Well, here is a shoe that no one wanted to hear drop, but it can’t be termed unexpected. San Francisco will raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next three years, and this threatens a lot of businesses, like bookstores, that have very small margins. The science fiction bookstore Borderlands planned to close, but a sponsorship program has kept it going, but as soon as the law was announced, people speculated on how it would affect local comics shops.
And now, sadly, Comix Experience, the legendary comics store which just celebrated its 26th anniversary, also faces a huge budget shortfall. Owner Brian Hibbs explains that the wage rise will lead to $80,000 in added expenses for the store annually, and it will be impossible to raise profits organically since they can’t just raise prices on books.
However, there is a similar idea to the sponsorship model on deck for Comix Experience, and it’s called:
Comix Experience’s Curated Graphic Novel of the Month Club
Beginning in July 2015, every month the staff and I will use our passion and experience to choose the single best brand new graphic novel to give you. This book will always be either a stand-alone experience, or the first volume of a new series. As a member of the club, you’ll also be entitled to unique benefits that won’t be offered to anyone else:
• A curated selection of the best new graphic novel each month
• An invitation to a monthly live book club meeting and social event to discuss that book. We will record and stream the in-store meeting so club members all over the world can also participate.
• We will regularly have the writers and artists of each of our picks participate in our monthly club meetings, (e.g. in person, speaking and doing a live event, or a video chat to answer questions).
• For select in-person appearances at the store, you’ll receive an exclusive club-only invitation to attend a private after-hours event with the guest.
• We will create a social media group for members to discuss the book internationally
• Finally, we will provide you with nice swag (like posters or bookmarks) for the selected book wherever possible
A one year subscription with in store pick-up is $240 a year, $25 a month. You can also subscribe via the mail for an extra $6 a month for shipping and handling.
The store will need 334 yearly memberships to meet the added costs. Will this idea fly? Book clubs can be a lot of fun, more great books than ever are coming out, and the extras sound cool. So our rating is: good deal!
Comix Experience is a local legend and a pioneering comics shop and losing it would be a huge blow. Hibbs invites discussion and input on the plan. What do you all think?
CORRECTION: I had originally misstated the time frame of the minimum wage hike. It takes place over three years not immediately.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.