26
Mar
08

Borders Doom and Gloom

Borders Books picking up Yaoi Press titles in February 2007 caused us to nearly double our print runs. There was so much great news coming from the chain, like an even greater expanded manga section. Now they’re having financial troubles and ICV2 reported about the possibility of Barnes and Nobles purchasing the chain.

Barnes and Nobles purchasing Borders is the absolute worst case resolution to this situation. It’s not just the fact that stores would close, but B&N is overly conservative and does not capitalize on the graphic novel boom. B&N stores treat graphic novels like any other small section, like travel books or cook books. At the New York Comic Con GN conference last year the buyer said they saw no reason to change their graphic novel acquisition strategy. B&N currently only buys 3% of the amount that Borders buys of our books (less than 100 copies per title). I’ve discussed promoting Yaoi Press books more aggressively to B&N with my distributor. My rep says it’s a lost cause. They don’t buy many graphic novels. They especially don’t buy the ‘mature readers’ ones. I’m sure there are single stores out there that are exceptions to this, because B&N does buy some copies of our books. I’m telling you what I see overall.

The best case scenario from my perspective is converting the Borders stores into ‘Graphic Novel World’ and just having the chains sell graphic novels exclusively. I can dream can’t I? Stores that just focus on graphic novels are overdue. Comic shops do not fill this niche. Book stores have too much other product competing for shelf space. Graphic novels have been the largest growth segment in book sales for numerous years. It’s time to have Border-sized stores featuring nothing but GNs.

In the absence of this, the next best thing are comic shops. They’ll benefit from any Borders demise. I’m sure you could argue that the sales rut many shops see is because of Borders providing such a comfortable shopping alternative to the often male customer oriented comic stores. (If your local comic shop doesn’t have a concrete floor, I’m sure you’ve been to one in your lifetime that does. I’m lucky to have Alternative Reality comics in Las Vegas. It’s an environment friendly to both genders. I wish comic shops would stop whining about the lack of manga sales, and start making their stores seem less like fan-boy bat caves wallpapered with cleavage and cameltoes. The shopping environment problem stems from comic stores having been opened by male superhero comic fans. The kind rightfully offended by their accurate depictions in the new Superhero movie). I’ve all but abandoned any marketing to comic shops, but now is the time to pick it up again.

Lucky me that this years Diamond Retailer Summit is in my home town of Las Vegas this year.

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3 Responses to “Borders Doom and Gloom”


  1. 1 Torsten Adair
    March 28, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    How to Get Girls (…Into Your Store): A Friends of Lulu Retailer Handbook
    http://www.friends-lulu.org/handbook.php (published in 1997)
    Read the introduction by Neil Gaiman!

    It’s hard for comicbook stores to compete on manga because most of them are not smart enough to get it on a returnable basis, thus reducing the risk.

    Alternate Reality is a great store, but even they have a small selection of manga. I posted some suggestions regarding this post over on the PW Beat blog, and if you check the ICV2 archives, I posted many suggestions on how comics shops can market manga.

    What it boils down to is this: clean, welcoming stores. knowledgeable staff (who will preach your gospel). excellent customer service (especially with subscriptions!). community. good location.

    Hope to see you next fall! (And maybe this June in LA.) I’ll buy you a drink and we can plan how to Seduce the Innocent! And you can practice your sales pitch on me, since I’ve read little Yaoi (but always looking for good stuff.)


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