Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A world of graphics....

So the Rocket Bomber guy picked up on my commentary about his proposed store.

I think I disqualified myself by admitting I had once sold pogs and beanie babies.

I still think he'd be better off with at least one other profit center. I'd recommend new books.

There are all kinds of books that fit into a store like mine. For instance, I sell The Zombie Survival Guide, and World War Z, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and 'Ask a Ninja': The Ninja Handbook ("this books looks forward to killing you soon"), and The Truth About Chuck Norris. In Me Own Words, Bigfoot. And on and on.

These are obvious, but there are always popular culture books coming along to add.

But I also sell the hell out of the Chuck Palahniuk books, and the Kurt Vonnegut books, and the Tom Robbins books. Edward Abbey, Jack Kerouac, every Philip K. Dick book. Carry the full line, because nobody else does. The beat writers, Burroughs and every Bukowski book you can get. Carry the beat and hippie poets, while you are at it.

I carry lots of cartoon books, as well. Peanuts and Garfield and Get Fuzzy and Zits and Foxtrot and Mutts and Far Side and, of course, Calvin and Hobbes. Again, carry a full selection, because even the big stores don't try to carry them all.

You can start to blend in the online strips as well as the classic reprints.

I've brought in great New Yorker type cartoonists; Gahan Wilson and Ronald Searle and Edward Gorey and Charles Addams.

Be selective in what authors and subjects you carry, but be very thorough in carrying those authors and subjects. There always seems to be that one Palahnuik book that even the biggest fan has missed. Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Wolfe, Irvine Welsh.

Neal Gaiman, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem are all good fits. As you find out what works, you can branch out to other authors who have an avid following; Cormac McCarthy, Christopher Moore; or you can bring in the newer McSweeneytype authors, Eave Eggers, David Sedaris.

All these have the advantage of appealing to both your base graphic novels readers, as well as the casual browser drop-in.

It doesn't hurt to carry your own favorite books, no matter what genre; and if you can really pick up the vibes, you can carry books that are other people's all time favorites. Cult books, if you will.

Quirky books; I have a Zombie shelf, for instance. Vampires. And a Pirate Shelf, and Robot Shelf, and I mix graphic and prose and reference books together.

I carry the classics, because again, the customer seems surprised to see them. You'd think all the Catcher in the Rye's and To Kill A Mockingbird that ever could sell have sold, but there is always another generation who will pick it up.

I carry two genres, Science Fiction (fantasy) and Mysteries. I carry only the most classic of mysteries; Raymond Chandler, Dasheill Hammett, Jim Thompson, James Ellroy.

In S.F., I try to carry all the Heinlein's and Asimov's and Clarke's, because again, there is always that one book that even fans haven't seen before.

What you'll find is that real readers read all of the above.

I don't worry about current best-sellers and Oprah books and the latest novel hyped on the Today Show.

I carry a large selection of art books, which I've been gathering for 25 years; Royo, and Frazetta, and Vallejos, of course, but also every other Paper Tiger or Taschen book I can find. But artists like Giger and Escher and even Van Gogh are not out of place.

Of course, the Maxfield Parrishs, and the Howard Pyles, and so on.

Fantasy books that appeal to girls and boys: Brian Froud and Gris Grimley and Huygen.

Bring in all the pulp artists you can find; add them together, throw in the classic Doc Savages and Shadows. Bad girl, good girl, and pin-ups.

My biggest problem is, that like my graphic novels, I have to carry 99% of them spine out -- which is a problem with graphic works. But I've been in the same location for like 27 years, so the equation is to carry as much as possible in my limited space and hope that selection makes up for not having visuals.

I carry kids books, with the understanding that good kids books shouldn't just be wasted on kids, you know? The Giving Tree, Wind in the Willows, Where the Wild Things are. Add in a complete selection of Asterix, and TinTin, and all the Dr. Seuss books, and all the Shel Silverstein books. While you're at it, blend in Bone and Mouse Guard etc.

Same with young adult: I still enjoy reading books like Snicket and the Golden Compass and Harry Potter.

I guess the point I'm making is that a "Graphic" novel store doesn't have to be limited to just technically graphic novels.

Within the specialized world of graphics and pop culture you could fill a store.

I'm in a small town, and I learned I had to have as broad a reach as possible. I developed a good clientele for games and toys and cards, and I have no reason to move past them.

But if I had a clean slate? I might just gamble, and get a much bigger space where I could really display the graphics, and take out the ancillary product.

So I think the guy is on the right track, in some ways, but also limiting his possibilities.


RDC said...

Basically he is going down a path that end with a book store that will look suprisingly like a big box book store, without the volume purchase capability. He is talking about beating them by carrying more inventory and then referencing their revenue (which is based upon rapid inventory turns and substantial buying power).

As he indicates he doesn't have a store. i expect that he will never have one because his plans would seem to dramatically outrun his wallet.

tim said...

What does "Rocket Bomber" even mean? Totally lost.