Where or where can an indie comic fan find a store worth browsing?
Well, lucky for me, my hometown has a great comic shop that stocks plenty of indie stuff and makes it easy and fairly pleasurable for me to find what I’m after. It’s not quite as pleasurable as it used to be, but it’s still worth my time and a better option than most a lot of indie comics fans have.
(Oh to live in Montreal and visit 211 Bernard West, Drawn & Quarterly’s brick and mortar retail outlet.)
Does that look like paradise, or what?
Hey, that’s Michel Rabagliati in the foreground. Awesome!
Anyway. Brian Hibbs of San Fran’s Comix Experience has a post up at Newsarama in which he talks about what he’s learned since installing a computerized point of sale inventory system. Johanna of Comics Worth Reading has done a nice job of picking a few highlights out of the article.
The part that concerns me most at this moment is this:
He identifies two categories of dead weight: The first is independent books with no public awareness, no audience, no standout concept, no well-known creator. In short, books with no marketing and thus no sales, thrown out there on the “build it and they will come” theory. It was a different world when a retailer could take a flyer on a book that cost them a buck and a quarter and would sell for $2.50 to a curious customer with a lot less competition. Plus, if the buyer liked it, there would be future issues to sell with less customer resistance. Now, a sample graphic novel is $5-15 per stock copy, there are tons of competing similar products, and each sale has to be won individually.
In other words, the littler your book, the less you chances of selling a copy at Hibbs’ particular store, and therefore the less it’s worth his shelf-space to stock you. Even worse, since this makes it sound like indie books actually require Hibbs to put forth extra effort for each one, they’re even more likely to just get on his nerves and therefore get the heave-ho.
I guess that’s pretty obvious logic, and Hibbs is clearly a thoughtful enough reader that he may continue to stock indie books just for the love of the game. However, I’m sure there are plenty of retailers out there who’ll love the ruthless thrill of applying the POS inventory system’s findings and cutting out anything that doesn’t make the grade. Sell what sells, rights? Not a bad way to increase your profits, but bad news for indie guys who need every single sale they can get just to stay afloat.