Emil Novak of Queen City Bookstore on Comic Book Sales
"Are Comic Sales Better than They Look?" Sadly, NO they are not, but it can be fixed easily. Sometimes the bottom line facts coming in from the trenches are simply the best factors on what is selling or not. As a 41 plus year comics retailer I can see trends and offer a few realistic facts which I see from experience. Please read on.
1. My consumer base is relatively consistent with the last three-four years, though I have seen approximately a 7-10% drop in big spending "subscription customer's" in this period; but not in over the counter sales.
2. The demand for product is higher than it's ever been with the "every Wednesday" customers. Though they do not care for useless $3.99-4.99 titles that are not in core continuity. Now if I was to track these "useless titles" their drop in numbers is sharp. 75% a huge majority of these titles sell in numbers that are nothing more than cancellations waiting to happen.
3. On the other hand, the $3.99 "core" titles still do very well--although a few less on certain related character's wouldn't hurt either. The consensus is simple and right in front of my eyes. Quality sells! It's the basic core of any retailer product--from dishwashers to tools to comic books.
Here are my solutions for #1-3:
Solution 1: Subscription customers will return and continue to spend big dollars, but NOT grossly large dollars if these $3.99 "useless titles" continue to flood the market. I'm positive they would buy more of these titles if they were at $2.99 and really meant something.
Solution 2: High priced $3.99 and 4.99 titles. Of course these "useless titles" need some fixing. It seems they are made up of mostly untried talent, which is generally average if not below average in quality. This has to be looked into fast! And continuity needs to work better on these titles because nobody wants to read unconnected comics that reek of nothing more than disguised "inventory stories."
Solution 3: Quality sells! Quality sells! Quality sells! Editorial needs to be better. Prices need to drop. And "useless titles" need to stop. And yeah, Vampires don't sell in X-Men comics. Duh!
An observation to solution #3:
The $3.99 comic book. This is nothing but an attempt to create a grossly profitable vehicle and it failing in the long run. Short-term thinking doesn't work in the periodicals business. Use this thinking energy to simply make better books.
a) Price goes from $2.99 to $3.99 (25% increase).
b) $3.99 comic is generally created by new talents (25% decrease in work for hire). Young overseas and American kids work cheap.
c) 20% of a $3.99 comic is reprint (25% decrease in production costs).
d) Being un-connected to events within bigger titles mean less editorial (%? of more savings).
In the end, this is a very profitable way to make money and NOT destroy an industry. Use this knowledge to produce better comics, be less greedy, price them fairly and they will sell. "Build it and the will come.”