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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Online Comics QUESTIONS

I get e-mails:

Lacking for material to write about? No, of course not. But I'd be interested in your take on this subject. Do you think Cory Doctorow is right?

The main point of the story, titled "Boom! comics' new series available as downloads on the same day as in stores" is that "comics publishers should -- at a minimum -- put up downloadable comics after they disappear from the stands, so that people who are coming to the serial after it starts can catch up. The trade paperbacks help here, but usually there's a 2-3 issue gap between the collection and the singles."

Well, I have no idea. In my days of retailing comics (1980-88 and again in the early 1990s), the business model was very different. I do know that a customer coming in in the middle of a story was/is maddening. I do know that dealing with back issue comics was often a pain. But does the online page of back issues solve the problem?

There seems to be an overriding premise in the piece that almost everything that comes out as singles (his term) or floppies will turn up in book form eventually, which I don't believe to be true, any more than every TV show eventually coming out on DVD.

I also don't buy the premise that the "publisher could spend approximately $0.00 and post downloadable singles 30 days or even 60 days after they hit the stands." To do a quality job online does not cost nothing, assuming you have to pay someone to do it. And what of the creative team? How are they getting paid for this, beyond the flat page rate? Or should it just be considered "promotional? (Shades of the AMPTP!)

I would really like to know, from comics collectors and especially retailers: does the online model stimulate new readers, and more importantly, new spenders, or are folks just reading product online for free? What is the general quality of the existing products - easy to use or not? Of readable quality or full of eyestrain? What's the best of the current crop, and what's a must to avoid?
Last weekend, the Wall Street Journal gave a plug for HowToons, an interesting site. It does have a link to a book for sale on Amazon, but I don't know how else it makes money, if in fact it does.


1 comment:

Alan David Doane said...

Free, downloadable comics are an amazing promotional tool, for good comics. I can't tell you how many comics I have sampled at "the favoured store," only to then spend like a madman catching up on their real-world counterparts.

But the comics actually have to be good.

You can't equate it with music, really, because digital technology allows you to approximate the exact experience of owning a CD pretty much with 100 percent accuracy, if you take the time and energy to seek out high-quality downloads.

But for comics, if the comics I download are good, I tend to follow up with a purchase virtually 100 percent of the time.