Pierre Alary draws the Cimmerian, er, I mean, Conan

Pipeline and Sundry: Conan, Amazon, and El Dorado

Conan is Coming

I’m not a “Conan” guy. I’ve read a few comics with the Cimmerian, but nothing’s ever clicked strongly with me.

Pierre Alary draws the Cimmerian, er, I mean, Conan

That said, I am very excited to read that Ablaze is going to be translating and printing the Conan book that Pierre Alary drew. With a cover price of $3.99, it looks like they’re breaking up the album into two issues.

This first issue, “The Cimmerian: Queen of the Black Coast” ships in early October. I can’t wait!

Ablaze is a company worth watching. They’re off to a relatively slow start, but they’re bringing interesting projects to print.

Amazon Wants to Distribute Books in Italy

Amazon in Italy

I don’t talk too much about the business side of comics in Europe, mostly because I’m learning new stuff about it every day. It’s a different world over there, from both a legal model and a distribution model.

And, yet, in so many ways, you can see the same patterns that you see in North American publishing. The legacy characters rule the roost, there are too many books being published, etc.

There is one very interesting thing happening in Italy right now that could prove a model that disrupts the entire market. Maybe.

If there’s one thing they know how to do in France, it’s to create laws to protect their own markets in ways that would seem horribly anti-competitive or anti-capitalistic to us here in North America.

Amazon wants to be a book distributor in Italy.

You might argue that they already are, but this is different. This isn’t about them being a platform for third party sellers.

Think of it this way: Amazon wants to be Diamond. They want to sell books to brick and mortar stores or education outlets at discount. They want to be the new middle man.

The focus of the article is that Amazon is planning on opening a warehouse in Italy to serve as a distributor of books rather than just a point of sale, including steep discounts and free returns. Italy buys a lot of comics, too. If this works there, no doubt Amazon will want to repeat it in other European markets, like France.

This goes beyond just the BD market, but picture this as Amazon deciding to do Diamond’s job in America. Publishers who do their own distribution could save a bunch of money and hassle by switching to Amazon.

Imagine the changes the industry might see if that happened.

This could have a big impact to the publishing world in Europe over the long term.

Or it could completely fizzle out because Europeans don’t trust Amazon and want nothing to do with them, or because the local governments there will intervene before Amazon gobbles up another business.

Time, as the horrible old cliche goes, will tell…

Here are a couple of articles about the business of Franco-Belgian comics from Pipeline past:

This ActuaBD article breaks down where the money goes from the average sale of a BD in France. There’s a great pie chart that shows you how much of the cost of a book goes into printing it, how much the distributor gets, and how much the publisher, creator, and book store ultimately get.

I don’t think there’s anything too shocking in there. The store gets the biggest cut, followed by the publisher who fronted all the money for the book’s production. The creator gets about 8% of the total price.

Quick Fun Fact

The Road to El Dorado (2000) by Jose Luis Munuera

Jose Luis Munuera, the artist and writer of one of my favorite comics, “The Campbells,” once did a comic based on “The Road to El Dorado,” one of DreamWorks’ earlier movies. I liked that movie a bunch. The comic is long out of print and I don’t think ever saw an English translation. I doubt we’ll see one now. Drat.

What do YOU think? (First time commenters' posts may be held for moderation.)


  1. I’m confused. Isn’t Amazon already doing that and has been for many years? We’ve had Amazon.fr for a long time and as far as I know there has always been the option for self-published to use Amazon in a similar way as Lulu.com for example, to make your book available for sale there, with a proper ISBN and all. How new is that?

  2. They’re trying to become the distributor to bookstores for more and bigger companies with this move, and the added benefit is free returns for up to four months, which apparently bookstores can’t get so much now. Oh, and free shipping for orders over a very small minimum. It’s all those small percentages that add up for retailers from the distributors here in the States, that I know of. I imagine it’s likely the same in Europe.

    I don’t know if the big publishers distribute themselves in France or if they use a third party, though. But Amazon wants that business, too.

  3. I understand. There are a few third parties indeed, but in France this area is deeply unionized so Amazon is unlikely to make a dent any time soon. I understand that climbing up the food chain in new markets and either absorbing the legacy players or driving them out of business is what the new economy does but Amazon is so unapologetic about it that our legislators are beginning to seriously scrutinize their practices now. As far as I can tell, Italy would be in a similar position, maybe more radical since their government is currently right-leaning when it comes to protectionism of local industries.