Friday, August 29, 2008

Deppey's Insistence That The Direct Market Causes All Woe

Dirk Deppey...dear Lord, there is no problem that he can't try to pin on the Direct Market.

Regarding Virgin's collapse, more than a few watchers have indicated they don't think the DM is to blame. Tom Spurgeon was one of those watchers...and Deppey quoted the following from Spurgeon's site:

I would be hesitant to put all of the blame for Virgin’s predicament or even a significant amount of blame on the Direct Market of comic book and specialty shops. I would point to a broader reason: they didn’t make comics that a lot of people wanted. Certainly the DM is calcified to an unbelievable degree. Not only is it absolutely conditioned to sell American mainstream superhero comic books, it’s at the point where it’s becoming more and more defined by its ability to sell certain books of that type rather than all of them. You can count the successful crasher to that particular party on one hand.

At the same time, Virgin certainly seemed to offer bookstore-ready books in addition to comics. Since I don’t recall the books setting the world on fire any more than the comic books, and without some inside knowledge of the company that tells me they were banking on serial comics sales to the exclusion of any other revenue stream, it’s hard for me to say that it’s the market rather than the works themselves that were at fault.

Deppey's response?

I would dispute this to the extent that I’ve never actually seen a Virgin TPB in a chain bookstore — and I keep a regular watch on the shelves of my local Borders and Barnes & Noble branches — so while I’m not privy to the company’s marketing tactics, it seems to me that either they never really had a proper mass-market strategy in place, or said strategy was so badly bungled that it effectively left the company at the mercy of the Direct Market by omission.

Doesn't that effectively admit that overall incompetence, not the DM, was what led to the downfall? Or am I misunderstanding things?

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