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Subj: Re: Digital
Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 02:20:21 pm EDT (Viewed 38 times)
Reply Subj: Digital
Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 at 05:57:06 am EDT (Viewed 37 times)


      The problem Marvel will face is competition. Suddenly a creator owned title like Invincible might be able to compete with a title like Spider-Man. Licensed comics would probably see a vast increase in sales. The audience will start to see a huge diversity, where suddenly you see younger readers.

    Why will all that happen? The low price?

Anytime someone starts reading comics, there are "barriers to entry". It's a term found regularly in both business and even economics.

For comics, including new readers and increased sales, there are barriers to entry. I'll just list three big ones.

Price. Comics are "overpriced" compared to similar goods. New readers are simply going to be put off by the price.

Distribution. Every comic shop isn't going to have every issue of every title. Most LCSs don't even bother stocking items that aren't DC/Marvel. When you next go to your LCS, see how many titles are from other publishes. Probably not alot. This hurts non DC/Marvel titles because the LCS refuses to stock their titles. It's not a situation where these titles don't sell, but a situation where these titles have never been given the chance to succeed.

Location. There are less and less LCSs. Many towns don't have any comic shops, or if they do, just one. Some people have to drive 30 miles to get their comics. Another factor is that comic shops are thought of negatively by the general public. They are unattractive places to go. Anyone who isn't a middle age white guy is going to hesitate to go in there.

Of course there are other issues. The space that physical comics take up (longboxes), the visual unattractiveness of collections, the portability of comics, etc.

Now, let's say that we create a digital distribution system, using the iTunes model. Each Wednesday at noon, new comics are released online. Every comic that Diamond releases, is also released on this system. 99 cents per issue. There is also a backlog of issues available to purchase. So let's look at how this reduced the barriers to entry.

Price. Obviously greatly reduced by 75%. Comics are seen as having a better value.

Distribution. Every issue of every title is instantly made available at the click of the button. Suddenly the LCS owner doesn't decide the success of your indy title. Your issue also isn't going to sell out in any store, since any other customer can decide to download your comic as well. The playing field of Invincible vs Spider-Man is alot more level, since the supply side is taken completely out of the equation. All that depends now is demand.

Location. Obviously not important anymore. A person who lives in a rural area has the same instant access to comics as someone who lives in a major city. All of a sudden, a new reader doesn't have to deal with going to that creepy LCS, and can get their comics with a click of the mouse.

Now since this was your question, let's look at the demand side of Invincible vs Spider-Man. If the Invincible team wanted to, they could offer the first issue at a reduced price to hook new readers. They could even offer the first issue for free. With the reduced price of comics ($4 to $1), readers will be willing to spend money on different titles, sampling them. If you liked the first issue and wanted to read more, now you don't have to rely on your LCS having the second issue.

    I hate reading comics off the screen so if comics go completely digital it will probably mean the end of my interest. Although I guess I could print them...

I don't think you should jump to that conclusion. I think it depends entirely on how the system is implemented. If given the choice between a $4 physical issue, and a $1 digital one, are you really going to chose the product that is 4 times more? If you wanted to spend $20 a month, would you chose 5 physical issues, or 20 digital ones?

It's probably the same argument people made a decade ago, "I don't want to read my news off the internet".

    I'd like to see Marvel and DC publish their Annuals as digital-only to see what happens.

I'd like Marvel and DC to experiment more in this area. Already Marvel is having digital only comics.

But the reason why Marvel and DC aren't embracing this is because few "legacy businesses" do. No company likes change. That's why digital music was led by Apple, a company who had no connection to the music industry. So in the same way, Marvel and DC aren't going to create the digital comic distribution system.

Edit: is a good conversation.

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