Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World’s Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment

Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture: What the World’s Wildest Trade Show Can Tell Us About the Future of Entertainment

June 29, 2012

Previously posted at Amazon...

As a entrepreneur working in the comic book and pop culture space with a background in social sciences, I was initially hesitant about reading this book. Far too many business books out there find a novel lens and twist that perspective to make a (usually shallow) point that the author is pushing. As a recovering academic, I've also read far too many books where a scholar finds an interesting phenomenon and clumsily interprets it to advance a new hypothesis or theory. This book is neither of those.

This book uses the San Diego Comic-Con to look at the comic book and wider pop culture industry. Rather than push some overarching theory of business, Salkowitz takes each day of Comic-Con and uses it isolate and discuss one aspect of the comic book industry. The chapter on the pre-show includes a fascinating and deeply researched look at local comic shops and the business of selling "floppies". The chapter describing the invasion of Comic-Con by Hollywood examines the evolution of the comic industry from a business pitching pulp fiction to adolescents into the massive character-licensing behemoths we see today. The closing chapters bring the story full circle by looking at the explosion of digital comics and what that means for the small retailers and massive publishers alike. By the time I put down this book, I felt like I had just finished a seminar on the business of comic books. I came away with plenty of actionable ideas and improvements for my own endeavors.

While this book did a wonderful job on the examining the comic industry and drawing broader lessons that can be applied elsewhere, it is somewhat mistitled as it does not speak too much to the future of entertainment. The lessons that the author draws are certainly insightful and valuable, but there's no overarching theme or "theory" that an aspiring entertainment mogul would be able to take and apply to transform their business. Entrepreneurs will need to think critically about which of the described phenomena are analogous to their own industries and apply accordingly. Personally, this works well for me, but other readers looking for a more packaged and formulaic perspective may find this volume lacking.

That all said, I greatly enjoyed this book on a recreational level and its perspective has become a valuable tool for improving my own pop culture enterprise.

(Disclaimer: a complimentary review copy was provided to me ahead of time.)