Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >
Topic Options
#207087 - 01/18/00 07:57 PM Selling trade collections exclusively?
Ralph Offline
Member

Registered: 12/31/99
Posts: 53
Loc: Las Vegas,NV USA
A friend and myself have been talking the past couple of weeks about something that we think would be an interesting experiment: Could a store that just sold trade paperbacks / graphic novels be successful? I think it could work and if designed like a "regular" book store could change the average person's perception of comics moreso than a full service comic book store.

Of course you'd want to market to a different audience than those that presently buy comic periodicals. Location is always very important, I think you'd want to be near a Starbucks or something of the sort. I think one of the reasons more people don't buy comics is because they haven't been conditioned to go to a store on a weekly or monthly basis to get the next chapter. Also the monthly format might be too short for most people and most people probably don't want to worry if they are going to remember when to go to the store for the next chapter or whether it'll be in stock. The average person doesn't think about visiting a comic book store because they don't know the diversity this medium has to offer (and most comic stores don't represent this diversity or have a clue as to how to attractively display titles). Also a person going into a comic book store for the first time may be overwhelmed or not know what a good jumping on point of a series would be. With a store that was trade collection centered a person would see that comics can be like regular books and a person would be more likely to get a complete story.

If such a store took off, I think it would be easier to run than your average full service comic store. There are presently quite a few trade collections available from many diverse genres that are easy to reorder. Except for the initial costs of stocking such a store, weekly invoices will not be as costly or have items that are as time sensitive.

So off the top of my head a couple of negative aspects I can think of are: You wouldn't have a day like Wednesday's where most of your customers know that new books are coming in, but do people that go to "regular" book stores know when they get new books? You'd be competing against "regular" book stores that also stock trades, but how many "regular" book stores really give a good amount of display space to graphic novels (or display them with any design sense)? The price point (with trades on the bottom end being ten dollars and upward of thirty dollars)may be a factor for some people, but I think more people would feel they got a substantial package at a trade price versus a two or three dollar comic periodical. I'm sure there are other seemingly negative aspects people could think up that I haven't thought of, but I don't think they would be insurmountable. Surely there has been someone else who has thought of doing something along these lines?

I'm not thinking of such a store to replace traditional comic stores, part of the fun of comics for me is the anticipation factor and while trades are good for re-reading a good story, I would miss the instananeous gratification aspect of monthly books. I don't feel that a large part of the reading public feels this way, but I do know that more people would enjoy comics if they could enjoy them in a format and environment that they are used to in "regular" book stores.


------------------
Alternate Reality Comics
Las Vegas,NV
_________________________
Alternate Reality Comics
Las Vegas,NV
www.altrealitycomics.com

Top
#207088 - 01/18/00 09:49 PM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
iangould Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/99
Posts: 257
Loc: Brisbane, Queensland, Australi...
While we don't sell trades exclusively, we are now selling more trades than new issues - we are also making significantly higher profit margins on the trades.

There's a shop in England called Page 45 which was given a write-up in Cerebus a few years ago. They aggressively promote trades while still maintaining a small side-line in new issues.

They also seem to have adopted some of the other ideas you mention. They're located on a main street near a university campus and they design their window displays to draw in casual readers.

From my experience to date, selling trades exclusively would have a few problems. (I have thought seriously about it.

- The sell-through is slower so you have to type up more capital for the same return;

- you'd lose some customers who come in for the new issues and end up buying the trades;

- re-orders can be unpredictable meaning cash-flow becoems more erratic

You probably need to rethink a whole range of issues:

If getting stock to the shelf is less urgent (because of the longer shelf-life) do you need to change (or reduce) staffing levels?

Is it worth shifting to a slower but cheaper delivery service?

How do you maintain inventory control - cycle sheets don't work nearly as well with trades.

Top
#207089 - 01/19/00 12:24 PM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
I would think that to do this, you'd have to think more like a bookstore and less like a comic book store.

It would give you the advantage that you could go through the returnable market for a fair portion of your product. However, that would largely be the product you're least worried about having to return. You can be confident that you will sell x copies of the latest Astro City book, or that those Watchmen you buy will sell out eventually. It's the copy of Joe The Allergic Insurance Salesman from Mom's Basement Press that you're worried about getting stuck with, and those aren't going through Ingram.

It would be a good way to run a shop in a relatively small space (or even a cart!)

Top
#207090 - 01/22/00 09:18 PM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
Ralph Offline
Member

Registered: 12/31/99
Posts: 53
Loc: Las Vegas,NV USA
ian - where is your store? You sell more trades than comics, wow that's good to hear! So your overall sales of trades are higher than your comic periodical sales? One point you brought up: "you'd lose some customers who come in for the new issues and end up buying the trades" Do you mean "not end up buying the trades"? Well if you meant the latter that's a good point, but my line of thinking with doing a trade collection store would involve having a marketing campaign that targets people who buy "regular" books. And yes you're right in such a store you'd want and only need a bare bones staff.

Nat - I totally agree with your comment "you'd have to think more like a bookstore and less like a comic book store." That's the point of doing such a store, we know that presently a lot of people don't go to comic book stores so this kind of store could serve to get comics out of the art's basement. And yes with such a store a space of not more than 1500 sq.ft. would be enough. Nat, your idea about ordering some books through returnable sources is good, but isn't their profit margin not as high and what percentage of ordered books is returnable?

It's been a week since this thread has been over here and not too much discussion. I'd like to see Jack, Rory, Jim Hanley, and other comic shop retailers join in the discussion. Does anyone have any idea how many retailers visit this site? Is there any other comic creators that have ideas on this topic? Maybe everyone visiting this thread thinks this is a dumb idea? Okay, let's hear about why it's a dumb idea! Anyone out there manage a Border's or Barnes and Nobles who could offer any input? Nat and ian brought up some things I had't thought of and I'm sure there are many more things that could be perceived as being problems to having a trade store, but again, I don't think they can't be solved. I also think you could stock some superhero trades in such a store, but you'd want to de-emphazise them. Having comic strip collections and art books (Frazetta, Royo,etc.) would also be good books to spotlight and would help serve as a bridge to introduce other trades to people unfamiliar with the diversity of this medium.

------------------
Alternate Reality Comics
Las Vegas,NV
_________________________
Alternate Reality Comics
Las Vegas,NV
www.altrealitycomics.com

Top
#207091 - 01/23/00 02:17 AM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
iangould Offline
Member

Registered: 07/16/99
Posts: 257
Loc: Brisbane, Queensland, Australi...
Ralph,

My shop is located in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, a state of Australia.

(We're currently sweating through a 40 degree celsius/100 + degree fahrenheit heat-wave).

We do indeed sell more trades than comics (if only because of the three shops in the CBD we're the only one's to carry many manga or independent books).

My concern about dropping new issues entirely is that some customers who currently come in looking for new issues and end up buying trades would simply stop coming in.

Top
#207092 - 01/23/00 02:51 AM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
Jim Hanley Offline
Member

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

This is an interesting topic, but the time necessary to address it properly is tough to come by. I'll get back when I can.
_________________________
"I love him like a brother. David Greenglass." -- Woody Allen - Crimes & Misdemeanors

Top
#207093 - 01/23/00 03:53 AM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
Rory D. Root Offline
Member

Registered: 09/12/99
Posts: 628
Loc: Berkeley,Ca.,USA
COMIC RELIEF has always been modeled on a bookstore. We have sold more trades than comics for some 4-6 years now. However the two are synergistic. I don't see any reasons to assume that a smaller store is what is required or desired. Selling comic BOOKS to a broader audience in my opinion can call for more staff with a higher degree of knowledge. Loading the front of the site, with what has for years in this field been called comiccamoflage, to lull the unsuspecting in, is always a good idea. It also tends to make drag alongs alittle more at ease, and often results in sales to same.
Sales of comics and then trades to the same people have been going on for some time now (see CEREBUS any VIZ book etc.)the additional cashflow is crucial as the field adjust to new paradigms(sorry starting to hate that word). As Jim said a complex topic which needs some thought, further musings latter.
_________________________
Comic Relief: THE Comic Bookstore

Top
#207094 - 01/23/00 10:05 AM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
Mark Badger Offline
Member

Registered: 07/15/99
Posts: 90
Loc: oaklnd, ca usa
While you guys ponder this frontline combat stuff,can I lob a few more shells at you?

How would you react to, trades made out of online comics that had never been printed? Would it make a difference if a site charged for the online comic and then issued a trade of the comics?

And most importantly how do you go about talking to retailers if you were doing a business that is redesigning the way you publish comics? If we created an online survey and called store by store to tell people about it, and ask them some questions would that make sense? Whats the best way to go about getting retailers take on a business plan?

And this is not just a rhetorical question.

Mark Badger www.lemoncustard.com
tart and tangy comics for the web and print

Haunted Man is Boffo Flash comics! 3 times a week! www.darkhorse.com

Top
#207095 - 01/23/00 12:43 PM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
Rory D. Root Offline
Member

Registered: 09/12/99
Posts: 628
Loc: Berkeley,Ca.,USA
Mark, I believe the collection of online comics is inevitable, at least as far as possible. As usual I am in favour of more trades more often.
_________________________
Comic Relief: THE Comic Bookstore

Top
#207096 - 01/23/00 01:01 PM Re: Selling trade collections exclusively?
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
>>Nat, your idea about ordering some books through returnable sources is good, but isn't their profit margin not as high and what percentage of ordered books is returnable? <<

The profit margin is not as high, which is why it's not a good idea for books you are dead-certain you can sell. But it does give you the option of putting on the shelves books that you are less certain you can sell (and if you're building around books, you'll have to deal with such items, as you won't be building such a store off of pull lists). Any given title is 100 PERCENT returnable; The publisher is betting that they're book is good enough that people will buy it. There may be some limit to overall returns (i.e., if you're returning 90% of what you order, the distributor probably won't want to deal with you anymore.)

I don't know the exact discount structure, but I can tell you (based on my royalty statements as a mainstream bookstore author) that the publisher gets about 45% of cover. I don't know what the distributor deal is.

Setting up with a traditional book distributor will also allow you access to types of material that Diamond may not offer you. Do you need Peanuts books? How about Greg Rucka's text novels to sell to Whiteout fans? Or maybe The Complete Idiot's Guide To Making Millions On The Internet, co-written by former comics publisher Rod Underhill and current comics writer Nat Gertler, with an intro by Stan Lee and illos by Barry Ween's Judd Winick (plug plug)? Those things you probably won't get through Diamond.

(I'd also think about hooking up with remaindered book distributors... too many times I've seen Dark Knight GNs or Dilbert collections selling through the "Sale" pile at the bookstore for 30% of cover, and think "why isn't my local comics shop carrying this?")

[This message has been edited by NatGertler (edited 01-23-2000).]

Top
Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 >


Moderator:  Rick Veitch, Steve Conley