Skip to main content

Wired: Marvel should venture to digital distribution

This month's Wired Magazine features an article arguing that Marvel and DC should sell digitized versions of old issues online. While venturing into new material online has yet to show how it would be financially advantageous given their manufacturing model, back issues could provide the ideal stepping stone to digital distribution. Of course, that's if they can overcome their corporate-phobia of the Internet. An interesting line:

In 2004, Marvel had net sales of $513 million. Of that, only 16 percent came from comics. The rest was from licensing characters for movies, TV, and toys. In other words, comic books - the actual printed artifacts - have become little more than marketing materials. Scary as that might be for fans, the publishers must have realized it. But it begs the question of why those publishers aren't embracing digital distribution when it could be free and easy evangelizing for the next summer blockbuster.

EXACTLY!

Tim  Demeter's picture

It's all right there.
I've used this analogy before, but I buy Ultimate Spidey monthly, but I get the hard covers too, because I love reading them that way and having easy access. I do this and I'm a pretty discerning customer, and not a collector at all.

Give me Spidey or Bats, or whatever on my iPod and I'll still buy the collection if the quality is there.

Man, imagine this, you go on the iTunes store and there's a gift set of a few episodes of Justice League Unlimited and some JLA comics, packaged together in one download. What a thing that would be for parents' looking to give their kid an iPod with something on it already! (Ladies, that would also be a good way to garner MY affections.)

Hey DC! That's a good idea, and I have more good ideas!

Tim Demeter
Reckless Life

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Clickwheel
GraphicSmash
Bustout Odds

Excellent article but...

Tim  Demeter's picture

...the reason the Bigs aren't doing this right now is the retailers will pitch a fit. Most of us practicing webcomicers know that free content doesn't put a big hurt on the sale of physical merchandise, however, if you don't know jack about online business (and I feel safe in assuming a lot of comic retailers don't) then the idea of readers being able to replace trades or back issues with free, or less expensive, downloadable content is a frightening prospect. (Even though trade sales would likely only ripple and back issues wouldn't budge- people, largely, want those as a collectable, not a piece of entertainment.)

No one's thinking ahead. No one wants upset the current customers, and the current efforts to attract new ones are not working. Some day, this HAS to give. That's when the complete Batman will be on your hard drive, not a long box.

Tim Demeter
Reckless Life

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Clickwheel
GraphicSmash
Bustout Odds

I would guess that trade

Fabricari's picture

I would guess that trade sales would actually increase. They have the benefit of potentially being able to set up a system of direct sales with their preexisting inventory. I imagine, after reading that 4 issue x-men that Silvestri drew, clicking a "buy it now" to get that trade.


Fabricari - Sexy Robots and Violent Cyberpunk Comics

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison