I used to hate being asked “Paper or plastic?” when I shopped in a grocery store. But comics buyers face a similar problem when purchasing their favorite books.

Do you buy the monthly issues or wait for the trade paperback?

I remember the announcement being made that trades were coming, and they were collecting several issues of a monthly title at a time. I was horrified!

I thought the end of local comics shops was staring us in the face! I was sure readers would go to their local bookstores like Waldenbooks or Borders to get their comics fixes!

Boy, was I wrong on that one! Instead the local shops continue on and there are very few booksellers left, with most people shopping Amazon for their novels and other volumes.

(This isn’t the first time I panicked and was proven incorrect. I thought The X-Files show was doomed when it moved to Sunday nights on Fox, but it thrived there for years. Also, I figured Brannon Braga taking over Star Trek: Voyager was the end of that series. Instead, it got better! It just proves I’m not always right!)

I know some comics readers who drop by their favorite shop once every six months so they can pick up the trades that have been accumulating. Then they spend the time until their next visit reading those trades.

BM_COW-Book_Mask_kj14yct30p_I prefer to read books on a weekly/monthly basis. I simply don’t have the patience to wait for Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s Batman. I gotta read that book as soon as I can once it’s available! (Often when I walk into my local comics shop, the cash register opens automatically and says, “Feed me!”)

I do buy trades or hardcovers occasionally, but that’s usually to keep a good copy of a story I truly love in my collection. I also get them if I’m way behind on a book I want to catch up on, or if I’m intrigued by a book that only is available in trade.

the-walking-dead1The biggest-selling trade is almost always the first volume of The Walking Dead, which always perks up when a new episode of the live-action series airs.

I always like to point out that buying comics is what’s referred to as a “habitual” thing. Like television shows, that regular stop by your local comics store keeps them afloat so you can keep buying the books you enjoy.

If you only go there twice a year, they hope you’ll be spending a LOT when you shop. Otherwise, it’ll be a rough year!

Let’s face it — comics stores need to have customers who frequent them on a pretty frequent basis. If people only bought trades, they could open their doors a couple days every six months or so. No business can survive that! Amazon would win that battle, too!

Now, some people hit the stores when they get paid, which often takes place once every two weeks for most of us. Or maybe it’s only once a month when they don’t have to pay rent or the mortgage.

This led to the subscription service, where clients say what titles they want each month, and the store saves the issues for them. But it’s tough for stores to keep those issues for you if you don’t empty your box pretty frequently.

The point I’m aiming at is that there’s a reason television, movies and even comics are considered show business. It would be great if comics were made simply for the joy of those reading them, but facts is facts: If everyone from creators on down to the guy or gal behind the sales counter doesn’t earn money, the industry as a whole would vanish pretty quickly.

So, don’t even get me started on illegal downloads! Support your favorite comic by picking it up regularly, be it monthly or when the trade is released … and by paying for it! When you plunk down in your favorite chair and hold that wonderful book in your hands and dive into it, you’ll be glad you did!

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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