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  1. #1
    Mild-Mannered Reporter
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    Default CBR: Pipeline - May 25, 2010

    The Direct Market is blinding publishers to a potentially larger audience. Many arguments against digital comics are falling by the wayside, but there's still stoic silence and half measures from the biggest companies. Why?


    Full article here.

  2. #2
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    "potentially larger audience" my arse.

    Millions of people know these characters exist, but they dont make any effort to read about them. why? Because they are not interested. They will go to watch a summer blockbuster with them, but they have no interest in reading the comics.

    Publishers can chase this dream all they want, in the end it will only cost them time, effort and money, and it wont work. Focus on providing a better level of comics for the people who actually are interested in them, rather than try this hypothetical new auidence.

  3. #3
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    Augur, I so agree with what you have written!! We, the digital comic distributors have to show the publishers how we are augementing the direct market, not stealing from it. There arr so many indications that digital comics will sell more paper, not less. Even if there is a shift, creators and publishers will continue to learn about alternative ways to generate revenue.

    Well said.

  4. #4

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    1st of all. $2.00 for a digital comic? When I can pre-order from randomonlinesubscriptionservice.com for $1.79? I'm sure that what with lower overhead from little or no materials cost online comics should be more like $0.99.

    2nd. Comics as a whole began to loose readership when they moved out of the grocery store/newsstand market. Eric Larsen in his One Fans Opinion column of Jan. 23, 2010 presents a great argument on how to get those readers back (though I would argue that he is partially wrong in his assertion that it wouldn't work with Savage Dragon, because it seems to work for Judge Dredd).

    3rd. Ummmmm I had a third and fourth points but lost them while I figured out how to link my second point. Maybe later.

  5. #5
    Senior Member stewart48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNM View Post
    "potentially larger audience" my arse.

    Millions of people know these characters exist, but they dont make any effort to read about them. why? Because they are not interested. They will go to watch a summer blockbuster with them, but they have no interest in reading the comics.

    Publishers can chase this dream all they want, in the end it will only cost them time, effort and money, and it wont work. Focus on providing a better level of comics for the people who actually are interested in them, rather than try this hypothetical new auidence.
    I hate to break it to you, but the majority of people in america at least would be embarrassed to pick up a comic because of the nerd association, unless they had the excuse of a kid. With digital distribution people don't have to go to a comic book store or be seen buying a comic, and as comic distribution becomes a success digitally the culture and perception will have the opportunity to change.

    Also there are people who would stop downloading pirated copies if they had an outlet to buy. I stopped downloading music through download software like kazaa and limewire when digital copies came available. Shoot I boycott any band that doesn't use digital unless I can find a $5.00 cd in a bargain bin where I would have paid $10 on a digital copy from itunes and the record label would have had a higher profit.
    BAD TOUCHSCREEN TYPER

  6. #6
    Senior Member stewart48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbelkinsii View Post
    1st of all. $2.00 for a digital comic? When I can pre-order from randomonlinesubscriptionservice.com for $1.79? I'm sure that what with lower overhead from little or no materials cost online comics should be more like $0.99.
    apple gets %30 percent of the profits on itunes and plus its only a matter of time before there are collected editions on digital stores that are much cheaper on an issue by issue basis.
    BAD TOUCHSCREEN TYPER

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by MNM View Post
    "potentially larger audience" my arse.

    Millions of people know these characters exist, but they dont make any effort to read about them. why? Because they are not interested. They will go to watch a summer blockbuster with them, but they have no interest in reading the comics.
    And why is that? Lots of reasons, but one of them HAS GOT TO BE DISTRIBUTION. They simply aren't available because the few thousand direct market shops are a pretty poor way to distribute comics to millions of people.

    Lower the opportunity costs and you WILL get more sales. Shopping from your desktop at home is pretty dang convenient. And it's a sure bet it'll be a lot more than a lot of backwards thinking people think.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by stewart48 View Post
    apple gets %30 percent of the profits on itunes and plus its only a matter of time before there are collected editions on digital stores that are much cheaper on an issue by issue basis.
    Which is most likely the same as Diamond or my online subscription service. If I remember right, back when comics were $2 Marvel and DC only made about $0.25 per comic (and I think that was [i]before[/] costs). So I stand by my statement.

    Oh yeah. back to my earlier post (which I can't edit )

    3rd. I have a similar problem as Mr. Beck in that my nearest comic shop is a 2hr. $500 plane flight away. I'm pissed that I have to order my comics 2 months in advance, sight-unseen and end up with crap like Amazons Attack or the thoroughly disappointing 1st Wave: Doc Savage or Trinity a questionable title I dropped at issue #26 (which worked out great because if I want to the other 26 issues I can get them next time I'm south for $0.25 - $1.00 an issue, which is less than the $1.49 {+ shipping} I was paying through my online subscription service).

    4th. I'm one that would be using multiple formats. Digital for the titles I want to read but don't care if I own (Pretty much every Marvel Event/Title since Avengers Dis-assembled especially the cosmic stuff, 70% of the titles by IDW, Boom, Dynamite that I'd at least be checking out if not buying on a regular basis, and a good amount of DC that I resent having to buy or wish I'd bought). Print for the few I really want to collect (from Marvel: everything Hulk, from DC: everything Green, LSH, or ?, Plus Atomic Robo from Red 5), as well as collections and OGN's that stand out (100 Bullets, Powers, Bloom County and Richard Stark's Parker by Darwyn Cooke to name a few). My point being that I also have a room full of crap I don't want or need because it's the only way I get to read what interests me, but I don't get to read everything that interests me because I end up spending my money on crap that sounds good but turns out to be... crap. That just pisses me off.

  9. #9
    Senior Member stewart48's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbelkinsii View Post
    Which is most likely the same as Diamond or my online subscription service. If I remember right, back when comics were $2 Marvel and DC only made about $0.25 per comic (and I think that was [i]before[/] costs). So I stand by my statement.

    Oh yeah. back to my earlier post (which I can't edit )

    3rd. I have a similar problem as Mr. Beck in that my nearest comic shop is a 2hr. $500 plane flight away. I'm pissed that I have to order my comics 2 months in advance, sight-unseen and end up with crap like Amazons Attack or the thoroughly disappointing 1st Wave: Doc Savage or Trinity a questionable title I dropped at issue #26 (which worked out great because if I want to the other 26 issues I can get them next time I'm south for $0.25 - $1.00 an issue, which is less than the $1.49 {+ shipping} I was paying through my online subscription service).

    4th. I'm one that would be using multiple formats. Digital for the titles I want to read but don't care if I own (Pretty much every Marvel Event/Title since Avengers Dis-assembled especially the cosmic stuff, 70% of the titles by IDW, Boom, Dynamite that I'd at least be checking out if not buying on a regular basis, and a good amount of DC that I resent having to buy or wish I'd bought). Print for the few I really want to collect (from Marvel: everything Hulk, from DC: everything Green, LSH, or ?, Plus Atomic Robo from Red 5), as well as collections and OGN's that stand out (100 Bullets, Powers, Bloom County and Richard Stark's Parker by Darwyn Cooke to name a few). My point being that I also have a room full of crap I don't want or need because it's the only way I get to read what interests me, but I don't get to read everything that interests me because I end up spending my money on crap that sounds good but turns out to be... crap. That just pisses me off.
    Your forgetting they make 0 advertising revenue off digital comics as of now.
    BAD TOUCHSCREEN TYPER

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by MNM View Post
    "potentially larger audience" my arse.

    Millions of people know these characters exist, but they dont make any effort to read about them. why? Because they are not interested. They will go to watch a summer blockbuster with them, but they have no interest in reading the comics.

    Publishers can chase this dream all they want, in the end it will only cost them time, effort and money, and it wont work. Focus on providing a better level of comics for the people who actually are interested in them, rather than try this hypothetical new auidence.
    As someone from that "hypothetical new audience" I take issue with you questioning my existence.

    I watched the original X-Men and Spider-Man film. Did I go looking for comicbooks? No. It wasn't until Fantastic Four that I got interested. However I went looking at my local news agency (I believe this is the Australian equivalent to a news stand) and found none. I shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

    It wasn't until Marvel Comics promised to publish their comics in a new initiative called "Digital Comics Unlimited" that I became interested. However they were extremely slow from that initial announcement to actually doing it. Once more there were no issues available at my local news agency, so I did the only thing I could. I pirated them.

    From 2005 to November 2007 I pirated hundreds of comics. After about 6 months my local news agents began stocking comics, but their selection was extremely limited. In November 2007 I eventually did stop pirating comics. But only because I found a "local" comic shop an hour away from where I live. I started purchasing my comics through their online store.

    Marvel's digital comics unlimited created quite a stir in the webcomics community back in 2005 when it was announced. Most people who were negative of the initiative claimed Marvel would leave gaping holes in their collection, would never provide recent comics and would force you to buy the comics physically just to be able to get a decent story.

    They were right to begin with. But eventually Marvel's came around. However I don't know how many people from the webcomics community was willing to wait 2 years for the service to be launched and then another 2 years for Marvel to get their heads out of their behind and start publishing comics in a run so you could enjoy reading the storylines.

    Marvel's mishandling of digital comics has certainly hindered growing its audience. But with the iPad now out, they've got a second chance to cater to that audience.

  11. #11
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    Default Mmm, that's a little argumentative, n'est ce pas?

    Quote Originally Posted by MNM View Post
    "potentially larger audience" my arse.

    Millions of people know these characters exist, but they dont make any effort to read about them. why? Because they are not interested. They will go to watch a summer blockbuster with them, but they have no interest in reading the comics.
    I don't know that this statement is accurate.

    It's hard to get hard statistics, but there's considerable anecdotal evidence noting challenges accessing retail establishments. My little brother, for example, grew up unable to travel across his home town (he was born somewhere different than I was, and I lived in LA by that time) to get to comics despite his interest in them, and even had he arrived he could barely afford most of what he'd want.

    As with all things, your mileage may vary.

  12. #12
    Column: The Buy Pile theoperative's Avatar
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    Default Cats laying down with dogs, madness ...

    Quote Originally Posted by jbelkinsii View Post
    1st of all. $2.00 for a digital comic? When I can pre-order from randomonlinesubscriptionservice.com for $1.79? I'm sure that what with lower overhead from little or no materials cost online comics should be more like $0.99.

    2nd. Comics as a whole began to loose readership when they moved out of the grocery store/newsstand market. Eric Larsen in his One Fans Opinion column of Jan. 23, 2010 presents a great argument on how to get those readers back (though I would argue that he is partially wrong in his assertion that it wouldn't work with Savage Dragon, because it seems to work for Judge Dredd).

    3rd. Ummmmm I had a third and fourth points but lost them while I figured out how to link my second point. Maybe later.
    If you'd have told me yesterday that I'd be online agreeing with Augie de Blieck Jr. and Erik Larsen, I'd have looked at you like you'd been puffin' that wacky weed.

    I can say both perspectives present very, very compelling arguments.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbelkinsii View Post
    1st of all. $2.00 for a digital comic? When I can pre-order from randomonlinesubscriptionservice.com for $1.79? I'm sure that what with lower overhead from little or no materials cost online comics should be more like $0.99.
    One thing to consider, though: printing costs only amount for approximately 10% of all overhead in creating a mainstream print comic. Everything else is distribution, retailer discounts, paying the talent, marketing, editors/staff, and then finally the rest is profit.

    Look at it this way: the retailer usually gets a 45-55% cut, and the distributor (aka Diamond) gets a cut as well thought the exact amount here is unknown. Both of these are reduced to only 30% in the digital model.

    However, that only cuts out 35% at best of the total print model pricing system (10% for printing the book, 25% less from retailer discount to the discount taken by Apple, Google, etc). Plus of course whatever Diamond normally takes. That probably, all together, isn't more than 50-60% off the print cover price, if that. Which make a $2 comic more natural.

    I'm with the mobile comics company, Robot Comics, and we sell almost all our comics for $0.99, plus free first issues and bonus issues without fail. We love this pricing scheme, as fans, but as businessmen the pricing is tricky to keep profitable. Especially when speaking of the creators. It's not horrible when you're dealing with a single creator, but for a whole creative team, which comics often require, $0.99 gets split way too many ways and nobody can keep making comics as a profession, only as a hobby.

    And while i understand that Marvel/DC comics pay the creators up front, a) for the forseeable future creators even from Marvel/DC will be getting royalties, not up front payment for digital, and b) if consumers get used to $0.99, then we'll be stuck back in the rut of indie comics having to cost far too much in comparison to the mainstream. Which would be a shame. Digital has the potential to equalize indie and mainstream prices.

    --Dave B.

  14. #14
    Enjoy the silence Comicbookfan's Avatar
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    I have to disagree with Bendis and his Marvel friends. I see the problems being

    1) Cost- No matter where you buy your comics you are paying more than i think you should be paying. If the cost of making a comic has gone up so much than maybe they should cut the fat and get rid of things that frankly just don't sound like are necessary for example...Why the heck dose a COMIC BOOK need and executive producer? what is this person being paid for? And i for one don't need the glossy paper, i can read a comic book just fine with the other paper stock.

    2) Digital is not the end all be all- I've said once I'll say it again, No industry that has gone from physical media to Digital Media has come out stronger at the other end. No Newspaper, NOT Music, Not books NONE I'm sorry you could make it looks as cool as you want. And you can try to brainwash every hipster into thinking they now live in the Jetsons but Digital is not necessarily better and how are these guys doing with paying royalties to creators for digital content so far? I know its shinny and bright but its not the best answer.

    3) Stop! they don't like comics!-This is simple some people just don't like comics. They think comics are little kids stuff plain and simple. You guys Remember that Comic book documentary "Superheroes unmasked". Yeah you remember how the big driving force there seemed to be trying to convince people comics where not just for kids, that comics told mature stories with substance and adult themes? yeah what happened there..where has that gone with all these One More Days and Heroic Ages? You can't have your Cake and Eat it too. You can't on the one hand talk about how Mature you are while at the same time basically running away form difficult stories. You can't just say "Its okay its Magic" and treat you audience like they are stupid and then tell them to stick around because these stories matter.
    I try to get just about every one i know who dose not read comics to read comics and I'm telling you just about every person i try to talk comics to comes back to the same thing in one way or another "They Are for Kids" and its hard to convince them otherwise when they pick up comics that are basically for kids. and I'm not talking about the Marvel Adventures or anything like that. And that stigma is hard to shake believe me. Most people think comics are dumb and nothing but pictures.

    4) New Vs. Status Quo- This is to me one of the hardest things to fight, How do you move stories and character forward and keep fans who love progress and not turn off Fans that just want the same old thing. I love progress i love Married Spider-man and "Dead Is Dead" I hate Recons and Retro Redo. I HATE One More Day Deals with the Devil And Crisis Punches and Wipe outs. I Love Change. So i can only speak for my self here i drop comics FAST when I'm told that something no longer happened and when creators take a cheap way out. But i also know that there are people for whom nostalgia and simple stories are the way they most enjoy comics. This one is Hard and i only add it because it has been one of the main reasons i have stopped buying comics in the past. I spend my money not for collectibles or for the Hot creator. I love the characters i read about, and see their ongoing series as a chronicle of their lives. I think every story matters, Good Or Bad. I would rather see a creator work out a story or find logic in a past story than just wipe it all out. That is why many Marvel Books are no longer on my pull list and why despite some of my problems with his writing Geoff Johns gets more respect from me than any other writer.

  15. #15

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    Not interested in digital 'comics' I've seen this debate grow and it just seems like a very loud minority is trying it's damndest to make their niche the mainstream.
    I've seen more people in my LCS lately and I've not heard a single person even passingly refer to digital 'comics'
    digital 'comics' are a nice market and will likely remain so for a very long time. Printed comics aren't going anywhere.
    And even if they did, I would stop reading them. I've tried reading 'comics' online, previews on this site and others, and it just annoyes the hell out of me.
    I never need to recharge a comic, once I buy it I can re-read it a much as I want and never have to worry about it being deleted, computer viruses won't wipe it out and I can take a comic book anywhere I want and enjoy the hell out of it. Much larger than a screen and I can skip to whatever page I want when I want.

    I don't see any advantage to digital 'comics'.
    "what about cost?" really? $3 for a comic isn't that big of a deal.

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