Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture, hasn't seemed to get much attention in the comics blogosphere, so I thought I'd give my shot at a review here.
As I sit down to write this, I'm having a little difficulty getting a good hook across. Salkowitz talks about the business of comics, but not in such a way that I could describe easily or concisely here. And he talks about his personal experiences at Comic-Con, but those are more window-dressing to make getting to the meat of the book a little easier. It's really in his last chapter that everything really clicks together, but it wouldn't make much sense without the context of the preceeding chapters.
Salkowitz uses his experiences of preparing for and attending Comic-Con 2011 as the structural narrative of his look at the comic book business. He uses events that happened to him and his wife as springboards to larger business ideas about the comic industry, but he doesn't delve deep into hard number-crunching, and gets his points across using real-world examples that comic fans might already be familiar with. This makes for easy and accessible forays into an area of comics that a lot of fans often don't care to discuss, and repeated returns to the "action" on the convention floor should keep any readers from getting bored.
One thing Salkowitz does not do is make a definitive prediction about what the future holds for the comic industry, despite the book's subtitle: "What the World's Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment." Rather, he provides four potential scenarios depending on a host of factors. He notes that this scenario planning allows people to look at a variety of possible directions and assume that reality will eventually develop as some sort of hybrid. By looking at the extremes in all directions, you can at least consider worst-case scenarios and understand what you might need to prepare for.
Salkowitz outlines four specific scenarios for how he thinks the comic industry might play out over the next several years. He notes the winners and losers in each instance, and points out that it's these groups who have the potential to "win" this fight who are pulling the industry in different directions. Will any one of these groups get a definitive win that will send everyone else to other businesses? Probably not. But some groups will make more headway than others, and whatever outcome we end up at, some will be happier with it than others.
I don't think I can summarize Salkowitz's ideas any better than he's already done in the book. But I think there's very interesting and useful ideas to consider for anybody working in and around the comics industry. This is worth reading and taking his projections under consideration whether you're a publisher, a retailer, a freelancer, a distributor... every aspect of comics could be affected, so I think it's worth taking a look at this book if you've got any skin in this comics game at all.