Letters of Mass Construction

Comic Book Stores – Only the Strong Will Survive


If you own a comic book store right now you have to be a little nervous, especially if comics are your main money maker. Digital comics are going to explode over the next year and I will make the bold prediction that sometime over the next two years more comic books will be sold digitally than in stores. It has to give you sweaty palms.

Don’t get me wrong, physical comics are not going away anytime soon. There will always be collectors. I also believe there is a large contingent of people who will always prefer an actual physical product than a digital one. Combine that with the fact digital comics are still new and have a lot of kinks to iron out and you don’t have to go into full panic mode if you are a store owner.

You had better be thinking about it though. Working out what your position is going to be. Figuring out exactly what products you are going to bring into the store to make up for the lost comic book sales. Making your store a place for all things geek and not just comics.

Don’t be like the store I went into today. I don’t go to comic stores much anymore. I have bought almost all of my comics over the last 15 years online. I have a nice company with a very easy to use subscription service. I get a discount and an online catalog and can make changes to my subscriptions whenever I want. Every two weeks they send me a box. It is perfect for me.

Still, I like to go into comic stores from time to time. Today I even had a mission. A few comic book series that I was looking for early issues of. I had four titles I went in looking for and they had all come out in the last few months. The problem I had was this store was a mess. No rhyme or reason.

All the comics were mixed up. They had series which had been canceled several months ago mixed in with brand new series. I couldn’t tell where any of the new releases were and today is Thursday which means they should have had a whole bunch of new comics on the shelves. I began to grow frustrated and was about to leave when I was asked if I needed any help. I told the man I was looking for Legion of Superheroes and he argued with me that there was no current series.

After I convinced him otherwise he looked through his shelves and found the issue I was looking for. They had nothing else I wanted (I am guessing here because they searched and couldn’t find them). Compare this with the store I went into earlier in the summer in Ashland, Oregon. Everything was divided up nicely by imprints and easy to find. When I looked through the Vertigo series I found several new series I was interested in and they had every issue of the series in order behind the current issue. I spent almost a $100 in Ashland. Today I spent $4.00. Not a great way to entice me to spend money.

As digital comics become bigger and bigger I won’t even have to go into the store to find those back issues (this alone is why digital comics will be the preferred method for me in the future). In the meantime stores better find a way to bring in customers and keep them. Knowing your comics would be a good start. Having other things my inner geek needs to buy would be a good second step. I don’t want comics stores to go the way of the dodo but only the strong are going to survive. I have a feeling today’s store will not be one of them.

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One Response to “Comic Book Stores – Only the Strong Will Survive”

  1. Merri says:

    >I don’t read comics, but I don’t like going into bookstores or libraries because they are harder to find things, for me, than looking online. Even if theyre organized well (which isnt often), it's nothing like the ease of ordering things online. Of course, a comic might be easier to look at in person than just a regular book, because you can see the art if you have it in person.

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