of retailers, and while there were some ignorant or stupidly stubborn people among them (though not as many as one might think), I seldom encountered anyone who refused to carry something he thought he might be able to sell even a few copies of.

I know how frustrating this is for small publishers--hell, for all publishers. Various experiments have been tried, including free or returnable overshipments and low prices in hopes of generating high sales. All unsuccessful. We have to face the possibility that the market really is oversaturated at this time.

Top
#206493 - 11/17/99 03:58 PM Re: Comics Distribution: An Historical View and Predictive Query
Lomi Monet Offline
Member

Registered: 10/22/99
Posts: 475
Loc: The Hinterland
Not to interupt this train of thought, but does anyone know what happened To Syco distribution? Has anyone ever heard of them?

Top
Page 5 of 38 < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 37 38 >


Moderator:  Rick Veitch, Steve Conley