September 6, 2007

DC Plus Random House Equals New Readers?

So big news yesterday; Random House announced that they will be distributing DC's graphic novels.

In business terms this is Brangelina — the biggest and deepest backlist in the biz coupled with the marketing power of Random House should equal continuing ka-ching for all involved.

This is huge. Random House is like the Godzilla of book publishers. They have their tentacles - or paws, I guess Godzilla has paws - in more places than any other publisher.
And Levitz believes Random House will help sell the graphic novel category to independent bookstores, which have lagged significantly behind chain bookstores in embracing the category. “Graphic novels have a weaker representation in independent stores than in the chains. Random House has an opportunity to have a big impact there,” he said. Abraham agreed, noting that “we’re very selective in choosing our clients. We try to find category leaders like DC that are perfect for our own internal experience. I certainly hope we can bring in the independent stores.”

Independent stores are good, expanding is good. Maybe some other comic book publishers can ride their coattails into those independent stores.

But how much can these indie booksellers really penetrate into the non-graphic-novel-reading customer base? I mean - most readers do buy their books at the big chains or Amazon right? And Amazon is a different beast altogether. You pretty much go in there knowing what you're looking for, right?

I think the biggest coup here could really be spreading out the graphic novels to appropriate sections. Really, does Maus belong in the same section as The Ultimates? Sure, some people will read both, but in my opinion it doesn't make a lot of sense. Put the superhero TPB's with sci-fi / fantasy. Put the autobiographical graphic novels with biographies. Put the non-superhero books with fiction, etc. That is going to expand your reader base with the bookstore browsers who might not otherwise think of buying a graphic novel.

We don't have a separate section for books with etched drawings on the title page, or books with 12 point type. To me it makes about as much sense to group together books because they are made up of drawings.

Far-fetched metaphor incoming: The graphic novel section is like the gay / lesbian / bisexual / transgender of the bookstore. They don't have much in common other than they don't fit anywhere else comfortably.

Of course that will probably not happen for a long time (but wouldn't it be cool?). In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how this relationship plays out and what Random House can bring to the table.

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