Monday, April 21, 2008

Link-Mad Monday: Good Days

I was at the New York Comic Con on Friday (hence my lack of posting), to appear on a panel on "Helping Bookstores Buy and Shelve Comics for KIDS". Since it was industry-only hours, there were about as many folks on the panel as in the audience, and I probably learned more from my fellow panelists than I really contributed. Still, it was a good conversation... and it meant I got a nice speaker badge so I could wander the floor of Comic Con for free. It was still a bit too early for the Storm Troopers and Power Girls to be strutting their stuff, so I had a much milder experience than last year. But still, I:

-got an awesome slap bracelet from Ari at Del Rey Manga
-caught up with the incomparable Gina Gagliano at First Second
-talked with the Oni Press guys about the trade edition of Local by Brian Wood
-picked up a catalog with action figures from The Warriors
-got some cool buttons from the DC Comics booth
-experience a little bit of sensory overload -- practice for BEA!
- did not see con coordinator extraordinaire Lance Fensterman -- luckily he posed on his blog...

Despite the always grueling walk to and from the Javitz Center, it was a good day.

Being there also reminded me of another cool day coming up: Free Comic Book Day! Saturday, May 3, at a comic shop near you, they'll be handing out grab bags of free issues, so you can read more of your favorites and discover something new. As I mentioned two years ago -- I think bookstores should do this too. What about Galley Giveaway Day?

Ann Kingman over at Books on the Nightstand has another idea for bookstores taken from another industry. Friday the 19th, I've just learned, was also Record Store Day: a collective day of celebration and consciousness-raising for independent record stores, with performances, sales, signings, and other promos. The New York Times had an article on the phenomenon -- see if any of this sounds familiar:

“Record stores as we know them are dying,” said Josh Madell of Other Music. “On the other hand, there is still a space in the culture for what a record store does, being a hub of the music community and a place to find out about new music.”...

[Regina] Spektor, who started off selling homemade CDs and is now signed to a major label, Sire, said that independent stores had been the first to carry her music, and that their support helped her career take off. And though she said she now feels contrite that for years her music collection was made up mainly of items copied from friends — “I just had no money” — she is supporting the stores out of gratitude.“I’m the record label-slash-store nightmare,” Ms. Spektor said. “Everything I had was a mixtape or a burned CD. But I don’t like the idea of all the record stores where people actually know what they’re talking about going out of business. They have their own art form.”...

Although many have been shuttered, more than 2,400 independent shops still exist around the country.... Products that aren’t fundamentally made up of ones and zeros — vinyl records, for instance, which have a habit of turning casual fans into collectors — have proved a salvation for many retailers."

Full disclosure: I adore Regina Spektor (I bought her first album at indie Rebel Rebel on Bleecker Street), and I totally forgive her for making copies of CDs, just like I totally get all of the struggling artists buying used books online or borrowing them or going to the library. And I admire her for getting clued in to what indie music stores have done for her, just as many authors have done. I think the un-digitizable appeal of vinyl has something to teach us as book purveyors. I think the winnowing down of the indie record store industry, and also its persistence due to its irreplaceable offerings, has a lot of parallels with bookstores. And I think this industry wide day of celebration, education, and showcasing what's great about indie music stores is something we could all learn from.

Happy reading -- happy listening!