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Top Cow do online comics! Will this affect webcomicscene?

On the Top Cow side of Image, Proximity Effect will be released, its first two issues will be released online for free, while the rest will be released with the said issues as a complete graphic novel, for $9.99! (You'll have to read the rest in the link I've put up to understand it)

Wonderful, isn't it?

So what do you think of Top Cow's new venture? And how will this style of market affect online comics?

Will other mainstream companies might go the online comics route?

Top Cow do online comics! Will this affect webcomicscene?

On the Top Cow side of Image, Proximity Effect will be released, its first two issues will be released online for free, while the rest will be released with the said issues as a complete graphic novel, for $9.99! (You'll have to read the rest in the link I've put up to understand it)

Wonderful, isn't it?

So what do you think of Top Cow's new venture? And how will this style of market affect online comics?

Will other mainstream companies might go the online comics route?

Bob Corona's picture

I'm surprised this marketing technique hasn't been done before -- I remember talking about this exact formula five years ago (but obviously not to anyone whose opinion counted ;) ).

If Top Cow publicise this properly, it could reach a lot of new readers, but with content like that, who is it going to appeal to outside of the comic shop regulars? If it's true, as I've read, that sales of issue two of a series are generally 50% of sales of the first issue, then all Top Cow might achieve here is to lose 25% of its potential income on the book.

Regarding impact on webcomics, I don't see it having any. 99% of webcomic readers will never hear about his, and few that do will care. If it's a hit, it will likely impact the print industry more, encouraging publishers to reduce their up-front costs with web previews. I guess if that happens, there would be a blurring of the notional line between the mainstream print industry and webcomics. I don't know if that would be a good thing or a bad thing.

This isn't a webcomic besides the fact they keep terming it one. All this is, is using the internet to give people a preview of a print comic. It should have no effect on webcomics, but if it is successful, will have a lot of effect on traditional comics (IMO).

But still, we can adopt the Top Cow's marketing strategy to our advantage, can't we? We can pick up from what Top Cow's trying to achieve, never mind if they're succesful or not!

Bob Corona's picture

The strategy seems to be: give away x amount of content free, and then charge for the remainder. We do this already at PVComics, where the first episode of each series, and frequent one-offs, are spotlighted for free. In any case, the success of this Top Cow venture will rest not on how effectively they use the medium, but on the fact that they are a big publisher with a core audience, so what works (or doesn't work) for them, may not apply to us. Granted, it's an interesting development, though.

Didn't Marvel dink around with this with their "Dotcomics" system a couple years back?

[quote:3557418daa="RobertoCorona"]give away x amount of content free, and then charge for the remainder. We do this already at PVComics, where the first episode of each series, and frequent one-offs, are spotlighted for free. In any caseI find it interesting, that the same method can be applied to two very different types of consumers. Already webcomic artists offer books for readers, but it'd be interesting if webcomic artists start offering exclusive content in their books, which is something I would personally like. Often I've wanted to buy a comic book from a webcomic I read, but I don't because I don't get any new content. It'd also be interest if print-comics start moving into the more webcomic arena with creating subscriptions to view comics.

I reckon established print comic companies moving to an online only system will be far in the future, mainly because the people they target like holding what they buy in their hand, and don't consider subscription-systems as something that they get a reward from.

Already I see PVComics is moving towards fulfilling the want for something tangible while taking advantage of the low-cost online distribution creates. Offering the 1month comic-bites is a very good way to do this. It makes it so I don't have to subscribe for years to read what I've already "bought".

The way it works (AFAIK) is that if I buy 12 web issues. I'll have access to those web issues forever. I'll be able to log on at ANY time and get those web issues.

Which brings up a question. If I subscribe for 1 year and choose to no longer subscribe for the next year, will I have access to all of that year's web issues?

Bob Corona's picture

Quote:
it'd be interesting if webcomic artists start offering exclusive content in their books, which is something I would personally like. Often I've wanted to buy a comic book from a webcomic I read, but I don't because I don't get any new content.

That's a core plank of the PV Comics strategy. Our regular print books will contain original material by all 12 contributors. These strips will be mostly self-contained episodes of our web series or one-offs that expand on aspects of our web work, but there will be no plot carry-over from web to print or vice versa; you'll be able to enjoy both seperately.

I'll refer the subscription query to Logan, as it's outside my remit to discuss technical aspects of the site.

Thanks :)

Logan's picture

Thanks, Bob!

Quote:
The way it works (AFAIK) is that if I buy 12 web issues. I'll have access to those web issues forever. I'll be able to log on at ANY time and get those web issues.

You hit the nail on the head there. Web Issues are like a one-time, one-month subscription to PV Comics. You can buy that month's entire comic lineup for $2, and it is yours to come back to again and again as long as PV is online. Even better, each Web Issue gives its purchaser a code good for $2 off a full one year subscription to PV - bringing the normal $15 annual subscription price down to $13 for the year. Note that these codes are non cumulative; you can only use one promotional code when subscribing to PV. So no purchasing a bunch of Web Issues and then "cashing them in" for a full subscription in 8 months. :wink:

Quote:
Which brings up a question. If I subscribe for 1 year and choose to no longer subscribe for the next year, will I have access to all of that year's web issues?

As our subscription model stands right now, no. A one year subscription grants you full access to all PV Comics for a set 365 day duration, at which time you will be contacted to re-subscribe if you like. If you don't, you no longer have access to the subscriber only section of PV (but of course can still freely read our free archives and new free stories).

I have to admit, you've raised an excellent point about the longevity of Web Issues compared to a full subscription, and I'll be looking into the possibility of allowing continued access to past year's Web Issues for full subscribers in the future.

Hope that answered everything - if I can be of any more help, don't hesitate to ask! :D

Thanks for clearing that up Roberto and Logan :)

[quote:7568b8896c="LoganPV"]As our subscription model stands right now, no. A one year subscription grants you full access to all PV Comics for a set 365 day duration, at which time you will be contacted to re-subscribe if you like. If you don't, you no longer have access to the subscriber only section of PVAn interesting system. I have one of two choices, I can either shell out $15 for a subscription, or, for an extra $9 I can have access to the same material (albeit not as soon as a subscription system) forever.

[quote:7568b8896c="LoganPV"]I'll be looking into the possibility of allowing continued access to past year's Web Issues for full subscribers in the future.I don't know if it needs to be fixed. The subscrption model is pretty good for both you and users. The advantages and disadvantages to it are:
* The user continues to pay for the bandwidth they use (which is good for you)
* The user gets access to new comics on a weekly basis which is good for them
* The user saves $9 on the same amount of material as someone who only buys web issues.
* As time passes, the cost for accessing "back issues" becomes increasingly less and less when compared to the web issue model. Subscriptions don't only allow access to new material, like the web issues do (unless you buy back issues) but it allows "free" access to old material as well.
* The 1 disadvantage being that if I cut off my subscription I lose access to the content.
* It encourages people to keep a subscription up.

However the web issue model also has it it's advantages for everyone.
* More money for you in the longterm which is good.
* If you get many "once off" buyers and they access their comics on a regular basis (unlikely of course, but for the sake of discussion ;)) then ultimately you lose ultimately in the bandwidth cost.
* The advantage is it fulfills a need the internet typically doesn't. People like to be able to get something tangible that is there's forever, that they've bought. Subscriptions often don't have this, making them feel like they're "renting" the content and if they don't keep paying rent they'll lose access.
* A disadvantage is it costs an extra $9, but this is something people won't be too upset about on average.
* A disadvantage is the cost for back-issues will continue to be the same. This will give more incentive for the subscription model as you get back issues for free.

I think the two models are fairly balanced, and as time passes I'm sure you'll create "year issues" where someone can buy a whole year's worth of web issues for a reduced price. Assuming PV Comics lasts that long ;)

If you wanted to offer more incentive for subscribers, you could have a "coupon" for 12 web issues, or you could have a "subscribers discount" on web issues, etc, etc.

As someone who doesn't like to rent and distrusts the internet a lot, I find the web issue model very interesting and attractive :)

Of course, *cough cough* many companies are making simple "the first (or last) one is free" offers...

Re: Top Cow do online comics! Will this affect webcomicscene

[quote:0ab783faee="Rebelsun"] Proximity Effect
I didn't know Cloak And Dagger started a band.

I figure it'll be the same small group of comics nerds who would buy the thing normally plus some curious webcartoonists reading it. Then the sales will remain what they would have been anyway because no one reads comics anymore.

Logan's picture

Quote:
Thanks for clearing that up Roberto and Logan :)

No problem at all! It's what I'm here for, really. :wink:

Quote:
I think the two models are fairly balanced...

Thanks! You really summed up all of the finer points of the two subscription options perfectly. But I really want to stress that we never envisioned Web Issues as being more than an introductory sample of a full subscription. The fact that right now they have more of a perceived value because of their longevity is really an unexpected side-effect of the way our ecommerce system was created, not the byproduct of my marketing genius. :wink:

While this is the way the system stands for now, I am absolutely looking into the viability of making all Web Issues released during a subscriber's paid time a permanent addition to their account - so that even if they decide not to subscribe again, the time they paid for will remain "theirs" to go back to again and again, if they wish. In my opinion, they paid for it, and it's only fair. When and if we are able to put this into effect, it will of course be retroactive, and our current subscribers will be given the Web Issues due them.

Quote:
As someone who doesn't like to rent and distrusts the internet a lot, I find the web issue model very interesting and attractive :)

And I'd like to thank you - I sincerely mean it when I say that this is the single highest praise I think we've ever gotten. This is more important than any press review or top 10 list could ever be - words of praise about what we're doing from a satisfied reader. :D

[quote:e5e10d36ce="TCampbell"]Of course, *cough cough* many companies are making simple "the first (or last) one is free" offers...

Oh, absolutely, T! Believe me, when the PV Illuminati started kicking around our plans and business model a year ago, we discussed all of the options for launching PV, and of course the tried and true tested plans like those used by Graphic Smash and the rest of the MT family were a possible way for us to go. But we tweaked our delivery schedule, episode pagecount, and subscription rate until we had what we think is a unique way to do online comics subscriptions.

Neither way is the "right " way to do what we're doing - both business models are perfectly viable, enjoyable, and user friendly. And the best part is that there is a big, wide internet out there with a lot of people enjoying comics, and I wish nothing but success for every creator who burns the midnight oil to put his work online. :)

Pv Comics is the bomb diggity! but enough of the webcomics places selflessly promoting themselves-- hehehehe--

Back to the topic at hand-- like someone else said, Top Cow is pretty much just using the web to get you into the comic book. This has been done for years with indy comics-- like ONiPress, etc.. Nothing new to me really. It will only help people move to the web though, kinda ween those pamplet readers to the web way. Yay!