- Video Games
- About Us
Today I'm talking with the founder and owner of the website Fangrabs, John Barnhouse! Have you been looking for the equivalent of a comic book library but don't want digital comics and instead want a monthly fee? John Barnhouse is going to tell you how you can do that and more.
What service does Fangrabs provide?
We are an Online Rental Service that is geared toward Graphic Novels and Mangas. You sign up, add books to your unlimited Online Rental Queue, and they are mailed out to you. Think of us as a Netflix or Gamfly version of the Graphic Novel & Manga world. And if you are not familiar with what a Graphic Novel or Manga is, they are in most cases collected works of a comic series in one large book. Manga is just a different art form of a Graphic Novel. Sometimes a Graphic Novel doesn't come from comics but it is a story formatted with art and pictures.
Can you explain what the "Rental Queue" on the site is?
The rental queue is a feature of our online site that enables you to select multiple items in a list. For example, the Graphic Novel series of "The Walking Dead" Volumes 1 through 8. You can re-arrange this list to prioritize the order in which you'd like to receive the Graphic Novels. The rental queue will also list the popularity or the availability of each item on the list, and which items you currently have in your possession.
What are the different types of rental plans people can get and how expensive are they?
We have 5 plans. Our starter plan which I named after myself, is called "John's Choice Grabs". It's basically a list of books that we consider worthy reads. The goal with this plan is have an inexpensive a plan as we could offer for people to try. Then if they like it, they can try our Unlimited plans. We increase the choices in "John's Choice Grabs" periodically, based on what our Unlimited Users rent from us. In the "John's Choice Grabs" plan, you are limited to 2 books out per month from our short list of books (around 600 choices). This plan starts at $15.00/Mo
Our other 4 plans are unlimited plans. There are no restrictions, and the users have full access to our entire inventory. We are at 6,500+ books currently, and growing about 100 books per week. For 1 book out at a time it is $20/mo, for 2 books out at a time $29/mo, 3 books out at a time $38/mo, and 4 books out a time the cost is $47/mo. Again, these are unlimited plans and we pay for shipping. Cost may seem kind of high compared to Gamefly or Netflix, but people have to realize shipping is judged by weight and a book weighs a bit more than a DVD or a Disc. We also offer a discount if you pay 3,6,12 months in advance. You can view our discounted pricing for advance paying here http://fangrabs.com/rental-plans/
Why did you choose to name your website Fangrabs?
We named it for a vision we had. Fans grabbing our graphic novels off our shelves. What we want is for the fans to be so thrilled....that the Novels are just flying off the shelf... because the fans are in the middle of a great story series.
What inspired you to create Fangrabs?
I was actually in the middle of another project, and I needed to rent some graphic novels for some research. Buying something used off Amazon was still pretty high, so I started to Google where in the heck can I rent graphic novels. I searched high and I searched low. I did stumble across a bigillion text book rental services and one bookstore that you could rent regular books from. The book store had a very small selection of graphic novels, because they were geared more toward books. So a little light bulb went off. Why don't I do that! I dropped my current project, and my Pops and I began working on fangrabs.com
What is your background with comics? If you're a fan, what are some of your favorite comics? Do they reflect some of what you offer on Fangrabs?
I was an early 90s kid. I grew up in what I call the "golden age of super hero action adventure cartoons". My favorite was the X-Men, but you also had Fantastic Four, Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, and several others. My Pops grew up on comics and took me down to the local comic shop after he caught on that I was glued to the TV watching these cartoons and introduced me to comics. I was hooked instantly. Some of my old favorite comics are Spawn, The Punisher, anything X-Men related, The Sandman, anything by Frank Miller, Jim Lee, or Neil Gaiman. I am currently waiting for the release of the ongoing series Locke and Key and Morning Glories. Those are the 2 titles are am absolutely in love with at the moment.
Oh, absolutely we have the best of the best on our website, both new and old. And we are constantly adding stuff. There's just so much "stuff" you wouldn't believe it. And, we also have a philosophy here at fangrabs.com, if we don't have what you want, the just let us know, and we will add it within a couple of weeks. We don't want to think of our customers as customers. We want to think of them as fans. And as a fan myself I understand the passion and nostalgia that comes with characters or a series. What is important to you, is important to us.
Who else is involved with the Fangrabs site? Do you run it alone?
Basically it's a 2 man operation, me and my Pops. We have some help from time to time from friends, but it's just us 2 on full time currently. As our business grows I am sure we will bring on board more...I don't want to use the word staff, but I guess that word will do for now.
There are services out there that allow people to download digital comics for a monthly fee. Why did you choose to give people physical comics versus digital comics? What advantages do you think you have over these digital comic services?
I suppose "they are just cooler" won't do for a good answer? Well there are some problems with digital. You have to be online using their viewer to use them (unless you buy them). Sometimes, there are gaping holes in a major story series. For example, you are reading a series, it's starting to get real good, then BAM, the next 4 issues are missing. Also, each online digital subscription service only carries their own brand. So you are looking at multiple subscriptions if you are fans of different publishers. Fangrabs.com has all types and brands of graphic novels and mangas. If you download comics via a mobile data plane be aware of the data you use. Digital comics can be 100MB or more for each issue and that can easily eat through your typical mobile allotment. The biggy for me is sometimes you just want the feel of an Honest to God book in your hand. The feel of it doesn't compete with the plastic of your iphone, ipad or kindle. And those 2-page splash pages are really cool. As far as advantages we offer I would have to say for the person on the go you wouldn't have to worry about dwindling down your battery life of whatever digital device you are using. Also, they won't tell you to power down your electronic device when you are in the key moment of a story when you are in a plane taking off or preparing for landing.
We offer multiple things. I mentioned earlier we are 1 subscription compared to many subscriptions. If you are an avid reader you could save a ton of $$$ by using our service. One monthly bill is better than 5-6 if you're are a heavy reader. And, we carry books that haven't made it to the digital world as of yet.
Maybe you have stepped away from the comic scene for a bit and need help catching up to the new editions. We can help you caught up quickly, so you can get right back into action with the current times.
Honestly, we aren't trying to compete with digital. It has it's pluses, don't get me wrong. With us though, you might stumble on a rare gem you had no idea existed before because you were stuck at just looking at things directly with Marvel, DC, or Darkhorse. There are lots of great stories out there. Our service is mainly for people who want great stories and who aren't worried about investing money into comics because it will accrue a profit down the road due to it being a rare issue or has a variant cover. Collecting comics is great and lots of fun. At the end of the day, we want our customers (i.e. fans) to pick up a great story from us and enjoy it.
What are some of your most frequently rented graphic novels?
Probably the most rented thing is Walking Dead. A great series btw, and I personally enjoy it more than the TV show. The TV show is fantastic, but the graphic novels are better in my opinion. The Walking Dead graphic novels are a bit more dark and gritty, which I like, than anything that gets shown on the Big Screen. Recently, Iron Man rentals have picked up (I wonder why...ha). I am guessing Star Trek will pick up here as well.
What publishers are included in the comics people can rent from your website? Can you list some specific titles from each?
House of M
The Death of Captain America
Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Midas Touch
Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Walking Dead
We Were There
And a lot more.
What are some of your plans for the future of Fangrabs?
To get a whole lot more customers! We also want to add a ton more books into the system.
Thank you for your time and your service! Hope you see a lot more rentals fly off your shelves!