Friday, November 4, 2011

Comments on Marvel Going Digital Day & Date

Yesterday, Gizmodo (a tech blog I follow in my google feeds) had an exclusive article that broke the news that by April, Marvel will make all of their published superhero titles available digitally on the same day as they hit the retail shops. 

Now, to be honest, I suspect this move doesn't surprise anyone who is a regular reader of this blog. Once DC did it, we all sort of knew it would only be a matter of time (months) before Marvel followed step.

What I've found the most interesting are some of the comments from comic fans on the news. For the most part readers seem to be very happy with this news (as expected) and the usual Greek chorus of people screaming they will never read digital comics seems no where in sight. There are a few people who have posted some interesting thoughts:

From the iFanboy comments:

WeaklyRoll says:
[ What's next? A ] digital only series...?

gobo says:
Now hopefully Marvel will start doing a wait one 1 month/$1 off price drop

Jdudley says:
Marvel really needs to pull the “drop prices after 4 weeks” move. As of now, it’s completely unclear when the digital price of marvel’s books will go down to 1.99.

I have to imagine it’s a man-hour issue. Going full-line day and date requires quite a few new employees and/or shifting job descriptions. I’d wager that the recent staff layoffs at marvel have something to do with this momentum shift. Still, this is a good milestone for digital. I think that the digital marketplace will HAVE to ultimately force marvel to smaller price points, but that won’t necessarily happen immediately. Once the company is settled into digital releases and slightly less reliance on the sales of increasingly expensive printing… the prices really SHOULD come down.

Nerd_Raaage says:
“…now Marvel have crunched the numbers, and protection of the direct market has given way to desire for more revenue.”

It’s not Marvels responsibility to protect the direct market. Nor do I believe that it was ever their intent. Their responsibility is to maintain their existence and profitability. The best way for them to do that is to maintain their customer base by providing a quality product, at a reasonable price, in the manor that best meets the needs of the customer.

I fully support small businesses…when the relationship is mutually beneficial. The closest ‘local’ comic shop is a two hour drive for me. There is no benefit for me in making that drive to purchase comics or to pay extra and wait a few days on a delivery service.

My thoughts are, yeah, the next step will be a Digital Only comic much like how Marvel had three Direct Sales titles back in the 80's (Micronauts, Moon-Knight and Ka-Zar.)

I also think that we will some eventual price competition between both companies in the digital realm. Eventually, someone is going to figure out how to keep track of the stats of  how things are selling on Comixology - or Comixology will offer up the stats themselves.

Finally, I keep seeing people saying it's silly that digital versions are the same price as the paper versions, and while I too doubt the economics involved in production in both areas could result in similar pricing, I don't think $2.99 is too much to pay for a digital version. For one thing, you don't spend any gas getting it. Also, I'm paying a little bit to avoid the disappointment of going to my comic shop and discovering they didn't order enough copies so I wasted a trip.

Have a great weekend!

- Jim


Trey said...

Good thought about the parallel with those direct sale onlies. Of course, I don't no that those titles were successful in that way, but they did presage the way the whole industry was going.

JimShelley said...

@Trey - Yeah, I was thinking about how successful (or rather unsuccessful the initial Direct Sales titles were.) I'm not up enough on the full history of that period of sales (and there might be something about it on the Jim Shooter Blog) but given that there would have been very few Direct Sales shops at the time, you have to wonder about the wisdom of moving such lower profile titles exclusively to that marketplace. Looking at the history, it worked for the short term, but none of those titles thrived in those conditions.

MattComix said...

In book publishing ereader versions are released in tanden with hardcover and audio as the first round of release (paperback is usually 6 months to a year later). Music is released in stores and on itunes at the same time.

So my reaction is less "holy shit DC and Marvel are digital day and date!" and more "Welcome to standard practice."

GACN said...

Honestly, I'm sort of tired of having to store all of these paper comics. I'd rather have tons of goodies on a personal reader that I can call up. Call me crazy (its okay) but I'd try more comics if I didn't have to buy the paper version. Example: I'm interested in the Spider-Island line, but I don't want the paper; I just want to read the story.

JimShelley said...

@MattComix - yeah, it should have been sooner I think too, but I wonder if the companies weren't reluctant to go this route for some reason. I know Paul Levitz always espoused negative feelings about digital comics.

JimShelley said...

@GACN - Yeah, I'm like you. More and more, it's harder to predict which series will be worth reading, so not having to store the also rans is a nice bonus.


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