Want to learn more about comics? Of course you do. But there are an awful lot of them out there, and it’s hard to find the best stuff. Some of us are lucky to have a local comics store that recommends titles to us. But now, everybody can have expert picks. Because there’s the Graphic Novel Club!
Basically, Comix Experience here in San Francisco is facing the same challenges as Borderlands, our great local science fiction bookstore. The city has voted to raise the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour — which means you can work in a bookstore and possibly also support yourself. But for businesses with fixed costs and fixed prices (and competition from the price-cutting Amazon), this is a huge challenge.
So Comix Experience is doing a Graphic Novel Club, starting in July. For just $25 a month (plus shipping if you’re not picking them up here in town), you get a new graphic novel every month, selected by the store’s staff. Sometimes these graphic novels will be worth more than $25, sometimes a bit less. And they’re also doing a version for kids, costing $15 a month.
Here are the benefits of Club membership, from their webpage:
- A curated selection of the best new graphic novel each month.
- An invitation to a monthly live book club meeting and social event to discuss that book. We will record and stream the in-store meeting so club members all over the world can also participate.
- We will regularly have the writers and artists of each of our picks participate in our monthly club meetings, (e.g. in person, speaking and doing a live event, or a video chat to answer questions).
- For select in-person appearances at the store, you’ll receive an exclusive club-only invitation to attend a private after-hours event with the guest.
- We will create a social media group for members to discuss the book internationally.
- Finally, we will provide you with nice swag (like posters or bookmarks) for the selected book wherever possible
Obviously, this is a great deal if you’re in San Francisco — but it’s also pretty decent if you live elsewhere. And even in places that don’t have a higher minimum wage, comics retailers are going to be facing the same challenges as bookstores in general. They need to find new and more creative ways to engage their audiences — and this seems like a good experiment. [Full disclosure: I already joined the Graphic Novel Club myself.]