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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Of gluts and listing more comics

Random notes of note:

Darcey McLaughlin's Geek World blog in the Miracmichi Leader continues to delve into the 1990s boom and bust, getting this time into the comic shop glut and its factors. The numbers back then are of course enormous, although I was heartened (and a little surprised) to read that Moncton, New Brunswick (pop 126,000), today has three shops. Never underestimate Canada...

John Mayo's CBR version of the November Mayo Report is up with his thoughts on the addition of 200 trades to the TPB list — and a reference to a Brian Hibbs Comics Retailer column that's even before my time on the magazine. I echo his sentiments that Diamond should increase the Top 300 comics list another 100 items or so, given the degree to which the curve has fattened in the third 100. I do suspect we'll hit a lot more reorders of titles from the majors along with the extra indies in #301-400, so the market share difference might not be that great for many.

I do not challenge his assertion that declines of sales within titles is an unhealthy sign, even when overall sales remain steady. Obviously, you can only offset those drops by throwing additional titles out there so much — and the fact that you're bringing in the same revenue is undermined by the costs with producing more titles.

That said, we're looking at an entertainment industry where the tendency, all things being equal, is for average audiences to decline as bandwidth (and thus available options) increases. I would be interested in seeing how the audience size distribution — from #1 TV show to the end of the line, from the #1 network out to the smallest, from top website to the smallest, from the #1 movie to the smallest — compares with the comics example. My hunch is that many are dominated, as the prose fiction market is, with a handful of megahits and then trailing off through an enormous number of entries with audiences just large enough to be viable, but not much more. In that case, it would be unusual for our model to buck that trend in audience habits — though, again, comics' particular appeal to consumer habits might just make it so.

Sounds like a good thesis project for someone!
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