Do I know?
Of course I don’t know exactly how the change in Speakeasy’s printing policy (as detailed in the latest LitG of about a half hour ago) will affect me. If you’re trying to get in and can’t read it (like me, only I’m just trying to snake it wholesale for quoting), it boils down to this.
Speakeasy now has order minimums that are above the wholesale minimums set by Diamond at this point ($1600 wholesale as I recall). In this case, Speakeasy’s minimum preorder is 1750. If they don’t get that number, they’re opting not to print the book. If you’re on the bubble, you could probably buy your way out of it (and get extra copies in the “bargain”), but that’s likely not wise in the long-term, unless you’re building those extra copies to build your audience through convention sales/reviews/swaps. If you fall short, you can choose to have your books “printed” on the internet via the Speakeasy site where they could be viewed for free. That way the work would be out there and not leave folks hanging if say your first two issues came in over the threshold, but your third and fourth came in under and you didn’t want to buy them up.
Rich seems to think this is brilliant. As follows:
Fortier acknowledges that some retailers may be put out by this, especially those who have sold the book’s previous issues and have ordered subsequent issues, with waiting customers. Fortier recommends for retailers with a desperate fan, printing the book out as a PDF as a gift for them. But the alternative was not publishing the book at all. And that this policy is aimed as “extending the longetivity of the product so it that one day it can be printed.”
And this model has other opportunities. Promoting comics. Completing series from other publishers, by putting already published issues online. This way they can continue the series and allow new readers to get on board. And also create a business model to pay to download comics that have been printed, if a reader has no local comic shop.
This will be a controversial move. Some will see it as a failure of Fortier’s vision, or a smack in the face by the reality of the industry. But with the current market squeezing out anyone who’s not publishing “House Of M” or “Infinite Crisis,”, it’s evidence that Fortier is living up to his Smartest Man In Comics TM tag by twisting in new and unpredictable manners.
Of course, he stole the idea from me.
Now if I were a retailer, and I knew about this, I’d be far less interested in taking any kind of risk on a couple issues of a Speakeasy book if I knew that my preorders were going to possibly evaporate. But that’s me. If I were a buyer and knew about this (which would assume I had to know who Speakeasy was as a publisher–and there are plenty who don’t), then I’d probably be wary of picking up that issue #1. Why should I buy what I could get for free later on (on the assumption that if you publish issue #3 and #4 of a comic on the internet, you’d make #1 and #2 available in that medium as well.)
Granted, if I knew that a book had a strong following on the internet (and that could be backed up), perhaps that would encourage folks to order strong on the print version, but there’s a hundred arguments against that, primarly the whole “just because they like it for free doesn’t mean they’ll pay real money for it”, which is pretty strong these days.
Maybe they’ll get a system where you can pay to download, and the creators can stand a chance of seeing some money on the deal. That would be great. Just as soon as you can stop one person from taking the digital copies and publishing them all over the internet (just like they do with comics they have to scan and clean up now–a non-trivial task.)
At any rate, I expect to see hearty discussion on this issue in the coming weeks.