Friday, March 20, 2009

Retailers Unite... I'm Told

If you weren't aware (and given the lack of internet chatter I've seen on the subject, I'm guessing you weren't) members of ComicSPRO are having their annual meeting this weekend in Memphis.

There was an informal first day on Thursday, which Matt Price felt was optimistic in general. Yesterday was an all-day, DC-hosted event and Price has alluded to several upcoming items from Vertigo, WildStorm and DC Direct projects. The real meat of the event, though, seems to have been scheduled for today and tomorrow where there appear to be a more widely diverse set of panels and discussion groups. Though Price has continued blogging throughout today, I have yet to see any real substantive retailer discussion/information coming through.

To be fair, Price is actually an editor at The Oklahoman and not an actual retailer. Plus, two of comics' most outspoken retailers -- Joe Field and Brian Hibbs -- are on ComciPRO's board of directors, so I'm sure they're a bit too busy right now to be doing much blogging. So, while we're not exactly seeing a news blackout from the event, what we are seeing isn't that different from what you might expect to see on Newsarama of Comic Book Resources on any given day.

But I must say that I find it curious not to have seen any discussion about the event. No one seems to be asking, "Hey, what's going on down there? What's the 'vibe' on the floor?" Granted, trends in retailing are not exactly buzz-worthy to the masses compared to, say, spoilers about the upcoming Wolverine movie, but given the current economic climate, I should think there'd be at least some interest. Kudos to Heidi MacDonald for at least mentioning Price's blog, but that's the only mention of the meeting I can find.

According to the initial announcement, "Other attending sponsors will be on hand to demonstrate POS systems and discuss products and services with attending retailers... There will also be meetings among the membership to discuss projects and priorities going forward into 2009, and we will finalize the election of 3 open Director positions for the ComicsPRO Board of Directors." Now I don't know about you, butI think some of that sounds kind of significant for a fairly small -- some would say struggling -- industry, especially in a time when "The number of unemployed persons increased by 851,000 to 12.5 million in February, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.1 percent. Over the past 12 months, the number of unemployed persons has increased by about 5.0 million, and the unemployment rate has risen by 3.3 percentage points."

You turn on the news these days -- regardless of what medium or source -- and you're going to hear something about the lousy state of the economy. Even in the comics industry, there are stories about how consumers are switching reading venues to save money and how changes in distributor policies will hurt all but the largest publishers. But despite that, no one seems concerned about what the retailers are actively trying to do about it.

Now, let me go on record as saying that I don't particularly care for unions and union-type groups. I understand there was need for them once upon a time, but I think they do more harm than good any more. And, while ComicsPRO is clearly not a union, the idea is similar and I don't know that it's necessarily the best use of the retailers' resources. My personal opinion only, and I don't actually begrudge any retailers who are members of ComicsPRO. They're doing something more than whine and complain, and I'll give them credit for that; I just think there are better avenues to pursue the same goals. (But that's another discussion for another time.)

That being said, the fact remains that ComicsPRO does exist as a collective of retailers, many of whom are quite prominent retailers in the industry. Flying Colors, Comix Experience, Golden Apple, Lone Star, Midtown, Laughing Ogre... just to name a few. So where's the coverage? Like I said, I don't expect Hibbs or Field to do live-blogging or anything since they're running the darned thing, but is Price really the ONLY person who actually cares about this?

1 comment:

Matt Price said...

Hey, thanks for checking out the blog! A couple things. I actually am also a retailer:

www.speedingbulletcomics.com

And I have put up a couple of additional posts on the official ComicsPRO blog, one of which might have touched on a little more of the retailer-type stuff you're interested in.

http://comicspro.blogspot.com/

Some of the more specific ComicsPRO programs are works in progress and as such, aren't going to be announced yet. But I imagine more posts will be coming to the ComicsPRO blog in the coming weeks as board members have more time to share their thoughts from the meeting.

I hope to have some more posts up tomorrow. Thanks for your interest!

- Matt Price