Just to keep the holiday spirit going, here’s a roundup of recession rumbling from the comics world:
• Rick Veitch notes that he has received a notice from Diamond indicating that “offered again” items will be scrutinized more:
In the solicitation package I just received from Diamond Distribution, suppliers are being notified that due to economic conditions Diamond will be much more selective in which items they will offer in PREVIEWS and that they are cutting back on items being “Offered Again”. Since most publishers, large and small, depend on these relists of backlist items, this will be a hard pill to swallow for many.
It looks like King Hell backlist titles, such as THE ONE, MAXIMORTAL, SHINY BEASTS, ABRAXAS AND THE EARTHMAN, HEARTBURST AND OTHER PLEASURES, RABID EYE, POCKET UNIVERSE and CRYPTO ZOO will not be available through PREVIEWS in the immediate future even though historically most, especially the superhero titles, have attracted healthy orders each time they have run in the catalog.
So if you are a reader wishing to pick up a King Hell book, you’ll probably have to do it on Amazon.com, or at Paneltopanel.net (which offers exclusive signed plates for some titles) or, better yet, at my own on-line store (where all copies come signed).
This sounds very ominous — as Veitch mentions, relisting back stock is a major source of income for collection publishers — but note that this looks like it could also be part of the recently announced policy on cutting back on posters and prints. It’s also worth noting that the April 2009 D&Q solicits that Chris Butcher just posted include lots of offered again items, so maybe there is wiggle room.
• ICv2 reported this week that Comic Stores are “Holding Up Really Well’:
The numbers from comic stores are “holding up really well” in the economic crisis, Diamond Comic Distributors Vice President Sales and Marketing Roger Fletcher told ICv2. “Diamond’s sales are tracking close to last years levels, but down about 3%.”
“Retailers are trying to be prudent and conservative on inventory,” Fletcher explained. “That’s led to some sales declines.”
• As long we’re talking about Diamond, here’s a bit of news that doesn’t come under fretting, but rather, something we’ve all been wishing for. Diamond has expanded its GN sales charts from 100 to 300 titles, meaning folks will be able to track those back orders much better now. John Jackson Miller covers this and more in a new blog entry, which singles out November for yet another record:
OK, now to the bottom line. Not much good news for consumers or the market this month: First, comics were more expensive in November 2008 than in any month in history. The average comic book offered in Diamond’s Top 300 comics had a cover price of $3.50, beating the previous record (from last month) by 12 cents. The median price is still $2.99, and $2.99 is still the most common price within the chart. The weighted average price — comics dollars divided by comics units — was $3.35, another record. The average price of comics in the Top 25 was $3.43.
2009 = Price increase + recession = ?
• Several folks have responded thoughtfully to Tom Spurgeon’s ponderables, including David Welsh, who added his own questions, including one we think is highly pertinent:
2. Will Borders survive its seemingly inevitable bankruptcy or reorganization? Borders was one of the earliest adopters of manga and arguably played a huge role in popularizing the category for people who might not otherwise have ever picked up a comic, so trouble for the bookseller won’t be without consequences for manga. But while it was an early adopter, it’s been followed by other outlets like Barnes & Noble and Amazon. And if my memory is functioning correctly, graphic novels (including manga) are one of the few sectors of the book industry that are maintaining, if not thriving.
• Matt Blind ups the ante, as he responds to ALL of Tom’s AND Dave’s questions:
My Best Guess: Borders will eventually have to declare a form of bankruptcy, but they’ll emerge from the process leaner, with a substantial debt load but less than what they have now and nothing an average retailer can’t handle, and with a focus on their core business. That isn’t a guarantee, though: The same could have been said of Hudson, Studebaker, and Reo back in the day.
• In shocking book news — and bearing in mind that returns from Borders caused many a woe in the second half of the year — HarperStudio Publisher Bob Miller talks about his new NON-RETURNABLE publishing plan. That’s right — books are becoming MORE like comics.
Today, Borders announced they will not be shipping unsold books back to HarperStudio, forging a new sort of relationship between publisher and distributor.
Yesterday, GalleyCat caught up with HarperStudio president and publisher, Bob Miller, to talk about non-returnable deals. In this exclusive video, Miller explains how he hopes to cut similar deals with more bookstores, and readers get a glimpse of HarperStudio’s upcoming titles.
The Wall Street Journal has the story: “Under the terms of the deal, the nation’s second-largest bookstore chain by revenue will get a deeper discount on initial orders of books published by the new imprint of News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers — 58% to 63% off the cover price, instead of the usual 48%. In exchange, Borders won’t return any unsold books to HarperStudio, instead probably discounting them in the store.”
• Finally, because you will need to laugh about all of this, here’s the MySpace Guide to Holiday Shopping by ACHEWOOD’S Chris Onstad which we’ve excerpted above.
With the days until the winter festivities rapidly dwindling, and the number of people in your life tired of receiving gifts from Eddie Bauer rapidly increasing, please enjoy this ACHEWOOD-style holiday gift guide. Your yuletide shopping woes are OVER!
If this is your first experience with ACHEWOOD, hang on to your butts. You can check out more of one of the internet’s most popular comics on ACHEWOOD.COM, or on our very own MYSPACE DARK HORSE PRESENTS, or in the newest ACHEWOODcollection, THE GREAT OUTDOOR FIGHT.
Many thanks to Chris Onstad for the hilarious comic and to our good friends at DARK HORSE COMICS. Happy holidays!