Saturday, April 14, 2018

[Link] The Inevitable Direct Market Implosion

by Augie De Blieck Jr.

The Winds of Change

We’re in the middle of the retail apocalypse.  Or, perhaps worse, we’re at its beginning.  You all know the list of the big ones. It includes J.C. Penney, Sears, Toys R Us, Macys, Sports Authority, Radio Shack, Borders.

Retail debt is piling up and going unpaid.  Fewer people are going out to stores. Amazon is eating everyone’s lunch on-line, while Walmart squashes the brick-and-mortars.

And even Walmart is closing stores.

Change happens.  Nostalgia never wins.  The cold, hard reality of business always wins, and that’s prompted by what the consumers wants.  If not enough of them are spending enough money, the business model fails.

Change the model or give up the business.

The entertainment industry is filled with well-known examples of this. These are lessons other industries learned the hard way.

You don’t need me to run them all down, but look at the worlds of books, television, movies, and music.  Not one of those hasn’t had its entire business model upended in the last twenty years. They’ve all changed to provide easy access at any time to a larger catalog of titles at a more reasonable price.

Easy access. Instant access. Vast catalog. Reasonable price.

I’m sorry, but that’s not the Direct Market.

The Inevitable Death of the Direct Market

Business models change.  Businesses change.  It’s inevitable.

Comic books started as a magazine business distributed on newsstands until that distribution model failed to support it.  Then, it moved to the Direct Market, a smaller collection of hobby shops where the books had a lower profile but a built-in market willing to keep it going.

Over the course of the last 30 or 40 years, we’ve seen that built-in audience shrink in size drastically.

Is the business model for comics about to change again?

In the internet age, everything speeds up.  It’s difficult to keep up with the changes, but if you don’t, you will surely die.

Industries may survive, but often at the cost of large chunks of infrastructure.  You can still buy a movie or an album or a book, but the way you get it today — and the way you WANT to get it today — is vastly different from what it was 10 or 20 years ago.

What makes you think the comic book industry is immune to this?  Why does the Direct Market deserve to live?

It’s inevitable.  It won’t be this year.   It might take another five or ten years. But why do we all pretend otherwise?

The Direct Market as it exists today is doomed.  Just look around.

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