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

January 29, 2017

My Dumb Thoughts On Lack Of A Bestselling Comics List At The New York Times

imageI never looked at the comics best-seller lists at the New York Times. And now they're gone. RIP. It seemed they were good for supporting assumptions about comics that very much looked to be true in a snapshot-of-the-field way, like the fact Raina Telgemeier sells more comics than anyone else. A rare tip of the hat from an independent source people have heard of, NYT's lists made for a lot of happy cartoonists that could call themselves NYT best-selling authors and brag that they'll have something in their obituary you and I might not. I have to imagine it was useful for marketing, and a relief to marketing people used to dealing with DM-only charts that frequently fail to serve that huge number of comics-makers not slightly pudgy guys, balding, with a goatee.

Still, I never used them. Never! Not to my memory, anyway. Even sucking at my job, you'd think I'd have used one by accident. Truth is, the only sales figures I trust come on royalty statements, and even then that's 40 percent of the time. It's hard for me to criticize an entity for failing to provide marketing tools. I guess I would prefer my paper to cover arts as fully as it can, which makes any rollback in coverage a sad-face moment, but once comics people let that be known to the paper -- and they sure have! -- I'm not sure what the next step is.

And yes, I share suspicions this was never an area with which many at the Times felt as comfortable as they do with prose. Sure. Their coverage in a broader sense has over the years been haphazard, arbitrary and boosterish. That's the good stuff. The bad... let's just say that when I'm in hell I will have to talk to millions of grumpy-ass Times reporters, not able to tape what I'm saying, sighing and asking for me to say something a fourth time over in the hopes it will makes sense to them. And then not use anything I said.

I would imagine if the figures were super-important, a consortium of publishers could pretty quickly put together a financial package and sponsor one of the number crunchers to do an equivalent list. They might even do a more rigorous one. It wouldn't have the brand name, though.
posted 3:35 pm PST | Permalink

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