Axel Alonso on spoilers:
That said, there will always be people out there who delight in leaking information and spoiling it for readers. There are so many people who have access to information after the book goes to the printer, after it’s printed, after it’s distributed — it’s impossible to prevent leaks, even if it is possible to track down culprits after the fact. That said, I actually think pirates and gossips hurt fans a lot more than their intended victims: creators and publishers. Does it hurt sales? I dunno. The sales of “Amazing Spider-Man #700″ sure don’t seem to indicate that. Does it hurt fans that want to enjoy the surprise as a part of their actual reading experience? My guess is yes. I mean, if can get through “Madmen” Season 5 without someone spoiling the ending for me, it’ll be a miracle.
- I think it funny that his list of ways in which people can be spoiled for comics they’re reading doesn’t include “Publishers revealing big news in mainstream press outlets anywhere from days to months before the release of said comic,” personally. Although leaks happen (a lot), I think that USA Today or somewhere similar running a story about the ending of a comic tends to spoil the story for more readers ahead of time than some printer/retailer/fan getting hold of a copy early and releasing a smartphone pic online to a fan site. YMMV, of course.
- How important are spoilers, anyway? I wonder that, sometimes. There are plenty of stories that rely on a shock last minute reveal for a certain amount of drama and tension, of course, but that is rarely the only value of a story; there has to be something more to it, surely, otherwise the story can only be read once, because any re-reads would be pointless in light of you knowing the big secret. While knowing a spoiler ahead of time can rob the story of one kind of appeal, shouldn’t good stories have more to offer, and therefore have a different-yet-equal appeal even if you know the ending ahead of time…?
Which is to say, spoilers might not hurt sales; as Alonso says, Amazing Spider-Man #700′s success would suggest that, along with countless other comics from Marvel and other publishers (Surely that’s why mainstream news outlets get the exclusives on things like Peter Parker’s death, Johnny Storm’s death, et al ahead of time, to help sell the books). But is it possible that, in the long term, they don’t really hurt the stories, either…?