This past weekend something wild happened. A customer dropped all his monthly comics from his list except for Fables, which he switched over to TPBs. He also reassured me that he would still be coming in at the same frequency, but just buying TPBs and HCs from now on.

This in itself is not all that unusual. I have several customers that are TPB-only or TPB-mostly on their pull list. Some have always bought them that way, some have converted.

The unusual thing is that the number of people subscribing to Fables in TPB form is, as of this customer's switch, now 30% higher than the number of people who buy the monthly comics!

Add to that the fact that Fables is my #1 selling TPB series to people that are not subscribers (walk-in customers and such), and who never plan on buying the individual comics, and this becomes a little alarming.

A lot of retailers have been watching this trend, and expect the day to come when the collections outsold the monthlies. I think a lot of us still think that day to be a long way off. I'm afraid that it may already be here.

I have some further thoughts on this, but I want to see what you folks think first.

What do you think? Are monthly comics already giving way to the longer TPBs? Will they ever? What format do you read and buy your comics? What format would you prefer to read buy your comics?

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The comics that I keep for myself, in the monthly format, are dwindling fast. With Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, we know that just about everything will be collected...in Marvel's case, pretty quickly...so, beyond a few titles that I just can't wait to read (Morrison and Quitely's books for example), I've pretty much gone completely over to collections. Again, this may be due to the fact that I love reading comics, but, unlike many fans, HATE bagging and boxing the things. If the book is from a smaller publisher and is more of a niche item, I'll order the individual comics because I want to support the creative team or I'm afraid a collection might not ever happen (Cursed Pirate Girl is a good example). Granted, there are fewer and fewer and fewer books where this happens.
The thing that is keeping monthly titles alive is inter-title continuity. There are much stronger reasons to buy the three or four Superman titles when they come out than there are to buy each issue of Invincible right off the stands. I think as long as there is that -- and it shows no signs of abating -- there'll be a fairly healthy monthly comics fanbase.

Books like Fables, on the other hand -- well, why not? I *love* getting it monthly -- it's one of my favorite comics, and I like visiting the world once a month -- but Walking Dead was another one of my faves, and I've switched back to trades on that.
I think Rob's point about inter-title continuity is accurate. The more my focus shifted to Vertigo and the like, the less the monthly format seemed important to me. I like having the collections for convenience and storage, and the cost per page is usually the same or lower compared to the monthlies. So I was already moving in the trades-only direction when my home and work locations changed enough to make my LCS (and all the others) geographically inconvenient. I miss the fun of going in on New Comics Day, but since I can't do that, going in about once a month to pick up trades makes more sense.
I have moved slowly to trades, most of the current series I buy in trade are Vertigo titles. I think the only regular superhero title I collect in trade is Green Lantern. For the most part I enjoy going to the shop every couple of weeks to get my stash.

Honestly, though I enjoy reading trades more than individual issues. I don't have to remember what went on a month (sometimes longer) ago. The entire story (usually) is at my fingerprints, and I don't have to worry if I missed an issue somewhere along the line. I really enjoy trades because I can go back and pick up a storyline I skipped years earlier. When I go to comic book conventions these days I buy mostly independent comics and collections that I find on sale.
I never buy monthlies- I always wait until the trade comes out, and if one does not, then I'll (reluctantly) buy the issues I want online. If I could convert my entire collection to trades, I would be ecstatic.
Mark S. Ogilvie said:
I think another part of it may be the comic book companies writing story arcs that seem to be tailored for the TPB length. Mark

Is that the chicken, or the egg, I wonder.
.
Dagwan said:
Mark S. Ogilvie said:
I think another part of it may be the comic book companies writing story arcs that seem to be tailored for the TPB length. Mark

Is that the chicken, or the egg, I wonder.
.

Depends on the arc I think. There have been some storylines that seem deliberately padded to make it trade friendly.
I'm a dinosaur; I buy comics per issue. I really can't wrap my mind around buying trades only.
Honestly, communities like this one support the monthly. If I didn't have a bunch of people to talk to about Blackest Night, I definitely would have waited for the trade.
Rob Staeger said:
Honestly, communities like this one support the monthly. If I didn't have a bunch of people to talk to about Blackest Night, I definitely would have waited for the trade.

Yeah, the discussion here made me buy Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis...(shakes fist). ;)

I'm didn't fall for Final Crisis and I'm skipping Blackest Night...after reading the first issue and getting the same Identity Crisis-ick feeling...
Doc Beechler said:
Rob Staeger said:
Honestly, communities like this one support the monthly. If I didn't have a bunch of people to talk to about Blackest Night, I definitely would have waited for the trade.

Yeah, the discussion here made me buy Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis...(shakes fist). ;)

I'm didn't fall for Final Crisis and I'm skipping Blackest Night...after reading the first issue and getting the same Identity Crisis-ick feeling...

We'll now that we're sharing, I'd have to admit that I started buying Mighty Avengers from #1 and then bought all the Secret Invasion Avengers books ...(shakes fist at almost Barry Allen speeds ;-) ). to see if I could be a more up-to-date poster. (Didn't really work either!)

Live and learn.

(You should read Final Crisis someday though Doc. - not nessecarily buy it! - At least its not run-of-the-mill ICKY.)

Now my pull list is down to:

Bufffy - want to experience that regular slayer fix like in the tv days.
Batman and Robin - I waited years for the Morrison Batbooks so far to be collected and I don't want to do that again... although I'd ultimately rather have them in Trades.
Detective Comics - I should wait for the trades but I'm weak.
Secret Six - Great comic and I want to support what DC is doing with it.
Wednesday Comics - I just love weekly comics. It's that old 2000Ad thrill.

Even then I'm probably spending too much on the damn things that just clutter up the house!!
Doc Beechler said:
Yeah, the discussion here made me buy Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis...(shakes fist). ;)

You can shake your fist all you want but I liked both of those series.

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