Thursday, June 19, 2008

Paper Comic DeathWatch: What Steve Thinks

The Man Behind VistaNow I know when I come out screaming about the demise of printed comics, it's easy to dismiss my doomsaying as the simple ravings of some nameless peon, because in the big scheme of things, who am I, and why should you value my opinion?

Good point. So, who's opinion would you value?

How about Steve Ballmer, the new number one guy at Microsoft? Seems Steve doesn't think printed media will last very long either...

According to Steve...

In the next 10 years, the whole world of media, communications and advertising are going to be turned upside down -- my opinion.

Here are the premises I have. Number one, there will be no media consumption left in 10 years that is not delivered over an IP network. There will be no newspapers, no magazines that are delivered in paper form. Everything gets delivered in an electronic form.

But Jim! That's Steve Ballmer - what does he know about Print Media? (or good operating systems for that matter...)

See What Money Can Do?Good Question! You're right - to really get a good feel for what the future for Print Media is, you should ask one of the leading authorities on print media, hm...say someone like multimedia mogul Rupert Murdoch...well, as it turns out, Murdoch isn't big on the future of print media either...

This is what Jon Fine, the media reporter for BusinessWeek, had to say about Murdoch's answer to a question abut the future of print media...

When pressed he said that papers had to adjust expectations -- that 30% profit margins were shrinking to 10%, and some may not even survive. News Corp. withdrew a bid for Tribune's (TXA) Newsday, he said, because "I got scared." I was left thinking, good grief. If Rupert Murdoch is writing off a major segment of the American newspaper industry, it's truly time to shut off the lights.

Okay, so you can dismiss me, but can you so easily dismiss Steve Ballmer and Rupert Murdoch?

Why yes, Jim, of course we can. Those guys don't know anything about comicbooks. Comics are doing jusssst fine!

Really? Then why is TokyoPop (who has been heralded as the *Savior!* of comics for the last 5 years) axing pretty much its entire print line and going all digital?

From Heidi MacDonald's The Beat comes this report of TokyoPop's new digital strategy..

...but essentially, nearly all of Tokyopop’s future books will be going straight to web. This wasn’t a case-by-case scenario. Neither I nor any other single creators were singled out. It looks like the whole line of non-licensed material will cease printing and be promoted online only.

But Jim! That's just Manga. We all knew that crap was just a fad anyway, right? American Comics are still selling better than ever!

Why Yes, I am Recycling this graphic...Apparently not - seems that even with Final Crisis 1 (a complete trainwreck) and Secret Invasion 2 to bolster the ranks, that comic books sales were actually DOWN 6% from last May (again from the Beat)

And while everyone is slapping Marvel on the back with the success of Secret Invasion, ONE sharp eyed Beat commenter (Ranald) noticed the same thing I did...

One thing no-one seems to have commented on is the steep 27.1% drop in Secret Invasion sales between the first and second month. For reference, Civil War recorded an 2.7% drop and WWH had a 12.9% drop.

Yes, Secret Invasion is selling better than Final Crisis, but the thing that the pundits have been predicting is coming to pass, and that is the relentless Crossover Events both companies have been relying on to bolster sales were a road to diminishing returns, and they are finally losing momentum. Soon, it's going to be Atlantis Attacks all over again.

So what are they going to do when the Events don't work anymore?

Finally this last little tidbit - you can probably guess that I was upset last week when Steve Jobs didn't come out with an iTablet. Still, a few days after that, I got an email from someone who has listed ways to make the Amazon Kindle more useful. While it ain't an iTablet, these tips make the thing sound a lot more sexy then it did initially. Check it out...

Hack Your Kindle: 100+ Tips, Resources, and Tutorials to Get More Out of the Amazon Kindle

PCDW Point's Round Up:

Ballmer's prediction: 10,000
Murdoch's prediction: 15,000 (he gets +5,000 for the nice Arm Candy)
TokyoPop's print purge: 20,000
Comic Sales Down in May: 5,000

Have a great weekend! I'll see you at HeroesCon Saturday!

I'll be at the Bar at the Westin.

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