An adequate understanding of the readers of comic books and graphic novels must extend beyond reader-text relationships to comprise contexts of reception. Chief among these is the direct-market comic-bookstore. In contrast to newsstand distribution, the direct market represents the institution of comic-book collecting and connoisseurship as subcultural practices. Comic shops are not simply distribution points in a commodity chain but also social settings integral to the reproduction of comic-book fandom, yet they occupy an ambivalent position between the comic-book industry and its consumers. Citing findings from qualitative research conducted in three Canadian comic-bookstores and drawing on the work of Anthony Giddens, Pierre Bourdieu, and Erving Goffman, this article develops three approaches to the sociology of the comic-bookstore, theorizing them as locales for interaction among participants; as nodes, interlocks and regions articulating the communities served by a given store; and as both sanctuaries from mainstream hierarchies of taste and status, and arenas of competition for social and cultural capital.

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Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics

Woo, B. (2011). The Android's Dungeon: Comic-bookstores, cultural spaces, and the social practices of audiences. Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, 2(2), 125–136. doi:10.1080/21504857.2011.602699