Trades have taken over. The triumph of a long time, supportable and marketable form over that slim and rather tatty pamphlet. And the numbers will continue to grow for quite a while, since, as the numbers being reported by Milton Griepp show that we are educating a graphically literate audience who will likely be reading comics, in a square bound format, for the rest of their lives.
We should be paying attention, as this is the sound of plate tectonics happening under our feet. And while the pain of changing the economic model will be felt for a while, we are seeing a long term future for comics that didn't exist 15 years ago, let alone 30 years ago.
Journalista sums the oddity of major comic sites on the web ignoring this change:
Industry analyst Milton Griepp’s assertion that the graphic-novel market was now larger than the comics-pamphlet market, news that met with silence from news-sites far more obsessed with writer Steven King’s tenuous connection to a licensed comic book than an epoch-changing event almost certain to determine what the comics industry will look like ten years from now.How long has this been coming, and how many years have the publishers been avoiding it? I've posted more than once on the format wars, and how it effects both preception of the work as well as the marketing and warehousing and displaying of the books.
I have gotten into discussion with plenty of long time comic fans over the demise of the pamphlet, and for many people it boils down to needing that weekly/monthly fix for the books, for the cliffhanger, but that doesn't acknowledge the economics inherent in creating a long lasting work, both for the publisher and for the artist.
I cracked open Jane Austen the other night, and ask yourself, should I bother reading Sense and Sensibility if I have to track down the 6 issues to find out what Mr. Darcy is really up to? No, its a contained work with a beginning, middle and end. Is there any reason that I shouldn't be reading it because the author is dead? No, the book is a good read, and will always be new to the person that picks it up tomorrow. So will Maus, so will Dark Knight, so will Watchmen. Can you imagine trying to get an adult to read Watchmen if they kept trying to hunt down all 12 issues of a 20 year old mini-series? The publisher should be able to keep good works in print as long as there is demand, which benefits their back catalog and makes a good artist/author something to potentially live on more than the next paycheck for the next 22 page story.
Welcome to the world of adult publishing, comic companies. It may make you less reliant on gimmicks and endless cliffhangers, but you're creating a long term future for the business and for the readers who care about the medium.