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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Conclusions

To end the cliffhanger, I talked to the right person, and got my bonafides just before the Saturday night dinner. Sunday, breakfast Q&A and then lots of talking with exhibitors.

An interesting question from the nice ladies of Random House: What is the most valuable graphic novel? While I didn't know, I hypothesized that the Graphitti signed & numbered slipcased edtion of Watchen would be, even though I have never seen one for sale. Later, I spoke with the founder of Graphitti, and he provided more information. The book contained an original piece of artwork by Dave Gibbons, showing Rorschack reading his journal. However, while this edition was being produced, Alan Moore ended his relationship with DC Comics. Only 150 copies were completed, with the stock being distrbuted among the participating parties. The projected price would have been $100, compared to the $50 price of the regular edition.

Other rare volumes: hardcover Miracleman; Jeff Smith's first book, collecting his "Thorn" strips from Ohio State; Marvel hardcovers from Simon & Schuster.

A great four days, even with the uncertainty. More to follow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

[expletive deleted] Part Two

[Q| (cell phone buffer reached... continued)

Diamond Book serves the returnable retailer market of libraries and bookstores. They are separate divisions with little overlap aside from the publishers Diamond Book represents.

Here's a chilling fact: comic book sales (floppies, periodicals, pamphlets) are diminishing as customers "wait for the trade" paperback or download illegal digital files online. As customers and publishers embrace e-books, this trend will avalanche the decline of comic book sales.

Diamond Comics (and their clients) need to adapt. Most stores will probably change into specialized bookstores with sidelines. Others will become hobby shops, serving a dedicated but small clientele. (Change is already happening, as many comic shops have reduced or eliminated their back-issue bins.)

Diamond, the two-headed beast, needs to open the Retailer Summit to ALL of their clients, both book and comic, for no other reason than this: The future for Diamond lies in offering non-digitized product to as many retailers as possible. Smart retailers (the most important clients) will attend the Summit to learn more about comics and games, a growing and dedicated consumer base. Every fan remembers when bookstores did not have a Graphic Novel section. There are still some bookstores without, not because of prejudice, but because of ignorance. The Diamond Retailer Summit is an excellent opportunity to learn more about GNs, but that opportunity is denied when bookstores are segregated from comics retailers, when comic book stores can learn much from mass-market retailers.

[expletive deleted]

[Q| I am angry, but I shall try to channel that energy constructively and politely.

I have been a graphics novel retailer since 1994, when I worked for SuperCrown Books in Washington, DC. Since 1999, I have been employed by Barnes & Noble.

Diamond Comics Distribution is the de facto distributor of comic books in the United States, supplying prouct to thousands of comics shops across the country (and world).

Each Fall, Diamond hosts a two-day seminar and trade show known as the Diamond Retailer Summit. Workshops on various topics are held, there is an exhibition space. Most important, during the meal sessions, publishers present their upcoming lines and even present surprise guests.

I have attended the last two Summits, flying out to Las Vegas last year, and attending the 2007 Summit in Baltimore.

Here's why I am angry:
I attend for the following reasons:
1) To learn about new product
2) To network with publishers, editors, and comics retailers.
3) To offer my experience as a mass-market retailer to anyone who might listen and profit from it.

In the past, Diamond was gracious enough to give me a complimentary pass. I would have gladly paid the $75 fee (or any other fee as a non-comics retailer), and last year I balanced the karma by giving the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund a $75 donation after their presentation.

This year, I utilized a contact at Diamond Book Distributors, which serves the library and bookstore market. He assured me that everthing was okay, that my credentials established.

So... Sunday morning, I go to check-in. They know I am a customer of Diamond Books, but they have no record of me. This leaves me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

No change in my status this morning, so I am now waiting outside the Fourth Floor ballrooms so that I may meet my contact and get credentialed.

Here's the bigger problem. Diamond is a Siamese twin. Diamond Comics (which hosts the Summit) serves the non-returnable comic book store market. Diamond Book serves the returnable(cont'd)