Friday, June 24, 2005

More on Trades

It struck me that the last post seemed slightly condemnatory towards the Singles reader. That shouldn't be so: I wandered into GOSH yesterday, fully intending to pass by the new Astro City series in favour of waiting for the trade.

Yeah, I bought it. Idiot. I can see the same happening for the All Star line too. Weak Sam, just weak.

(Parenthetically, I picked up Dan Clowes' new book "Ice Haven", a lovely little package which reads like a dream - very enjoayable. But essentially, it's Eightball #22, a book that's over a year old. Felt a little conned, it having been advertised as his "New Book". But that's beside the point.)

The real-world situation that is most often used to mirror this is the one of films; Theatrical Release = Singles, DVD = Trade. But there's lots of problems with this comparison - the size of your TV not being the least of them - and it doesn't really make sense. The hardcore collector buys the singles first, with the Trade a more generally accessible reading format (through bookstores, like I mentioned below). But going to the movies is a general past-time. Buying huge numbers of DVDs is a slightly smaller industry (slightly, just slightly).

Better is to look at Literature. Best-selling authors are released in Hardback first, then get a softcover treatment providing the book makes its money back and gets favourable press. I'd say that's similar to comics, wouldn't you?

Except, there's still a leap to be made concerning buying episodes of a story vs. getting the whole thing in one package. If TV shows cost something to watch on Channel 4, I bet you'd get a lot of "DVD-Waiting" among fans of Desperate Housewives or Six Feet Under.

So what is the best way of looking at this in terms of a paradigm shift? Am I wrong to say that singles (and their consequence, the Direct Market) are what simultaneously keeps this industry going as well as strangling its growth? What will happen when the number of sales for the top 10 trades starts to resemble the number of sales for the top 10 single issues? That's what I predict - sales continue to drop on Ultimate Spider-Man, while sales of trades (within comic stores) continue to grow. They're going to get similar eventually, right?

If people don't want OGNs, will we ever get the "Straight To Trade" release?

(I'm so tired, it's so hot here in London, and nothing I've written seems to make any sense. Help me, please, won't you help me?)

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