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  1. #16
    Rather Large Member khuxford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn Richter View Post
    I don't know if I'm missing the point, but isn't it kind of like they sold 5 issues of singles for every copy of the SEO they sell? I mean, it's 136 pages and has a $20 price tag vs. a single issue of 20 pages @ $4? So in essence SEO sold 150,000 single issues. Not too shabby, imo.
    If it sold 25k copies as an OGN and had 6 issues worth of material in it...

    A 6 issue mini would have normally averaged more than 25k per issue, especially for one of DC's top IPs getting "the Ultimate treatment". Then it would have been collected in both HC and SC TPBs.

    In what is, IMO, proper perspective, this actually seems all too shabby at the moment, with a distinct possibility that, since it is meant to sell consistently over time, it steadily moves into "way better than shabby" territory.

  2. #17
    Rather Large Member khuxford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    I had an argument with a colleague of mine where he said something like "Well, if ‘SEO' had been a periodical, it would have come out late like ‘Grounded' did" and I think that's really the crux of so many problems we have in the market today. "SEO" came out on time because it wasn't solicited until it was done. The monthly periodical comic could in fact come out on time if the work is banked properly.

    ...

    Anyway, the periodical isn't going anywhere anytime soon – there are far too many advantages to the format, and many potential pitfalls to the OGN. It is great to a retailer's bottom line when we get one that's a hit, but our day-to-day cash flow is driven by regular serialization.
    Here's my problem with what seems to be your position here: you seem to feel monthlies are important because they drive the day-to-day cash flow for direct market retailers currently, but publishers should bank several more months of material than they currently do, exposing them to significantly more financial risk and making any benefit for them in serializing it rather dubious.
    Last edited by khuxford; 11-12-2010 at 07:36 PM. Reason: changed "retailers" to "direct market retailers", as I intended

  3. #18
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    The question with your serialization first, then trade idea is when should the company spend their marketing money? Because DC won't get the front page of yahoo twice six months apart for essentially the same product.

  4. #19
    New Member optichouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJT View Post
    The question with your serialization first, then trade idea is when should the company spend their marketing money? Because DC won't get the front page of yahoo twice six months apart for essentially the same product.
    I agree… "DC won't get the front page of yahoo twice six months apart for essentially the same product."

    But, is that an unfortunate fact of reality, or a marketing problem that hasn't been solved yet?

    Yahoo, USA Today, Entertainment weekly, and a plethora of other media outlets jumped on board for serialized TV phenomena like LOST or HEROES, covering season premieres, fall cliffhangers, sweeps week events, and season finales.

    If a comic book event like SEO, Civil War, or Wonder Woman's new costume can break through to mainstream media, then is it impossible to think that they can be lured back to cover twists and turns in serialized fiction?

    History proves that it is unlikely, but as comics and comic book movies gain more widespread exposure, It's not crazy to think that the media covering them might begin to take their serialized nature into account… an ongoing/developing news story, instead of a semi-annual blip on the radar.

    …But it would definitely take some proactive marketing on the publisher's end.
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  5. #20
    Rather Large Member khuxford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by optichouse View Post
    I agree… "DC won't get the front page of yahoo twice six months apart for essentially the same product."

    But, is that an unfortunate fact of reality, or a marketing problem that hasn't been solved yet?

    Yahoo, USA Today, Entertainment weekly, and a plethora of other media outlets jumped on board for serialized TV phenomena like LOST or HEROES, covering season premieres, fall cliffhangers, sweeps week events, and season finales.

    If a comic book event like SEO, Civil War, or Wonder Woman's new costume can break through to mainstream media, then is it impossible to think that they can be lured back to cover twists and turns in serialized fiction?
    Short answer: yes.

    But what you're responding to was the poster's argument that DC can't get major publicity coverage for Wonder Woman's costume change in an issue and then get the same coverage when the TPB is released of the arc months later, not that they can't get the costume covered and then get another gimmick of some sort covered a few months later.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by khuxford View Post
    Short answer: yes.

    But what you're responding to was the poster's argument that DC can't get major publicity coverage for Wonder Woman's costume change in an issue and then get the same coverage when the TPB is released of the arc months later, not that they can't get the costume covered and then get another gimmick of some sort covered a few months later.
    Exactly. How many mainstream news stories were there covering the trade paperback release of Civil War?

    Brian is about to jump in here and say that trade of Civil War would have never had the same level of sales that the Spider-man unmasking issue had, and that's almost guaranteed to be true.

    But the question is, how many of those civilians followed through and came in every month (or in the case of Civil War, every month until the next one, when Civil War was delayed for eight weeks)? And further, how many of those people bought Civil War #2, or the Obama Spider-man, and actually read them? How many were people who were trying to get their hands on a 'collector's item?' Now, how many people are going to buy a $20 hardcover and not read it?

    So Brian and I are arguing two different things: he's arguing that he would have made more money if SEO was a miniseries that was initially and exclusively available in his shop, and then collected into a format that would be available in other outlets. And that's 100% true. DC might've made more money that way.

    But I'm not arguing that: I'm saying that the SEO OGN reached more new readers because it got mainstream coverage and was available that day, in multiple different outlets, provided a complete story that didn't require a six month or more commitment. Brian needs new customers who are more like his current customers: people who will sign on to the monthly comic train. (I've been on the monthly comic train for a quarter century, and I don't imagine I'll ever get off; but I've also seen enough that tells me that we're going to see a huge influx of new readers for monthly comics)

    DC, however, just needs new customers. It will eventually offer its product in any format that people will buy it. It's trying digital, it's trying the OGN. Brian has an inside source that tells him SEO didn't sell as great as DC is making out, but I would argue that the fact that it's going to make the NYT best-seller list more important, because it creates another opportunity for these civilians to see it, as I imagine more people read the NYT bestseller list (which is available every week) than check The Beat's DC sales column (which appears two-three months after, if not longer).

    I don't think anyone (but JMS) is advocating for the abolition of the monthly comic. But only Brian is advocating for the abolition of the OGN. Most everybody else is fine with both of them co-existing.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by khuxford View Post
    Here's my problem with what seems to be your position here: you seem to feel monthlies are important because they drive the day-to-day cash flow for direct market retailers currently, but publishers should bank several more months of material than they currently do, exposing them to significantly more financial risk and making any benefit for them in serializing it rather dubious.
    At the end of the day I don't actually care if publishers "bank" work, or if they use whips and death threats to get it out (well, except for the obviously chilling moral issues on the latter) -- what matters is that the trains run on time.

    There are scores, if not hundreds of creators who are able to get their material out in a timely fashion, each and every month without any fail; but for those who can't (and JMS would appear to be in that camp), "banking" material (as they did in the case of SEO) would appear to be the most logical thing to do.

    Realize: that steady cash flow is AT LEAST as important to Publishers as it is to DM retailers (and possibly more so) -- when CIVIL WAR #6 shipped 2 months late, the problem for Marvel wasn't losing on the CW cash, it was only having 10 issues of FF, ASM, CAP, etc. that year instead of the 12 that they forecasted and budgeted for.

    Given that disruption in schedule ultimately causes more problems for the publisher than any individual retailer, it's a major problem on thier end of the cash-flow table.

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  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJT View Post
    But I'm not arguing that: I'm saying that the SEO OGN reached more new readers because it got mainstream coverage and was available that day, in multiple different outlets, provided a complete story that didn't require a six month or more commitment.
    Honestly, if BookScan shows 6k copies sold, with *maybe* something up to 30k copies available in non-DM channels, that is, to me, a pretty large failure to attract this theoretical "new reader".

    If we had evidence that bookstores sold 2-3x (or, like in the case of a TWILIGHT, probably 20-30x) as many copies as the DM, then I'd be a lot closer to agreeing with you, but when you divide the provable number of copies in the market, with the number of outlets within those markets, it looks to me that the "average" bookstore ordered maybe 1-2 copies, with the DM ordering 2-3x that.

    I submit to you that your mom would have a significantly harder time finding a copy at retail from a bookstore than from a DM comics shop.


    Quote Originally Posted by RJT View Post
    I don't think anyone (but JMS) is advocating for the abolition of the monthly comic. But only Brian is advocating for the abolition of the OGN. Most everybody else is fine with both of them co-existing.
    I don't think JMS is advocating the abolition of the monthly comic, for anyone except himself. Which, as I said in the column, is 100% his right as a creative person.

    Nor am I (even close!) arguing for the "abolition" of the OGN -- what I am saying is that when there are rational ways to serialize a book you are virtually always going to get a much larger audience, cash flow, market awareness, and so on from serialization+collection than from "collection" alone.

    Here's a counter example: HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS. That's going to sell better as a OGN than it would as a serial, largely because DC doesn't have any viable mechanism (at the moment) to serialize work like that -- if DC published something like MOME or, hell, even EPIC ILLUSTRATED, then it would have made more sense to serialize that first, but they don't, so it doesn't.

    (It *might* have made sense in my single, individual "oddball, alt-focused" San Francisco store -- but even that, probably not -- but clearly not for the national marketplace)

    But reality-based slice-of-life stories aren't the same thing as SUPERMAN -- with the latter it is simply leaving money on the table for EVERYONE (me, DC, JMS, DCD, and so on) to not serialize first.

    In my opinion.

    -B

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post

    I submit to you that your mom would have a significantly harder time finding a copy at retail from a bookstore than from a DM comics shop.


    -B
    But I would submit that my mom doesn't want to go to a DM shop. My mom wants to go to stores she knows, that sell other things she's interested in. And she doesn't want to have to go to the same store six times over the course of six months to a year to get a single story. The serialized miniseries works really well for you as a retailer. It does not work really well for someone who isn't already indoctrinated into reading serialized monthly comics.

    I understand that if DC had serialized SEO first you would have made more money. But again I ask, when does DC utilize its marketing money? For the first single issue or the release of the trade paperback? Because it's not getting two news stories out of the same release. I can't remember a single time where that has happened. DC has one shot to get its word out to the general public, and I still think that it has a better shot of getting new readers to check it out if they read the article and are able to pick the whole thing up THAT DAY (not preorder it 3 months in advance) at any one of several different outlets.

    And I understand that your inside source doesn't report a tremendous amount of sales outside the DM. But we're talking about something what, two weeks after release? You're using our DM expertise to analyze non-DM outlets. In the DM you're going to sell a huge percentage of your total sales in the first two weeks, but I don't think books and bookstores work that way. Did Farrar, Straus sell the majority of the copies they will ever sell of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom in its first two weeks? I think it would be more instructive to talk about sales of SEO outside the DM in six months, or at least after Christmas. If by that point, it's still only sold 6,000 copies, than maybe you'd have a point.
    Last edited by RJT; 11-13-2010 at 04:18 PM.

  10. #25
    Rather Large Member khuxford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJT View Post
    But I would submit that my mom doesn't want to go to a DM shop. My mom wants to go to stores she knows, that sell other things she's interested in.
    And those stores are easier to find, even if she doesn't already make a habit of shopping there. Finding a book store is still 1000x easier than finding a comic book store, comic shop locator service be damned.

  11. #26
    Senior Member Kid Kyoto's Avatar
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    First off we're taking DC's spin way too seriously. JMS is off Superman and Wonder Woman because he can't keep a monthly schedule, everything else is spin. Now if DC cancelled the 3-4 Superman books for a line of OGNs then this might mean something.

    As for sales, I think the main issue is that OGNs and collections sell over time. Superman issue X will never sell another copy, ever. Earth One's sales figures this month are just the start, it can be reissued if sales demand or when Superman has a big media appearance.

    The fact it was not serialized makes the release of the book a lot more special and just another collection.
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  12. #27
    Senior Member PretenderNX01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kid Kyoto View Post
    First off we're taking DC's spin way too seriously. JMS is off Superman and Wonder Woman because he can't keep a monthly schedule, everything else is spin.

    My thought was "good, now he can muck with continuity all he wants in Earth One and leave my heroes alone"


    Quote Originally Posted by Kid Kyoto View Post
    Superman issue X will never sell another copy, ever.
    I would like to point out that DC and Marvel have reprinted sellout issues during their events. I think some of Blackest Night had 3 printings, maybe the New York Times didn't care but there was obviously interest among consumers.

    I think there could have been such and interest if the story was done as a mini the way "Watchmen" or "Dark Knight Returns" was. Both of those stories were no less revolutionary just because they were presented a chapter at a time. One could argue DC missed out on not trying to bring in young people to comic stores and show off their other goods.

    However, DC may want to get in on the book publishing game as an additional avenue. A single book has a different audience and marketing. Harry Potter or Twilight get featured at Barnes and Noble in ways comics do not- "Best Seller" "Our Pick/Recommendation" that kind of thing.

    That's not to say comics are dying- as events like "Civil War" and "Blackest Night" prove, good story telling is good storytelling.

    And there is a social nature to the individual issue comic, with fans debating and speculating what's to come in a manner similar to TV watchers (TV series have not yet died because of DVD box sets despite predictions).

    An OGN and a comics series are a different experience.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJT View Post
    But I would submit that my mom doesn't want to go to a DM shop. My mom wants to go to stores she knows, that sell other things she's interested in.
    I don't want to have to pay a special fee to get a specific TV channel I wouldn't watch normally in order to watch [show] -- so then I have to wait until the DVD box set gets released.

    *shrug* This is how life works.

    If a book is serialized first, it can still be collected, and available in the place your mom wants to buy it.


    Quote Originally Posted by RJT View Post
    In the DM you're going to sell a huge percentage of your total sales in the first two weeks, but I don't think books and bookstores work that way. Did Farrar, Straus sell the majority of the copies they will ever sell of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom in its first two weeks?
    Generally speaking, how something performs in its "first frame" will indicate it's long-term prospects.

    I'm not saying "That's it for SEO! It is done!!" but if it isn't going to sell in the first two weeks when there are a bunch of media reports and reviews, then it is hard to see it building from there.

    -B

  14. #29
    Rather Large Member khuxford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    I don't want to have to pay a special fee to get a specific TV channel I wouldn't watch normally in order to watch [show] -- so then I have to wait until the DVD box set gets released.

    *shrug* This is how life works.

    If a book is serialized first, it can still be collected, and available in the place your mom wants to buy it.
    This response really does demonstrate that you're not able to shake the bias of your position.

    This is how life works? That could be said about anything you've worked hard to change as part of your retailer organization. Something Marvel or DC does that you don't like? This is how life works.

    We're specifically talking about the possibilities opened up by a successful S:EO because life DOESN'T have to keep working the same way until the end of time.

    To keep your analogy...

    Having to be in front of your TV when your favorite show came on or never see it again? That's how life used to work.
    Having to manually set a VCR to record your show for watching later and being forced to watch that same channel as it recorded? That's how life used to work.
    Having to personally record your favorite shows if you weren't going to be home to see them? That's how life used to work before stuff like Hulu and networks putting their content on the web or selling them through Amazon & iTunes.

    And I don't really know how that entered into the talk, because it came from him responding to your statement that his mom would have an easier time finding it at a DM than a retail bookstore. I don't see where the perils of trade-waiting came into it. Just another opportunity to say that serialization into collection is just the way life works?

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    I don't want to have to pay a special fee to get a specific TV channel I wouldn't watch normally in order to watch [show] -- so then I have to wait until the DVD box set gets released.

    *shrug* This is how life works.

    If a book is serialized first, it can still be collected, and available in the place your mom wants to buy it.
    But you still haven't addressed the question of when DC should utilize its marketing dollars: three months before the first single issue is released, or before the collected version is released?


    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs View Post
    Generally speaking, how something performs in its "first frame" will indicate it's long-term prospects.

    I'm not saying "That's it for SEO! It is done!!" but if it isn't going to sell in the first two weeks when there are a bunch of media reports and reviews, then it is hard to see it building from there.
    Have you ever heard of this crazy little thing called Christmas? The New York Times just did a list of comics/graphic novels for the holidays, and SEO was listed there. SEO seems like something that might move some units over the next six weeks in the bookstore market, because my Mom will be there buying books for my aunts and uncles and might see SEO racked in among the new releases.

    I think this highlights how myopically you view everything through your DM-prism: comic books have a two-week window, but that doesn't hold for every other outlet. I was in my local Barnes & Noble last week and they had "Freedom" faced out on a table by the entrance...a full two and half months after it had been released. (They also had each of the Blackest Night hardcovers by the entrance as well, racked with the new releases. )

    I am very interested in "Freedom", but I don't usually run out the day that a novel is released and pick it up, given the time commitment involved in reading a novel.(I'm not likely going to have time to read a 500+ page novel in an afternoon like I could Return of Bruce Wayne #6). And unlike the comics I buy at my DM shop, I know that if I go to my local bookstore next month, they'll likely still have Freedom in stock, and if they don't, either another store will, they can order it for me, or I can order it on Amazon and get it the next day (I can also read it on my Kindle, but that's the topic of every other TAW). I feel no such guarantee that Booster Gold 37 is going to be at my LCS in three months when I wander in, nor that they will be able to get me a copy if I want one.

    I will bet all the money in my pockets that if I were to go into a Barnes & Noble store anytime Thanksgiving I will see SEO displayed face out someplace where a customer might wander by and see it.

    Again, I enjoy monthly comics, and I go to my LCS every single week (I even picked up my copy of SEO there). But your attitude of "The DM has a stranglehold on comics and *shrug* what are you going to do?" seems to be the worst possible, head-in-the-sand reaction to the changing marketplace. Do I think the DM is about to go away? No. But the idea that you think it has some kind of never-ending monopoly on comic sales is equally as wrong-headed as the doomsayers who claim it will disappear next month.

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