My theory is that comics are incredibly hard to come by and this is eroding the market slowly over time. You have to go to a specialty shop, i.e. a comics store, and if you miss just one issue in a series it can be really hard to get hold of later because they sell out or aren't kept in stock. It's ridiculously difficult to keep up with series, and the younger generation has lower tolerance for hard-to-procure items like comic books.

I myself just learned that I totally missed a one-off of Serenity from last year, even though I'm a huge fan and follow blogs and what-not: what kind of distribution system makes it hard even for an engaged fan to discover new titles? A crappy one, that's what.

When you go to any comic con, additionally, actual comics make up only a small minority of the exhibitors and guests and booths. Other media (movies, toys, lifestyle) really dominate. Comics per se aren't holding their own.
Simac is right about distribution. When I was a kid, there was a comics rack at the grocery store. Now there's not.

Also, I love that "Death of Superman" cover. It's too bad they brought him back.

Specifically: "Diamond is far from being the only graphic novel distributor to comic book stores out there these days, and that limits the effectiveness of long term trend analysis based on just their numbers....Publisher Group West also services comic book stores. But those numbers don’t get included in the stats. Neither does anything going through Hachette, Random House, Harper Collins, or several other companies."
The bigger problem is demographics. The comic book market has shifted from consisting mostly of children to consisting mostly of adults who read comic books as kids in the 60s-90s. Good for publishers in that adults have a lot more disposable income, bad for publishers in that the size of the market will only get smaller over time. Enjoy it while you can.
Weird, I just read elsewhere,

"Sales in the U.S. and Canadian comic book and graphic novel market are down 12% in the first half of 2010, with comic books seeing a small 1% increase while graphic novel sales have dropped 20%"


"The news was particularly dark for manga, which declined 9% in the first half of 2010, with an estimated 20% overall drop in 2010, making it likely that this will be the third bad year for manga sales in a row. If current trends continue, manga will drop 50% over three years"


"The real energy and growth has been in digital, which has expanded from a $500,000 market in 2009 to an estimated $6 to 8 million dollars in 2010, a more than ten-fold increase. Quite simply, digital comics are the fastest-growing part of the comics business"…
I think the comics industry has much deeper issues than just their methods of publication. How about we admit that there's better stuff than the same boring superheroes we've had since my grandparents were kids? Also that women and non-white people can be geeks too?

No wonder webcomics are taking off like crazy--even (especially) reader-supported ones--while nobody bothers to go to the comic store anymore.
Drop the costs.

Pay attention to the consumer.
Also, the only reason most comics are only published these days by huge conglomerates is to as loss leaders, to establish ownership over and hold onto IP.
I don't know that there aren't new customers. Three years ago I wouldn't have touched a comic. More recently I've discovered the whole world of alternative press, nontraditional stuff like Alison Bechdel and Guy Delisle. But I never would have known about these if I hadn't been dragged to Comiccon by a reader of more traditional superhero stuff, wandered away, and started looking at the more unique artwork.

Though, yeah, distribution is crap, comic store people are surly about titles, even if you try to special order something they're resistant to actually getting it. Maybe people used to put up with that, but I find I either have to order stuff online or forget following a series. I have no patience for reading things out of order.
As an advocate for the latter part of this report, I can tell you that board games are in the middle of a golden age. Over fifty new titles are released every year, and that has been true for almost a decade. The board games of fifty-plus years ago have been outclassed & belong in the museum.

There are many reasons why, but a few-- board games offer what computer games cannot, which is deep strategic thinking, as well as reacting to the moves of your opponents. They also appeal to every single age group, ethnicity and religious background, so bringing out Traders of Genoa is an easy move in any company. There is no hardware required, or internet connections to be paid for. You also get to truly interact w/ your fellow game-players, and not via virtual connections.

This doesn't mean that board games are the answer for everything & everyone, but this explains their recent popularity.
James Turner had told me that Rex Libris had been discontinued because the readership number was too low. Here's hoping Mr. Turner can talk with games developers or build an audience presenting YouTube "movies" as David Boswell did with his creation, Reid Fleming.
Sales are down except around tea party rallies. They only like books with pretty pictures because most of them dropped out of school during third grade and never learned their "3-Rs."
Comics are a cyclical industry. Not through any inherent feature of the medium; it is because of the way the two major companies are set up. It's the same with professional wrestling, interestingly. You get an executive who hits a home run with some idea that he wrote or drew then he gets promoted to editor-in-chief and now we're stuck with Joe Quesada (or Dan Didio, or whoever) until he dies. Then a crisis (or Crisis if you read DC) comes along that forces the industry to change and the cycle repeats.
I think the price drop might actually help, since one of the main reasons I stopped buying comics was because of the price. When most comics were 2.99 I would buy them regularly, and more importantly, take a chance on something different. But when that started getting expensive I started buying fewer, and only sticking to title I already filed. But eventually I just quit buying them altogether.
I stopped buying a lot of comics after being strung along with crap like '52'.

Please wait...

and remember to be decent to everyone
all of the time.

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