Pros & Cons: Comic-Con 2011

Pros & Cons: Comic-Con 2011

If you watch mass media news in the next few days, you won’t be able to avoid coverage of

San Diego Comic-Con

Preview night is tonight, and then it runs through the weekend.

Does it have anything to do with e-books and EBRs (E-Book Readers)?


The convention is putatively about comic books, and there is a lot of coverage of that. There will be true comic greats…Stan Lee, Sergio Aragonés, Frank Miller.

You also going to hear about how movies/TV have taken over the con, and no question, the shows are here. Shows of today, tomorrow, and yesterday…and the biggest stars (at least for geek stuff). Just picture: Adam West, Eliza Dushku, and John Barrowman hanging out in the green room.

For more details on that, see this post from another blog of mine, The Measured Circle.

I also mention some of the authors who will be there in that post, and I want to focus on that aspect.

No, they don’t have Stephen King, or Anne Rice, or Ray Bradbury. It’s not a literary convention.

However, they do have Amanda Hocking!

That’s right…Amanda Hocking, whose success has come to a significant extent through independently-published books being bought for the Kindle, is speaking at the same event as George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones), Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson), and Jim Butcher (the Dresden Files).

That’s the story of e-books breaking the distribution monopoly!

Now, to be fair, science fiction/fantasy has always recognized independent publication. There’s a whole culture of “fanzines” (fan-published magazines), and people do cross from fandom to being professionals.

This is one of the major entertainment events of the year, though…this feels like a degree of recognition for Hocking.

Do these in-person events matter?

Bookstores sure hope so. 🙂

It’s interesting to me…a convention like this (as opposed to a book signing) can be a real chance to actually speak with one of your favorite authors. I remember seeing Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov “debate” on stage at a convention. That was a Jack Benny/Fred Allen type show business feud…it wasn’t real, but they took different sides. Ellison was young and hip and West Coast, and Asimov was old school and East Coast. They kidded each other a lot, and it was great to see!

I had another more personal interaction with a celebrity at a convention. I’ve written about this before, but I don’t think I’ve shared it here.

I was at a major convention, and thought I had everything all set. I’d arranged for a ride to the airport, had my flight back booked, and it was the last day. I spent my money in the “Hucksters’ Room”. That’s also called (and more politely) the “Dealers’ Room”. It’s where you can go in and buy merchandise…sometimes from the creator, but often collectibles.

When I say I spent my money, I spent pretty much all of it.

Then, my ride left without me.

I didn’t have a way to get to the airport…couldn’t afford a cab, and this was a long time ago…I didn’t have a credit card.

I saw Forry Ackerman. He was the legendary editor of Famous Monsters of Filmland, and one of the great collectors and original science ficiton fans (he is credited with starting the idea of wearing costumes to conventions…in 1939).

I had Super 8 movie film with me (yes, like the movie), which I’d brought for the con. I asked him if he wanted to buy some unexposed rolls, just trying to get money for a cab. I told him the story, and he gave me ten dollars (which was enough back then).

He didn’t know me at all…he was just being a nice guy.

Years later, I saw him at another convention…and went up to him and returned the ten dollars. He said something like, “Oh, you were that fellow.” I was as honored that he remembered the incident as happy that he had given/loaned me the money.

While you can now talk with authors online, and if you read their blogs, know more about them than you ever could before, these in-person moments have real impact.

Just being close to them seems to be enough for some fans…I jokingly call these “smell the stars” events. You can read them, see them, and hear them online…but it is different being there.

Can bookstores leverage this?

Maybe…personal appearances have traditionally been a way to sell books.

What happens if the book is only available in e-book form, though? Are you more likely to buy an author’s e-book when you see them in person? I think so…but that’s an interesting facet. One reason people go to see authors at bookstores is to get them to sign their books. That’s been soured a bit by eBay, though: signatures have a specific cash value. Even though the desire for the signature may be out of true respect, that shadow is there, just as it is in pro sports.

There are ways to “sign” e-books, but that…feels (intangibly in the case of e-books, I suppose) different.

Anyway, as you are hearing those stories out of Comic-Con and watching the live coverage on G4, you probably won’t hear much about the authors. You won’t get live coverage of the book publisher events (Anne Sowards and Jessica Wade of Penguin, Del Rey/Spectra). You probably won’t see a news crawl about a panel on how comic books go forward in the digital age. That’s a big element, though…it’s one of the things that people use to measure EBRs versus paper: can they do comics? For tablets, the answer is yes…expect a possible Amazon tablet to do comiXology app (or perhaps, an Amazon developed equivalent? I think it would be comiXology, though).

If you are interested in meeting authors in person, there are lots of conventions besides Comic-Con…it’s just the biggest.

Do you have a great author/publisher/editor convention story? Do you think comics matter in selling EBRs and tablets? Feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

One Response to “Pros & Cons: Comic-Con 2011”

  1. Good author, bad author…does being nice matter? « I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] I’ve written before about a great interaction I had with Forry Ackerman, an editor/author I approached at a science fiction convention. No question, that brief exchange elevated “Uncle Forry” even further for me. […]

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