Tag Archives: digital sales

Graphic.ly, iOS 5 and Newsstand Could Be a Raw Deal For Comic Book Fans and Publishers

This week saw the latest update to the Apple operating system dubbed iOS 5.  The latest software update brought numerous software improvements and new features like the magazine subscription feature called NewsstandGraphic.ly, one of the numerous digital comic services out there was quickly to hop onto the latest technology.

Graphicly is proud to announce that many of its leading digital comics titles, including The Walking Dead, Invincible and Irredeemable are now available on Newsstand, a key feature of the newly released iOS 5. By working with leading publishers, including Image Comics and BOOM! Studios, Graphicly is making it even easier to subscribe to some of the best comic books on the market.

Utilizing Newsstand in iOS5, Graphicly is able to deliver comics directly to readers without the need for downloading additional applications and searching for titles. Now readers can easily browse for and subscribe to their favorite titles in the Newsstand, and have new issues delivered to their devices immediately. New titles will be released the same day as print and delivered seamlessly to users. This is a bold new way for readers to discover and enjoy stories, making it easier than ever to never miss an issue.

“The leading publishers and creators understand that developing a relationship with their fans is the most important thing,” said Micah Baldwin, CEO of Graphicly. “Newsstand ensures that relationship continues and grows each time a comic is released.”

The titles launched on the Apple Newsstand, powered by Graphicly, and available immediately include such hit comic books as:
• The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard from Image Comics
• Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen, from Image Comics
• Irredeemable by Mark Waid and Peter Krause from BOOM! Studios
• Invincible by Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley from Image Comics
• Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma from Image Comics
• Near Death by Jay Faerber and Simone Guglielmini from Image Comics

Graphicly has partnered with the top publishers to ensure individual comics are released for purchase on a regular schedule.

It’s that last part that gave me pause.  Let me highlight it:

Graphicly has partnered with the top publishers to ensure individual comics are released for purchase on a regular schedule.

That’s a rather odd item to throw into a press release and why is it important?  Here’s how the service works.

  1. Purchase the App – this is new.  While old comic book programs were free and PDFs on iBooks is free, the apps right now.  As you can see, currently that’s $2.99 out of your pocket JUST FOR THE APP.  Though Irredeemable from BOOM! Studios is listed as $1.99 for the APP.
  2. There’s a $1.99 a month charge (yay cheaper than print) and back issues are available without $1.99 and just with the initial $2.99 purchase.  But there’s mention of $8.99 for bundles.  That’s a bit confusing right there.  So, what’s included in a bundle?  Not quite sure but it sounds rather odd.
  3. Each month, you will be charged another $1.99 for the newest issue and you must cancel the subscription at least 24 hours before the end of the current period.

So here’s where I see this all going bad with the current production habits of comic book publishers and how comic book digital readers may get screwed.

  • A publisher misses a month – remember that quote about them working the make sure issues come out on time?  That $1.99 monthly auto-charge is why.  They miss a month, tough shit, as a reader, you’re charged.  Now, they can fix this by always being a month behind to “bank” an issue.  But, if 11 issues come out in a year, you’re still missing out on one and there goes your $1.99. – Loser – Customer
  • Currently there is no way to “own your purchases” – remember, most digital comics are licensed.  You want to use that new HP tablet, no porting the purchased comics for you! – Loser – Customer
  • A publisher double ships – there’s now no incentive for a publisher to release two comics a month.  They’d lose out because all you’ve purchased as a customer is the $1.99 a month. – Loser – Publisher
  • Special $1 issues – A publisher decides to sell a comics for $1, congrats you just bought it for $1.99. – Loser – Customer
  • A steal at $1.99 – Comics today are a bit more than $1.99, remember DC holds the line at $2.99.  So will all of these be cheaper? – Loser – Publisher, Winner – Customer
  • A series is cancelled – Do I still have to pay $1.99 a month to access my comics?
  • Yet more apps to manage – More apps = more space. Each time an app service is made for a specific company or series, I die a little inside – Loser – Everyone

The terms of service for Graphic.ly even muddles the idea of subscriptions further.  From their website:

Certain Products may be available for download on a subscription basis. A subscription includes all currently available (if any) and future issues of a Product (“Subscription”). Not all Products may be available by Subscription. We will charge you the full price of a Subscription when you subscribe. Such Subscription is non-refundable; except that, if a publisher delivers fewer issues for a Subscription than specified through the Service at the time of your payment transaction), we will credit to your Account an amount equal to the pro-rated price of the Subscription.

So, do I get the back issues with the App purchase?  Seems like a bad deal for publishers.  And what’s with the mention of $8.99 and $9.99 bundles in the description of the App?  Though the terms for BOOM!’s entry for Irredeemable is different, with no mention of back issue bundles.  Looking around a the various Apps available, some mention the amount and others don’t.

While I applaud the overall move and quick implementation of the new technology, there’s still a lot of questions to be answered.  We’ll be following up with Graphic.ly at New York Comic Con this weekend to hopefully get answers.

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Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 Breaks Digital Comics Record!

Official Press Release

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 Breaks Digital Comics Record!

This week, the world met Miles Morales in the pages of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 – and loved it!! And as a result of Miles’ worldwide attention, fans new and old flocked to the Marvel Comics app for iOS devices, resulting in the best first day of sales for a new release to date! The relaunch of Ultimate Comics,  the genre-defining imprint for a new generation fans, has everyone buzzing and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 is the latest salvo to set the world on fire!

“I am completely humbled by the support and success of Mr. Miles Morales in both print and digital” said writer, Brian Michael Bendis. “Nothing frustrates an author more than his work not being able to get into the hands of the people that want it, and now with the Marvel Comics app we can!”

“We’ve been doing the day and date comics for about a year now since the launch of Ultimate Comics Thor #1, and each subsequent release has not only seen increased sales within the app, but we’ve also seen a great trend in which the print comic reorders increase exponentially,” added David Gabriel, SVP of Sales. “We’ve been pushing to make Ultimate Comics Spider-Man our top release to date, and the results we’ve seen both here and in print certainly show us that we’re heading in the right direction.”

Haven’t jumped into the Ultimate Comics Universe yet? Well there’s no better time than now! Learn all about how a regular kid from Brooklyn will soon learn an all new meaning of power and responsibility, courtesy of superstar creators Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli. So what are you waiting for True Believer? Head to the Marvel Comics App and see what everyone is talking about, today!

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1 Miles Variant

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A holiday weekend just makes it that much shorter a work week, and that means we’re closer to SPX!  But, before that comes there’s a signing with Roger Langridge at Big Planet Comics in Vienna, VA.  It’s gonna be a fun week!  While I count down the days until fun, here’s the news you might have missed.

Around the Blogs:

The Beat – “Indie” Month-to-Month Sales: June and JulyAlways interesting to see what sells, especially for indie comics.

The Mary Sue – Jim Lee Says Justice League #1 Is “Setting Records” Digitally… but Won’t Quote Actual RecordsI think it’s past time we needed a digital sales chart…

Death and Taxes – Rick Perry’s Superman Love Reveals GOP’s Anachronistic Policies – I get a feeling Rick Perry doesn’t know Superman all too well.

Con Coverage:

MTV Geek – Dragon-Con 2011: The Next Generation

MTV Geek – Dragon-Con 2011: Cartoons Come to Life!

Poptimal – San Diego Comic-Con: An Interview with Mark Dos Santos

MTV Geek – Dragon-Con 2011: DC Comics Cosplay Photos

Around the Tubes Reviews:

Ultimate Comic Books Online – The Amazing Spider-Man #668

Primary Ignition – Brightest Day, Vol. 3

Suite 101 – The Three Musketeers: Campfire

Comics and MP3s

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Warren Ellis has an interesting article about digital comics and their potential affect on comic books and how they’re written.  Currently, most books are written for trade.  The entire story is really read over a five issue story arc (might be longer, might be shorter), but the days of being able to pick up a comic and read a self-contained story have long passed, though there’s still times when this happens (usually when a bridge issue between two story arcs is needed).  Ellis’s belief is that comic books will go through a change, like music.

Music at one time was enjoyed as an album.  You’d listen through every song as they told a complete story or followed musical transitions and flowed together.  Today music is geared towards the single song.  The days of the concept album or story album are mostly gone, but when they happen we praise them as if suddenly discovering a long thought extinct species.  What Ellis doesn’t take into account is the single wasn’t an advent of iTunes and MP3s, but really due to radio and the need for hit singles.  But, the introduction of easy to download single tracks has absolutely speed up the process.

Doing some search online, I found the below graphic from 2009 looking at sales of individual songs digitally, album digital sales and cd sales.

Digital sales have gone from $2.6 billion in 2006 to an estimated $14..8 billion in 2011.  You can see in the graph above, the increase in digital album sales has made up for the drop in physical album sales, but, the volume of digital single sales has exploded over the same time period.  It’s understandable why the focus on what to release has changed, from a full solid album, to one with a few hits.  The single is clearly ruling.  But, will we see a similar shift in digital comics?

We’d need to see a full release on what people are buying to figure out the actual trend.  Are people purchasing single issues here and there and not full runs?  If so, we might see a similar shift in how stories are written.  Gone will be the days of epic, multi-issue stories, replaced with self contained single issues.

comiXology Launches Comics by comiXology 3.0

Official Press Release

Accelerated app speed and load times with redesigned user interface provides new discoverability options for comics on demand

New York, NY - August 25th, 2011 - Comic fans everywhere now have new special powers with comiXology’s launch of Comics by comiXology 3.0 – a major upgrade of its award-winning digital Comics App for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Comics by comiXology 3.0 builds on its success by empowering readers with a new sleek user interface and store, bolstered comic discoverability paths, and increased speed – getting users from opening the app to discovering comics they’ll love in record time.

Expanding its library of partners and content weekly, comiXology 3.0 gives users the ability to explore, discover and read more than 12,000 digital comic and over 600 free comics from more than 30 publishers, including Marvel Comics and DC Comics. Using Comics by comiXology 3.0, fans will now be able to leverage dedicated, weekly updated featured screens for publishers, series, genres and creators to explore and discover great comics.

Comics by comiXology 3.0 launches nearly instantaneously with access to an on-demand comic store, dramatically reducing app load times and allowing users to get directly to reading or browsing comics.

Purchasing and downloading comics through comiXology has never been easier than in 3.0.

For the first time,readers can pause and restart individual downloads to prioritize downloading. In addition, comics now continue to download in the background, allowing users to queue up comics that will complete downloading whether or not the app is open. “Purchases” now has its own tab so users can always find their comics for quick and easy download without cluttering the “My Comics” area.

“With the help of tons of user feedback from our loyal fans, we thought long and hard on how we focus our development efforts, “ said David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology.  “We’ve always said we focus first on a quality reading experience, and second on discoverability of comics. Comics 3.0 is a fantastic step in how our customers can discover new comics while creating a great performance boost for earlier devices that have struggled under the weight of our 12,000 comics.”

New features and benefits of 3.0 include:

  • Completely redesigned application
  • Near instant launching
  • Separate “Purchases” area that displays all owned comics
  • New series groupings in store and “My Comics”
  • Discover comics at much faster speeds
  • Pause and prioritize downloads
  • Background downloading
  • Improved “Instant Search”
  • Buy or continue reading the next issue at the end of a comic

Comics by comiXology 3.0 will also include many mainstay features that have made it an iPad Hall of Fame app, like comiXology‘s patent-pending Guided View™ Technology with a wide variety of viewing options and preferences, enabling them to set transition speeds, page orientations and much more.

comiXology Goes Live With Over 100 Comics Stores Through Their Retailer Digital Storefronts Program

Official Press Release

Comic Stores Can Now Prosper From the Sale of Digital Comics From Top Comic Publishers

New York, NY- August 23th, 2011 – comiXology in partnership with ICv2, today launched over 100 online storefronts to sell digital comics as a result of its Digital Storefront program for retailers.  Participating comic retailers have gone live with their deployment of a comiXology-powered store and reader, enabling them to prosper from the sale of digital comics from top comic publishers, including DC Comics, Image, BOOM! Studios, Dynamite and many more. Also, in conjunction with DC and their Relaunch, all participating retailers will be able to sell all the same day as print comics.

Announced in January, the Digital Storefront program enables retailers the ability to sell digital comics with a simple integration into their existing site while tapping into comiXology’s vibrant digital marketplace. Any comic book fan will now be able to purchase digital comics online from their local comic store’s digital storefront with a portion of each purchase going directly to the retailer. All digital purchases will be compatible with the Comics by comiXology platform, providing fans the ability to enjoy their comics on their mobile devices (iOS and Android) and on the Web at their retailer’s websites by way of cross-platform synchronization.

“These retailers have put their trust in us from day one and we’re excited to make good on our commitment to bring them into the vibrant digital marketplace leveraging comiXology’s technology as a backbone for their success,” said David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology. “We have been working hard with our retail and publishing partners to make this program a reality for the benefit of the comic industry and take pride in starting to see it come to fruition.  We look forward to continuing on this important initiative and celebrating its success with all our partners.”

comiXology’s participating publishers DC Comics, Image, BOOM! Studios, Dynamite benefit from comiXology’s Digital Storefront Affiliate program through wider distribution on the Web and by strengthening the relationships between publishers, comic stores, and fans that have so successfully made comics a major force in world culture.

“Our deployment with comiXology as part of its Digital Storefront program for retailers marks the beginning of our introduction into the digital comic book world, which we believe will open up new revenue streams while strengthening our relationship with publishers and consumers,” said Chris Niles of Legacy Comics.  “From the adoption of its Retailer Tools and Pull List services, we’ve taken a long journey with comXology into the digital marketplace which culminated with the deployment of a comiXology-powered digital storefront and reader – making us one-stop shop for both print and digital comics.”

To request more information about the Digital Storefront Affiliate program, retailers can visit: http://retailers.comixology.com/digital_form/

About comiXology
Since 2007 comiXology has been developing the technological infrastructure to bring comics into the digital mainstream and expose new audiences to the rich history and culture of the industry. Through partnerships with top comic book publishers including Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Archaia Entertainment, BOOM! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment and Image Comics as well as their own mobile and web apps which hosts over 12,000 digital titles, comiXology has become a leader in digital comic book proliferation. Also focused on creating strong ties with retail stores through its technology solutions, comiXology continues to transform the previously fragmented comic ecosystem into a vibrant and cohesive marketplace.

Digital vs Reality, Where Comicshop.net Gets it Wrong

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In an article posted yesterday ComicShop.net responded to another article about digital sales, brick and mortar stores and the habits of bloggers for not quoting facts.  The article spends the first half attacking bloggers while the second glosses over the bigger issue of digital sales versus real world retail.

When comic blogs speculate about the doom of shops as the digital option increases, they either refer to each other’s blogs as evidence. Or worse they lazily use the “some people say” method where they don’t have to actually cite anything, but speculate openly as if that all that’s being talked about on the street or in the square.

The generalization might be the case for the sites writer Chris visits, but he himself throws out statistics and makes assumptions in this article which aren’t “fact” either.  Let me show an example.

When it comes to digital comics, let’s go with the assumption that the target demographic is the same as print which is 18-24 year-old males. Only 15.2% of iPad owners are between the ages of 18-24. That’s a lot of kids, but the majority of iPad owners are older and wealthier. And maybe that’s because of the price. The average income for 18-24 is $15k per year.

The article should be focused on facts about digital comics.  It’s a growing area of retail and revenue, that is true.  I wish I could throw out stats, but the companies that have shared those with me have sworn me to not divulge them, but it’s increasing leaps and bounds.  At the same time, as those digital sales are increasing, physical sales seem to be shrinking, according to statistics published on sites like ICv2 or ComiChron, the year is down.  At the same time, attendance is up at conventions.  So what is the deal about digital sales and physical sales?

Comicshop.net is more than likely correct when it says that the death of Borders is likely due to poor management, not the state of print.  At the same time, this article comes at the same time Atomic Comics announced it’s closing it’s doors.  No matter how you cut it, sales are down, the stats show that.  Is it due to the economy?  Are people just tired of comics?  We won’t have a real answer unless someone asks the customers the industry is hemorrhaging.

But, convention attendance is up.  So, what’s the disconnect?  Could it be people are tired of the idea of monthly serials?  Do they not want to make weekly trips?  Or, is the metric for sales not showing the complete picture?  There is no one measurement that tracks digital, direct market and mass market sales.  Maybe people are leaving stores and instead purchasing items from other sources like Barnes & Noble or Amazon?  Maybe they’re going to digital sales instead?

The real figures of who is reading digitally is interesting.  It’s not the youth Comicshop.net cites in their hyperbole of an argument.  Doing a search on Facebook, those who identify they like digital comics is actually in the 31-40 year old range.  The largest segment is those age 35-40.  That skews older than the rest of the comic market on Facebook by over a decade.  Digital comic fans (on Facebook) are older, and more educated.  We can also guess that they probably have more income than their younger counterparts (but that’s conjecture).

If you really think comic shops are slowly dying off because of the demand for digital, your privilege is showing. Comic shops are dealing with a tough economy because comic books are a luxury—the first thing that gets cut when people are trying to save money. Food or comics? There’s no app for that.

But, what Comicshop.net fails to cite with this is statistics.  Here’s actual sales numbers for DC and Marvel over the years.  In a similar economic climate of the lates 70s, sales dipped, but stayed somewhat steady.  The market also boomed during the recession of the late 80s and 90s at the same time gimmicks took off.  The mass market was shrinking as the direct market grew.

During the 2000′s graphic novels exploded and have seen continued growth in popularity, but during that time period we also saw their increased exposure in the mass market and big box stores.

Instead of blaming the economy, which it seems sales is inconsistent, but slightly weaker, the history actually seems to show that sales has suffered from the loss of the mass market.  That’s as much as the economy seems to be a likely culprit and issue.  Less exposure in high trafficked and high exposure stores is where we should be looking as much as anywhere.

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It’s Saturday, but more importantly, it’s the Baltimore Comic Con!  You can expect a lot of news and interviews to come out of this show, but you can follow us on Twitter for more real time updates.  While you wait for all of the amazing news to flood out of the convention, here’s the news you might have missed.

Around the Blogs:

Poynter – An introduction to comics journalism, in the form of comics journalismThank to Dan Archer for putting this together, an awesome history lesson.

Bleeding Cool – ComiXology Release Terms Of Use For Comic Store WebsitesCan’t say I’m too shocked about this.

Kotaku – Guess Which Character Marvel Worried Capcom Would Get Wrong? – I can understand the bit about how the hands are situated.

Con Coverage:

Carroll County Times – Carroll residents excited for Comic-Con in Baltimore

Around the Tubes Reviews:

ICv2 – The Betrayal Knows My Name Vol. 1

CBR – Uncanny X-Men #542

CBR – X-Men: Schism #3