By George Marston, with a hat tip to Cully Hamner
Bleeding Cool is reporting that national media chain Hastings is moving into the direct comics market. According to Rich Johnston’s interview with James Parker, who is identified as a “central person” behind the decision, Hastings made the decision in a bid to expand their profit margin after the decline of in store music sales. Having tested their business model in two markets before expanding, it seems that the retail chain is aiming to bring an authentic comic shop experience to areas that do not have local stores. They plan to carry a large selection of titles, both independent and mainstream, along with Manga, RPG books, and a large selection of back issues.
So here’s the rub; comic fans are known the world over as a superstitious and cowardly lot, prone to congregate in dank, cardboard filled basements with the implied edict of “No Girls Allowed. Ever.” Ok, so maybe that’s not entirely accurate, but I can’t be the only one who doesn’t work on Wednesdays specifically so I can spend a few hours jawing with the boys (and at least one girl! Sometimes!) at my local shop, Bizarro Wuxtry, every week. Can a so-called “big box” store compete with the camaraderie inherent in the comic shop experience? Does that even matter anymore? Further, how will this new major player effect the market overall? If things pan out, it’s likely that they’ll be purchasing thousands of comics per store, per month. If they can continually move those books, it’ll absolutely boost overall sales for at least Marvel and DC.
At the very least, maybe there’s a whole new job field for slightly less-surly-than-average comic fans at Hastings.