Ed Sherman of Rising Sun Creations in San Diego, California, saw Steve Bennett's controversial Talk Back on 'The Death of the Pamphlet' ('Steve Bennett of Dark Star Books on Comic Formats'), and the responses (see 'John Robinson of Graham Crackers Comics on Comic Formats,' 'Gail Burt of Metropolis Comics on the Death of the Pamphlet' and 'Sara Gray of Mira Mesa Comic Gallery on the 'Death of the Pamphlet'') and agrees that the pamphlet format is doomed:
After reading the responses to Steve Bennett's comments on the death of the pamphlet, I have to come to his defense. I agree with him completely and as a former comic retailer turned strictly anime and manga only retailer, I feel that I can offer a unique perspective on this subject. I think pamphlet style comics will be gone within 5 years or less and here is why:
Pamphlet style comics are just a bad deal all around for everyone except the publishers and distributors. Pamphlet comics have a shelf life of less than a week. After that, they are worth the going rate for recycled paper. In contrast, graphic novels have almost a shelf life of forever. Why do you think the large bookstores only carry a small section of pamphlet comics (returnable by the way) and a rapidly expanding selection of U.S. and manga graphic novels and TPBs? Is it because they are stupid and uncool? No, it's because they are really smart and they know what sells and how to make lots of money. Pay attention and take notes people!
Another reason pamphlet style comics are doomed is because they are way overpriced for the few pages that the reader gets for his or her money. In short, they are a lousy deal when compared with graphic novels and trade paperbacks. Manga is stealing U.S. comic readers away in droves. Manga readers were not born yesterday. Many of them are former comic readers who have either given up on comics altogether or who are now spending a big chunk of the money usually spent on comics, on manga. They are doing this because they simply get more bang for their buck! It is absurd to think that Shonen Jump sells because it has Yu-Gi-Oh! on the cover. It sells because it gives readers a phone book of quality entertainment on time for $4.95! By the way, I think it would sell even better if Yu-Gi-Oh! was not on the cover (Viz take note).
As both a retailer and a fan, I love the fact that I can display my graphic novels and TPBs spine out in my store and at home and they look great! Try doing that with a pamphlet. White boxes filled with comics just do not fit in with my decorating scheme at home, or in my store. Also of great importance is the fact that you can successfully retail graphic novels and TPBs spine out, thus increasing your profit per square ft of retail space.
Very few females purchase pamphlet style comics, but they buy lots of manga. Need I say more?
How many pamphlet style comics do you have to sell (at great risk) to generate the same amount of profit as one graphic novel or TPB (at almost no risk)? You can order one graphic novel or TPB and see how it sells. If it is hot, you can easily replace it quickly. Pamphlet comic orders are based on sheer speculation at best. They are a no win proposition. Order too few, you lose. Order to many, you really lose! Why retailers subject themselves to this process is beyond my comprehension.
I know that if this is posted, it will generate some great responses. But rest assured, U.S. comic publishers are gearing up to get away from pamphlet style comics as I write this. It is only logical. They have seen the future, and the future is manga style publishing. They have to be stressing over the rapid growth of manga in the U.S. Manga publishers have successfully penetrated the mainstream U.S. market in two years. U.S. comics publishers have failed to do that in 70 years!
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.