Shelf space

November 21, 2005

Wow! Paul Gravett has joined Team Comics!

Okay, not really, but his new book, Graphic Novels: Stories to Change Your Life, is a handy entry point for those curious about but unfamiliar with that sector of the publishing industry. It’s a persuasive, intelligent, and well-organized introduction to the form for people who want to know more but might not really know where to start. Gravett covers plenty of the usual suspects, the widely accepted classic graphic novels, but he expands that list with a bunch of unexpected and interesting choices.

It’s also a really beautiful object, a coffee-table book in soft-cover, with loads of pages from graphic novels reproduced to give readers a taste of the titles under consideration. My partner may not have much use for graphic novels, but he loves good design, and this book got raves from him on that front.

One thing I really don’t understand is the book’s placement in stores. It’s generally in the graphic novel section, which doesn’t strike me as helping to achieve its aims. It’s certainly eye-catching enough to hold its own with, say, the gift book selections in your average chain store. And since it’s designed to be of use to a general audience, why hide it in the corner of the store they haven’t yet discovered?

This might not be the case every bookstore, though. I just think it would get into the hands of people who’d find it useful if it were parked up front with the other pretty, seasonal offerings. (Seriously, look at the gift book table. You can’t tell me that graphic novels are too much of a niche subject compared to some of the others covered in those titles.) And then you’d have more copies of the book moving and, hopefully, more traffic in your graphic novel section after they’d become curious about individual titles profiled. (It should be noted that I did really poorly in economics in college, so I might have no idea what I’m talking about.)

For more informed views on the bookstore market, you might pop over to the Ninth Art and take a look at Paul O’Brien’s latest column.

In the latest Flipped, I talk about another recent book about comics, Manga: Masters of the Art.

And while you’re over at Comics World News, why not take a look at the new contest that’s in progress? It’s easy to enter, and you could win a copy of the bumper edition of the very promising Elk’s Run.

Update: Want to double your chances of winning the Elk’s Run bumper? Swing by Mark Fossen’s Focused Totality and check out his inaugural give-away. And you can read Fossen’s review of the book here, if your appetite needs to be whetted.