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

January 14, 2009

Three Ways Things Could Get Worse

Here's a virtual triptych of links and story areas that indicate how economic troubles could specifically make things worse for aspects of the comics business in the weeks and months ahead:

* more newspapers will likely fold: Alan Gardner indicates a few that may have serious issues, including the home of one of the country's leading editorial cartoon staffers, Steve Sack. There will be plenty more as the year progresses.

* more newspapers will likely cut back on their expenditures for comics: Todd Leopold notes that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has cut back from two pages of comics to one page, as previously announced. (Frank Rizzo of the AJC objects to the characterization and writes in with details here.) These first two stories compound matters. In Seattle for instance, you could conceivably see the P-I close and then the Seattle Times cut back to a single page of comics. This would mean you'd lose two pages from the P-I, one page from the Times, and any strips that either paper was buying to find a place for it later on and keep it out of the other paper's hands -- with the result that the Seattle market could have 15-20 percent of the strips it had this time last year.

* bookstore returns habits bear watching: finally, I've received three e-mails from people over the last week or so noting that Borders either is or certainly might be heavily returning books right now -- including manga, and including copies of books that they had in the past kept around in order to get readers onto various series -- in order to clean up the balance sheets as much as possible as their fiscal year ends in early February or just generally as part of new management initiatives. Leaving aside the other dire consequences that could face booksellers in the year ahead: store closures, bankruptcies, severe changes in purchasing, I think a flood of returns right now could be its own story, its own concern. I couldn't get anyone to talk about this with me, so it's not confirmed, but it's something we should watch out for as a possibility along with the other two, I think.
posted 7:15 am PST | Permalink

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