Comic Retail is Expanding. Weird.

For the last year or so, if anyone asked me if it would be good to open a comic shop, I'd tell them I think it's a weird time.  We don't know what digital is going to become or how that's going to affect the direct market, and we don't know what the Disney merger, or even the restructuring at DC will do.  We don't know anything.  And while I don't know much about business (hardly anything really), I do know that it helps to have data to back up your investment risks. 

And make no mistake, opening a comic shop is a risk.  It's hard work, and depending on where you are, and how good you are at it, and whether people are going to buy comics from you.  At one point, I even batted around the idea of opening a shop.  Then I read this, and we had a baby, and it put me in my place.

Yet, we're seeing major expansion in comic shops across the US.  First there was the Hastings news, then yesterday Midtown Comics announced that they were opening a third store in downtown Manhattan.  It should be understood that Midtown Comics already operates 2 huge and well stocked stores, each within less than a mile of one another in midtown.  Very near there are several other huge shops most small town shopgoers would marvel at.  There's no shortage of shops in Manhattan, but they're still going expanding.  Business must be good, and perhaps on the way to getting better, even in the shadow of the dreaded "D" word.

What we're hearing from Marvel and DC is that they want to protect their partner-retailers and that is the reason we don't see more day and date comics, and I suspect that's the reason we're not seeing lower prices on the digital offerings out there.  Our friend Augie De Blieck has been on a tear lately, accusing retailers and the direct market of holding back the tide of digital distribution for fear of losing their business, perhaps justifiably so, and perhaps not.  We'll have to wait and see.  But like all things previous, digital will come, and we will directly or indirectly choose the form in which it does.

I started looking at the overall numbers for comic book sales, and the expansion we're seeing, and from an overall sense, I was surprised to see the (estimated) growth of the industry. 

Estimated OVERALL North American Market size, including estimates for newsstand comics and bookstore TPB sales (source):

1997 $300-320 million  
1998 $280-300 million  
1999 $270-290 million  
2000 $255-275 million  
2001 $260-285 million  
2002 $300-330 million  
2003 $350-400 million  
2004 $420-480 million  
2005 $475-550 million  
2006 $575-640 million  
2007 $660-700 million  
2008

$680-710 million

 

So I can see why, from the overall view, it looks like things are on the up, up, up.  But is that really the case? I still wouldn't recommend to someone that they open a comic shop, unless they have a lot of free time and don't worry about losing a crapload of money, or unless is the only thing they've ever wanted to do.

The fact is, shops will survive. Paper comics aren't going anywhere.  People will always want them, and in one form or another, there will always be a market.  But if you think single issue sales and distribution aren't going to look a lot different 10 years from now, you're fooling yourself.  You can either look at this as a time to fear the changes, or a time to be excited about the possible expansion of comics ahead. 

If you're looking at the recent announcements, for Apple's devices and thinking it's just for people who have those devices, and are willing to spend that money, you're looking at this the wrong way.  The iPad is first. It's for early adopters.  Soon enough, there will be plenty of options out there, and if the trends hold, you'll be able to consume any issue of a classic run the moment you want it, and when publishers start getting a taste of this other market, they're going to wonder how to do more of it.

Personally, I'm incredibly excited, and if in the meantime, there are more comic shops to serve more people, so much the better.  I hope they figure out a way to work together with digital distribution to allow readers to get what they want in any way they want it.  That's the point, after all.

Comments

  1. The thing that a lot of people in larger urban areas don’t seem to grasp about the comic book market is that, geographically speaking, most of the country doesn’t have access to any comic shops, much less good comic shops. 

    Hastings stores tend to be located in college towns and slightly smaller markets, and I have to think the biggest boon of their expansion will be bringing decent comic book options to these markets for the very first time.

    As for MidTown, they probably sell more comics than 3/4 of Diamond’s accounts combined (and that’s a conservative guess), so the expansion is good news.

  2. The thing about the Hastings expansion that I like is exactly that. I hope they’re supported with sales so make it a long term thing. Not sure that will happen, but at least you can’t say they’re going half-assed.

  3. Out in L.A. Golden Apple comics sold one of their stores to Earth 2, which I can only assume the sale was because Golden Apple did not think that two stores were viable for generating profit, yet Earth 2 now has two stores and I can only assume that they believe that two stores is a sustainable way to increase profits.

    Kind of confusing how two business entities of a very similar nature can see it in two totally different ways.

    Earth 2 are ridiculously adept at moving collected editions though.

  4. Those numbers going up are largely due to Marvel Comics and the success of the Spider-Man movies.

  5. How a shop is run, and who’s manning the store has a hell of a lot to do with how well that shop does. Comics don’t sell themselves to new customers, and if you don’t do that, you’re not gonna succeed.

  6. These numbers make sense to me. Besides the price increases over the years, I had a feeling that the comic book industry is in a better place now than it was a decade ago when Marvel was failing BIG.

    I live by Bakersfield, CA and I’ve seen that comic market grow in the last few years. Sure, they’re all small shops, but the increased availability is notable.

  7. Second Earth 2 store has Geoff Johns as a co-owner.

    That might help . . . hahaha

  8. I certainly think that all the comic book movies are helping sell more comics. I just don’t know if it’s the main reason or one of many.

  9. my local LCS has been moving slowly away from back issues (the bins shrink and shrink) and the space for current issues is smaller and more dense. 

    the area for trades, (especially indie and hard to find) collected editions, books, toys, t shirts, collectibles etcetc keeps growing. I think they recognize the niche they are filling. The smart owners recognize there’s a lot more to a successful comic shop than just selling floppy comics. 

  10. Also notice those stats include bookstore TPB sales. It has been my impression that those are what are fueling the main growth in the industry. I am sure comic book stores squeeze out of a piece of that, but I suspect a lot of it is people who do not go to comic book shops.

  11. I don’t feel like monthly issue sales are going up, because the numbers always look like they’re going down, and in the last decade, the trade programs have expanded greatly, which, I would assume would contribute more the bottom line.

  12. I think the best place to open a shop at the moment would be in those smaller market areas where you could service those people that are ordering from DCBS.  I’m not saying people should open a shop in the boonies, but opening a really nice shop in city the size of a Peoria, IL that doesn’t have one…now there’s a potential market for someone to sell comics in.

    I think the way the shop is run definitely plays a part in its success.  There are several shops around here that I don’t even bother with because the guys/gals running it are unhelpful, have no selection, and aren’t friendly to "outsiders."  The place I shop is none of those things, and it does very well for itself.

  13. But it’s still a hell of a risk. You don’t know how many people want/care about the kind of shop you do.

  14. But that applies to all small businesses.

  15. The comic industry needs to learn from the music industry’s mistakes. Don’t fight digital, embrace it while you can. You either adapt or you’re going to die.

  16. I live in a small town in Missouri and I go to a comic book shop called Comic Relief that is closer to St. Louis. It’s about a half hour drive from where I live. Comic Relief decided to expand and open up a store in the small town I live in, because they knew they had a decent amount of customers there. The problem that ended up happening was that most of their customers commute into the city anyways and decided to continue going to the shop they had been using for years. They were never able to really get new customers, and the old customers they had that did not commute just was not enough. I feel like this is a problem that a lot of people opening up shops in small town face.

  17. That article you have on the "read this" hyper link is brutal.

  18. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a HUGE supporter of the LCS.  With that being said I think there are things about the Direct Market that are very important (and many times taken for granted)…

     

    • Street level exposure (i.e. brick and mortar) is a MAJOR factor to growing the market.  When something is out of sight, it is out of mind.  It is VERY hard for someone to just "stumble" into an online store/digital.  

     

    When people compare modern sales vs. those to ’50’s or even the ’90’s the always forget about how many street level places comics were easily accessible.  In the ’50’s they were on every corner news stand.  In the ’90’s the number of LCSs were at record highs.  Hell, even the surge that happened 5 years ago, Borders and B&N were a pivotal factor.

     

    • Digital is a giant gamble for publishers.  Not because it’s new but because unlike the Direct Market, if a company changed their business plan as being primarily digital, there is no guaranteed pre-order money.  LCSs make their orders 3 months in advance.  Publishers have a pretty good grasp of their accounting because of this.  If things went dramatically pro digital, I would assume things like page rates would drop dramatically as well because no Publisher would know what would sell at what numbers.

     

    Just my opinion.  I may be wrong.

     

    the Tiki 

  19. Comic books are some of the largest sections at used bookstores in San Francisco. They sell A LOT!

  20. @thefreakytiki – you have a valid point. But, while this may not be the best thing for bigger companies, digital comics is awesome for smaller and indie comic books companies.

    The smaller companies will be able to compete with the big boys via online marketing, which at this time has not yet been dominated by huge companies.

  21. I would be suprised to see if that data holds up for the past two years. If i recall the economy began to tank in 2008, the picture could very different now.

  22. I think it just comes down to how the business is run overall.  This applies to all business, not just comics.  It’s always the same tactics no matter what you’re selling to people – if you’re passionate about the product, you’ll educate the people and entice them enough to become a consumer of your product.  You’ll always lose money in the beginning, but if you can weed it out and build your fanbase, you will be successful.

    Digital should be embraced just as much as the paper books too.  I too don’t get why people think the brick and mortar stores will go away because of digital – it’s basically an additional revenue stream.  That can only be good for business.

  23. Maybe because large and small music retail stores are currently gone.

    If digital comics follows the same path as digital music, goodbye most LCSs within 5-10 years.

  24. I never understand the downloadable Music is like digital comics conversation.  They are nothing alike.  It is not an apples to apples comparison.  The only thing they have in common is that they are both forms of entertainment.

     

    I view digital comics more of an equivalent to TPBs… they are the new "collected hardcover" rather than a replacement for any other format.

     

    the Tiki 

  25. To the consumer, there’s not much use for the physical CD after you’ve put it on your player, but a collected comic? A trade paperback?  Even some issues? There will still be a market for those. It’s up to the stores to find a way to make that work for them. 

    At the same time, if that’s the way people want to consume their media, then it’s not a good business to be in, and that’s nobody’s fault.

  26. My CD library looks a hella of a lot like my library of books.

    Let’s see:

    1) They can be bought online and downloaded in minutes.

    2) They can be carried on digital devices.

    3) They can be pirated.

    If you can’t see the writing on the wall, then I guess you will have to wait for reality to catch up to your lack of vision.

  27. Scorpian Masada if you enjoy digital comics… good on ya!  Eat it up!  I am truly happy for you.

     

    But I have to ask… why is it that everyone one else who may enjoy reading comics in say trades or over sized hard covers or weekly sequential episode on paper have to, as you say, "wait for reality to catch up to our lack of vision"?  Basically… why such hate?  We can all co-exist.  🙂

     

    the Tiki 

  28. No hate. I’m a realist. I can divorce my personal preferences from what I consider economic/technological reality, especially when I have a concrete example of what happened to an industry not too long ago.

    I personally buy a mix of CDs and digital music depending on cost. If I can get a physical copy of a CD for the same price as the digital copy, I buy the physical copy.

    I’ve never read a digital comic. I took a glance at one on an iPhone once.

    At the end of last year, I saw a list of companies on AOL news that will not be here in 2011. One of those companies was Borders.

    That is like the Tower Records of books and personally my favorite bookstore chain.

  29. @scorpion–Borders being in financial trouble doesn’t have as much to do with the products they sell as much as how they’ve run their business. There used to be 5 stores within a 10 mile radius of where i lived and they were all in super high rent shopping centers. They closed down 3 of them. That chain has HUGE overhead and expanded too fast, and has an online business that isn’t competitive as well as taking out huge high interest loans it can’t repay….among many other factors

    As far as the comic shop, i think it comes down to how you run your business. The biggest hurdle for comic shops is having employees that are enthusiastic but who bite their tongues when a newbie comes in and asks for help. The first and last time i ever went to a particular shop was when the prick of a store manager made me feel embarrassed when i was trying to get back into comics. Yeah dude i’ve never read Long Halloween..thats why i’m asking you about it. I Never set foot in that store again, and bought my trades at Borders from then on out until i found another LCS that had cool employees. 

  30. @Josh I wonder, how does Diamond Dist. feel about the whole movement towards digital ? They stand to be pretty much obsolete and lose their monopoly. Do they intend on combating this trend towards digital same day release?

  31. Realistically speaking this is obviously a temporary trend. It’ll definetly end, make no mistake but for the time being I revel in having shopping options in my city.

  32. I imagine Diamond will shift into protective mode.  But they should be focusing on finding a way to make their business adjustable for the future paradigm, just like the shops will.

  33. i wonder where that third Midtown Comics store is going to be located. There’s already two CS at the downtown area already. Are they gonna be above ground level again?

  34. Obviously, Borders is not going out of business because they sell comics, but thanks for the more complete picture of their financial situation. 

    I don’t think that Barnes & Noble online or Borders online can compete with Amazon.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but is Barnes & Noble’s online division doing any better against Amazon?

    If those monsters can’t compete with Amazon, how can the LCS fair against Amazon’s trade prices?

    I don’t buy collected editions from my LCS unless they have a crazy sale of 40% or more.

    Eventually, Barnes & Noble will feel the crunch as well.

    Maybe they are the Virgin Megastores of books.

  35. @ScorpionMasada if you are a Borders rewards member(its FREE) they periodically send you an email coupon from 25% to 40% off any reg. priced item(to be used in store or online). ALSO shipping to any of their locations is FREE. I don’t think anyone can compete with Amazon or Instocktrades but you can catch deals with some effort.

    Midtown comics also has a program where for every $100 you spend instore you get something like $10 or $20 off your next purchase(sorry i forgot).Membership is also FREE!!  & they have a ton of trades to peruse( I easily spend 2-3 hrs just going around the aisles)

  36. @Josh: On the basis of the ComiChron article you linked to since 1997, Diamond sales have remained relatively flat when compared to the total market. On a chart, the divergence is stunning:

    https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B3HX6YoI68IVZTFlNWYyMTItNjU5ZS00OTM5LTg4NTYtNTliNDUwYjczNjU2&hl=en 

    Looks like the future for LCSs may be in more aggressive promotion of TPBs? How does a LCS entice bookstore customers to enter their stores? Or perhaps they should all set up Seller accounts on Amazon? 

  37. P.S. I can’t get the link to go live, so if you want to view the chart (.PDF format) you’ll need to copy/paste the URL into your browser …

  38. @cahubble09: My retailer does it by having a great selection and being extremely knowledgable about his product. Two things that most comic books stores that I’ve been to always seem to lack.

  39. @conor: Yes … Mile High Comics in Denver always seems to have a great selection of TPBs. I guess I’m curious to know, however, if the bulk of bookstore TPB sales are coming through brick & mortar or online at Amazon, BN.com, Borders.com etc.

    Are people really purchasing those TPBs in their local bookstore or through the internet? If the internet, then maybe it makes sense for LCSs to just load their inventories into an Amazon sales account if they haven’t done so already (except for the fact that Amazon’s commission rates really take a bite out of the revenue stream)… or to find other ways to increase sales through the internet. I know of at least one LCS in Denver that doesn’t even have its own website.

  40. digital comics=digital music
    tpb/HC=cd/deluxe editions
    monthly comics=vinyl

    This is probably the outcome in about 5-10 years (maybe)
    In any event, there is a future market for physical copies of entertainment.

    Y’all have fun with your only digital collection. I’ll have a lovely mixture of digital and physical.

  41. Here’s another follow-up question … does Amazon order through Diamond or direct from DC and Marvel?

  42. p.s.s. I reposted that chart to also show the source link at Comichron …

    https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B3HX6YoI68IVMjFhOGMyYWMtZTI3ZS00ZTAzLWE0NzUtZDk3ODUyODhmN2Zj&hl=en 

  43. cahubble09, I used to work for a small chain music store that pioneered the used music scene in Southern California. They took their merchandise online (used and new) and still went under.

    HipHopSite.com was probably the best service for online hip hop vinyl. They opened two physical stores, closed them years later and went all digital (12" digital as well!) before any of the other online hip hop music sites, and are now currently a news/blog site only.

    I’d say monthy comics = vinyl singles

  44. @ScorpionMasada: I certainly wouldn’t want to be dismissive of your wisdom and experience. That said, how would you account for the fact that Diamond units sold have remained stable since 1997, despite the INCREASE in single issue prices AND the rise of the bookstore TPB market? Check out the trendlines:

    https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B3HX6YoI68IVYWU4MTBkYzItMjYzYi00MDkyLWI2MTgtNzVmZDliNGM0YjAx&hl=en 

    There are too many unknowns at this point, IMO. According to Josh (above), "What we’re hearing from Marvel and DC is that they want to protect their partner-retailers." Don’t you think they have an interest in maintaining that market? 

    It seems to me that over the last two decades, the comic book industry has weathered some fairly rough storms. Unless Marvel and DC start selling digitals for LESS than a monthly single issue on the same day that they arrive in stores, I don’t think anyone can predict the extinction of the monthly comic market… JMO

  45. If Torrent downloads (which, although illegal, are free) couldn’t kill the monthly single issue market, then how will an electronic device which requires at least $750 initial investment (and then some for bells and whistles)?

  46. I think DC and Marvel have different distributors for non-direct market retailers, like Amazon and bookstores.

  47. Hmm … I’d love to know the terms of those agreements … It just seems like LCS’s ought to be able to tap into the TPB market somehow in a way that they clearly aren’t at present …

  48. @josh–wasn’t there an article on ifanboy a few weeks back talking about how Disney/marvel is going with a huge NYC book distributer that Disney uses for all of their non direct market stuff?  

     

  49. Let’s be careful equating maintaining numbers with increasing profit enough to warrant expansion.

    I’ve got some flack for this comment before, but the reason I think comics have stable numbers is because of a small obsessive set of consumers. Loyal, if you want to spin it as positive as you can.

    It is in their best interest to maintain that market until it is no longer needed.

    There is no morality attached to statements of support of LCS.

    I’ve made the prediction and I stand by it.

    Now I have to root against an industry I love just to be right. hahahaha

  50. New technology becomes increasingly affordable as time goes on.

    Torrent downloads . . . not too familiar with how it works.

    Maybe some of the reason it hasn’t hurt the industry that much is that it is a bitch to scan comics page by page.

    Once digital downloads become available for immediate release from the companies, I’ll assume that there will be leaks just like in the music industry and you will see comics leaking out before the official release date.

    Or is that already happening?

  51. I wrote a follow-up email to John Miller at Comichron. He pointed me to another link on his blog:

    http://blog.comichron.com/2009/02/bookscan-and-comicsbig-year.html 

    Unfortunately, brick and mortar vs internet sales aren’t available from bookscan so it isn’t possible to figure out exactly where those sales originate. But there is a link on the CBR article to the top 750 titles for 2008:

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=20119

    http://www.comicbookresources.com/files/bookscan08_top750.xls

    The key point that John made to me was that local comic shops aren’t necessarily in direct competition with bookstores, so it doesn’t necessarily help to view the expansion of the TPB market as an "opportunity" for LCS’s. Although I wonder if joint efforts or mergers by LCS’s and small independent bookstores (another troubled group) might be potentially advantageous for both.

    Related to your point about "a small obsessive set of consumers", I wonder if any longitudinal studies have ever been done to ascertain whether the entrance of new readers into this niche population is sufficient to compensate for long-term attrition. I am aware of an essay written in 1991 which cites various sources documenting the rise of the average age of comic book readers from 12 in the late 1970s to 18 in the late 1980s… but that probably doesn’t surprise anyone. (see below) That author argued that the rise in average age was also an indicator of a shrinking audience.

    IMO … the market is needed as long as it returns a profit for the big two. But don’t they make most of their money in character licensing these days anyway? How does one define “no longer needed”?

    I don’t think that you should think of yourself as rooting against an industry that you love. You just happen to have an opinion about what the future portends. Personally, I’d be very sad to see single issue comics disappear. And I don’t think they will as long as that “small obsessive set of consumers” remains and is sufficient to support the sales desired by the publishers and retailers. And I also don’t think iPad is going to kill it. I think the bulk of sales through the iPad will be to new customers who have never walked into a comic shop before in their lives. JMO 

     Here is the citation I mentioned above:

    “Marketing studies by Marvel in the late 1970s showed that the average newsstand buyers of comics ranged in age from six to seventeen with a mean age of about twelve. Subsequent studies of comic shop patrons show them ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-four with a mean age of around eighteen … the bulk of the comic book market is probably comprised of fifteen to twenty-year-old males, largely involved with superhero-fantasy comics … In summary, the industry in the late 1980s appeared to be contracting and specializing. It had devolved from a mass medium in the early 1950s to a specialized medium in the 1990s … the … core of comic consumers … was changing, therefore, not only in terms of average age, but also in terms of general cultural sophistication.” Parsons, Patrick. “Batman and his Audience: The Dialectic of Culture.” In The Many Lives of the Batman: Critical Approaches to a Superhero and His Media, edited by Roberta E. Pearson and William Uricchio. London: Routledge, 1991., 78, 81, 85. 

     

  52. I’ve never used Torrent … tried to figure it out once, but it is too complicated for me … and DCBS makes things just too doggone easy as far as I’m concerned.

    Regarding digital comics, I’m more concerned about Apple’s behavior of late. If Apple becomes the new and dominant virtual newsstand for digital comics sales, then all comic book aficionados should be concerned about Steve Jobs’ intention to become the moral policeman for the industry:

    http://gawker.com/5539717/steve-jobs-offers-world-freedom-from-porn

     

    Several months ago, before the iPad released, Apple purged their apps store of all undesirable apps (but kept Playboy of course).

    More recently, on two occasions, Apple actually rejected and returned to creators for revision graphic novelizations of classical material that Apple considered to be objectionable. One was an adaptation of Ulysses:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/technology/14ulysses.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/08/ulysses-comic-adaptation_n_604381.html

    And the other was a graphic novelization of an Oscar Wilde novel:

    http://www.thebigmoney.com/blogs/app-economy/2010/06/11/it-gets-worse-apple-censored-oscar-wilde-comic-featuring-two-men-kissin?page=full

    http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2010/06/18/05 

    In the case of the Oscar Wilde graphic adaptation, the book appeared in iTunes with huge square blocks in the panels blacking out the objectionable material.

     

  53. Once the iPad-like tablets start coming out at the end of this year and going forward, resisting digital comics rather than taking advantage of a potential income source is going to be a grand demonstration of silliness. I get that a good portion of the comic buying public is never going to stop buying the physical copies in one form or another, but by following the exact mistakes that the music industry made in the same situation, the publishers are only hurting themselves. People want them, there are devices for them, and there is money to be made if they wise up.

    They’re taking baby-steps in the right direction, at least, but they need to figure out realistic pricing, among other things. Worrying about offending your retailers–who are going to buy your products anyway, as no LCS can feasibly operate without selling DC or Marvel books–is fiscally irresponsible and close-minded. Just as was the case with the music industry, digital comics is its infancy; but then the iPod and its clones came out and forced the issue, which was handled badly. The iPad is doing the same thing for eBooks and digital comics (eComics?), and the similar devices aren’t far behind. They need to figure this out.

  54. @MisterShaw: This isn’t an either-or proposition … I would bet that of the readers who purchase single issue comics (or trades) regularly only a small percentage will actually switch over to digital. Similarly, I would also speculate that the vast majority of readers who discover comics on their iPads will not be previously existing readers. From the perspective of a publisher, fiscal irresponsibility would be listing digital comics for less than the hard copy sells and making them available on the same day as the hard copy. The publishers who are going digital are CREATING NEW MARKETS for their products… but the last thing they can afford to do is undermine their current revenue streams while that process is underway. Hard copy single issues may indeed go away someday, but for a long time both audiences will exist simultaneously, separate from each other, with probably a small amount of overlap. JMO

  55. I didn’t mean to imply that it is an either or proposition. There is a good portion of the comic buying public that will, for as long as they continue to buy comics, always buy a physical copy, be it floppy or collection. A significantly higher proportion than in the music buying public. Even a couple years from now, when tablet devices are far more prevalent, I think there will still be a good bit of overlap.

    The point I was trying to make is that I think they’re going to miss out on expanding their market, and making a nice piece of profit, by limiting their digital offerings the way that they are currently, either by tying the issues to a specific program/device (Comixology/iPad), using ridiculous pricing (Iron Man Annual) or simply charging more than most people will pay for a digital product (99 cents being the sweet spot, but $1.50-$2 probably being the max), or delaying the release.

    The movie industry is trying to do a similar thing with getting Netflix/RedBox to delay renting new release DVDs by a month, thinking that it will drive sales of the DVDs up. All it does is diminish the sales, not by a whole lot, but people are less likely to buy a DVD sight unseen than they are if they watched it for basically free.

    I can see the viewpoint that digital comic sales can/will hurt the LCSs (eventually), but I don’t understand the thinking that it will hurt the publishers. They get money either way. Probably more profit from the digital versions, since they’re not having to pay Diamond for distribution. And I’m not a big fan of the "it’s our duty to protect the LCS" movement.

  56. I absolutely agree that the markets are needed "as long as it returns a profit."

    So I define not needed when that stops or when that relationship can be replaced by another entity that will make the LCS obsolete.

    We still need paper. We still need books in our schools and libraries. It will be a long time before students are given digital readers instead of books.

    I just don’t think the specialized shops are going to survive even though I still like the idea of a comic shop.

    Oscar Wilde is the man. On a barely related note, everyone should check out some of his essays. He had a mean intellect.

  57. Maybe it’s just me, but I shop based on cost with comics just as with any other product.  I buy TPB’s from Barnes and Noble because of my member discount, and all other issues come from my LCS because it sells 90% of its back issues for 1-2 dollars, sometimes extending to 3 dollars for something like From Hell.  All other shops seem to think that cover price should be the low price where I live, and immediately jack the price up after a month or two.

    What I am trying to say is this, as long as the price supports me, I will ignore digital altogether.  Also, if the shops opening up can beat my current prices, I will be loyal to them instead, if you can call it loyalty.  But it does seem an odd time to expand.

  58. Well, you all know what I think, but since everybody’s dropping links:

    http://www.revision3.com/forum/showpost.php?p=414272&postcount=63

  59. Soeey, but I gotta say it….CDs have BETTER SOUND QUALITY than digital music files. Probably not important to a lot of people, but there are definitely music fans out there who value it enough to pay extra. Not everyone listens to music solely on their mp3 players/iPods or crappy computer speakers. Some of us actually like to sit down in front of our home stereo (and no, it doesn’t have to be audiophile quality), put on a record or CD, and actively listen to music.

  60. Errr….I meant to say "Sorry" not "Soeey"….nothing like a good ole’ mispelling to make my case for physical media. :-

    @ghettojourno – I’m with you.

  61. Sound quality is clearly not a priority to that many people. I can tell this by the hundreds of people I see every day with those awful white iPod earbuds shoved in their ears.

  62. @josh – Sad but true. I guess I just wanted to speak up for those of us (clearly in the minority now) that do care enough about sound quality to be willing to pay extra for physical copies. Not only that, but I also place a lot of value on the artwork, liner notes, etc. I can understand downloading songs and albums as a way to check out an artist for the first time, but just can’t fathom ever going entirely digital (even though I know a lot of people are doing it and it’s becoming increasingly common to do so). Call me an old fart, I guess!

  63. I haven’t used a physical CD in nearly 4 years.

  64. @MisterShaw"They get money either way. Probably more profit from the digital versions, since they’re not having to pay Diamond for distribution." [and the production costs for digital are significantly reduced as well, aren’t they?] I guess my thinking was that the publishers would rather expand the digital market while maintaining the current LCS direct market. Then they have the best of both worlds. Pricing digital in such a way that they both acquire a new audience while maintaining their existing audience seems to me a more profitable option (from the publisher’s perspective) than pricing digital in such a way as to trigger an exodus (large or small) from LCS to digital. Maybe I’m thinking too hard about this. And … I get what you’re saying about the danger of overpricing digital as well … Bottom line … I still want to be able to buy my favorite comic books on paper! ;P

    @ScorpionMasada: "We still need books in our schools and libraries." Funny thing … I recently went back to school to work on a M.A. and one of the things I noticed (and at least one professor confirmed this) is that as paper goes digital, libraries (the one on our campus at least) are clearing out the "stacks" to make room for more computer work stations and group work settings. It is one way that the library continues to justify its existence (and therefore a budget) and encourage patrons to use their services. The only downside is that quiet zones in libraries (at least the two in Denver that I attend frequently) is rapidly disappearing.

    @JumpingJupiter: "Comics, not just comic book movies are on the cusp of being a prominent mainstream media chewing toy." — I agree … And this speaks to the problem that (I think) LCSs face … they are not positioned to capitalize on that phenomenon. Bookstores are … online retailers are … comic shops that are smart enough to have their own websites are Ebay and Amazon seller accounts are … but there will be some still sitting when the music starts playing … IMO …

  65. @Cahubble: You’re probably right. I just want comics to get big so I can have my sweet sweet vindication. 😛

  66. @JumpingJupiterI think they’re going to get very big … so big that we’ll see someone flipping through an early copy of Iron Man or The Avengers or Hulk or Thor (or something) on an iPad in at least one of the upcoming films … so big that we may even also see a resurgence of Wertham-style scrutiny of the content that we have become so accustomed to enjoying while comics have been confined in a specialized niche market (which is why I’m so bothered by Apple’s recent shenanigans).

  67. I was mostly thinking about students in pre-k to twelfth grade.

    But I hear you.

    You could have a completely digital library that are WAV files. CD quality.

    I have a good 250 pieces of vinyl.