I’m actually 16 days behind on my google feed-reader, so my knowledge of comics news is limited to what people are asking me at the store (for the record, that statue is atrocious, but unsurprising)… Except for the Tim Leong/Comics Foundry thing, because Tim E-mailed me. More on that later. The event that it’s tied to in the public consciousness, Twomorrows Publishing and all the shit that they’ve got going on… Again, it’s a little too deep to wade into in depth (They’re seriously selling their own promotional samplers?). But the big thing? About their sales being steady but unspectacular given their outreach efforts?

They’re publishing 6 regular magazines, three or four lines of books, and a huge assortment of standalone books. At what point are they canibalizing their own sales, their own marketting? The mass-market might have four magazines about high-end pen ownership (seriously), but they’re not generally published by the same people.

I’m a retailer, and I’m telling you I don’t really need Alter Ego, Back Issue, Draw!, Jack Kirby Collector, Rough Stuff, Write Now, Modern Masters (effectively a “mook”), and one book about apes or the Batcave or whatever every other month.

Add to that, that several of the magazines sprung out of features/columns in other magazines and, yeah, I’m willing to come out and say that Twomorrows is caught in a cycle of diluting their own readership with umpteenth variations of the same article. If Twomorrows really wants the sales that come with appealing to a mass-audience, they need to produce a product that appeals to a mass audience, instead of a litany of ever-narrowing niche magazines. Sure, sometimes you end up with a Comicology or some other noble failure, and some magazines are all about their format (the massive Kirby Collectors), but…? Draw, Write, Rough Stuff? All of that together is barely one monthly magazine. And economy of scale? I’d rather have one magazine that sold 3000 copies than 3 that sold 12-1500.

My 2 cents.

- Chris

5 Comments on “Twomorrows Sales Slump: Maybe you’re diluting your own product?”

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  1. Kevin Boyd says:

    Well, as a person that regularly orders Alter Ego, Back Issue, Rough Stuff and the Modern Masters (and the occasional additional book), I don’t DISLIKE the magazines. My problem is that there’s just TOO MUCH of it… there’s just no way I can keep up with it. I’ve got 6 or 7 unopened issues of Alter Ego on my “to read” pile — it worked much better as a bi-monthly magazine.

    So while combining those mags into a single sell-able product might be a good idea to you, I’m already hooked. I’m their core audience. My problem is the AMOUNT of material being generated by the company and my inability to keep up with it. I just don’t have that much time in my day to read up about the minor details of comics history — and I like to read about the minor details of comics history!

  2. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » May 18, 2007: The unbeatable high says:

    [...] Guy LeCharles Gonzalez is less than impressed with Tim Leong’s plans to bring his magazine Comic Foundry to market in print form, and more than sympathetic to Diamond Distributors’ rejection of same. Johanna Draper Carlson has more on the subject, while — moving further afield — Christopher Butcher wonders if TwoMorrows Publishing might be the author of its own troubles.. (First link via Tom Spurgeon, who also offers further commentary.) [...]

  3. Benjamin Hall says:

    I have to agree with you.

    I’ve always thought Twomorrows books were fantastic, but too pricey for me to pick up all of them.

    I would love it if they consolidated into one or two magazines.

  4. Jesse Post says:

    I for one would love to see TwoMorrows combine their three “artistic insider” magazines into one. Even at a higher price point I would love to have every issue on my shelf as reference. As it is, I can’t keep up with (or afford) all of them.

    I haven’t given much thought to their other magazines but I think a similar approach would work for “Back Issue” and “Alter Ego” since those are both for fans. Now that I think of it, I would pick that up as well if it were combined into one (at the moment I read neither of them).

    “Kirby Collector” is too niche to combine with anything else, and if it sells then by all means keep making more!

    Why does it matter at all? Because respectful, valuable insight into the comics industry is needed and TwoMorrows clearly has the ability to pull it off, if only they would make it easier for consumers to partake.

  5. Ray Cornwall says:

    Back Issue and Alter Ego are really aimed at two different audiences, frankly. I read nearly every TwoMorrows mag, but just don’t follow Golden Age material enough to really enjoy Alter Ego. Back Issue aims at comics from the 80s and up, while Alter Ego really looks at comics from before that, especially comics from the 40s and 50s.

    I’d love to see Rough Stuff and Back Issue combined into one oversized mag, though. That would make a lot of sense. And I would understand a merger of Write and Draw into some sort of Comic Creator mag.

    Of course, before TwoMorrows expanded, I had a tough time finding their mags in retailer-rich NJ. TwoMorrows might need to streamline their product line, but I don’t think you’d see a sales increase; I think that the same stores that order the product would order the same numbers on the books, resulting in sales decreases, not increases. I think Morrow’s got an accurate idea of the amount of product that the DM will handle. And it’s his business. Whatever he decides, I’ll be happy to back his business with my money.

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