Tuesday, 5 July 2016

June 29th REPLY to SEAN's post

Dave Sim:

I posted a reply to Sean's June 29th post:

Reader's Digest version:  a 500-page book is not a 150-page book.  There is no way that we could publish a $100 hardcover of CEREBUS or HIGH SOCIETY or CHURCH & STATE and make money at it on Kickstarter.  The costs MUSHROOM based on size and weight.  You would be talking a minimum -- MINIMUM -- of $350 per book not including postage.

It's an understandable mistake.  These are pretty much the only 500-page graphic novels, but everyone acts as if they're the same size as every other graphic novel.  They're not.  The difference between 500 pages and 150 pages is HUGE particularly with the astronomical price of shipping individual books, getting individual packing done and having them packed individually.  

You are comparing books that are THREE TIMES THE SIZE of the books you're trying to relate them to.


al roney said...

Obviously, this isn't an exact comparison, but Marvel and DC frequently publish HC's well in excess of 500 or 1000 pages for under a hundred bucks retail. They're not alone though.

I'm sure large print runs lower the cost, however...

...I'm holding in my hands a HC book you wrote the intro for (The Puma Blues) that weighs in at 560 pages (with a dustjacket) that will set you back just 20-bucks on Amazon.

In no way am I knowledgeable (nor would I claim to be) in publishing costs, but if a lesser-known title (no offense to Murphy and Zulli intended) with a low print run can put out a nice-looking HC for well under a 100 greenbacks, maybe there are some options out there that haven't been fully explored yet?


Mouse Skull Entertainment said...

Hi Dave,

I see your point.

But I also see Al's above as well.

There has to be a happy medium.

Weren't the foreign reprints hardcover?

(Also, while the first five are indeed big ol' books, the next seven are closer to the 150 graphic novels they're being compared to. In fact it'd be an 8/8 split between thick and thin. If some of the cost from the thick could be shifted to the thin, it might, MIGHT be more cost effective. Just spit-balling...)

I dunno, the point is moot in my case, since "I got mine". (I don't NEED to buy all sixteen books again. I mean I'm buying the restored books, but I GOT 'em. They're RIGHT THERE! If I wanna look for Cerebus as bartender pouring drinks, I just gotta go over to the shelf, pull down "Guys" and, BOOM, there it is.)

Matt Dow

Steve Harold said...

Then again,
I am buying all the restorations as well even though I can
go to my book shelf and pull a phone book down to read
when I want.
BUT, I would buy them all again in Hardcover.

Jp Pollard said...

Hardcover comics blow. Dave keeps it real.

Geoffrey D. Wessel said...

As AWESOME as I find hardcover omnibus editions of comics, and I own several as it is, including that PUMA BLUES one...

At my age, I find it increasingly difficult to hold them and read them with any comfort.

They are cool, but with, say, Alan Moore's forthcoming novel, I'm going to buy one to put on my shelf, and then hope there's a digital edition so I can actually read it without straining my physical body...

Jimmy Gownley said...

Blankets (592 page B/W) $24.95.

Alec: The Years Have Pants (640 pages B/W) $49.95

Locas (712 pages B/W) $49.95

Palomar (512 pages B/W ) 49.95

From Hell (572 pages B/W) $44.95

Puma Blues (576 pages B/W) $20.00

Zot: The Complete Black and White (576 pages B/W) $46.50

The Contract With God Trilogy (528 pages B/W) $29.95

Could you do it on kickstarted alone? No. But why would you have to?

Travis Pelkie said...

@Geoffrey -- according to the listing for Jerusalem in the latest Previews, there's a one volume HC, and a 3 volume SC version for the same price, iirc. It's in the back of the Previews, in the books section. Ah, full info here -- single volume HC, slipcased 3 vol SC, both 35 bucks, both 1184 pages. Page 503 in Previews 334. I don't have Diamond codes, though! So if you're not set on having the HC, the SC version is the same price. FYI.

And as to the HCs, Jimmy shows it doesn't really seem to be so expensive to do HCs (although I'm not sure about some of those prices -- Puma Blues was 30 bucks, no?). If Fantagraphics can do 50 HCs of the Los Bros stuff...well, wait, they're horrible with money! HA! But I completely understand if it's a headache that Dave doesn't want to get into. It's one of those things were it'd be cool and nice to have, but it's not necessary. Especially since we want to get all the phone books back in print with Sean's sweet new remastering first!

Travis Pelkie said...

Fanta do $50 HCs, was obviously what I meant....

Eddie said...

Just wondering how many of the above books are self-published, because it seems to me that might be a factor as well

Jimmy Gownley said...

I self-published mine. I know they aren't 500 pages, but I published the first three volumes ( Gah! IN COLOR! !) at once. I understand the logistics. I'm not GUESSING here.

The other thing I might mention before just forgetting I brought the whole thing up, is that there are opportunities being left on the table because of the format of the books.

For example... a quick scan of Worldcat (The site that catalogs library collections worldwide) shows that 204 library systems carry the first Cerebus volume. 693 systems carry the first Amelia Rules! volume. Now, personally I think that's ridiculous. And yes, there are a million different variables as to why there is that gap, but the lack of hardcovers is one of those variables. More so even than Simon and Schuster publishing later editions of AR!, because I managed to get the first volume into around 500 systems myself. But it was hardcovers, library bound editions, and (later) smyth sewn paperbacks.

If I had to go out and find the next generation of Cerebus readers, this is what I'd do... Make a nice hardcover of Volume One for Christmas 2017 to coincide with the 40th anniversary, and go after libraries HARD through Diamond Books.

I don't care one way or the other about whether hardcovers exist or not. I've bought the series at least two and a half times already. I simply believe it could be a source of revenue for AV. And frankly, I want Dave to be comfortable and secure because Cerebus just about saved my life as a teen.

If it seems like too much of a risk, or if Dave simply doesn't want to go into it, that's totally fine. I get it. I licensed Amelia to S and S in year 7 because it was too much for me. Self-publishing for 40 years is a massive achievement. But hardcovers can be done.

Jimmy Gownley said...

Just as a final note. I dig up the cost difference between printing (just printing, not shipping) a paperback version of an AR! Volume and a hardcover. The per unit difference was... Drumroll please...


George Peter Gatsis said...

okay... okay... lets all be Cerebus n' Chill... :)

yes, hardcovers are not that more expensive than soft covers...

I believe Sean was spit-balling assumed numbers... But his reasoning is generally correct.

In general, maximum profit works best with soft covers in terms of weight, shipping, page count and price point.

If Cerebus was produced as a hard cover... the numbers would definitely change... the price point would be more, the weight will be more... shipping will cost more...

Soooo... how many hard covers could be sold?

The market already has 500 page soft covers waiting to be sold.

All the examples are nice and dandy... Most or all books are printed in China/Korea... and they are all one offs, I think.
But regardless of where it is printed... there is the DISTRIBUTORS DISCOUNT and RETAILERS DISCOUNT, which... once factored into the mix... if lucky, you end up pretty much breaking even on the print run, while everyone else is making money.

Cerebus is 16 volumes.

You start of with hard cover on one book... you pretty much are committing to hard cover up the remaining 15 books.
It would be pretty sad to only have a few hard covers produced.

Which leads back to... how many hard covers could be sold?

George Peter Gatsis

Jimmy Gownley said...

I actually know about distributor and retailer discounts. I do this for a living. I didn't lose money or break even. I made money. My series wasn't a one off. The only difference is the page count and therefore the weight. Substantial, I grant you, but to say it would need to be a 300 dollar volume is ridiculous.

Let me put it this way... Everything anyone can think of, I've already thought of because I had to. I ACTUALLY DID THIS IN REAL LIFE. And I did it successfully.

One volume, the first one, in hardcover, as an anniversary edition would break Cerebus into many new markets, including low risk ones like libraries, and every volume in circulation in a library is an ad for all of the other volumes.

Guess how many copies of Cerebus volume one are in circulation in entire the New York Public Library system.


Now, is this because of:

a. The Feminist/Homosexualist Theocracy?
b. The machinations of the sentient flaming orb in the center of the earth?
c. The effing binding?

Even if the answer is all of the above, there is only one thing that can actually be changed.

Now, if I were Dave, would I listen to me? Absolutely not. I've been writing to him since I was a depressed 15 year old who barely knew which end of the pencil to point at the paper. I've been doing this for 30 years and I still don't grasp basic 2 point perspective. To say what I write is not Dave's "thing" is a massive understatement.

But that doesn't mean that I'm wrong.

What's sad to me... much sadder than a hypothetically incomplete run of hardcovers... is that the comic most responsible for shaping the industry and art form as we know it today is so marginalized.


Sean R said...

Notice that Dave is talking about Kickstarter—about the logistics of selling these one volume at a time on demand. There are two separate issues here—the actual printing costs (which Jimmy is addressing here) and all of the potential distribution issues (which Dave is addressing here).

Just saying :)

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

While Cerebus is the reason that we're all here, I think it is so inaccurate as to be false that it is "the comic most responsible for shaping the industry and art form as we know it today". Cerebus's influence on the art form is almost nil; as Dave himself has said, the material that interests him is 180 degrees from the material that interests the "mainstream" audience.

There's a slightly stronger claim that Cerebus influenced the comics industry. The self-publishing movement of the 1990s was largely inspired by Cerebus (and if Dave was not exactly its leader, he was the loudest voice with the largest platform). The idea that a periodical story would be collected as a single volume was well-known to anybody familiar with comics outside North America, but High Society was one of (not the) first to import the idea to the USAnian direct market.

Lastly, Cerebus is not marginalized. The complete run is in print at the moment, and available to anyone who wants it. Nobody has ever been punished for defending Cerebus. What Cerebus is ... is unpopular. It will always remain such, of interest only to comics historians and students of cartooning technique (in both of which camps I count myself). And that's no small achievement! Rom: Spaceknight was one-quarter the length of Cerebus, but nobody has paid, or will pay, one percent of the attention that Cerebus will retain.

-- Damian

Jimmy Gownley said...

You have a very weird hobby, Damian.

Damian T. Lloyd, Esq. said...

Oh, I've got a few of 'em! One of 'em is studying unusual comics, such as Cerebus. It's the type of comic I have a real weakness for: a failed masterpiece. Dave's reach exceeded his grasp -- but he did reach far, at a time when "Who's stronger, Thor or The Hulk?" passed for debate in the comics field.

-- Damian