Speaking of Amazology, Lauren Davis at io9 got right to the darkest conspiracy theories of all with a post titledWill Amazon Do To Comic Shops What It Did To Book Stores? Amazon is generally considered to employ a Genghis Khan like strategy in seeking to wipe bookstores off the face of the earth, however, even the comments on the above piece point out that Amazon has been more toxic to the chain bookstores than indie shops. In fact, a piece from last fall pointed out, Amazon Slayed a Negative 77 Indie Bookstores in 2012, accompanied by the above chart, showed that indie bookstores are hanging in there.
While the New York Times has been announcing the end of Manhattan as a paradise for bookstores—and painful closures like Rizzoli Books, Shakespeare & Co. and St Marks Books have left great sucking chest wounds for Manhattan booklovers—luckily indie bookstores are slinging to life in the wake of insanely surging rents. :
But alarmist rhetoric aside, it was a familiar tale: Not about the end of reading, but about New York real estate — inexorably rising rents and the few businesses that can afford them. It’s a challenging landscape for anybody, but probably especially challenging for bookstores after all. The same Department of Labor database the Times cited, showing a nearly 30 percent decline in Manhattan bookstores between 2000 and 2012, also found Brooklyn actually gaining a bookstore (from 50 to 51) in the same period. Look closely at a few of those — as well as Manhattan’s hardiest survivors — and the city’s Darwinian, post-Bloomberg ecosystem begins to look less like a literary desert than a harsh but productive driver of bookstore evolution. Here’s how a few of the success stories have managed.
Getting back to Davis’s original question about Amazon and comics shops, the survival—best sales EVER for some— for local comics shops has to be seen as part of the pattern of the indie bookstore revival. As I’ve said many, many times, if you offered the publisher of any kind of book genre a dedicated network of 2000 stores all tirelessly devoted to selling your product — they would leap at the chance. The above profile of local NYC indie bookstores didn’t include a single comics shop, which is a little surprising to me—although five of the six have held graphic novel events. Maybe it’s time for some general rebranding here?As for the survival of comics shops, specifically, Davis write:
But as with prose books, not everyone is going to want to make the switch from paper to digital. Some people simply prefer the experience of reading on paper, and many folks collect single issues of comics—although it will be interesting to see if the latter changes with the rise of digital comics. And there’s a social aspect to comic book stores that is distinct from what you see in a bookstore. The weekly ritual of going to the shop on Wednesdays to discuss the latest issue with your fellow readers won’t be replicated by the mere availability of digital comics. Still, it will be interesting to see what Amazon plans to do in the digital comics space and how retailers feel about the purchase.
Although Comixology’s retailer services—including pull lists and digital storefronts—will remain in place, at least one retailer, The Golden Apple’s Ryan Leibowitz, sees an Amazon-driven Comixology as MORE useful:
The fact is, Amazon is more retailer friendly (sort of). What I mean is that their whole platform is based on businesses and individuals to have hosted webstores that they take a cut from. We already have an Amazon Webstore and my hope is that they integrate our Comixology Digital store to it. And unlike Comixology, We keep the purchased amount from the customer (minus the Amazon fee) not the other way around like Comixology does currently.
Also, comic books are not like CDs and/or regular prose books, they are collectible. What I mean is that they have value and are meant to be collected, cherished and enjoyed for generations. i don’t see comic shops falling over like bookstores without a geek fight…with lightsabers!
Above, the Golden Apple in Los Angeles, CA, via FB
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.