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

October 25, 2004

Jeff Smith Speaks Out on Convention Sales and Retailers

imageThe comics news site Newsarama kicks off the week by presenting a really fine, focused interview with cartoonist Jeff Smith on the sales of his one-volume Bone collection at San Diego's Comic-Con International in July. What clearly was one of the buzz books at that vitally important show opened old wounds regarding the loyalty that some retailers believe publishers should show to stores in terms of selling new books at conventions, particularly before they are available in stores. The argument on behalf of retailers is perhaps best and most recently articulated by Brian Hibbs in this article.

The best thing about Jeff Smith's response isn't that he puts forward the publishers' take on the long-running argument clearly -- although he does just that, citing the publicity and underwriting convention cost concerns -- but that the cartoonist pretty much admits that this is one of those problems where each side has a point and no solution will likely please both. Still, as Smith points out, there are some things that can be done, such as making the book available the exact same week as a big show, and there are a few friendly overtures one can keep in mind, such as remembering direct market retailers on your bookstore-focused promotional tours. Even if it's only to make comic shops aware in advance when and where a book will be offered so that orders can be adjusted, it's clear that most publishers could stand to take a few more steps in finessing the convention sales situation.

Hidden in the article is a nice sales update on the book in question. Right next door on the Newsarama site is this informative interview with cartoonist/educator James Sturm on his Center for Cartoon Studies, including what looks to be a picture of the Vermont town in which it will be located.
posted 8:01 am PST | Permalink

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