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

November 16, 2012

Go, Read: Brian Hibbs On Low-Selling Mainstream Titles

The retailer and industry advocate Brian Hibbs has a piece up here on low-selling mainstream comic book series and their overall detrimental impact on the comic book Direct Market of hobby and comics stores. I've long been fascinated by the terrible numbers by the bulk of the comic book series from mainstream publishers in this era, how many are operating at a level we were told years and years ago -- when it seemed like books falling to these levels would remain at best a fluke if not a general impossibility -- were unprofitable or barely so. Hibbs' best contribution to that discussion is explaining how low-selling titles per store make the retailer's job incredibly difficult. When you're only selling four or five issues of a title, you basically have to sell them all or near to all of them in order to keep hitting a bare minimum percentage of sales needed for profitability.

I don't know what can be done about reforming that system a bit, and it could be that we've reached the point where it's simply becoming exhausted. I also doubt that the culture at these companies would ever allow for a cutting away of lower-selling titles and all the market-share PR damage this would cause. But I do think some sort of risk-taking/forward-thinking from someone pursuing some avenue for how to better approach doing a line of serial comics might be useful at one or both of those companies right now, even if I can't even guess the shape and thrust of the result. I know, I know, that's hardly useful. In fact, that's borderline obnoxious: "Some genius please fix this thing; thank you." I just worry that that particular system for selling comics seems to remain sick on a certain level despite all the miracles performed in keeping this retail segment profitable; how long you can run a low-grade fever before trauma sets in isn't something I look forward to seeing play out.
posted 5:10 pm PST | Permalink

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