NYCC 2011: Crossing the Comics/Prose Divide
I went up for the day so I could attend NYCC (New York ComiCon) with the usual goal of connecting with publishers, talking to digital comics distributors, and generally networking with so we can match a name with a face.
This was my first comicon (also first SF Con), and I didn’t know quite what to expect. I had a list of booths to visit and a session to attend but I really didn’t know what was going to happen. Oy, the costumes. And the toys!
But I really went to NYCC for professional reasons. And if you’re wondering why I would go to a comics convention (considering that I cover digital publishing), then let me tell you that your puzzlement is exactly the reason why I went.
A little over a year ago I noticed that there was a remarkable lack of comics coverage in the mainstream publishing press. I noticed that this applied to coverage of events both inside the comics industry as well as public facing (new titles launched). Now, there has always been some coverage, but it was just a bare dabbling in covering the highlights when comics publishers really should be given the same coverage as any other publisher.
Eventually I guessed that comics and the rest of publishing do not regard themselves as being part of the same industry. This viewpoint is so accepted that it’s not even a discussion point; it’s simply a truism that few even realize that they accept.
If you’re puzzled by my going to NYCC, then you have just proven me right. But that’s not the only point I want to make.
I was there to learn how digital comics get into the hands of the customers. Now, this is where you’d expect to find B&N, Kobo, Apple, and Amazon, but none of them were officially in attendance. None of the major ebookstores had a booth at NYCC (like they would have had at other publishing conventions) and that is a mistake. They’re missing out on a chance to connect with readers and content creators.
When it comes to the major ebookstores, this lack of engagement isn’t a viewpoint; it’s a blindspot that is costing Amazon, B&N, and Kobo customers, authors, and publishers.
Now, B&N did sponsor a conference session, and I will try to cover it in detail elsewhere. But that session was what finally convinced me to write this post. Out of the 50 or so people in the room, only a handful weren’t planning to self-pub. What’s even worse was that the room was packed beyond capacity and they were turning people away!
I suppose I shouldn’t criticize B&N for not having a booth; they at least had the sense to sponsor that session. But they did not have an official presence so it is still a partial fail.
And yes, all 3 ebookstores have some comics, but I’m not sure that Kobo or Amazon care if they sign any comics publishers. We already know that B&N is at least trying; the recent ruckus over the Kindle Fire exclusive made that clear.
And no, that Kindle Fire exclusive doesn’t mean Amazon cares about digital comics; they were just as likely only interested in it for the headline value. If Amazon cared about digital comics then they would have put the same effort into recruiting at NYCC that they do at any other publishing convention.
I know I’m not the first to notice the comics vs publishing divide and I’m probably not the first to write about it. But I cannot recall anyone ever jumping up and down, waving their arms, and screaming about how it needs to be fixed. That is what I hope I’ve accomplished in this post.