Okay, so over the weekend, I picked up a Kindle Fire because a) I wanted a new toy and b) I think it’s about time to start looking into this digital e-book distribution method. I’m starting with Comixology as my introduction to digital comics, since they seem to be the big fish in the bowl when it comes to content delivery. It certainly has a lot of comics!
This thing is super-long why? Head past this break to read it if you wanna!
When you first log in, you get a selection of what’s new and what’s popular. You can choose to search for a specific title, or search alphabetically by series, creator, publisher, etc. That’s a pretty good way to browse what’s available. If you haven’t used Comixology, it’s fairly straightforward and though you might fumble with it (as I continue to do) you can always find something that you’re looking for.
However, the problem isn’t with the app; it’s with the content.
My big beef with (American) comics these days are the multitudes of different titles that that are available to any one series. This is only really a problem with Marvel and DC, but when you are what represents Western comics, it’s almost like you are actively trying to keep new people from getting into your stuff. This isn’t a problem with Comixology or digital comics, but it’s clear how bad the problem is when using the app. If I search for Green Lantern, I get results for 16 books. Batman returns 32 titles. That’s titles with ‘Batman’ as the first word. That excludes things like Batgirl and Robin and Nightwing or any other Bat books in the series.
(A bit further down the page were a handful of Blackest Night titles, which meant more Green Lantern books than the initial 16.)
This is a problem; but it’s outside of the scope of the app and digital comics in general. It’s just something I really enjoy complaining about! But okay, let’s get into why the distribution method itself is having a problem.
(kripes there should not be 17 G.I. Joe titles)
Let’s say I want to get into Green Lantern, and I want to do it through the Comixology app. Strictly digital; I want to get into all of the nitty gritty of Green Lantern, but I don’t want to have 3 shelves of books taking up space in my room. I can hop into the app, and they have Green Lantern divided into “eras”; I can pick GL from 1960 - 1972, 1976 - 1986, 1990 - 2004, 2005 - 2011, and 2011 - Ongoing. Well I guess I could start at 1960, which has 35 issues available at ~26 pages a piece for $1.99 each. If I want to catch up with just this era (that leaves out a lot of issues though!), it’s going to cost me about $64.
Now, these are old comics. It would probably cost about $64 for about half of these as a physical copies, if you can even find them. Initially, that’s not that bad of a deal. But this is where we get our first problem with this distribution method: there’s no TPB option. You can’t drop, say, $30 and get them all in one go.
Why not? They’re all right there. Why can’t I pay a lump sum and get a large chunk of comics at a bit of a discount? I could buy them all separately, yes, but then I have to press 32 different ‘buy now’ buttons and make 32 separate purchases to read them. And it’s the same way for each Green Lantern title. If you want to read em, you’re stuck grabbing the single issues at $2 a pop.
Most older issues are going to run you $2 on Comixology though, so at least it’s consistent. When you get into the newer stuff though, that’s when you start spilling out major change. Individual issues of some newer stuff are going to run you $4, $5, even $6 dollars. That’s quite a bit to ask for a digital only copy of one floppy.
In the same vein, there are some collections available online for you to buy, but it’s mostly going to be newer stuff that’s still in stores; and it’s going to run you retail price 99% of the time.
These prices seem pretty steep when you consider that a lot of the portion of the price of a comic (TPB or not) is dedicated to printing it. Paying the printer, paying the shipping, paying for the materials. You could effectively sell a TPB digitally for roughly a third (maybe even half!) the price and still be making the same amount of money per title sold. Keeping the prices up on digital comics will only ensure that people will look for the physical copies instead.
On the other side of the coin, the print copies aren’t really helping sell the reader on the idea of digital comics either. You’re going to get a page ad talking about it if you’re lucky. I would like to see comics take the route that DVDs and Blu Rays are going; where if you buy a TPB or some other book, you get a code or redeemable for a free digital copy. Or even the other way around (again), if you put down the money for a collection, you get a copy of it mailed to you. Even if you pay an additional $2 for shipping, it’s still a pretty good deal.
One of the things I was really surprised to not see however: Subscriptions. How can you not offer digital subscriptions? $2 an issue is right above that sweet spot for throwing down some change to get a book, but if you offer a full year for $15 or $20 on a title, you’d really have something there.
Better yet, make it an even better deal. Bump the price up to $50 or so and get the digital releases as soon as they come out and the TPBs of the issues you have mailed to you as a physical copy.Or individual issues along with the digital ones.
I’m ready for digital distribution with comics; but the pricing structure and delivery methods for it right now are pretty broken. There either needs to be some price structure overhaul or a lot more synchronicity with the actual physical product. The prices are off-balance and there’s not enough choices available to the consumer, especially when you compare it to something like the iTunes store.
I can hop over there and buy HD episodes of Archer for $2.99 a pop, or an entire season for $22, from the same page. It’s easier to buy entire seasons of television shows than it is to buy digital comics. Even for something as evergreen as Bone, it’s really difficult to buy the entire series. I would love to have a digital version of the Complete Bone on my device. But I don’t have that option. I can buy individual issues of the series for $2, or I can buy the volumes for anywhere from $8 to $13. But only the first 8 volumes. I can’t buy the complete story, because it’s just not available. And Bone is something I would probably throw $30 or $40 down on to have it digitally, despite already owning the actual book. It would make it a hell of a lot easier to read.
Is it an issue with the pulblishers? An issue with the Distributors? An issue with comic stores not wanting to become obsolete? I really don’t know, but digital comics are a really rough sell right now, and the entire thing may fizzle out unless some serious changes are made.
- lilfluff likes this
- orlyman reblogged this from poinko and added:
- orlyman likes this
- deftbeck reblogged this from poinko and added:
- yossdillo said: I agree, the system is pretty broke right now. Maybe you should write the people who run that, offer a few ideas?
- pembrokewkorgi reblogged this from poinko
- pembrokewkorgi likes this
- nitrogensynapse said: a good post
- adimals likes this
- hpkomic reblogged this from poinko and added:
- combotron likes this
- kiltyascharged likes this
- dumb-reblogs likes this
- poinko posted this