The Comic Shop That Only Sells Crowdfunded Comics, CROÂfunding

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Xavier Lancel runs CROÂfunding, a bookshop based in Lille, France, with a big difference. It sells crowdfunded comic books, and that’s it.

Xavier Lancel runs SCARCE Magazine in France, a fanzine that specialises in American comic books, and reported for Bleeding Cool from Angouleme most years. But of late, he has found a very different business to dive into – and it is remarkable that no one else has thought of this before. I bumped into him in a London comic book mart earlier in the year and what he has accomplished has been running around my head since. CROÂfunding is a bookshop based in Lille, France, with a big difference. It sells crowdfunded comic books, and that’s about it.

Google Streetview of CROÂfunding

Dedicated 100% to crowdfunding self-publishers, it takes up a mere 17 square meters in central Lille with a focus on local artists in North France, Lille, Douai, Saint Quentin, and Valenciennes as well as London and Brussels, it sells comics, illustrated books, fanzines, illustrations and card games, all mostly financed through campaigns on crowdfunding platforms such as Ulule, Kickstarter, KissKissBankBank, IndieGoGo, Crowdfundr, Zoop and more. It may be small but is hard to miss, and is located on rue Pierre Mauroy near the Lille Flandres station, the Grande Place, the Tanneurs shopping centre and the Saint Maurice Square, and in the centre of what is known as Lille’s “lozenge of bookstores”. Seriously, it is 14 14-minute walk from Lille train station, and I can get the train there from London in under four hours. So maybe I should.

CROÂfunding also does not do returns, commissions or deposits, only firm purchases from publishers. Nothing is promoted to appear in the shop. Each work is there because Marcel Xavier thinks it should be. CROÂfunding only offers around 120 different books at a time but is distinct as a bookstore and comic books store, as offering titles that you just can’t find anywhere else, even if you’ve heard of them. It’s like walking into a bookstore in a parallel universe, a real-life version of Lucien’s library. It’s worth the trip to Lille in and of itself.

Google Streetview of CROÂfunding

Each book is placed facing the front without hierarchy, a necessity when almost all of the titles are unknown to the general public. And Marcel tries to help customers find exactly what they never knew they wanted. And the microbookstore hold microsignings every Friday, but with reservable slots, so customers don’t have to wait too long.

I think it’s a great idea and see no reason why it couldn’t be replicated. Crowdfunded comics, especially in their exclusive editions, are impossible to find after the campaign has concluded. Some books get picked up by big publishers. many do not, and a place that allows you to browse through a hundred such graphic novels that won’t make it onto any other bookshelves feels like an idea whose time has come. Oh yes, and they have a store website now, and even a section just in English.. where it is lovely to see Bleeding Cool favourite Marc Jackson has such a prominent spot.

CROÂfunding can be found on 90 Rue Pierre Mauroy in front of Auchan, but not in the Tanneurs, 59000 Lille, France, open Monday to Saturday.

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