Saturday, February 23, 2008

Borders announce new US concept stores.
This is pretty big news in comics

Borders new Graphic Novel section in their new concept store. (via Heidi)

Borders announced this week that it was starting a new series of 14 concept stores. These stores will specialise in five areas: Travelling, Cookery, Wellness, Childrens and most importantly for us here - Graphic Novels.

From their PR:
Certain categories within the new Borders concept store — Travel, Cooking, Wellness, Graphic Novels and Children’s — are so popular and rapidly growing that Borders has designated them as special destinations within the new concept store — giving these categories their own “shop within a shop” look and feel.
This looks very, very important to me. The four other categories are huge areas in bookselling, just pop into your local store to see how important. The inclusion of Graphic Novels to this pretigious little club really highlights just how important Borders sees Graphic Novels as a huge source of revenue.

Is it bad news for comics retailers? That's still to be decided. No doubt many will be wailing and crying foul, but I think that a smart retailer is already so comitted to Graphic Novels as the cornerstone of their business that some extra competition from Borders, although it may hurt the bottom line, can be seen as an important step towards recognition for the existing comic shops. The raising of cultural awareness in these new fangled comic things should never be seen as a bad thing in my opinion.
It all boils down to that essential nugget of marketing:
If only 1% of the population even knows about your product, it doesn't matter how well you sell it, at the very most you're going to be selling to a large proportion of the tiny percentage.
But if 20, 30 or 50% of the population are interested in what you want to sell to them, think how many more sales that could potentially be?
If Borders succeed in expanding the comic buying market, then I think any sales they "take" from good comic shops will be far, far outweighed by the increase in visibility of Graphic Novels. Of course, it's then the job of every good comic shop to go and get these extra readers and sell to them.

Of course, if your local store is an old fashioned, dirty, badly lit little hovel from the 80s, then they've already missed the boat and are living on borrowed time anyway.

But stores that have looked into the future and see that it's got a spine, a barcode and a long shelf life may well find that Borders opening up the Graphic Novel market to more and more people could, if we all play it right, be a good thing.

No doubt time will tell......

Borders announcement
The Beat on Borders new stores
ICV2 on Borders

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