Oh time, you do have some major frequent flier miles, do you not?
Seems like only yesterday I was at ABA’S Winter Institute, but in fact, it was last month. In the whirlwind of activity that is the publishing conference circuit of late, I have fallen behind on posting my posties. And, that’s a shame – because I have some good stuff for you guys.
To go back a bit – last month I was privileged to take part in Wi5 in San Jose. It was awesome. A really grand group of indie booksellers gathered together to tackle the challenges and opportunities of book selling in the 21st century. I have a few overall reflections on the event that I will share posthaste (no, I will – I will), but first I wanted to share something that came out of Wi5, but is not necessarily related to Wi5. It’s about graphic novels.
Graphic novels have been consistently increasing in popularity for years. Break out successes such as Persepolis, Watchmen, and Stitches have continued to put the graphic novel in front of mainstream audiences (in other words, they’re not just for comic stores anymore). But, publishers don’t seem to have caught on to this. And, that’s what this post is about. Yes, this post originated due to a panel on the subject of Graphic Novels at Wi5, but the subject itself goes beyond Wi5 to a bigger issue of the need for publishers to work with their valued intermediaries (such as indie book sellers, librarians, etc) to help get the right books to the right readers.
At this point, I will shut my pie-hole and let some indie book sellers take it from here. Enjoy:
Dan Kusunoki from Skylight Books: My name is Dan Kusunoki. I am the assistant manager and Graphic novel/ Manga monger at Skylight Books. I was part of the Graphic Novel panel moderated by John Shableski of Diamond Comics.
The Winter Institute was an eye opening experience for me because of one main thing:
The realization that publishers carry graphic novels but don’t market them.
The need for them is clear. The panel had a full house with booksellers coming to me and Gina from Malaprops afterward asking a myriad of questions that just one panel could not cover. I was even giving side meetings with booksellers during the author reception and couldn’t get a copy of The Passage (Darn it!) but I was happy to see so many wanting to sell graphic novels.
However, during the rep “speed dating” session, It dawned on me that none of the reps were pushing any graphic novels. So as an experiment, I asked a simple question: ” Does your Publisher carry any graphic novels?”
One actually said that there is a graphic novel adaptation of a book called “SHUTTER ISLAND” ?!?
Here is a potential crossover sale with the novel when the movie comes out, AND NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT IT!
Oh sure, they’ll mention Stephanie Meyer’s manga in passing, but what about already existing titles that publishers either are sitting on because they don’t know how to market them or, don’t realize they have them…
Graphic novels have been around for over 20 years and manga since World War II… And yet the courtship between graphic novels and booksellers is happening right now.
Graphic novel readers are a voracious and literary lot that are loyal to booksellers who curate and carry them.
Comics publishers still work on an ever changing collectors market and rarely backlist while Book publishers rely on backlist heavily.
This is a perfect opportunity for both publishers to reinvigorate not only the book seller market but also the ever shifting collectors comics market… These two parallel tracks need to finally converge… A sort of symbiosis of sorts. Lets make it easier for booksellers to sell your graphic novels!!!
We need more panels for not only booksellers, but for reps as well as publishers so that we can be on the same page and make a helluva lotta money on these funny books. They will not go away. They are a fast growing market.
It’s time to really take graphic novels seriously–before the pulse ends.
If anyone has any questions on how to sell, market and curate graphic novels in their store, feel free to email me, or my partner in crime, Darren Clavadetscher, and we will be happy to help you out. The more we spread the word the better off Booksellers will be.
Thank you for your time.
Now can someone send me a galley of The Passage?
Emily Pullen from Skylight Books:
Here is my 2cents (rather than Dan’s $2) worth:
Booksellers have clearly expressed an interest in Graphic Novels — every panel that the ABA has planned on the topic has been a huge success. And clearly booksellers are interested because they’ve recognized the ravenous consumer desire for graphic novels. My sense is that general trade publishers have also recognized this desire, but they aren’t putting their marketing dollars behind it and I can’t imagine why.
Maybe it has to do with the relatively recent invasion of graphic novels into general bookstores. Maybe publishers are limiting their perception of graphic novels as something that can “capture reluctant young readers” — something that is “for the kids.” Maybe it has to do with the fact that we as a culture are still learning how to talk about graphics — I sense that many publishers look at it as a format, and we really need to be looking at it as a medium unto itself.
Dan is a guru — I’m a relatively new convert. But, too, I can’t imagine why publishers wouldn’t be pushing these books more with the independent bookstore market.