*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
January 16, 2022, 02:17:49 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 54 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: An Observation from a Bookseller  (Read 6490 times)
lampros
Member

Posts: 24


« on: November 26, 2005, 11:15:02 PM »

Hey,

I'm reading through the "infamous five in order" and am currently on the "Mainstream: A revision"(http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=4223) I'm currently working for Barnes & Nobles and thought I'd offer a few observations. Take these observations with a grain of salt.

Quote
In other words, an X-Men movie brings comics fans into the theaters, but it doesn't bring theater-goers into the comics store.]

Movies drive sales of Children's merchandise. The only traditional comics I've seen around are Spiderman, which sells at full price,  and X-Men, which sits in the Bargain area - meaning we probably had a bazillion of them from when the movies were out. We currently have a whole table dedicated to Narnia books and a giant mess of Harry Potter merchandise. Some of the kids reading these books will want to buy other comics (or other books about Wizards or what have you) later.

Quote
You do realize, of course, that D&D is a big stinking albatross to Hasbro right now, and they're almost certainly been looking to shitcan it since last Christmas, don't you?

Kind of off topic, but I'm curious as to your source here.

If D&D books were novels, they'd be a very profitable series. Maybe their high production costs are killer, but I wouldn't dismiss their potential profitability.

Yours,

a
Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2005, 08:01:37 AM »

Hello,

I can't figure out your point about the movies/comics. Nothing you've said seems to indicate that movies would drive comics sales; in fact, the presence of X-Men in the bargain bin would seem to support my points. I don't see the instant connection between (a) "kids like the Narnia movie and want Narnia books" and (b) "kids will buy comics." Maybe I'm just not understanding; could you re-state?

My sources for the Hasbro comments are Hasbro employees, Hasbro/WotC ex-employees, and others besides myself who've spoken to both of them. I don't expect my claim to be sacred or even necessarily accurate, but I think it's consistent with how Hasbro has been handling the product.

There's no particular reason to debate any of this, though. It's OK with me if you don't agree with one or another of my perceptions about how things are. What matters a lot more is the point of that thread - that "mainstream" and "alternative" are reversed concepts in gamer-culture, especially concerning the concept I'm calling "D&D fantasy."  What do you think of that point?

Best,
Ron
Logged
lampros
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2005, 02:57:42 PM »

Hey Ron,

Thanks for responding, sorry about my confusing post. I mostly agree with "Mainstream: A revision", I just wanted to add a thought.

Hello,

I can't figure out your point about the movies/comics. Nothing you've said seems to indicate that movies would drive comics sales; in fact, the presence of X-Men in the bargain bin would seem to support my points. I don't see the instant connection between (a) "kids like the Narnia movie and want Narnia books" and (b) "kids will buy comics." Maybe I'm just not understanding; could you re-state?

Basically, my point: A popular movie drives sales of related merchandise.

If a kid buys X-Men, he might like it and get into other superhero comics. It isn't certain, but he's been exposed to the genre, and that can't hurt.

The bargain thing was misleading, sorry about that. Basically, if we put a book in bargain we think it will sell well. Books we can't sell at all we return to the publisher. So if X-Men is on the bargain table, X-Men is probably pretty darn popular. (Its a little more complicated than that, but that's the basics.)

As you said, its not the most relevant point.

And thanks for the info on D&D, that's interesting.

yours,

alex
Logged
Josh Roby
Member

Posts: 1055

Category Three Forgite


WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2005, 07:36:33 PM »

Unless the term 'bargain' means something different than when I worked in book sales, 'bargain' means "this has not sold and we're offering it at cost because we're going to pulp them otherwise and we'd like to recoup some of our investment."  The books that don't end up in Bargain are the ones that can be sent back to the publisher; not all books are bought under the same contract.
Logged

lampros
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2005, 12:03:22 AM »

Unless the term 'bargain' means something different than when I worked in book sales, 'bargain' means "this has not sold and we're offering it at cost because we're going to pulp them otherwise and we'd like to recoup some of our investment."  The books that don't end up in Bargain are the ones that can be sent back to the publisher; not all books are bought under the same contract.

That's part of it. But there's a lot of stuff which has been produced specifically for the bargain section, or which we're still making money on. Or so I think, you may have better info.

Logged
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2005, 05:47:53 AM »

Hello,

I will share my interpretation of the information you've provided. Please understand that I'm not trying to convince you or tell you you're wrong, but I think it's useful for people to see where I'm coming from about the same info.

1. I interpret "bargain bin" exactly as Joshua does. Comics' presence in it tells me that the store cannot unload these at the profit they'd like to, so they have to try to unload them for less profit, in hopes of making any at all.

2. I have been hearing and reading this phrase

Quote
A popular movie drives sales of related merchandise.

If a kid buys X-Men, he might like it and get into other superhero comics. It isn't certain, but he's been exposed to the genre, and that can't hurt.

... for many years, in relation to comics, and for less time and less constantly, but yet every so often, in relation to RPGs. Again, my interpretation is presented for clarification, and I'd prefer not to see a raft of yea-or-nay posts in response.

My interpretation is, bluntly, "Bullshit." Yes, a popular movie means the kid will want the t-shirt. Perhaps the Slurpee cup and the action figure. Magazines with interviews, for sure. In some cases, a comic or two, especially if it presents a re-telling of the movie.

But in no way, ever, should a comics fan expect that even the most awesome comics-based movie or TV show will prompt an interest in comics similar to his own. The enthusiasm-flow is one-way. A good movie means people go and pay for tickets to see it. Whether it's based on a comic book is irrelevant. It does not bring people into comics stores to see what comics are like in general.

My symbol for this is a stand-up cardboard Barb Wire in the comics shop. Does it inflame the desire of store-goers to see the movie? Sure, for about a month prior to the film's release - probably repeating the mantra that "this'll get people into comics" the whole way. Does the movie bring people to the comics store, where they see the stand-up and say, "Ha, yes, if these things produce that movie, then I want one" ...? Does the stand-up make passers-by stop dead and say, "Wow! So that's the mother lode of great stuff, prompting movies like that!"

No. Never. They never have, not ever. It's time to lose this mantra, because it fails. A person can say, dreamily, "Yeah, but kids were exposed to the genre ..." No, they weren't. They saw an action movie, and that's the genre. Superheroes fit into that genre nicely (in fact, they helped invent it), but they themselves aren't it, not in the way they're it for many comics fans. And those kids who do get all fired up about Wolverine or whoever, it's not comics they'll be looking for. It's gear related to the movie (t-shirts, magazines) and the next or a similar movie.

You know, I want to shake Michael Ciklis' hand. He wanted to play the Thing, because he loves the comics, and he did. I applaud that. It doesn't change the fact that FF wasn't a great movie. And here's my point ... even if FF were a great movie (like Spider-Man), it wouldn't make movie-goers interested in checking out the comics that Ciklis loves so much. At most, it'll interest them in the next superhero movie.

The flow is one-way. This is a crucial concept for an RPG publisher, with his starry-eyed dream of "maybe the next D&D movie will turn the corner and get people interested in RPGs." You know what starry eyes indicate? Concussion.

Best,
Ron
Logged
LloydBrown
Member

Posts: 43


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2005, 06:08:34 AM »

So, Ron, here's the question.  Do you have access to sales data to back this theory up?  Can you post any actual numbers to support your position at all?
Logged

Lloyd Brown
Freelance writer
www.lloydwrites.com
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2005, 06:15:13 AM »

Hello Lloyd,

I stated very explicitly that I'm not trying to convince Lampros, you, or anyone else. This is not a college debate or a corporate policy session. You will simply have to lose this whole "oh yeah? prove it" line of thought. I'm not interested in whether you agree with me.

All I expect or would want is for someone to match their own observations to what I'm saying, and to make his or her own decision, rather than repeating the mantra.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2005, 10:46:34 AM »

Hi,

Over the last few years, I've seen a lot of movies based on comics come out.  I've also seen a lot of comic book stores close. 

The owners and folks who work at these places tell me about the minimum "extra sales" that emerge, which are usually someone looking into that specific license.  Those folks show up once, get the book based on the movie they were looking for, and never show up again.  Occasionally a parent shows up looking for merchandise for their children.   Again, one time sale, if that.  Most parents and non-comic heads are usually too intimidated by the massive selection and the "weirdness" of a place (yes, even nice comic stores that aren't weird), and instead run to Wal-mart or Barnes & Nobles where they can get the same thing.

More telling, is the Dark Horse owned store in my area.  It's in a mall, just below movie theatres.  When Sin City & Hellboy hit the big screen, massive amounts of merchandise appeared.  After the hype died down, most of the merchandise was sent back to the warehouse, it didn't sell.  Even then, there's a lot of merchandise on the bargain rack.  I could get a complete collection of the Hellboy graphic novels at $6 each.  That doesn't bode well.

Ultimately, you could make a Spiderman Fruit Juicer, but if I'm not in the market for juicers, it doesn't matter how much you brand it, I don't need one.  Same thing applies for rpgs- people instead buy figures, boardgames, Monopoly based on a movie,  videogames, or card games- but they don't go out of their way looking for rpgs. 

Chris
Logged
daMoose_Neo
Member

Posts: 890


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2005, 11:23:20 AM »

... and instead run to Wal-mart or Barnes & Nobles where they can get the same thing.

And I would imagine this is where most of these conversion-type sales occur.
I have NO comic store in my area now. Years ago, when there were, they were true fan-boy operations, as most are: tucked off to the side in some low-rent corner of a larger building on some obscure side street. Never advertised, did little to get the name out there. Even the larger cities to the south this is true, I have to go specifically hunting for places in order to find out about them. So, when the movie hits and Mom or Dad runs into Barnes & Noble for their Starbucks or whatever and see the X-Men comic, they'll pick it up there for junior, not at the comic store they know nothing about.

I can say that the concept does work, using me as something of an example. Given X-Men, I got into it thanks to the animated series that aired on Fox. I watched it whenever I could, got the videos from Pizza Hut, and started hunting down issues. Drug stores and big-box stores were the only places I could find what I was looking for as the one local shop I knew nothing about and shortly after I DID learn about them, they folded.
Now I have a thousand + books, mostly older X-Men, but my favorite of all-time became Green Lantern, a totally different company and a totally different character concept. And most of my purchases have been made in my later years as I was

A) Able to find places that carried the books and
B) Had the personal, disposable income to afford the books.

I don't collect as much now, but with the return of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern I'm looking into a subscription (I only ever did that with one other book - Sonic the Hedgehog from Archie Comics) and my purchasing habits are changing to accomodate the new books I want.
The hard part about coming up with numbers now is that by comparison to RPGs, which are played by the same group that buys them, the group that reads comics aren't neccesarily the same group that buys them now. Kids might love Spiderman, but depending on the situations the parents may not go that far out of their way to support it. The kids may very easily want to read, but if parents don't buy or don't help find them the interest will wane because of a lack of support.

Other big problem here though: RPGs are an interactive medium, wheras comic books aren't. I find comics that will directly mirror what I saw on the big screen and advance past that in the ongoing series and entertain me for hours. What I can't find is an RPG that will recreate the D&D movie for me. *I* have to recreate it myself. I have to create everything past that *myself*. RPGs are already a targeted audiance because of how much it asks the audiance to create for itself.

Something closer is saying an Art show will spur sales for art supplies to new people interested in learning how to paint. Nope. Almost never will. The people who pick it up are people who are already so inclined and potentially inspired by what they saw in a gallery. Someone who watches the D&D movie(s) will see an "awesome" movie, but won't be able to re-experiance it the same way at a table, the same way I could walk into an art exhibit, see an awesome scuplture, and be unable to duplicate it at home. Or, for the most part, anything remotely similar. A Spidy movie-fan, though, can pick up a stack of Spidy books and be exposed to a number of new stories all of which tickle many of the same parts of the brain that watching the movie did.
Logged

Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
MatrixGamer
Member

Posts: 582


WWW
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2005, 01:58:37 PM »

An interesting case study of comics creating a trend that movies later use is "Teenage Mutant Nija Turtles". From what I've read, the creator thought of the idea and saw it being a great plastic doll with potential to make films of it. To help sell this idea to the toy makers and movie guys he wrote the comic. It was an underground hit and lead to the toys, cartoons and movies.

This is an example of someone seeing the world the way Ron describes it and using that to his advantage in the greater market place.

I know I'm not so devious. My goals are to sell games and establish Matrix Games as a part of the hobby. Still ambitious but not nearly so ambitious as toy turtles.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
Logged

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
http://HamsterPress.net
lampros
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2005, 12:34:45 PM »

To clarify: I'm not too starry eyed. I'm trying to think how to create a chain like the one which got me into RPGs:

My parents got me a Nintendo, and then I got a subscription to Nintendo Power, and then I got into Final Fantasy through a story in the magazine, and into other crunchy RPGs through D&D, and then into less crunch heavy RPGs, and finally over to this forum.

I imagine a lot of kids get into comics by X-Men Movie - X-Men Comic - other superhero comics - comics generally.

Obviously, not everyone who starts one piece of the chain goes the whole way, which is why the chain is hard to measure - and why relatively few people make it all the way.

We have to work with some chain that's already out there, since we can't really create our own. Movies should not be discounted as an element of the chain.

Anyway, this is another topic, so I'm going to start another thread.

And of course, it isn't a bussiness meeting.
Logged
Joshua A.C. Newman
Member

Posts: 1144

the glyphpress


WWW
« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2005, 06:19:23 PM »

From what I've read, the creator thought of the idea and saw it being a great plastic doll with potential to make films of it. To help sell this idea to the toy makers and movie guys he wrote the comic. It was an underground hit and lead to the toys, cartoons and movies.

This is wildly inaccurate. Eastman and Laird wrote it as part of an indie comics explosion in the mid-80s. Action figures were G.I. Joe and Star Wars. That the creators have seen such commercial success is a credit to their ability to market their weird, parodic idea much more than cynical design-for-market.
Logged

the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
daMoose_Neo
Member

Posts: 890


WWW
« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2005, 09:56:17 PM »

Already PM'ed him about it, but: Turtles came about as a parody of the two popular books of the day, X-Men (dimension hopping (at the time) teenage mutants) and Frank Miller's run on Daredevil (ninjas), including such wonderful injokes as The Foot as opposed to Marvel's The Hand as the ninja organization in question. I imagine theres a lot more material in there, but thats mostly what survived commercialism, though I can't help but imagine Shredder's armor and such stems from Wolverine to a degree...
Logged

Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2005, 06:38:02 AM »

All right, that's enough about the Turtles.

In the interest of forum sanitation, let's start a new thread. Note! The topic of this one is not shut down at all - it's worth discussing. Let's just try to have a thread that inquires about something important and yields sensible discussion about it.

Remember folks, just because someone brings up X, and you know something about X which shows you know more than him, doesn't mean you have to talk about X too. That is geek bullshit. What matters is the point he was making with X, and whether you want to contribute to that.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!