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[personal profile] teirandragon
So, as you can guess I and Furplanet went to A-kon this weekend.

Problem is... well I don't know. by the pure numbers Sales wise, the con stunk.

As in, that was the worst sales weekend we've ever had at a convention so far. Below even Oklacon last year, where I spent the weekend in a dealer's den located in the back woods of Oklahoma populated by the same number of kangaroos as dealers. (One is the loneliness number...) No offense to the folks who put on Oklacon, it was a very nice con, but the backwoods of Oklahoma is not what anyone woudl describe as a "shopping" experience.

This is not to say I didn't enjoy A-kon, it was a over all fun experience. I got to see some nice cos-players as they were shuffled by my table while standing in line for the dealer's den to open. I got the chance to sit and talk with my friends for several long hours without interruption and no set agenda, and that was actually really nice.


I have to say, the merchant scene at the con was not very good. Perhaps I'm not used to Anime convention dealers rooms, or at least what they have become in the last five years since I went to Anime cons with any regularity. There were some booths there that were freaking brick and mortar gaming or Anime stores, which must have closed down for the weekend, marked up all their merchandise, and carted it into the convention center to sell to the attendees.

There were many many booths selling exactly the same thing, but at wildly different prices from each other. In fact, the only constant about the prices were that they were a significant mark up from anywhere else you could buy the merchandise being sold. And I'm not talking about specialty buttons or limited run T-shirts. that kind of convention swap I expect to cost much more then the price it cost to make. That is stuff you can only buy at cons really.

I'm talking mass market board games, role playing books, the Manga currently available in Barnes and Noble, or the DVD's you can order in a hundred different places online or just get from Netflix. I took one major pass through the dealer's room on Friday and called it quits as far as buying anythign major went. I ended up buying only some board games on Sunday, when magically all the prices fell back to their normal retail prices.

I hear from folks more into the Anime con scene that this is a very normal practice. That Sunday is when the dealers stop gouging the customer and start selling it at "discount" aka the normal price, hoping not the take the stuff home with them. Wouldn't it just be better to price things reasonably to begin with?

It's a recession people! A Bad one. Things are not going good out there. People, especially young people who love anime, do not have much money! don;t mark stuff up mark it down! That's how you drive sales.

Then, add in the fact that there were just so MANY dealers tables... 150 in the artist alley where we were alone. And the Dealer's den was even bigger then us...

The net effect was that everybody had very little money and that it would buy even less then it would have before. It made sales take a nose dive and I'm not sure what to think about that.

Was the con a bust becuase it's an anime con? I don't think so. I think there were plenty of furs there intrested in our stuff. I met and talked to most of them at length. But unlike a normal conversation at a con booth that ended in a sale, they generally too a business card and promised to check us out online.

I guess the real upside was that we got to introduce a whole group of new people to furry, including a lot of artists. We might be seeing some new comics and books come out of the visit hopefully.

That was rather a cruel trick on my part really. there were a lot of folks not used to seeing furs at the con. I don't know why, Radio Comix has been there for 20 years I think, Daria magrain was there, the folks from Happy Jackal were there. There were plenty of furries at A-kon before Furplanet showed up. But I got asked a lot of questions and a lot of people were unsure about us. That's where the cruel part comes in.

My usual answer to the question "Umm... is it all animal people? Don't you have any regular Anime?" Was basically to say, "Well no actually, I don't. None of my current artists draw that. Do you have a comic I could publish?" This was also what i said when ever someone asked for a straight or additioanl clean comics.

I got several rather shocked looks, and several mumbled answers of "Um yes, but it's not finished..." to which I replied, "Well I can't publish it until you're done drawing! Here's my card. Email me." It was quite fun to turn the fact that I didn't have exactly what they wanted back on them and say, "Well I'd love to publish that. Know anybody with a comic?"

The only thing I feel particularly bad about is that the email on the back of those cards was not my own, but my mate's. I hope he doesn't hate me for the coming flood.

And so well... I'm just not sure what to think about Akon this year. I mean on the one hand sales are sales. Every comic we sell is a good thing, more royalties for the artists, more readers for the sequels. Part of me would love to sell that much every weekend. And the convention was fun.

I had fun there anyway, but... just not sure if it was worth the cost of a weekend this close to AC.

Date: 2009-06-01 05:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ziabandito555.livejournal.com
maybe you need a "I survived the A-Kon dealers experience" shirt? eh it sounds like you found some positives at least ^.^

Date: 2009-06-01 05:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kyo-foxtrot.livejournal.com
Well sucks that sales didn't pick up any, at least I was right about the price cutting thing, they always do that @.@
But yea, guess people just dont wanna buy furry stuff at an anime con, guess it's kinda like trying to sell soda at an ice cream shop, some people will get a soda, but usually just get the ice cream.

Date: 2009-06-01 05:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teirandragon.livejournal.com
It didn't feel like people didn't want Furry stuff because it was an anime con, it felt more like they didn't want anything at ALL.

Again and again, people said they just weren't buying much this time round or that they had already spent all the cash they had. Even the reliable "But we accept debit cards too!" didn't work much.

Folks just weren't spending money, c ombinded with high prices, and too many dealers. It was a recipe for bad sales

Date: 2009-06-02 02:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dinosnake.livejournal.com
Did you get to chat with other dealers and ask their sales levels?

Date: 2009-06-01 05:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lhexa.livejournal.com
I really dug the story about how you responded to questions. *grins* I look forward to hearing whether any of those artists actually do end up having a comic for you.

I recall some journal entries from an artist claiming that the best conventions for artists who are only moderately well-known were the mid-sized ones, because in the large ones like AC or FC the professional dealers and the huge selection tied up too much of the free cash. Maybe the same tendency holds for anime conventions, where you certainly count as small fry.

Date: 2009-06-02 01:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dinosnake.livejournal.com
Well, I've only got two things to say:

1) In regards to "Well, do you have anything / No...", you know as well as I do, as a publisher, artists are, umm...fickle. A nice way of saying flighty? :p Getting most artists to stick to their (own) schedule of completion is just about as hard as to find the last Dodo bird sitting in a nice gold cage, so turning it back around to them is cool but don't hold your breath! :sigh:

^_^

2) Business is always an up / down experience. As a person who has been their entire business life involved in small business (25 years), you get to understand that there are dry spells in between the peaks. It is only a fantasy of both the media and Wall Street that business only goes one way - that is, "Up". Even my older boss, 72 years old, is taking a calm attitude about the current down business level as compared to prior years - he's just being calm and acknowledges it is a natural business cycle.

I write situations like that up to "PR" - consider the trip a PR trip to expose people to new experiences. *Any* exposure builds a foundation, just keep on keeping on and use the foundation later (hopefully).

...

Hey, at least the [rationalization] sounds good, right? ^_^

:hugs: Glad you had a good time, sorry about the disappointing sales turnout. I hope your loss wasn't too bad. Hard to judge, but from my previous experiences don't go to new events, they need time to hit "critical mass". Hope I get to AC again this year and hope to be able to chat again.

Date: 2009-06-02 01:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] teirandragon.livejournal.com
Fickle artists may be, but I was mostly using the line as a way to enjoy some schadenfreude while saying "No, but I can publish it. " I certainly consider the trip to be a big PR thing. That was part of why we did it in the first place.

Dry spells I expect. I would not be surprised if AC sales dipped this year over all do to economy issues. We had very little out of pocket costs thankfully so we did not actually lose money going. Just not make much for the company. But hey! The artists will get the royalties for those sales so it is all good.


And um, you must be unfamiliar with A-kon. It is not a new con, this was in fact it's 20th anniversary. Roughly 25,000 people attended last year. I woudl bet that many were there this time. Their mass is so critical that they warp space time.

Date: 2009-06-02 02:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dinosnake.livejournal.com
Yeah, sorry, not familiar with A-kon at all. But it's "anime", not "fur", as you note...and that, I have found, is TROUBLE. I work with a young anime fan/freak and (he) is extremely limited (to my viewpoint, at least, but then I'm old enough to be his father) in both his tastes and his desire to try new experiences. It seems a lot of non-fur anime fans that I have met are just that...ANIME fans; if it isn't anime it seems you have a huge inertia to overcome.

Or maybe it was simply the non-fur anime fans *I* spoke to. :/

I got the same experience in a HUGE, but non-fur, convention I did once myself. Peaked a lot of interest because it was "new" and unexpected...but not much sales at all. Cool experience, but lousy for business (although looking at a few of the uber-hawt porn stars across the ailse all weekend was not bad compensation! ^_^ (it was an adult fetish convention))

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