Many times I have heard the chorus of laments from local retailers when Marvel announces a new program or concept, but never have they been as loud as they were over the last few weeks. Why? Well, primarily it is because your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Store Owner is getting squeezed by forces against whom he cannot hope to prevail.
For those who have no idea what I am referring to, it is the fact that Marvel, in cooperation with Diamond Distribution, has begun offering its comics in electronic format. Cheaper, easier to store, and more easily portable than traditional comics, these new electronic comics are available on iPhones, iPads, laptops, and smartphones. Given the ubiquitous nature of these devices, this new offering is rapidly gaining ground against actual comic book sales.
What can your Friendly Neighborhood Comic Store Owner do to make up the lost sales? Sadly, there really isn't anything to be done for it. Given the fact that other than the initial investment in software to convert comics into electronic format is very small, this means that over time more and more of the smaller presses will change to electronic format as well. This means that the only physical books that will likely be available will eventuallly be Graphic Novels and compilations. Of course, Barnes & Noble and Borders are consuming more and more of that particular market segment, so that is of little help for the small business entrepreneur.