Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wait. The sky isn't falling? At, there's been gnashing of teeth this week over a perceived impending graphic novel/manga apocalypse. Today, three retailers respond with some advice -- essentially, "breathe."

Christopher Butcher of Toronto's The Beguiling (and Comics 212): "With the coming months seeing a greater and greater number of titles solicited, we are well aware of the challenges that will create, and are continuing to work with our staff, publishers, and even our customers to ensure the category stays profitable for us, and continues its steady rate of growth. Whether that's finding new sales avenues, new promotional methods, or just buying another bookcase, these are challenges we are willing to meet. We would very much appreciate it if publishers would think twice about releasing some of the truly dreadful titles we've been seeing, but at the same time we recognize that in a capitalist society asking someone to stop trying to make as much money as they think they can probably won't go over terribly well. If it's on us to pick and choose and keep on top of the product then so be it, companies that go out of their way to educate us about their products and promote their works outside of our existing clientele, to create demand for their books, will see a concrete benefit in our orders (and reorders, and reorders, and reorders). Companies who don't will have to enjoy our single-copy orders on books they've printed 10,000 copies of."

Torsten Adair of Barnes & Noble: "There is some fear that the Industry will see a recurrence of the graphic novel bust of the 1980s, when numerous mainstream publishers rushed to publish titles. I feel that with the younger customer base that exists now, the cross marketing of various media outlets, and computerized modeling of inventory, the Industry will most likely plateau and stabilize. I believe that manga and graphic novels can be just as successful (and just as variable) as mysteries, romance, and science fiction."

Robert Scott of Comickaze in San Diego: "Where manga is contributing the most to my store is in helping me capture hundreds of new customers, especially females, who never felt there was a reason to visit comic shops. Manga is a format, not a genre and within the format there are as many or more genres represented as there are in Western comics, but unlike most Western comic publishers (excluding DC Comics), manga publishers offer an incredible range of product from beginning readers all the way to adult. Manga offers us a chance to sell books to an entire family, at increasingly consumer friendly price points and on far a more regular basis than most Western comics. Where customers are complaining about $7/issue for 'fan favorite' JLA/Avengers, I have customers flocking in monthly to spend $10 a pop for not just one manga GN but two, three, four+ every week. And it's kids, young girls, and moms!!"