Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Cost of Doing Business

This isn't going to be a long post. I wanted to point you in this direction. It's from Mark Waid's ongoing blog, and he's talking about the cost of printing comic books.

Now, I don't read comics, and haven't for a while. However I find Waid's point particularly interesting because it ties in with arguments I've made in the past about ebooks. In particular this section:

"But here’s the big bite: at those print-run levels, that comic is costing you around a dollar a copy just to print. Maybe a little more, maybe a little less. What’s that? You’ve decided to forego expensive color for cheaper black and white? You’d be surprised how little that lowers the cost. Printing, shipping, and various related charges--that’s where you’re spending more than half your income. More than half. Not on creative, not on marketing, not on advertising, not on all of that put together. On printing the damn thing. the printing industry continues to contract, the per-unit costs will--basic law of supply and demand--continue to escalate."

Now there are factors in comic book publishing that don't apply elsewhere in the book business, like the market being controlled by one distributor. That said, the cost of doing business is an issue that bedevils publishing generally, and ought to motivate small publishers - like the Unspeakable Oath people, like Rich Burlew - to switch to electronic. As Waid points out, when the printing industry contracts, as is happening now, the escalating costs will only push more small publishers out of the physical format market and into ebooks. Pelgrane puts most of its stuff out in .pdf format now; personally I give it two or three years before Miskatonic River does the same. I don't claim to have any inside knowledge there, but it's a prediction based on the state of the market and the likelihood that costs will only increase.

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