Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 11, 2013

A Note Or Two On The Rise In International USPS Rates

imageI've heard back from about a half-dozen people that practice some element of their comics-related business by sending books or 'zines to customers not in North America, and I'm starting to see matter-of-fact updates like this one in a couple of places. Folks seem split between grim worry and resigned reluctance over a significant increase in International shipping rates that may have a severe impact on the desire that certain comics fans have for certain comics or even a change in a bottom-line way what they can afford. John Porcellino's post here is probably the best summary statement on the matter.

It looks like there was some coverage of this right when the announcements were made on January 27 that focused on indie record labels. It makes sense that they would be similarly affected, although one mini-comics distributor expressed longing for those companies' tendency to have packages that are the same size and weight.

It could be that this move and any more to come will push certain companies towards digital even more aggressively, although I should stress that not all comics are valued for their content in a way that a digital version is the exact same thing for certain consumers. I mean, I know if I were living in Germany I'd still want those paper editions of King-Cat as opposed to being just as happy to have a digital version if one were offered. I feel that way about a lot of comics where I have that option now. This is actually a difficult point for some folks to understand, doubly so as it bumps up against a sometimes-unflattering, obsessive collector impulse that's driven comics for years and years and not always down a smooth and happy highway. Still, the specificity of an experience can be an important component of how we enjoy art: seeing theater in person rather than films of those performance, hearing chamber music live rather than on CD, seeing a movie in a big theater with a great sound system as opposed to watching it on a laptop. Some are better, some are different, some don't matter at all to certain folks, but they're a factor. And they're not rigid distinctions, either, far from it. So we'll see how this develops. Comics has a history of allowing external money matters to significantly define the art form, and hopefully this isn't one of those cases.
posted 3:20 pm PST | Permalink

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