Benchmark watch: Fanfare/Ponent Mon

I don’t think any manga publisher is immune to fallout from Diamond’s new policies, but some strike me as more vulnerable than others. One that I associate most closely with comic shop distribution is nouvelle manga specialist Fanfare/Ponent Mon, which releases books of extraordinary quality largely through specialty stores. In my experience, pre-ordering through Diamond is the most reliable way to get a Fanfare book in your hands (though they have secured a bookstore distributor, Atlas).

So, since I’m nosy and since I very much want Fanfare books in my hands promptly and regularly, I pestered Stephen Robson for his response to the new benchmarks. Robson worked in comics distribution in the United Kingdom prior to going into publishing, first for Titan, then for Diamond after it purchased Titan in the 1990s. Robson hasn’t communicated with Diamond directly as yet, but he shared some general thoughts on the development.

“From a Fanfare/Ponent Mon point of view I am not too concerned about the effect on the front list in Previews likely to be caused by this shift,” he said. “Bizarrely, if the catalogue choice is curtailed because of this policy, our books may even notch up a few more sales on first offering! No, the general economy scares me much more!!”

One point of concern would be re-lists. “The deepest effect would be felt in re-lists if Diamond do implement this policy rigorously,” he said. “[P]ublishers in our position live as much from back list perennials as we do front list – even some of the longer established ones. Whilst I do receive a continuous trickle of orders from Diamond each month for my back list, there is no substitute for having an image with description and an entry in the order form to boost those numbers!”

And while he’s sympathetic to Diamond’s position in a difficult economy, he shares a widely held concern about the fates of small publishers. “My sadness would not come from any decline through Diamond of my own sales, I will cope with that somehow, but if this quantum change did cause the demise of even one good creative comic publisher, however humble, who currently feed only at Diamond’s table because it is the only one. I, for one, would be much more appreciative if the process could be slowed somehow to allow such fledglings time to find alternative means of selling their produce to their audience or for an alternative means to spring up.”

5 Responses to Benchmark watch: Fanfare/Ponent Mon

  1. […] David Welsh speaks with Fanfare’s Stephen Robson, who doesn’t think that his new releases will be affected but worries over the likely loss of re-solicitations, a significant part of his sales. […]

  2. […] but there is a significant subset of manga that is easier to find in comics stores. David Welsh talks to Stephen Robson of Fanfare/Ponent Mon, which is one such publisher, about what he expects to see in the coming […]

  3. Simon Jones says:

    “Bizarrely, if the catalogue choice is curtailed because of this policy, our books may even notch up a few more sales on first offering!”

    The rationale that fewer publishers means more business for those who survived the purge was offered when Diamond last raised its minimums a few years ago. I don’t think recent history supports that hypothesis. It certainly did drive some publishers out of Previews (this was particularly acute with the adult comics publishers), but I see no real lasting effects either way.

    ICv2’s top 300 sales estimates have definitely risen, but that’s mainly due to the larger output from Marvel and DC crowding out smaller comics from the list altogether.

    Someone with the math skills and data set should examine this…

  4. I have to agree with the last comment. I don’t see how DIamond selling less titles and carrying less publishers is going to increase Diamonds total sales. It’s only going to lower their overall sales.

    The only thing that Diamond keeps saying is that it’s going to lower their costs. But I don’t really see how, other than maybe the size of their catalog and the printing cost involved. But otherwise, putting comics in a box and shipping them is the same, really wheater all those comics are just Marvel and DC or a mix of different titles – at least as far as I can figure…

  5. […] Stephen Robson of Fanfare/Ponent Mon tells blogger David Welsh that while he isn’t “too concerned” about his company’s books meeting the […]

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