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Thread: CAFP 14: Who's Watching the Borders?

  1. Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    I've been a manager for Barnes & Noble and for Waldenbooks, and I've worked in, and later owned, my own comic store.

    The idea of putting comics stores within book stores is a good idea, but most likely not going to happen. Here's why.

    With the way big box bookstores are set up, graphic novels fall into a subdivision of the Sci-Fi/Fanstasy section. That section USUALLY is assigned to staff who know the genre and want to be there, so in a way it IS a genre (if not comic store) within the store, already. Taking and making it a store-within-a-store, like they do with the music/dvd section or the coffee shops, wouldn't be cost effective unless they knew they were going to make bucket-loads of money. Plus, the comic shop within the store would deplete too many other sections. It would impact the music/DVD section, the fiction section, the horror section, the calendars and games...etc.

    And while it would, in all likelyhood, be a boon for business, the big stores don't THINK that way, and would need some SERIOUS convincing.

    Do I think it's a great idea? HELLS YEAH! I just don't see them goin' for it. Maybe in a few more years, when some of our genreation hold higher positions in the big companies.

    Also, Matt, the reason B. Dalton has 16 shelves of manga vs. 3 of Graphic novels is simple. Walden books and B. Dalton are the MALL division of their parent companies. Malls are frequented by young (12-16 year old) girls. Young girls buy manga. BOAT LOADS of manga.
    Last edited by SebastianPiccione; Friday, April 03, 2009 at 07:10 PM.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5

  2. StevenForbes Guest

    Thank you, Seb.

    THAT is what I was looking for: someone with perspective on the subject.

    And yes, it would make an impact on the other sections, but if done organically (or as organically as these stores can manage), I still think it would benefit them more in the long run.

    And that's part of the problem. These companies only think in the short term, not really looking into the future. They need to start thinking like Amazon. Amazon is about to be COMPLETELY debt free. They should be out of debt by June, which means that everything they make from then on, besides operating costs and R&D (which should be separate, anyway), will be pure profit.

    How many large companies can say that?

    I think B&N could easily run a pilot program within a few stores to see if it works. Let it run for a year, and see what they find out. I think they'd be pleasantly surprised at the result.

  3. Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Thank you, Forby! I've waited my whole life for someone to create a scenario specifc, that could actually benefit from my perspective!

    It would most certainly be a successful venture. The idea really lends itself to the the store set up already. However, the companies would look at it from a different angle. They would see an outisde business for them to run/work with..which they know how to handle, as per the starbucks. They would also see another spearate nook within their store which would give more opportunities for "shrinkage". No, not the cold water kind, that's the retail term for shoplifitng and theft. Plus, many of the things within the comic shp are already high on the shrinkage item hot list, so that alone will make them leary.

    Add to that the fact that at big book stores, you are allowed to sit and read the books without purchasing them. With trades, this may not be a problem...but if you are getting into monthlies, well let's face it, there are only so many times people (and children) can flip though an issue of Spidey before it starts to come apart. These people aren't oing to be treating them gently and respectfully. In the end, many of these itmes will become "damgaes" and be returned for credit to the distributor.

    Yeah, the big stores don't buy for keeps. They return and are refunded for unsold product. That alone will cut out many comic companies ability to get involved.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5

  4. MattGrant Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastianPiccione View Post
    Yeah, the big stores don't buy for keeps. They return and are refunded for unsold product. That alone will cut out many comic companies ability to get involved.
    That was the point I was trying to get across about smaller press being left in the dust. There's no way the direct market model would work in a book store (maybe it could... right after they hang up their "Buy-Sell-Trade, Top $$$ Paid!" signs). The only reason a lot of the smaller guys even exist is because of the DM.

    A lot of those projects/publishers would probably have to take a more traditional publication rout, which I imagine would thin the herd.

    Now... seriously guys, would the bookstores have pulls?

  5. StevenForbes Guest

    I forgot about the returns/damages.

    Hey, I'm human! It happens!

    But I still think it could work.

    And to answer your question, Matt: YES. The pull list is a guaranteed sale. That would be throwing money away, and if you're going to do that, you might as well give it to me. I have webcomics to produce!

    As a periodical, I think the comics would move faster than most. They would move faster than most books because of the pull list.

    Having the stores in bookstores can also give all kind of data we were previously unable to get: what was moving, how fast it was moving, how long things were staying on the shelves, so on and so forth. Add a VERY comprehensive poll to that (with something to win, of course, that would be valuable to a comic collector/reader), and we suddenly have data coming out of our ears. Hell, do a LOT of polls, talking about price, demographics, characters, companies, creators, what have you. Everyone wants to win something. Give them a means that also gives us the data we want.

    How old is the average comic book reader?

    How much does he make?

    How many titles does he read?

    How many comics does he own?

    Things like that. Start to fill in those gaps. That can be done from a chain store, because not all comic shops are going to want to get in on it. Besides, with the greater reach the stores will afford, it's easier to be able to get more data. B&N is a name that everyone knows and trusts. Who knows Heroes and Villains, or Fantasy Comics? Who knows The Incredible Pulp? Will these stores be open in a few years? (Well, not the Incredible Pulp. It's been closed for at least 10 years, if not 15.)

    Another thing bookstores will afford us? It will bring comics into "legitimate" territory. It will get us out of the "caves" and into the light. It will tell the world that we're no longer "ashamed" of being comic fans. It will put us in the mind and eyes of the public like no movie, cartoon, or show ever did.

    We may see number not seen since The Bubble, if not greater. And, it could/should be steady.


  6. MattGrant Guest

    I think, too, the data could help publishers increase advertising revenue. I'm sure they can drive up ad prices by saying "Okay here's some hard data" Crap, i mean, in those polls, why not just add stuff like "what kind of video games do you like, what system do you have, what kind of soda do you drink, what do you do in your free time" etc... Plus knowing age demographic data... when you can have focused data like that, its gold for advertising.

    Getting comics "out of the cave and into the light" would be the ultimate benefit:

    To put it in perspective, my wife is fully down with comics (she accepts it as part of who i am, and reads some herself). But I've had girlfriends who I dated for years that never ONCE went with me to the comic book store. But we'd hit book stores weekly. Ditto to lots of my friends. If i was hanging out with them, I would not be visiting the LCS. We might, though, spend 2-3 hours at a book store.

    So yeah, plenty of time to mosey over to the comics section!

    I just think its detrimental to comics that they are only sold in a place with their own kind. It's like having a store that only sells Granny Smith apples and those stores being the only place that sells them. I can go to the grocery store get all my other groceries and 5+ other varieties of apples, am I really going to venture to a separate store to give Granny Smith's a whirl?

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