Ack! Where did the goalposts go?! While it seems like bookstores are the Promised Land for graphic novel publishers, prose houses and imprints are increasingly finding that Borders and Barnes & Noble are so last year, at least according to this fascinating piece in the New York Times (free registration required).
The new retailers of choice, it seems, are places like Anthropologie, Restoration Hardware, and Starbucks:
“With book sales sagging — down 2.6 percent as of August over the same period last year, according to the Association of American Publishers — publishers are pushing their books into butcher shops, carwashes, cookware stores, cheese shops, even chi-chi clothing boutiques where high-end literary titles are used to amplify the elegant lifestyle they are attempting to project.”
A lot of familiar names crop up in the course of the article, many with graphic novel imprints or partnerships with graphic novel publishers. Simon & Schuster, which handles distribution for Viz, has been making the most of the new trend:
“In the last four years Simon & Schuster’s special market sales, as they are called, have grown by 50 percent, surpassing total sales to independent bookstores, said Jack Romanos, the publishing house’s president and chief executive.”
And some chains are taking the initiative to fold books into their shopping experience:
“Martin & Osa, a new clothing retailer aimed at 25-to-40-year-olds, stocks dozens of titles in its four stores and is planning to add more, including a ‘reading list’ of graphic novels [emphasis mine], fiction and nonfiction for customers. ‘We try to offer them things that aren’t mainstream, more unusual, more unique,’ said Arnie Cohen, the chief marketing officer.”
Is it the next big thing for graphic novel publishers? I have no idea, but it seems like an idea with potential. Viz just announced a special deal with Hot Topic for Bleach merchandise, so why not actually put copies of the manga in the store?