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April 15, 2014

Go, Read: Shannon O'Leary's Retailer Survey Summary Article Over At PW: Saga, Pricing, Weather

There are a bunch of straight-talk gems to pull from Shannon O'Leary's summary report of a discussion with a handful of Direct Market retailers. As the article itself notes, this isn't a representative survey of that market but a temperature-taking of a group of that market's 100 highest quality retail establishments; I didn't see a store included I don't think of as a model store. While this might make it harder to use what is said as some kind of truth for that entire market, it does allow for some quality observations about the high-functioning part of the DM.

The three that jumped out at me were Saga, pricing and weather. Saga is confirmed by the people selling it as the genuine hit its numbers and buzz indicate, a status driven by enthusiasm for the material and a wider-than-usual audience base for a book people want to share. It's also something that affordable trades facilitate in terms of entry point and Image's reach right now puts in almost every shop. Tucker Stone makes this really interesting point that one way that publishers are keeping their margins with digital sales playing a bigger factor is just jacking up the price in a way that makes it harder for physical-location book retailers to sell at the purposefully inflated price. I hadn't considered that before. Finally, the retailers note that the crappy weather in the Midwest and Northeast makes a difference, and probably did so this year in terms of the slow first quarter. This is something we don't think about enough. Direct Market stores sometimes draw from a pretty wide area for their business. It's not that comics lacks a wide fanbase, but the kind of focused, relentless buying that keeps the DM going asks for a specific customer that might not be available in every neighborhood.

That some of the best and brightest in a retailing sphere can remaing bullish on comics despite a present that could feed any number of slow-death or apocalyptic scenarios is some of the best news for which comics can hope.
posted 2:05 am PST | Permalink

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