Comics shops: The new Borders?

ICv2 finds an interesting trend in comics sales: Sales of manga in comics shops have gone up in the past year. As those of us who have tried to buy manga in the local capes-and-tights emporium well know, many comics shops are not friendly to manga, but they do have the ability to offer books you can’t find in Barnes & Noble (which seems to have shrunk its graphic novel section drastically, at least in the store I visit). Borders had a huge selection of manga and catered to a wide variety of tastes, and ICv2 points out that the demise of the chain could be an opportunity for comics retailers. While a lot of folks buy their manga online, you can’t replace the immediacy of picking up the book in your hands and buying it right away, and a comic shop would be a great venue for that—if they have the foresight to stock the books.

Lissa Pattillo gives us a bit of background on Digital’s new licenses at Kuriousity.

Matt Blind looks at the manga best-sellers from the week of Feb. 19.

Time for another peek inside a Japanese manga magazine: Three Steps Over Japan takes a look at Weekly Manga Times.

Reviews: Ash Brown takes us briskly through a week in manga at Experiments in Manga.

Erica Friedman on the March issue of Comic Yuri Hime (Okazu)
Dave Ferraro on vol. 1 of The Earl and the Fairy (Comics-and-More)
Leroy Douresseaux on vol. 1 of Hana-Kimi (omnibus edition) (The Comic Book Bin)
Drew McCabe on vols. 54 and 55 of Naruto (Comic Attack)
Philip on vol. 2 of Wandering Son (Eeeper’s Choice Podcast)

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  1. The graphic novel sections of the Barnes & Nobles that I’ve visited recently were absolutely terrible—small and barely covering the basics. It reminded me of how much Borders spoiled me. I have no reason to visit a physical B&N at this point.

  2. My Barnes and Noble isn’t that bad but they have a problem keeping volumes in stock also what ever they don’t have in stock I can order online.

  3. The only place within 70 miles of me that sells manga is Hastings (no B&N), which has a pretty terrible selection – I try to be good and shop there (thankfully, it’s in my town) but it usually doesn’t have the volume I want. Even when it does, the volumes are always at full price. Sometimes I’m okay with that, if all I care about is instant gratification, and sometimes I’m not, especially if I know that I can get a really great discount online. And forget about comics shops – I don’t think there are any at all within 70 miles of me. So, I end up getting most of my manga via online orders.

  4. Ed Sizemore says

    That’s not really surprising that manga is picking up sales in comic shops. Since Borders closed Viz, Yen Press, and Kodansha have stepped up their presence in Previews magazine. Also, this is the third of fourth year that Previews has done a March is for Manga campaign. Also, Vertical has been influential in getting comic store owners and patrons to rethink manga. I’m glad to see all this effort is paying off.

  5. Being in Canada, I’m always surprised to see how many people *don’t* know to go to the comic shops for manga. (I’m in Toronto.) Bookstores charge Canadian cover price, most comic shops do the US. I work in a bookstore and it’s actually slightly cheaper for me to buy manga at my regular comic store (I have a membership that gives me a small discount) than it is at the bookstore with my 30% off employee discount. The only reason I ever get *anything* there is because the bookstore isn’t tied to the Diamond/Wednesday release dates and I can get manga up to 5 days earlier than the comic shops do.

  6. The B&N closest to my house has a pretty terrible selection..and that’s improved! It was worse when Borders (which was across the highway) was in town, but without Borders around B&N seemed to have added more to their collection. The annoying thing however about this particular store is that they are really inconsistant with the volume numbers they have. They’ll have series but have the most RANDOM volumes available and never seem to try and “fix” this by filling in the ones missing. Unless its something like Naruto of course. Kimi ni Todoke for example, for the last 4 months, they only have 2 books of volume 6. That’s it. Not even carrying the most recent volume. It’s really irritating. I now go there if I have nothing in mind to look for since I know what I want, won’t be there.

    Sorry to go on a complete rant about my local B&N lol. There’s another one about 40 min from my house, it has a bit of a better selection but it’s not easy to go to on a whim. I miss my Borders =(

    • Torsten Adair says

      Bookstores rarely stock the complete runs of any authors. There’s just so much space, so many dollars in the budget, and what gets stocked and reordered is usually determined by computer models. If an employee doesn’t shepherd the section, then it defaults to the basic computer modeling.

      Serial fiction is a problem, especially if the series is not a bestseller like Naruto.

      To everyone reading this, you do know you can get free books at your local library, right? They might even have a manga book club! If they don’t have what you want, ask. They might get it! (Especially if there are good reviews, like Kimi ni Todoke has!)

      • My Borders books must have been one of a kind though because it was very rare that they would be missing a volume number of any of the series they carried, and it wouldn’t be long until they filled it back up.

        I have tried my library, they don’t have any manga and no manga club :(

  7. B&N tend to have difficulty stocking all the volumes, they are always missing something! But I agree local comic shops are stepping up, they see sales and demand the more they are stocking

  8. I would (and do) visit my local comic book shop every week for a superior selection in titles from smaller publishers such Vertical and for niche titles such as yaoi. My local comic book shop has a good selection of manga and the staff are friendly so I make a point of supporting them.

    My local book shops also have a decent selection of manga (Chapters because I live in Canada) but it is not quite as good as the comic book shop’s and they are usually slightly more expensive. As noted by cathy most comic book shops in Canada charge the US price instead of the Canadian cover price. One advantage the book shops have however, is that they will often get Kodansha and sometimes Seven Seas titles in a week earlier. This is a distribution issue, not just a problem with my particular shop, but I am not patient enough to wait an extra week for the newest Sailor Moon if I know I can get it today somewhere else.

    I will often shop online for more obscure titles that I can’t find anywhere else for that very reason. Clicking the “Place Order” button gives me a sense of instant gratification. The staff at my local comic book shop have made it clear that they would happily order anything in for me but I prefer to order things myself and like having the ability to track the packages and also the convenience of having it delivered straight to my mailbox.

  9. I am fortunate, here in Toronto we have a really great used book store chain that sells a great selection of used and overstock manga. The stock is changing constantly and I make sure to check in often. I have gotten some pretty impressive things there like old and new volumes of Sailor Moon, Volumes of Tezuka’s hard to find Phoenix (got vol. 1 last week) and all of xxxholic and Tsubasa. I noticed they get in volumes of manga about 2-3 months after they’re released and I don’t pay more than 4 dollars a volume.

    My other source is buying online at Chapters. In case my Canadian friends on here didn’t know, every month they have a $5 coupon code to use on orders over $30 (shopping online). There are many titles that are 24% off the list price and combine that with the coupon and it usually brings the price down a lot.

    I occasionally go to (what I’m thinking) is the same comic shop as Cathy, with the US prices and rewards program. It’s a last resort, I only get manga that I really want to collect and that I never see pop up in the used book store or is full price online. My issue with comic stores is that they are not always the friendliest places to shop.

    • Torsten Adair says

      Toronto? Try The Beguiling, one of the best comics shops in North America. The owner is a HUGE manga fan, and runs the “Comics212” website!