Monday, August 23, 2010

When is a hobby not a hobby? When it is a business…

I read this today at Highmoon Ponderings and I was a little surprised with some of the responses from people about the “hobby” business they run. When talking about this industry I often notice that “You can’t make a living in this industry” comment. I see it A LOT.

But what I find it funny is so many people DO make a living in this industry. Diamond Distributors is the largest hobby and game entertainment distributor in the world (They also own Alliance Game Distributors and the owner of Diamond Steve Geppi is a partial owner of the Baltimore Orioles) and they have over 500 people working for them all over the United States, generate $500 million dollars yearly, and have been in business over 20 years. And they are only ONE distributor. Why do we always think of the comic and gaming industry as “small potatoes”? Why are we stuck in this?

We are the most creative people in the world and we act like we are partly retarded. WHY? We create amazing worlds out of nothing. We expand imagination. We get friends who have known each other for decades together to get together and interact with each out, often without the use of electricity. We make ready and math fun. We teach you to calculate probability faster than anyone outside of Las Vegas. And best of all, we run business where the end goal is making people have fun. While this started as a hobby, we have built it into a business and we need to stop giving into the self doubt that what we do is not important OR better yet that you can make money at it. Years ago the same thing was said about comic books, but now every major entertainment studio shows up at San Diego Comic Con. We have to stop selling ourselves short and we have to actually WORK at making this industry successful.

If you think it can’t be done, Look at Paizo. In less than 5 years they have gone from a loosely affiliated publishing arm to the number #2 played RPG company on the planet. And don’t kid yourself people outside of this industry have noticed. Hollywood is always looking for the next big thing. So when Paizo announces in the near future that they are coming out with a video game or an animated Saturday morning cartoon don’t be surprised. If this hobby has become a business, treat it like a business. It will be better for both of you in the long term. Talk to you later…


  1. You have a valid point. But your comments are not helped by using Diamond Distributers as an example. They are one of the most evil corporations I have ever encountered. Ask anyone that has to deal with them. They are a monopoly in many markets and use their power to make arbitrary and often damaging decisions. If you are a small scale comic publisher, they just screw you at will. You are the first person I have encountered in the entire time they have existed that has spoken positively of them. they are hated by everyone that has to deal with them. Even the end buyers such as myself know of their bad business practices and hold them in poor regard.

  2. @Tetsubo: Most people don't remember what is was like BEFORE Diamond having control of the market. I remember when there was the big three, Diamond, Capital and Heroes World (circa mid-1992). I remember when Diamond went exclusive with DC Comics and Marvel bought out Heroes World leaving Capital with out the big two (circa early 1993). I remember when Capital went under; Heroes World under Marvel control and went under due to poor business discussions; The comic industry went through an implosion where 50% of the store went under and only Diamond remained to pick the complete mess (circa 1994). Diamond basically brought the comic book industry back from the brink of self destruction. When all this was going on I was working for Comic Values Monthly (The first comic book price guide that was monthly BEFORE Wizard Magazine). Steve Geppi basically saved the comic industry when the companies like Marvel and DC thought foil covers and multiple #1 issue would help sales. Most stores were not there doing that time so they can't imaging what is was like. I can. I was in the middle of it.