January 18, 2007
Not Comics: Book and Hobby Stores
Two articles, one kind of old and one kind of new, popped out at me for what they, together, might say about the American comic shop. I have no idea what the exact numbers are (I'm not sure anyone outside of Diamond and their immediate circle knows), but the general consensus seems to be that the number of comic shops has gone down, if not year to year every year until now than certainly over a decade to fifteen years ago. We all know the reasons, right? Unavoidable readership trends concerning comics exacerbated by the short-sightedness of major players. Right?
Maybe not. This article by Paul Collins in May 2006's Voice Literary Supplement
and an editorial by writer and game designer Ryan Dancy on 2007 gaming industry trends
, seem to suggest that bookstores and hobby stores have undergone a similar, broad contraction.
That's sort of interesting in and of itself, and makes me think of comics in a couple of ways: 1) any loss in number of comic book stores could be part of a cultural shift in the way people shop as opposed to just
being about issues like content, presentation and format, 2) bookstores may not just reach a different audience than comic shops; bookstores probably out-perform them in some very basic ways -- this puts Chicago Comics' claim to out-super the superstores in bold relief as a survival tactic, 3) Generating greater sales per shop may not be the panacea hoped for and therefore perhaps business reform should be examined on a deeper level than presenting another wave of ostensibly better comics and hoping the Direct Market shapes itself around them, and 4) these are all trends that could accelerate in the near-future, particularly as local markets ossify a whole generation removed from their last devoted sales agents.
posted 2:10 am PST
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