ComicsPro On Vairant Covers

By | Thursday, July 19, 2007 Leave a Comment
ComicsPro, "the only trade organization dedicated to the progress of direct market comic book retailers", released a paper earlier today summarizing their thoughts about how publishers should approach variant covers.

First, I don't like that there has to be such an organization. I'm not terribly keen on unions and, while technically ComicsPro isn't one, it shares some commonalities with them. Don't get me wrong -- I've got no problems with ComicsPro. But they should not need to exist. Unions arose because of large corporations acting as monopolies controlling whole industries and being able to dictate terms and conditions to everyone from employees to vendors to customers. ComicsPro arose out of the same type of concerns in that Diamond is acting as a monopoly and dictates to retailers much of how they deal with their products. I don't specifically fault Diamond for this per se, as every organization is going to strive to improve its power and influence, but I do find large fault with the U.S. government who looked in Diamond as a potential monopoly and, after a multi-year study, decided that it was not one. Primarily, as I understand it, because it was put in the same category as book and magazine distributors. That ComicsPro is able to pull so many diverse retailers is impressive and, sadly, necessary, but it shouldn't have to exist at all. If the market were allowed to act in an unhampered, capitalist fashion, we'd have a number of comic distributors out there and retailers would be free to choose which one(s) they did business with.

Getting to the paper itself, I think ComicsPro has some very valid points regarding variant covers. If I were a comic publisher, I would certainly pay a great deal of heed to this document. (Which I presume is also being sent directly to many of the larger publishers.) The document expresses sound business sense, favoring long-term expansion over short-term monetary gains, and strikes me as equitable to all parties involved (unlike the current system which primarily benefits publishers and distributors to the detriment of retailers).

The other important thing I think the document does is provide a useful promotional tool to other retailer who have NOT yet joined. It shows that these people can work together and in a professional manner. That so many participants officially signed on to the paper is encouraging, and should prove to rally more retailers to the organization.

The one curious aspect I see in this is that this document has not, as of this writing, been uploaded to ComicsPro's web site. Now IF it has indeed been sent existing members (which, presumably, it has given the consensus ratio) and publishers (who the document is primarily aimed towards) there wouldn't be a huge benefit to posting it on the web site as well. However, circulating this document as widely as possible seems something of a given to promote their cause, and it strikes me that posting it to their own site is one of those low-hanging fruit that requires little effort for an easy gain. Especially in circulating the document to news organizations like Newsarama and The Pulse, sending people back to the web site should serve to strengthen a person's sense of ComicsPro's professionalism. And how professional can one seem to be if third party web sites are more up to date than yours about your own organization?

ComicsPro has, so far, done better -- it seems to me -- than its predecessors and I wish them the most success. But I'd be curious to see what else they could be doing and how much that would help their cause.
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