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

March 11, 2009

Changing Consumption Habits As A Way To Maximize Your Funnybook Dollar

The CBR columnist Augie De Blieck Jr. has a new piece up on "waiting for the trade." For those of you not up on your catchphrases used as descriptions of comics consumption strategies, what this means in the post and generally is eschewing the buying of serial comics for the relative discount getting collected versions or the obvious savings represented by buying one version of whatever comic over buying both a serial and collected version. De Blieck also extols the virtue of buying a lot of this material from on-line booksellers that offer discounts.

imageI've been preaching sort of the the same thing since the early 1990s, using a strategy that I put into place during grad school when I was really, really poor (or, in comics industry terms, "middle class"). I stopped buying comics for a stretch, put the money I would have spent into a free checking account, and then started buying comics again putting only half my former weekly purchase amount into the checking account every week. That was all it took for me to get out of the habit of seeing comics as something with which I interacted solely on the basis of new arrivals the day they arrived and more into seeing the entire medium as something I could access and from which I could make purchases. I still went to the comics shop, but what I bought there became stuff specific to the comics shop. Over the years as the options became available to me I added purchases at conventions, from book dealers, from back-issue dealers and even on-line booksellers. Now those habits include reading comics for free at the library and on-line.

The typical argument in terms of a downside to that strategy is that the Direct Market has become fragile because of years of taking money out of the system as it's made rather than reinvesting in it, and it simply can't handle too many of its core customers opting out of how that system works at its most profitable. You tend to see negative reactions from people based on the fact that this kind of consumption is somehow either a) non-supportive or b) working against your best interests because it endangers comics stores and even if your habits is changed you probably still value such stores. I don't have any answers, but I think it's worth presenting this basic argument every time someone brings it up.

you can have this great Virgil Partch book for about the price of two consecutive issues of DC's Simon Dark
posted 8:00 am PST | Permalink

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