Monday, February 18, 2008

ADD's Comics Retailing Poll is done, and unfortunately I did not send in a response. That doesn't mean I didn't start one, though, and I decided to post the answers I did write here for all to see. I think it will be clear why I didn't finish; since I don't really purchase many of my comics or GNs at a comics shop anymore, I don't really have a horse in this particular race- although I do believe that the continuance of the brick-and-mortar shop is still of importance in the grand scheme of things, for accessibility if nothing else. My former comics/music/gaming shop (and one I still visit occasionally) is The Great Escape, in Bowling Green, KY, one of a chain of TGE stores based in Nashville, TN. Below, I'll refer to them as TGE. Anywho, here are me answers:

1. Do you regularly buy comic books and/or graphic novels in a brick and mortar comic book store?

No, I do not. I did from roughly 1982 to 2005.

2. If not, why not, and where do you buy them?

I purchase mine from an online service, DCBS. I do so because they offer a discount and will pre-bag & board my comics and purchases, and my comics shop did not do either.

3. How much would you estimate you spend on comics in a year?

App. $500-600 a year.

4. Have you ever bought something at a comic book convention that you had previously pre-ordered through a comic book store? How did you handle the situation? Did you buy the second copy when it arrived at the comic book store, or did you refuse to buy it?

I rarely attend conventions, due to my lack of access to the cities in which they're held and most importantly my lack of discretionary income that would enable me to do so. The last one I went to was a toy and gaming con in Louisville, KY, which featured Mike Kaluta as one of the guests, in 2000. When I have attended, I only bought back issues. I know in the rare occasions when I would get comped or somehow buy something before I got back to my comics store, I'd just tell them and they'd either put it back on the shelf or send it to one of their other stores, perhaps even eventually returning it. I don't know for sure. It wasn't a hassle, and it didn't happen enough to be a real problem.

5. If you do shop regularly at a comic book store, how satisfied are you that your retailer is knowledgeable about the comics you are interested in and committed to getting the books you want into your hands as quickly and efficiently as possible?

I knew that a couple of them knew the types of books I was interested in, and once in a while someone would suggest something, but for the most part I didn't get a lot of personalized attention, nor did I really expect any. They had a lot of people besides me subscribing their holds service, after all. They did an efficient job of getting my books to me, but sometimes getting Indie and other obscure titles was a problem, if I didn't pre-order them- which was one reason I stopped shopping there regularly. In the times I've been in there since, I see they're doing a better job of stocking certain types of books. In my time of shopping at TGE, there were more than a few employees who read and bought comics (many were BIG Gaiman fans) and while they weren't knowledgeable about the whole spectrum, I could usually talk to them about this comics-related subject or that. I kept up with things enough where having someone recommend something to me just wasn't that necessary.

6. What is the best experience you've ever had in a comic book store?

Well, there were times when I'd run across that long-sought back issue, or see a title come out that I'd been anticipating. But the best times were when I'd see friends and get in good conversations with them, as well as some of the store employees.

7. What is the worst experience you've ever had in a comic book store?

Can't think of too many- usually it involved frustration at not being able to get a copy of this or that comic, and that's one reason why I no longer shop regularly at that store.

8. Do you believe the majority of comic book stores adhere to professional business standards that make them competitive with mainstream bookstores such as Borders and Barnes and Noble?

In general, the ones I have been in have. But I haven't been in that many.

9. Do you believe the majority of comic book stores you have shopped in actively seek out customers of all ages, genders and interests? Do you believe professional comic book stores should do so?

I don't know if I'd say "actively", but TGE always seemed to carry a healthy amount of manga and other kids-oriented material as well as gaming supplies, both Yu-Gi-Oh type and video. It wasn't a focus, but it was there.

10. Do you believe the majority of comic book stores you have shopped in have adjusted well to the development of the graphic novel market?

Again, my sample set is limited, but by and large, yes. They always seem to have a large selection.

11. Do you believe overall that the direct market for comic books is functioning well and has positioned itself to thrive in the long term? If so, why? If not, why not?

There's always room for improvement, but I'm not really knowledgeable enough about the particulars to have a relevant opinion on this matter.

12. What is the direct market doing right?

Again, I'm not really knowledgeable enough about the particulars to have a relevant opinion on this matter.

13. In what ways could it be improved?

You guessed it, I'm not really knowledgeable enough about the particulars to have a relevant opinion on this matter. I simply haven't paid as much attention to it as I probably should. As long as I can get the books I want from DCBS, this ostrich is content to keep his head buried in the sand.

14. Please include any other comments you have about your experiences as a consumer buying comics and graphic novels.

Ah, this is where I'm supposed to provide some insight or meaningful statement. Sorry, I'm not particularly insightful, it seems, especially about this subject.

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