I’ve gotten back into the habit of buying comics regularly again, as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. A couple of articles I’ve read recently have gotten me thinking a bit more deeply about whether or not I want to continue picking up books weekly from my local comic shop. I thought it might be useful to list out all of my options here. (I don’t know if this will be an interesting blog post or not, but it might help me make up my mind.)
First, there’s the option of continuing to pick up books off the rack, weekly, from my local comic shop. Advantages to this approach:
- Convenience. (The shop is practically right across the street from my apartment.)
- Flexibility. (I can choose whether or not to buy a particular book right in the store.)
- I’m supporting my local comic shop, and that’s a nice thing to do.
- I have to go the shop every week, or I risk missing a book if it sells out.
- My local shop doesn’t have a good selection of independent comics. They mostly just stock Marvel, DC, and Image.
So my next option would be to keep using my local shop, but switch over to a pull list. The main advantage here is that I don’t necessarily have to come in every Wednesday, and there’s less risk that I’ll miss a book if I do. But managing a pull list can be a hassle, and there’s no guarantee that the store will actually pull the books I ask them to. And I lose some flexibility; if I decide to drop a book, I really need to tell them in advance.
Another option is to switch back to Westfield, or a similar mail-order subscription service. Advantages:
- Convenience. (Place one monthly order. Books show up at my apartment.)
- Selection. (Westfield has a pretty good selection of independent comics in addition to the stuff from the bigger publishers.)
The main disadvantage is that I’d be ordering stuff a few months in advance of release. So if I realize that I don’t like a book, I’ll already have the next two or three issues on order, and I’ll be stuck with them. The other disadvantage is that I’m no longer supporting my local shop. (Oh, and another problem is that Westfield is realy only cost-effective if you’re buying a fair number of books. Right now, I am. But if I wanted to cut back, I’d probably have to quit Westfield again.)
Yet another option would be to switch to digital, and buy all my books from Comixology. That’s quite convenient, since I don’t have to order in advance, I don’t have to worry about books selling out, and I don’t have a bunch of physical comic books piling up in my apartment. The downside is, again, that I’m not supporting my local store. (Instead, I’m supporting Amazon, and honestly they’re already getting plenty of my money.) And also I’d be paying full-price for DRM-locked copies of my books.
And of course, I can just stop buying the regular monthly books altogether, and go back to what I’ve been doing for the last few years: buying stuff from Comixology when it’s on sale, and buying trade paperbacks (also when they’re on sale, usually). There are a lot of advantages to going this way:
- Cost. I can save a lot of money buying books only when I can get them for 99 cents on Comixology, and only buying trades when I can get a discount on them.
- Easier to keep things organized.
- A better reading experience. (I’m buying stuff in large chunks, getting a whole story at once, and generally only buying stuff that got good reviews, and that I know I’ll like.)
So I guess that writing all this down helped a bit, but I still haven’t made up my mind. I want to support my local shop, but I don’t think it’s a moral imperative that I do so. And I like the ritual of going in once a week, saying hi ot the owner, scanning the racks, and all that stuff.
It’s possible that I’ll lose interest in the DC universe, once this whole Batman/Flash/Watchmen thing kicks in. If that happens, then this whole problem sorts itself out naturally, since I’m really only buying DC books right now. So maybe I should keep to my current habits for a few more months and see what happens.