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While storm clouds gather for newspaper, magazine and book publishers, the comic book market is surging ahead. And there’s nothing but upside for the two big publishers – Marvel and DC Comics – who share more than 80% of the market between them. Wow!
“In the quarter ended June 30, publishing accounted for $32 million of Marvel’s $157 million in revenues, and $11.7 million of its $85.2 million in operating profit. (The bulk of the rest came from licensing – which generates even higher margins of more than 80% – since the spoils from “Iron Man” won’t show up until the next couple of quarterly results.) Although its publishing revenue and profits declined in the first half of the year, the company has given guidance that it expects revenue growth in publishing between 3% and 7% for the year, and margins between 37% and 40%.”
My god. I’m not entirely sure if book publishers have ever had margins like that, have they?
Read full article: Spoiler alert: Comic books are alive and kicking
It didn’t bode well when, at the opening press conference of Frankfurt Book Fair, Prof. Dr. Gottfried Honnefelder, the Director of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, described the computer as “a machine that looks like a typewriter with an upright picture.” Even more astounding, thousands of people can now use books, such as the encyclopedia, simultaneously!
Welcome to the Internet, Professor, the temperature’s balmy.
And while my hopes were foolishly raised when he said that “others have to learn how to handle it and accept that “Open Access” prevails time and again, and that Internet users don’t have any patience when the “free flow of information” runs into walls” [cute use of quotation marks there], in the next paragraph Prof. Honnefelder calls for a political debate about the basic conditions of handling intellectual property.
These resources must be protected! Anyone who steals a book out of a bookstore can expect consequences. Why should there be different laws on the Internet? Simply because this book is not printed on paper and bound?
In the next 60 years the Frankfurt Book Fair will certainly be changed as a marketplace for content. It will, however, only continue to exist and continue to create international trends in the publishing industry when the handling of intellectual property proceeds down a regulated path. And only then can international knowledge be truly useful.
Funny. I always thought international knowledge was truly useful when shared openly, copied, improved upon, used as the basis of innovation, creation and ideas. Wasn’t that the hallmark of the Age of Enlightenment, ushered in by minor little invention known as the Gutenberg press?
I used to turn over the problem of distribution for small press quite a bit. Distribution is a key challenge for most creative industries, at least those that aren’t digital. One of the business models my brother and I used to toss around was a co-op that would take on the functions of distribution, sales and marketing. Neither of us had the energy or time to tackle it but I’m really heartened to see strong cooperative efforts in independent publishing.
The best of these is SPUNC (Small Press Underground Collective) which has a well articulated vision and fantastic engagement with the broader publishing and bookselling industry.
Today I also learned the indefatigable Tehani Wessley has launched a blog to raise the profile of Australian small press.
It struck me that while Australian small press produce some amazing works, often they receive little wider recognition due to a restricted distribution. This means authors don’t receive all the kudos they should, general readership don’t get access to many of these productions, and has a negative impact on further projects. I’d like to see that change. This is just my way of seeing if I can help increase the visibility of small press publishers in Australia to libraries, retailers and readers outside the traditional sales sphere of small press.
An admirable project! Tehani is so far focusing on speculative fiction publishers. Hopefully she and the gang at SPUNC will find each other and team up, especially as SPUNC has funding.