I think what most people don't get, is that comic book stores are not just LCS', but also the marketing arm of comic books themselves. Without them, sales of comics are going to fall even lower than they already have done in this economy. Where is Comixology going to advertise after the last LCS closes its doors? As a banner ad on Amazon? Do you really think that Amazon wants Comixology cutting into their TPB sales?
Sure, DC does the occasional commercial on G4 for something like the relaunch of the 52, but again are they going to mention Comixology in their ad to pull sales away from the print version? (The answer to this is definitely, 'no' from the ad I saw.) Not to mention that DC advertising on G4 hits only a certain amount of viewers since DirectTv doesn't carry the station.
Then there is the price of digital vs. paper comics. Why would I pay the same price for a digital comic that I pay for paper? Paper is a collectible. It appreciates or depreciates in value depending on condition, rarity, popularity, etc. Digital comics just take up hard drive space, AND the price usually falls after a couple of months time. Now if you were able to get a free digital copy when you bought your paper copy, that would work. Only a moron pays full price for something intangible that costs mere pennies to produce.
As for the whole music industry comparison going on here in this thread, CD's are still roughly the same price they were 10 years ago when this whole thing started. The revolution was being able to buy a single song off of an otherwise crappy CD without having to pay for the whole CD. Since most albums pretty much contained a few good songs and lots of bad ones (a 'quality control' issue in the music industry for a few decades), this freed people to buy what they liked, and not what they were forced to buy as a package. Music stores couldn't exist by selling single songs at $.99 a pop, so they went bust. A comic book issue is a package deal that can't be split up into individual songs, and since the digital version isn't going for a lower price than the collectible print version it's honestly a no brainer as to what version to buy given the same price point.
Comic book stores are in a collectibles market. It's quite a bit different than record shops. A collectibles market ebbs and flows with the economy, and while a new technology may take out a few of the crappier stores out there (mainly the ones without back issues and horrible customer service) I honestly don't see digital comics replacing paper comics in the collectibles market.
I still don't understand why I, as a customer, would want to go through the LCS to buy a digital comic, especially if it will cost as much as a physical copy. I don't mind digital comics at all, but what I like best about them is the convenience in addition to the lack of space that they take up. Take away the convenience and they become less desirable. The price would definitely need to come down at that point.
I am really disappointed by the industry. I want to know who are these people who want to pay current price for comicbook entertainment online. The LCS experience is what has kept me buying comics. Taking time out of my day, to be in environment dedicated to subject that I love, is what keeps me in. I read previes on here at CBR and at other sites all of the time. Digital just doesnt feel right. Paying for it, feels even less right.
Its really different from eating homemade food from the store, and going through a drive window for some fastfood. One sustains you, and the others makes you wonder what you bought after five minutes.
I hated Wizard and I cant stand crappy LCS, but if we look at the big picture, both of these things increase the exposure of comics. When a parent ask me where a local comicbook store is, and if the closest one I can tell them is 30 miles away, then that book is not going to get bought. I rather send them to a substandard store, and have that kid with a few comics in his hand, than frustrated with no place to go.
The sad thing about online purchases, is that the customer only buys what they are looking for, and nothing else. We all have been to the LCS, looking to buy 2 books, and leaving with 8.
The overwhelming point I was seeing from the original article is the fact of how comixology seems to be acting like a rather obnoxious force, in this equation in particular. Personally from trying their service on Android, I found their interface to be clunky and unpleasant to use.
The main issue seems to be the attempt by Comixology to ignore, skirt around and screw over the LCS', which, if they went under would be an enormous blow to the entire industry. As a fairly recent comic buyer (last two years) I have spent a large amount of money in my excellent LCS (Sub-City, Ireland) and definitely attribute this to how much I enjoy the entire experience, getting to know the staff, receiving recommends from them and most of all never feeling pressured to buy (and encouraged to come in to merely say hello.) I can understand the flipside argument for sure, Forbidden Planet Dublin is mostly staffed by unpleasant staff who are generally rather unhelpful. That said having one excellent LCS for every five terrible is more than worth it and damning the LCS industry to failure because of these bad shops would mean the loss of the excellent ones as well!
What did you think was going to happen if the test was successful? That they'd shut it down unless you guys gave permission to expand it? Nothing you say DC told you was a promise not to change the business model Things changed faster than anybody expected. Blame Jobs and Bezos; those greedy bastards provided products and services consumers wanted!We were absolutely assured in these private conversations, that day-and-date was a limited test, and we have been assured, both privately and publicly, that we are DC's primary channel and that our concerns are absolutely essential to them.
Because that's what direct market customers responded too, and direct market retailers applauded. The direct market, in no small part due to the behavior of many LCS operators, changed comics from a mainstream product to a niche product targeting adolescent males of all ages. The DM/LCS let a lot of good things happen in smaller publishing niches, but it got a chokehold on the system and slowly strangled it.Anyone with a bare lick of sense can see that the largest single reason for declining sales in PUBLISHER BEHAVIOR, putting out material that is too expensive, to unfriendly to casual consumers, and too tied-in to other products to stand alone.
I remember quite clearly being at a Diamond retailer meeting well over a decade ago, and making a push to move the onsale date for comics back to the weekend from mid-week. I commented that the shipping change had greatly reduced the family visits to the comic shop, the dad bringing the kids in on Saturday afternoon, and actually reduced shopping time, with working customers just popping in to pick up books on Wednesday afternoons, brief stops on the way home from work, little browsing, etc. The DC folks were interested; it didn't seem like an unfamiliar idea to them/ But the response from other LCS operators was mostly negative. They didn't really care about the effects on demand or customer habits. It was only about the not-so-important logistical and mechanical troubles they expected. Nothing they did influenced customer behavior (not even turning their stores into mancaves that mothers and children were uncomfortable being in. The DM/LCS was seriously dysfunctional, and the publishers' attempts to cater to it were self-destructive. Partners in anorexia and self-mutilation. There were exceptions, but not enough.
Just like Kindles and ebooks have done exceedingly little to support the book market.Day-and-date digital will do exceedingly little to "expand the market" -- that's done by stores like mine being visible in our communities and exposing hundreds of "civilians" new to comics each and every week why this medium is so stellar.
Well, you're in a lousy bargaining position, and you have to deal with it. And how many times have we heard this before? Marvel's going to open a Marvel Store in my neighborhood and steal my business. Geppi's got all my sales data, he can just open one of his stores down the block now, he knows what to sell in my market. Ad nauseam. Be thankful you've actually got access to what's being offered in a reasonably fair system rather than being reduced to an Amazon or iTunes affiliate. Be very thankful DC's pricing doesn't reflect the standard ebook pricing structure. It's not like DM/LCS operators tried to create or support an alternative.what we're "bitching" about is a contract that says (effectively): we have the right to harvest your customer data, unilaterally kick you off our service, then market directly to those customers.
The experience of reading something digitally is not the same as reading something on a piece of paper.
There's a psychological difference. The experience isn't the same.
Reading something digitally tends to be a fundamentally superficial experience. When you read something on a screen (especially a backlit screen), you tend to remember less of it.
Studies have proven this (look into the work of Douglas Rushkoff and Nicholas Carr). People were tested on reading comprehension and memorization after reading something digitally, and their scores were consistently lower than when they read something on a piece of paper.
On the other hand, I definitely think a lot of comic artwork looks better on a backlit screen. Too bad an iPad screen is smaller than a comic page. I'm not anti-digital. I love digital. I read digital stuff all the time. I read digital comics. But all you digital utopians drive me nuts, insisting that "there's no difference" between reading something digitally and reading it on paper.
If you don't notice that digital reading tends toward more superficial experiences, it probably means that your reading comprehension has already been dumbed down so much that you can't notice the difference anymore.
When I read a real comic that's printed on paper, the experience is obviously more "special". The experience seems to "last" and stay with me far longer than when I bring up a digital comic and click my way through it. Seriously, none of you digital utopians notice this? Are you all on consciousness-dampening drugs or something? Have you been diagnosed with any mental impairments? How can you guys not notice the difference? I can only conclude that your attention spans and reading aptitudes have been lowered somehow.
And this is not some touchy-feeling argument I'm making. I'm not talking about "the smell of the paper" or anything like that. I'm talking about cold hard quantifiable evidence. MANY studies have been done on this. Digital reading comprehension scores are demonstrably lower in every study.
As someone who has to read and proofread a LOT of material everyday--and oversee other people who do the same--it's unquestionable that digital readings don't have the depth that paper readings have. Seriously, have any of you ever had to proof-read an essay for school or college? Everyone who does that knows that you notice more spelling mistakes when you print the essay out and read it that way. You also can get "into" the material more when you print it out.
You guys are throwing away deep reading experiences because you're not even able to understand what a deep reading experience is anymore.
Yes, absolutely. Except it's too bad that we've raised a generation and a half now who don't even understand what "local" is anymore, so they have no idea how to value it. It's like they're subconsciously trained to love "global" and glance suspiciously at "local". They're defamiliarized from their surroundings. Their culture is artificial and doesn't impact their souls--as if they didn't have souls to begin with, or as if they didn't know they had souls, or know how to feel their souls and perceive that the people around them were real living beings with souls as well. These people only care about getting their digital drug as soon as possible, and they'd sell out their entire community to get it. They'll feel no guilt about local farmers/workers/LCS's going out of business, because they've been trained to simply say "Well that's progress. It's not my fault."Originally Posted by Brian Hibbs
They clamor for digital comics, but that's not enough for them. They want digital comics at $0.99. They don't fully understand what it means--or what the ramifications are--to reduce the value of a comic, but they want comics to be reduced in value, in every sense of the word. They want to roll back the cost of a comic to pre-1990 levels, even though a buck in 1990 had much more buying power than it does today. But they see no problem here, no disjuncture in logic. All they can do is repeat the mantra that they think "$0.99 is a good price because comics used to cost a buck."
And if you ask them, they'll tell you that they hardly ever even reread their comics anymore. They just want that constant stream of "the new"--their new digital drug--every week. And if you ask them, these are people who hardly even remember what they read anymore. Listen to their podcasts. Half of their conversations are about how they can't remember exactly what happened in the books they read that week. Some of them admit that they have to do their podcasts within three days of reading a comic, because otherwise they'll forget all about it. They often say, with each forthcoming issue, that they don't even remember what happened in the previous issue. They're literally losing their ability to remember, and their ability to think critically, but they don't really even seem to notice this or to mind. "Oh well, that's just the way it goes. I can't remember anything anymore or read anything with a critical eye. You know what I need? More digital drugs that will help me remember even less."
This is the future, and it does seem inevitable. People whose attention spans have been compressed into nothing, who feel no guilt about destroying the industry they're addicted to. They don't value the industry but they're addicted to it, so they'll tear it down in the name of some sort of "progress", which in the end will leave them in a complete cultural wasteland. But by then they'll be too dumbed down to notice.
Last edited by DarkBeast; 08-26-2011 at 10:12 PM.
So the paper experience lasts longer for you. Good, do what works for you. For me, there isn't much difference. I've been bouncing back and forth on Arkham City between print chapters and digital chapters and >gasp< I remember what happens in all of them. What the frig?
Without wanting to sound self-glorifying, I read the New York Times daily on my iPad, I read the Atlantic and the Economist weekly on it, and I'm making my way through War and Peace at the moment. Pray tell, what reading experiences should I engage in to reduce the superficiality of what I read on it?
I don't read comics for the medium they're in. I don't read them for the venue I purchase them in. I READ THEM FOR THE STORIES. If I buy a print version or a digital version, the story is EXACTLY the same. Actually, not true, the story is actually a bit better on the digital version because it's not interrupted with ads every 2 pages.
I am all for the continuation of the printed form of comics if people want to buy them. I've spent decades reading a ton of comic stories in that format, and I've spent many thousands of dollars on it. I'm very excited to be able to make the switch to digital though. Grant Morrison and Greg Rucka will still be writing those stories, Jim Lee and Frank Quitely will still be drawing them (in theory). I just won't have to deal with the stuff involved in dealing with my LCS. If you enjoy it, power to you. I hope you continue to do it for many years. DC's sales totals are pathetically low at this point, and begrudging them trying to find a new venue to sell their stories, when the other options are fewer titles and higher prices just seems very short-sighted. If I'm gonna be completely honest, I'd rather have a few LCSs fail and the industry survive in new forms than have the industry fail and all the LCSs along with it.
I've asked my LCS to sign up for this service.
I will be buying comics through Comixology as soon as I get a tablet, no later than Christmas. Some of these will be New 52 books I'm willing to wait a month for to get a discount. Some of these will be "sale books" offered at a particularly great price. Some of these will be books that pique my interest but my LCS may not stock, and I'm not willing to wait two weeks or so to get it.
Without this service, my LCS doesn't see a dime of that money.
With this service, they get fifteen to thirty percent of that money.
I understand the misgivings you have about the deal, Brian. But in a situation like the one I just described, do you think it's rational for a retailer to leave money on the table?
(If I'm wrong and there are such studies, feel free to quote them.)
As for Hibbs column, I found his criticisms to be unusually vague (unusual for him). His problem doesn't seem to be about the money. At the moment, ComiXology doesn't allow retailers to create a custom, curated digital storefront. Right now the storefront is generic, giving customers no reason not to just go to ComiXology.com once the retailer has introduced customers to the service. And there's no promise that ComiXology won't in fact actually encourage that behavior by marketing directly to the retailers' customers. The custom curation issue is a software problem that they've indicated they will address, but it will likely take a while, and one can't be certain it will ever happen. As for the issue of marketing to the retailers' customers directly, that's a concern ComiXology could address immediately by changing their terms... if they so chose. I wish they would. I think more shops would get onboard if they did.
Comics reader since 1974. Now purchasing 100% of my comics digitally.