The publishing industry has been crumbling, lately.
Mad Magazine's editor put it best after announcing that Mad is going quarterly, and canceling it's spin-off mags.
“The feedback we’ve gotten from readers is that only every third issue of Mad is funny. So we decided to just publish those.”
The Village Voice just announced that they were dropping all their editorial cartoons in their weekly newspaper chain (LA Weekly, etc. etc.) This has been going on in newspapers all over the country.
Sometimes it isn't just the cartoonist that disappears, but the entire newspaper. Christian Science Monitor is now online, the Seattle paper is looking for a buyer.
In my own little world, the monthly trade publication for cards, Card Trade, has followed it's comic cousin, Comics Retailer, onto the internet, where I probably will never read it. Diamond, who has a near monopoly on comics distribution, has raised the limits for independent comics, and has dropped several of their in-house publications as well.
There have been layoffs everywhere. Diamond and DC are the most noticeable. There was a prominent article in the USA Today about how comic sales are up. I didn't comment, because it contradicted everything I was seeing and hearing. And Diamond, who is THE DISTRIBUTOR had a 4% drop last year.
Meanwhile, if I might steal from the Comic's Reporter's site, there's this:
"Call me gullible or impressionable, but I'm actually feeling kind of hopeful this week." -- Sara Nelson, Editor-In-Chief, Publishers Weekly, posted this morning.
"Sara Nelson, the editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, the main trade magazine to the book industry, has been laid off in a restructuring by the publication's parent company, Reed Business Information." -- NYT Arts Beat, posted noonish.
Sara Nelson was a big supporter of comics, and one of three news sites on comics I visit everyday, The Beat, is sponsored by P.W.
DC comics has released long-term industry veteran Bob Schreck. Started with Dark Horse, helped co-found Portland's Oni Press, editor for Frank Miller.
Two of the biggest magazine distributors (representing 50% of the market share), are insisting on a small payment for every magazine distributed. (7 cents per.) Magazines are howling. (Apparently represents millions of dollars.....)
Sales in books were down significantly last year, and especially last quarter. (Pay attention not to the entire year, folks, but that last brutal quarter of the year.)
Article from Galleycat below:
"Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau issued its retail figures for November 2008, including a 13 percent decline in bookstore sales compared to the year before. Now the Association of American Publishers has released its numbers for the month, reporting a 14.4 percent decline—and, when all the revenue for the first eleven months of the year is tallied, it's down 4.4 percent from the year before.
Nearly every category experienced severe declines; children's and YA hardcovers were one of the few categories to improve, showing a 14.3 percent from November 2007, but the year-to-date sales are still down 20.6 percent. Oh, and e-book business more than doubled for the month, and is up nearly 64 percent for the year—but you could take e-book sales for all of 2008, quintuple them, and you still wouldn't have as much money as publishers report in sales for even a lousy month like November."
I have a hard time reading these numbers. Down 4.4% or down 20.6?
Either way, they are down significantly.
I have a theory (as usual) about this, which I'll talk about either later today or tomorrow.