The Fantagraphics Store

Fantagraphics has decided to open a brick and mortar storefront in Seattle, and thankfully the reaction has been mostly positive (if somewhat skeptical regarding the feasibility of such an undertaking). No retailers threatening not to carry Fantagraphics in protest to theoretically direct competition from what is theoretically a direct business partner, but then half the reason for opening the store is that (according to Fantagraphics' Eric Reynolds) most Fantagraphics titles are ordered by fewer than 40% of Diamond accounts. Now, to be fair, we order very few Fantagraphics titles via Diamond since we get the rest via W.W. Norton (Fantagraphics' bookstore distributor) and I know of several other stores that do so as well.

From what I hear, Fantagraphics has always allowed visitors to Seattle to shop straight from their warehouse, it was just difficult to do so given that such shopping would have to take place in the middle of an actual functioning warehouse (not to mention the option wasn't widely advertised). The intention of the new store seems to be to create a more buyer friendly environment while also adding something of a tourist attraction element to Fantagraphics' Seattle presence. One of Reynolds' specifically stated goals is to get the store listed in tourist guidebooks as a store/exhibition space, and to that end I think they should be successful.

To my mind, though, the best element of this new store is the "soon-to-be-legendary damaged room." This is an element of the graphic novel industry that's gotten very little play (although to be fair, it gets somewhat limited play in the mainstream book industry as well). Primarily due to the non-returnable nature of the direct market, there are very few remaindered graphic novels to be bought in bulk and sold at a sharp discount. That, however, is essentially what this damaged room will be, a place for Fantagraphics to sell off extra stock that simply won't move via the book market or Diamond. Possibly due to the fairly recent rise of graphic novels (coupled with the industry's fascination with monthly singles), there hasn't developed a particularly significant secondary market for graphic novels. Sure a few might pop up here and there in used bookstores but for the most part used, damaged or remaindered graphic novels simply aren't available. I suspect that may begin to change if I'm correct in my guess that the damaged room will be the most successful element of the Fantagraphics Mega Mart.


Blogger Martin Wisse said...

Remaindered graphic novels/comics albums may not be available in the US, but here in Amsterdam I always keep an eye on the several English remainder bookstores, as they do tend to get quite a lot of Fantagraphics (and other publishers) overstock. Last time I netted that Rebel Visions coffee table book and the Gil Kane Blackmark selection that way, both for under eight dollars each.

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