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Topic: COVID-19 and the Direct Market Post Reply | Post New Topic
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Adam Schulman
Byrne Robotics Member


Joined: 22 July 2017
Posts: 1383
Posted: 26 March 2020 at 11:41am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Taking up Jason Larouse's idea for an independent thread on this topic.

An informative article with interviews of comic shop owners is here
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John Byrne

Imaginary X-Man

Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 26 March 2020 at 11:56am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

There seems to be great concern over what will “hurt comic book retailers”, but little concern for the comic book publishers.
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Adam Schulman
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Joined: 22 July 2017
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Posted: 26 March 2020 at 12:49pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I think Marvel will survive inasmuch as it's an R&D department for Disney. So Marvel comics will continue to publish in some form. 

DC seems to be in shaky shape anyway, although I doubt that AT&T/Warners would sell it off. Though I can imagine that DC comics would cease while the "intellectual properties" provide fodder for merchandise, TV shows, movies and such.

The smaller publishers -- IDW, Dark Horse, Image, etc. -- they may be royally f*cked. Fantagraphics will survive by continuing to publish comic strip reprint collections and original graphic novels. Drawn & Quarterly might survive on the basis of OGNs too -- bought through Amazon or  bookstores (Barnes & Noble, anyway), not the direct market. 

These are my guesses, anyway.
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Jason Larouse
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Posted: 26 March 2020 at 2:32pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

My Barnes and Noble is actually closed. You can order online and they will bring it out to your car but you  can't go in and browse. I live in one of the worst areas right now though. I would imagine that as this thing spreads more of them will go to the same system so that stream of revenue may be gone too. 
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Nathan Greno
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Joined: 20 April 2006
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Posted: 26 March 2020 at 2:56pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

Adam: I think Marvel will survive inasmuch as it's an R&D department for Disney. So Marvel comics will continue to publish in some form. 


Possibly. Disney currently has 80+ years of Marvel Comics to use as reference. I doubt they feel like they’ll be running low on a source of inspiration anytime soon

Also: At some point, Disney could reboot the Marvel films and retell the origin stories of characters they’ve already introduced to us In their films... meaning they could easily double dip into that 80+ year catalog. (How many times has WB done this with Batman?) 

I don’t feel Disney NEEDS Marvel as a publishing company at this point. They’d be just fine operating with the “R&D” they have. 




Edited by Nathan Greno on 26 March 2020 at 2:57pm
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Adam Schulman
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Joined: 22 July 2017
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Posted: 26 March 2020 at 6:55pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Hi Nathan,

Yeah, I dunno. That reboot won't be coming for a while. The MCU is already too successful, unlike the DC Extended Universe which had to do a serious modification after the disaster that was JUSTICE LEAGUE. 

But Disney may eventually decide that there's no point to publishing comics, that's true. But is Disney losing any money on Marvel comics, currently? 
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Joe Zhang
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Joined: 16 April 2004
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Posted: 26 March 2020 at 8:18pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

This is the one and only time Marvel and DC can make new stuff, bring in revenue, and be the hero their corporate parents in Hollywood (who can't make new movies, let alone show them). And the LCS are asking "MarvelDC" to take a break, for the entire duration of the crisis? 
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Adam Schulman
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Joined: 22 July 2017
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Posted: 26 March 2020 at 11:13pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Joe -- huh?

The LCS don't think that Marvel & DC shouldn't release digital new stuff, not any new stuff. They still want physical copies to be offered -- and sold in ways that take COVID-19 into account. 

Blame Diamond (the sole comics distributor, which wasn't always the case).

From the article:

“Up until last week, I was still open, providing gloves and the like to people coming into the store while also offering mailings, curbside, and delivery,” LaMont said. “Business has slowed by at least 60% in just one week.”

LaMont said that, although he sells a lot of back issues, the lack of new product from Diamond will probably force him to close, whether temporarily or not - and, he expects, most comic book stores across the country.

“As we face eventual closing of all non-essential businesses, the further elimination of new books will be the death knell for many of us,” he said. “Mail order of new books would have at least kept me afloat for a few months, possibly until this blows over. But without it and the ability for people to come into the store for back issues, I face a very uncertain future that does not look good.”

Ray said his Baltimore store has been closed to the public for more than a week, but he transitioned to a mail order/delivery/curbside pickup model.
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Dale E Ingram
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Joined: 01 July 2015
Location: United States
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Posted: 27 March 2020 at 7:41am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Marvel already offers a free digital copy of each new comicthey release in print. You buy the printed book at the comic shop, and there’sa code that allows you to download the digital version for free.

If Marvel flipped the model, free print comic with the purchaseof the digital download, then you’d buy the digital version and when youdownload it, you’d get a code that you could then use to redeem a printedversion at a later date when the shops and Diamond are back open.

How it could work is that the customer would go into theshop, and use the code to purchase the comic. Marvel would then pay theretailer whatever the retailer’s share of the cover price ends up being. It’s aweird business model, but these are weird times.

It would require Marvel to set up the back end for this towork, provide codes, track redeemed codes so the retailers don’t get rippedoff, and set up a way to get the retailers paid. It’d be a lot of work and itwould cost them in the short term, but it’s still in Marvel and Disney’s best long term interest to have a healthy retailer market, and a way for fans to get printcomics.

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Phil Southern
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Joined: 17 May 2005
Location: United States
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Posted: 27 March 2020 at 10:18am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

There are lots of assumptions in the comments above, that bear little in the way to the reality of the situations.  Whether or not you like how the direct market operates, it is the sole way to get print comics out into stores. 

I don't think anyone wants Marvel and DC to stop making comics for the interim, but some assurance that there could be returns/affidavit returns on unsold/unsaleable stock would not be unheard of; one of the quotes selected above said his business is down 60% already!  

Marvel and DC are in the best position to do this, and have been silent, with no guidance or assistance in any way.  As opposed to Image, and most of the smaller publishers, who have offered some returnablility. 

 Without that guidance from the big two, Diamond made the choice for them, and stopped accepting new product.  This action was followed by DC's printer was closing for at least two weeks (I think).    

With anywhere from in my guesstimation 45% to 60% of comic stores closed due to "stay at home" or "shelter in place" orders, the stores cannot really sell new comics.  That'd cause a build up of hard to sell stock that would become impossible to sell if one of the mail order outfits, who get a larger discount, are able to swoop in with their already existing infrastructure.  

And why you wouldn't listen to Nathan Greno's expert opinions on what Disney might do, I dunno...

Thanks! 
Phil
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Joe Zhang
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Joined: 16 April 2004
Location: United States
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Posted: 27 March 2020 at 9:41pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The publishers and LCS have a strange relationship. The LCS see themselves almost as franchisees. Never mind that their "restaurants" sell KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut all from the same counter. They are the essential "front line" of the industry, and the publishers have some kind of responsibility to them, beyond shipping them paid for merchandise. And whether by design or incompetence, ,the publishers load the shops full of niche product, making the LCS miss out on the billions that have been generated from superhero movies. Money that could have allowed the LCS to survive these coming months (years?) 

I can't see this dysfunctional relationship surviving Covid-19.  The publishers will try to save themselves going digital only, with some vague promises on catching up on the physical books at some later, unknown date. The LCS are on their own. 


Edited by Joe Zhang on 27 March 2020 at 9:48pm
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James Woodcock
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Joined: 21 September 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 5503
Posted: 28 March 2020 at 2:42am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Comics distribution is very weird.
We have an allowed monopoly with Diamond. We have pretty much a
second allowed monopoly with Comixology.

Both need to be broken so that price flexibility can be brought to the
customer. Currently, there is no price flexibility to the customer - & that
was deemed illegal when books were in that position.
I realise that is an over simplification, but it is the reality.

Comixology were recently allowed to increase the price of their comics
in the U.K. by 60%. I agree there needed to be a price increase, but
60% is ridiculous, especially as we are now on a 1:1 parity with the
USA.
It now costs more to buy a comic through digital than it does to buy the
physical copy. That cannot be justified.
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