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  1. #1
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    Default You are the new EIC, what would YOU do?

    Totally an imaginary story, but let’s say the powers that be have put YOU in charge of the inner workings of the DC Universe. You get to decide basic foundations and how certain things are being handled. Also, your job is to find a way to sale more units than Marvel and expand what works while decreasing what don’t. What would you do?

    For example: I’ll start with my ideas.

    There would obviously be different spokes in the wheel of the universe.

    The first spoke I would deal with is the Superman side. Bendis just started, so let him do his thing and see how it turns out, but I would ask him to kinda expand things. He keeps the two flagship titles, but give us more. Utilize other characters. Give us an anthology book that focuses on people like Steel, Guardian, maybe bring back Gangbuster. Make it DC Comics Presents . Shunt Jon back and forth through time. He can spend some time in the present and have him be in the future too with Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes. Keep Kon in Young Justice with a possible solo in the future.

    Now, Batman. Let’s go back to right before New 52. There are two Batmen. One is Bruce, who deals with the more dark, detective work as well as JLA work and some overseas stuff, much like Batman Inc. Then you have Dick palling around with Damian as Batman and Robin. Keep Tomasi and King in charge of storytelling. Bruce keeps Batman and Detective while Dick and Damian gets Batman and Robin. Also, let’s have a Red Hood title as is and maybe transform Tim into Nightwing and keep him in Young Justice while Damian still leads Teen Titans. And of course Batgirls. Batgirls has Oracle back but with Cassandra and Steph in the batgirl suits.

    Justice League corner: We keep the same brain trust and line ups in JL, JLD and JLO. We also launch a well needed JLI. Have Booster, TED, Fire, Ice, Shazam, Crimson Fox, Mr Miracle and Big Barda. Also, a JLA title featuring Steel, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Vixen, Atom and Hawkman.

    WonderWoman keeps her title as well as Aquaman, Morrison keeps Green Lantern, and we get s GLC book with Guy in the lead. We have Flash with Williamson in the lead, but also an All Flash book.

    We got Titans, Teen Titans, a new JSA book, Shazam and all the Wonder Comics titles and other pop ups.

    Still got the titles that are around now like Batman Beyond, Deathstroke,etc.

    We get a Worlds Finest with Supes and Bats. We get Brave and Bold as Batman team up. Give us a Firestorm book, Martian Manhunter, a Showcase title with alternating stories and heroes.

    Also, by 2020, I would mandate a flowing, connected and non confusing timeline.

    Now, what do you think and what would you do?

  2. #2
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    Well the first thing is that I am not making books to appeal to anyone on these boards. No offense, but I think anyone making creative decisions needs to decide which they are going to follow- their own ideas or the market. And unfortunately I'm the one with the job so I'm making books I want to read and trusting that the sales will follow.


    As I've stated in other places, my idea would be to semi-revive the multiverse. Put out different imprints each set in a different universe with trade dress to distinguish each.

    A line set on a Legacy Earth (think the original Earth 2 idea) where heroes have been around since 1938 and there can be books set at any point in DC's history (though starting off we'd limit it to either the 1940's or 2019). Another line set in the current DCU. And a third line set in a new universe where readers are in on the ground floor of a universe,

    So the Gold line would focus on the JSA for the most part, at least in the beginning. A JSA title set in 2019 featuring a generation past the Infinitors. A Society book focusing on the team in the Golden Age. Everthing else from this line would be one-shots or mini-series (no more than 12 issues long) either featuring members of the team in solo/team-up tales or filling in bits of history between the main titles that spin out of those books.

    The Main line would be the classic JLA and Titans and most solo hero books.

    The DC Tommorow line would be a dozen mini-series set up to establish new versions of the heroes as if it were 1956 again. So just as Barry Allen was a reworking of the Jay Garrick Flash, we might have Emma Randall as a single mother who discovers she has the ability to move at fantastic speeds becoming the Flash of this new line or Sam Carver who finds a lantern that enables him to reshape matter and becomes the Green Lantern. We also might see a Clark Kent who uses his amazing powers to become a public hero and media star known as Superman. The only limits would be that once a story is told, it is set in stone (There won't be multiple takes on a new Batman or introducing a version of Bruce Wayne in say a Superman story that won't match up with the one later starring as Batman). Once we get Three or Four successful relaunches we'd create a new (but differently named) version of the League as the first on-going monthly with successful characters getting their own continuing books as time goes on.

  3. #3
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    I kind of like the model used for Doomsday Clock...place an event one year in the future and build to it through the comics, that way you don't necessarily drift aimlessly, so I'd make that an annual thing.

  4. #4
    Astonishing Member Robanker's Avatar
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    If I could swing it by top brass to ensure they don't screw the initiative halfway through, I'd make an open promise to readers that we're going to give the events a rest for one year and see if those sales can transfer to other books. No weekly series, no big gimmick books to cash in on an election or something. Just the usual books and minis focusing on properties that can't sustain monthlies. If the rest of the line's sales rise because fan's entertainment dollars don't go elsewhere, we'll reduce our big event books overall. If it fails, that will provide invaluable data that, essentially, fans need a gun to most character's heads to pick their books up and the event books are here to stay.

    Other than that, I'd make it clear to creators that we're not trying to have a house style to our stories, and they can pitch dark, fun, light or whatever they feel will make for the best story. I'd remove limitations on things such as relationships, legacies and the like. If it doesn't fit our current DCU, we just wouldn't write about it. Do we only want one Flash? Just write about Barry. Wally can be in Keystone and doing his own thing, we just won't follow him for a while. Too many GLs? Space is a huge place. They're doing something, maybe in a mini.

    You'll notice I'm not marking creative changes. I don't think heavyhanded editorial telling writers "get this character to point A, kill characters B, C and D" is the right way to go. We'd have some things we wouldn't change (Clark Kent is Superman, The Waynes were good people who got shot in an alley, etc), but editorially-driven hit pieces and events don't usually get one over on the readership and just lead to reader fatigue.

    Additive is the way to go. Build the universe. Don't shrink it and your fanbase alongside that.

  5. #5
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    First things I'd do?

    Find ways to break into new demographics with new distribution models, release schedules, the whole thing. Recruit hard from outside the industry to bring new voices to the table. Then take a hard, long look at the company's long-term options and push as hard as possible to reach that potential. I feel like the industry is too focused on short term gains. With comics selling like they do I understand why, but if you can't plan for the future you'll never have one. And they are way too insular; working in comics is an exclusive club that is really hard to join and it's killing the talent pool.

    My goal would be to have the way DC comics are created, shipped, consumed, and viewed totally changed by 2021. I'm talking strong push into digital spheres (not just Comixology), regular in-continuity OGN's pushed in bookstores away from the "spinner racks" and a few other formats that would take too long to get into here, with additions to the digital experience beyond just scanning panels into a computer and putting them into a slideshow. I got tons of ideas for this but I'll keep them to myself since I'm actually working towards that kind of cross-media format with my own project.

    I'd change the entire DC webpage. Last time I visited that site it was horrid. I'd make that site the center of the DCU and include fun extras like articles written by Lois Lane, interviews with Booster Gold, live-action reporting done by Amy Adams and whoever it is who plays Linda Park or Iris on the CW shows (I dont watch them anymore so I dunno what's up there), all done in-character of course. As well as exclusive previews and interviews and all manner of junk. Visiting the DC site should be like stepping into the DC Universe itself and I wouldn't be happy until that happens. I might even shut the whole thing down for a couple days with a "site unavailable due to Crisis Event" put on screen to hype a new big story. (probably not but it'd be a fun gimmick to think about trying).

    I'd try to work a deal with the larger media stuff like the movies, cartoons, and games, to advertise the comics during their air time. Man, I'd need to spend so much money those first few years I'd give WB execs high blood pressure, but I could make the DC logo matter again if they let me invest in the IP's and the brand. And that's smart investment; DC's biggest names are so huge and have been such a staple of our culture for so long we're basically born knowing who the Trinity is.

    I could write a whole marketing plan on this, but CBR isn't really the place for those details.

    From the creative end of things.....I'm the EiC; I dont have time to govern how each single book is written or what direction they go in. But I'd make it a big part of my first year in the position to bring in talent from beyond the usual crowd. Authors like Steven King and JK Rowling, musicians with a love for the IP's and/or medium, unknowns hanging about DeviantArt hoping to break big, actors who can also write (I hear Ed Norton did a lot of re-writes to Incredible Hulk, for example). I'd try to get new, fresh voices on the books and the characters and then hype the hell out of it. These big names from beyond comic circles would bring their own fans to the projects, and hopefully some of those fans would stick around.

    The only caveat to that is Nightwing and Superman. Nightwing's an IP with tons of growth potential and one of the highest sales floors in the industry that I know of. I'd ensure that Dick Grayson got his due. And Superman wouldn't be treated like an afterthought anymore either. And I'd just try to hand Wonder Woman over to Patty Jenkins and call it a day.

    Honestly, I'd probably piss off all of you. Given how badly things like same-day-digital went over with us hardcore established fans (we all hate change no matter what) I'm not sure if me being in charge of DC on any level is something you guys would want. But I'm pretty sure I could bring in a whole new generation of fans to replace us.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member superduperman's Avatar
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    First thing I'd do is have Olsen get me a coffee!

    Bring back the JSA. All Star Squadron. Full on WW2 era title.

    JSA. Legacy characters. Including PG. Not sure what her history will be yet but I want her there. Probably refugee from another universe where she took over for Superman.

    Tales of the Multiverse. An anthology title that showcases different universes from around the multiverse. Creators will have pretty much free reign to do whatever they want here.

    New Teen Titans with Conner and Tim and Cassie as the trinity of that group. With Cyborg and Nightwing and Starfire in mentor roles.

    New Superman origin. I'm sick of this waiting for years to clear this up.

    I'd keep Bendis on the main books. If for no other reason than I like his idea of one "down-to-Earth" book and one cosmic book approach.

    Keep Supersons. I like this concept. Jon would show up here probably more than the main books.

    New Legion book with a teenage Jon as Superboy.
    WAKANDA FOREVER! Chadwick Boseman 1976-2020 BLM

  7. #7
    Astonishing Member Robanker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    First things I'd do?

    Find ways to break into new demographics with new distribution models, release schedules, the whole thing. Recruit hard from outside the industry to bring new voices to the table. Then take a hard, long look at the company's long-term options and push as hard as possible to reach that potential. I feel like the industry is too focused on short term gains. With comics selling like they do I understand why, but if you can't plan for the future you'll never have one. And they are way too insular; working in comics is an exclusive club that is really hard to join and it's killing the talent pool.

    My goal would be to have the way DC comics are created, shipped, consumed, and viewed totally changed by 2021. I'm talking strong push into digital spheres (not just Comixology), regular in-continuity OGN's pushed in bookstores away from the "spinner racks" and a few other formats that would take too long to get into here, with additions to the digital experience beyond just scanning panels into a computer and putting them into a slideshow. I got tons of ideas for this but I'll keep them to myself since I'm actually working towards that kind of cross-media format with my own project.

    I'd change the entire DC webpage. Last time I visited that site it was horrid. I'd make that site the center of the DCU and include fun extras like articles written by Lois Lane, interviews with Booster Gold, live-action reporting done by Amy Adams and whoever it is who plays Linda Park or Iris on the CW shows (I dont watch them anymore so I dunno what's up there), all done in-character of course. As well as exclusive previews and interviews and all manner of junk. Visiting the DC site should be like stepping into the DC Universe itself and I wouldn't be happy until that happens. I might even shut the whole thing down for a couple days with a "site unavailable due to Crisis Event" put on screen to hype a new big story. (probably not but it'd be a fun gimmick to think about trying).

    I'd try to work a deal with the larger media stuff like the movies, cartoons, and games, to advertise the comics during their air time. Man, I'd need to spend so much money those first few years I'd give WB execs high blood pressure, but I could make the DC logo matter again if they let me invest in the IP's and the brand. And that's smart investment; DC's biggest names are so huge and have been such a staple of our culture for so long we're basically born knowing who the Trinity is.

    I could write a whole marketing plan on this, but CBR isn't really the place for those details.

    From the creative end of things.....I'm the EiC; I dont have time to govern how each single book is written or what direction they go in. But I'd make it a big part of my first year in the position to bring in talent from beyond the usual crowd. Authors like Steven King and JK Rowling, musicians with a love for the IP's and/or medium, unknowns hanging about DeviantArt hoping to break big, actors who can also write (I hear Ed Norton did a lot of re-writes to Incredible Hulk, for example). I'd try to get new, fresh voices on the books and the characters and then hype the hell out of it. These big names from beyond comic circles would bring their own fans to the projects, and hopefully some of those fans would stick around.

    The only caveat to that is Nightwing and Superman. Nightwing's an IP with tons of growth potential and one of the highest sales floors in the industry that I know of. I'd ensure that Dick Grayson got his due. And Superman wouldn't be treated like an afterthought anymore either. And I'd just try to hand Wonder Woman over to Patty Jenkins and call it a day.

    Honestly, I'd probably piss off all of you. Given how badly things like same-day-digital went over with us hardcore established fans (we all hate change no matter what) I'm not sure if me being in charge of DC on any level is something you guys would want. But I'm pretty sure I could bring in a whole new generation of fans to replace us.
    I'm with you on some of those fronts, and despite how I drag my feet on digital (I'll always prefer print), I absolutely believe the industry needs to embrace it further. Digital exclusive series should not be a dirty word! A digital mini for, say, the Metal Men can save a lot of money on print and allow other low-selling IPs to move units. If it kills in digital, release it in print or just as a trade!

  8. #8
    Extraordinary Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    First of all, we divide the stories into two lines. Tight continuity and no continuity.

    Tight continuity means every writer share everything to make sure everything fits and no one is allowed to add or change something out of the blue without consulting the characters history. No one working on their own. This is not your personal character, this is the company's character, so there are guidelines.

    No continuity also means no crossover, but the writers have more freedom to create stories of their own take. This is where they get a chance to flex their creative muscles.

  9. #9
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Some good takes already!

    First is that my impression is that the current main market isn't growing much—or even is contracting—and has a hard time engaging new people outside of some established demographics. (There are of course individual exceptions, probably plenty of them, but I digress.) Finding new distribution models is thus of strategic importance. Meanwhile the goal should be to keep good general relations with LCSs, while helping and pushing them towards reaching new customers.

    Second, do a brand analysis focused on where DC has marketing opportunities, with a focus on engagement and mass appeal. To take one example, Poison Ivy fans seem extremely passionate about her character, and one should look into how one can leverage that fan passion towards greater mass market appeal. Existing mass appeal can e.g. be studied by comparing merchandise sales versus sales of comics. A character with large merchandise sales compared to comic book sales (with ratios probably calibrated to Superman or Batman) implies that there is an untapped market for comic book sales. Strong creators should be put on those brands, and further research made into how one can reach those untapped groups.

    Third, make it easy to get into comic books. This means a much greater focus on shorter adventures, and less obsession with continuity. Stories to be continued should be the exception, not the rule. State that all stories happened, but maybe not exactly as told, and that they are told out of order. Encourage and support voluntary interaction and cooperation between writers, but don't mandate it.

    Fourth, make sure each character with their own title has an editor with a strong grasp of the character's personality, history, and values. Wonder Woman has suffered from a fool's walk of writers not suited to the character, with a few exceptions, and the same might be true of other characters. The most important job of the editors is to find the right creators for the titles.

    Fifth, create and enforce an anti-harassment policy. Even if Berganza is gone, that type of culture can be hard to erase (especially if the people enabling harassment still remains) and it requires public confidence that it is dealt with. One must not only clean the dirty laundry, once it gets that bad one must be seen to have cleaned it.

    Sixth, no more variant covers. While they are good for getting extra sales and for trying out new talent, it puts the focus on selling more to the existing customer base rather than growing it. Trying out new talent can be attempted in other ways. This will also help relations to LCSs, who will get simplified logistics.

    Seventh, make sure that publishers think like publishers, editors like editors, and writers as writers. While publishers and editors do set the direction of the company, they must be ready to change it if it doesn't work. Their personal taste should inform, not govern.

    Eight, look into new forms of distribution and how they can reach new customers. The Walmart Giants is one such attempt, but many more are needed. I do have a soft spot for anthology titles, so would look into that, but it would of course require that they manage to reach new readers and can sustain them.

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    I'm guessing the fundamental requirement of EIC is to make the line as commercially-viable as possible. I think commercial viability, or at least attempts at it, has run much of the Superman franchise into the ground. Any suggestion as EIC I'd make would be more to get Superman to be interesting (IMO, at least), and not stuff like the handful of crossover events or stuff like Injustice or BvSthat use Superman to serve a story as opposed to making the story serve Superman.

  11. #11
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    I'm with you on some of those fronts, and despite how I drag my feet on digital (I'll always prefer print), I absolutely believe the industry needs to embrace it further. Digital exclusive series should not be a dirty word! A digital mini for, say, the Metal Men can save a lot of money on print and allow other low-selling IPs to move units. If it kills in digital, release it in print or just as a trade!
    Indeed. Us older fans aren't going to make the digital shift easily, and we're the main reason the industry isn't growing like it could be; we hate change and comics are hard to get into. But the industry *needs* to branch out into those new formats because that's where new fans will be found. You're not going to get many kids or teens into a LCS but you can definitely get them online.

    The LCS and established fan can't be ignored and abandoned completely, since we're what pays the bills right now. But the industry needs to actively start shifting its position and become more accessible to new readers, or there won't be enough new readers to replace us old bastards when we leave and the industry as we recognize it will die.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

  12. #12
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    Right now I'd keep Bendis doing what he's doing. He gets Superman's voice perfectly. That said, I would like to make the Super-family larger like it used to be. Maybe there isn't a market for a spinoff solo other than Supergirl right now, but a spinoff focusing on the larger 'Team Superman' like Steel, Conner, and Linda might gather fans of all 3. Maybe also a nook focusing on the SCU and characters like Maggie Sawyer and Dan Turpin.
    Last edited by sunofdarkchild; 01-07-2019 at 12:41 PM.

  13. #13
    Astonishing Member Robanker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Indeed. Us older fans aren't going to make the digital shift easily, and we're the main reason the industry isn't growing like it could be; we hate change and comics are hard to get into. But the industry *needs* to branch out into those new formats because that's where new fans will be found. You're not going to get many kids or teens into a LCS but you can definitely get them online.

    The LCS and established fan can't be ignored and abandoned completely, since we're what pays the bills right now. But the industry needs to actively start shifting its position and become more accessible to new readers, or there won't be enough new readers to replace us old bastards when we leave and the industry as we recognize it will die.
    Honestly, I don't even mind not having the physical product to /read/ that much anymore. I just miss actually feeling ownership, having a copy I can collect and look at. It's a bad habit, but it's mine. I get issues digitally for series I plan to read once (I have something of a small book club at work where a coworker and I discuss what we're reading and give each other recs). I imagine there's a lot of fans in that boat too, primarily because we already have those big longboxes and now collecting's a big part of the hobby. Hell, just the scavenger hunt element of convention floors is a lot of fun!

    But it's not sustainable. Young Justice is coming out with, what, seven covers all for $5 each cover price? That's too expensive for anyone not planning on bagging, boarding and storing these things forever. A casual fan who wants the story really should not be paying that premium and it's why the industry is cannibalizing the same small fanbase. Those Comixology sales are great for those fans and a reduced pricepoint for a fancy PDF really should be the bare minimum of concessions to digital going forward. Would it hurt the LCSs? Some, sure, but others will do just fine by adapting.

    Digital absolutely needs to be their focus, full-stop. High school and college students, the unicorns they need to attract to create life-long nerds such as we, are not flushed with wealth to afford $20 a week on just DC books alone.

    But to not harp too far on one subject, because I'm sure we can spend hours discussing the merits of embracing digital, I would argue that creatively DC needs to embrace new ideas and creators using their best tools: Elseworlds and new imprints (Black Label, Ink, Zoom, etc). Between those two concepts, you can really branch out and draw fans in with new concepts that aren't just "but what if Supernazi, tho?"

    Marry the two! Digital limited series by top creators, non-industry talents and the like telling stories out of continuity that would generate interest in your IPs. Let's say that New Gods movie falls through. Ava Duvernay may be interested in turning it into a graphic novel with the right team and why not give it a shot? If it does well, release it in print. I'm convinced the upper brass at DC Comics is more interested in how they can beat up characters they don't like than actually growing their line outside of the Bat books at the expense of, well, everyone else.
    Last edited by Robanker; 01-07-2019 at 10:37 PM.

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member kjn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ascended View Post
    Indeed. Us older fans aren't going to make the digital shift easily, and we're the main reason the industry isn't growing like it could be; we hate change and comics are hard to get into. But the industry *needs* to branch out into those new formats because that's where new fans will be found. You're not going to get many kids or teens into a LCS but you can definitely get them online.

    The LCS and established fan can't be ignored and abandoned completely, since we're what pays the bills right now. But the industry needs to actively start shifting its position and become more accessible to new readers, or there won't be enough new readers to replace us old bastards when we leave and the industry as we recognize it will die.
    I do think there are examples of LCSs that manage to reach new customers. While we don't have a real equivalent here in Sweden, the most successful bookstore chain right now in Sweden is a small chain of three specialty sf and fantasy bookstore (they also carry GNs, movies, various merchandise, games, and so on, but their base business is books). It is very popular with teens, but they have been working hard and systematically to make it so.

    That's why I noted that DC should help, assist, and push LCSs into reaching new customers. It is a strategic investment into making an important part of the distribution mechanism survive, and frankly it won't be that expensive for DC. A lot of the market research and analysis needed is something that DC needs to do anyway.

  15. #15
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robanker View Post
    But to not harp too far on one subject, because I'm sure we can spend hours discussing the merits of embracing digital, I would argue that creatively DC needs to embrace new ideas and creators using their best tools: Elseworlds and new imprints (Black Label, Ink, Zoom, etc). Between those two concepts, you can really branch out and draw fans in with new concepts that aren't just "but what if Supernazi, tho?" .
    Man, I think the best thing DC is doing right now are the imprints. Ink and Zoom seem to be aiming at exactly the right people, just like DC Super Hero Girls does, and from what I understand the books are going to be offered in bookstores and on Scholastic school book orders, and I assume digitally as well. All the right moves to appeal to a new generation.

    Quote Originally Posted by kjn View Post
    I do think there are examples of LCSs that manage to reach new customers. While we don't have a real equivalent here in Sweden, the most successful bookstore chain right now in Sweden is a small chain of three specialty sf and fantasy bookstore (they also carry GNs, movies, various merchandise, games, and so on, but their base business is books). It is very popular with teens, but they have been working hard and systematically to make it so.

    That's why I noted that DC should help, assist, and push LCSs into reaching new customers. It is a strategic investment into making an important part of the distribution mechanism survive, and frankly it won't be that expensive for DC. A lot of the market research and analysis needed is something that DC needs to do anyway.
    While I don't think investing in the LCS is the top choice, I do agree it should be done as a perfectly valid secondary path. Digital might be the prime mover in the future but you never put all your eggs in one basket, and new readers are new readers regardless of how you get them. Everything is trending into online purchases, but print (as a whole) does seem to be leveling off and stopping the decline in several markets.

    Another problem with helping the LCS bring in new fans is that DC doesn't have a lot of control there. We've all heard the horror stories about shops that refused to order books based on one stupid and/or offensive reason or another, or drove away customers for the same. Shops like that aren't likely going to be very successful at bringing in a newer, younger audience and DC couldn't do much to change that.

    I wonder if they do any market research? You'd imagine they'd do at least a basic SWOT analysis every now and then right?
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

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