More Ways to Improve Collected Editions

2 Feb

by Mike Hansen

One or two comics...

(Photo credit: fengschwing)

I just came across this today:

A couple weeks ago, before I wrote about various publishers’ collected editions, The Weekly Crisis posted “10 Ways to Improve Collected Editions” – some highlights:

1 – Keep your Readers Informed
Let’s start off with one of the simplest and easiest way to improve the way companies approach collections. As much information as possible must be easily available when making a purchase, and that includes all creators and collected issues. For best effect, these must be placed in an easily readable part of the back cover and (perhaps more importantly) in the product description of the item.
Yes! There have been a number of times when publishers, especially Marvel and DC, post incomplete or inaccurate info about book contents in Previews. Sometimes this is a good thing (additional pages in the X-Men by Claremont & Lee Vol. 2 Omnibus for more extras), sometimes not (Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers dropping solicited content). With collected editions SO dependent on preorders, these books need to be figured out ahead of time as much as possible.
2 – Extra-er Material

4 – People Must Sample

It’s the traditional drug dealer tactic: the first one is free, the second one isn’t. If you get people hooked on your series, they are more likely to come back for more. … It’s not just putting this first chapter for free, but also making sure that the people reading this know that the collection is out and available for purchase/pre-order, with in-house ads placed in the digital comic.
I wholeheartedly support this – as far as I’m concerned, this is the only way for new stuff to find a bigger audience.
Free Comic Book Day does an okay job, but I think it’s better at getting regular comic-shop purveyors to check out new material than at bringing in brand-new readers. Still, every bit helps.
I’ve been a big supporter of publishers’ $1.00 reprints of various first issues of their titles, too – comics shops would be smart to order heavily on these, and place them next to the first volume of each series. I guarantee this would hook more readers. (Has anyone seen their local shop do this? I haven’t seen a single one yet.)
5 – Let go of Old Traditions
How about releasing paperback trades one month directly after the story it collects concludes? Time it properly with the release of the next issue (for example, trade collecting 1-5 comes out on the same day as issue 6) and you have even better chances of getting an ongoing reader.
Nope, this won’t work in the current market. As much as I’d love to have my favorite books in my hands ASAP, the singles market still drives far too much of Direct Market sales for this to do any good. If anything, it would hurt sales of the single issues by encouraging waiting for the collection (which can turn into waiting forever), and might kill good titles with marginal sales.
9 – Release Everything

10 – Print on Demand

…companies are on the way of having digital archives of all their comics, which would make print on demand collections rather easy to produce. Of course the prices would be higher, as it is common with this service, but that is the price for the luxury of knowing that you will always be able to buy it (and would perhaps encourage people to buy the trade collections before they go out of print). If you want to even more ambitious, you could even add more customization to it, such as allowing buyers to choose what comics to include in them, what order, and a myriad of other variations.
I’d like to think this is inevitable; Disney comics in Europe are already available like this. Smaller publishers benefit by not having to tie up cash flow in inventory, and the big publishers (especially DC and Marvel) can keep making money off material that is of limited interest to most readers without the up-front printing costs. The sooner this gets off the ground, the more money there is to be made: a lot of recent collections of older material use digital scans of less than top quality, so why not use the money from these collections to do better restorations to release “remastered” editions later (and encourage double-dipping)? Sounds like a winner to me.
There’s lots more in the link; it’s worth checking out.

One Response to “More Ways to Improve Collected Editions”

  1. The Hook February 14, 2012 at 05:43 #

    Great tips! I sure hope someone important is reading this…

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