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Monday, June 01, 2009

Why D+Q Wasn't at BEA or, This Week's New Yorker

This week's double issue of the New Yorker is chuck full of comics awesomeness for fans. It's the annual Summer Reading issue and while I miss Adrian's quiet genius in his approach to past covers, I love Dan Clowes' cover for this issue too. In fact, I love all of Dan's covers for the New Yorker.

Also in this issue are a few illustrations by Adrian, and an excerpt of Crumb's upcoming book.

What does any of this have to do with BEA, other than the timing? Well about six months ago, our distributor called us to tell us they were no longer taking exhibit space at BEA. I wouldn't say our response was giddy, but I would definitely say we weren't disappointed. When we were switching distributors 4 years ago, we didn't attend BEA and our books still sold. And in the past 4 years with FSG and its parent company Macmillan, our sales have continued to steadily climb, even as we cut back our booth space from a full booth to a half booth. In fact, Chris and I have regularly discussed not exhibiting in the past, but decided to try and do a half booth for a few years.

As various blogs and comics peers have pointed out, BEA is a pure marketing expense, as there is no selling component, like you find at Comic-con. And it's expensive, very, very expensive, about 4 times as much as Comicon. I always joked that with the money we spent, we could just fly our authors around to meet our accounts, and I'm only half joking. In some ways, we actually do that, in sending our authors on regular tours.

A few years ago, my mother met me in Washington DC while I attended BEA. An avid book club devotee and voracious reader, she was floored and even a little bit peeved that here is a huge event with all of the authors she loved, countless new authors she could discover and she had never heard of or known of BEA, and wasn't even allowed in, as a general customer. Or as she said a book club member. She's got a point. If BEA did regional consumer book fairs like they are doing with Comicons, they would be reaching the very element left out of BEA...the customer. It may make BEA marketing dollars vital again, in helping publishers not just reach accounts, but actual customers. Similar to the growing strength of regional comic books shows or the crowds who show up to PEN,IFOA and the New Yorker Festival, this may be the future of books shows.

So we are saving money and we are still putting it towards marketing, but we trying to reach you dear reader, the customer, via advertising, touring and regional shows. This season, you'll find D+Q ads in the New Yorker, Giant Robot, Harpers, Walrus, the Believer, Bust and Bookforum. And you'll see and will have seen Gabrielle, Adrian and Seth on tour,along with Yoshihiro Tatsumi, and you'll see D+Q at the Chicago Printers Row, as well as the other new shows like Brooklyn Book Fest, NY Art Book Fair, and perhaps Wordstock and the Boston Book Fair where we meet local book lovers of all stripes (retailer, librarian, professors, readers), who more often than not, have never read a graphic novel, but do read books, hence their being at the book fair. And this is in addition to all of our other shows or festivals we attend or participate in: TCAF, San Diego, APE, MoCCA, SPX, Pop Montreal, Word on the Street, Expozine...

And with that lengthy editorial, I'll get off my soapbox, here's our New Yorker ad from the same Summer reading issue of the New Yorker! See you somewhere in North America!


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