#comicmarket and #comicretail React to Dark Horse Digital

It took a few days, but the #comicmarket and #comicretail Twitter hashtags lit up on Sunday over the issue of Dark Horse‘s move to sell digital comics the same day as print and doing so cheaper by $1 or $1.50.  Both hashtags are public forums for those interested in the comic book industry to interact with each other.  We posted the Dark Horse press release on November 30, but it took a few days for the news to sink in it seems.

The attitude though on the two different hashtags couldn’t have been more different.  The ball began to get rolling when Larry’s Comics decided to boycott Dark Horse and was quickly followed by JetPack Comics.  It was a very Spartacus moment.  The usual negativity and vitriol followed with a  discussion about the death of the comic book industry, retail and boycotts.  The issue mainly revolved around lack of focus by publishers on obtaining new comic book customers with digital as opposed to cannibalizing print customers (something not proven) and that Dark Horse comics has valued digital comics differently than print, selling them at $1 to $1.50 cheaper than print making it difficult for physical sales to even compete in price with digital prices.

You can check out this word cloud as to what the focus of the discussion was.

The focus in the #comicmarket discussion was the cheaper price of digital comics, not ever once going into the penetration of reading devices and instead comparing the change to the music industries move from physical copies to digital.  This lead to the closing of poorly run stores and what remains today are strong big-box retailers and knowledgeable mom and pop operations.  Gone are the fly by night unprofessional operations.

Over at #comicretail the discussion was a different sorts.  Instead of just kvetching, why brick-and-mortar stores will survive was trumpeted and the topic of discussion by @lordretail, Acme Comics‘ manager Jermain Exum.

A much more positive spin on it all.  In fact, one just needs to look at the #comicretail word cloud to see the focus was on the experience one has at a comic book store and with comics in general.  It was about the fans, not the retailers.

I followed up with Jermaine about his thoughts on the situation, digital comic books and the comparison to the music industry’s transition to digital sales.  He was a pleasure to chat with offering a positive attitude.

The reality is that it CAN be positive, you know? Or the sky can be falling in a public setting.  I feel like music can reach the ear through many vehicles. Record, tape, cd, mp3. As long as it reached the ear.  But comics has tactile origins. Touching the book, turning the page, at your own pace. Taking in the art. That remains an element.

Even though digital and print sales are both increasing with more and more companies not just going digital, but also day and date, expect this topic to be discussed throughout the coming year.  Hopefully in a more constructive manner.

One comment

  • Interesting to see the different reactions.

    Right now, it’s all conjecture and hearsay, without any solid data to back up positions. Opinions are all informed and based on anecdotal evidence.

    Personally, I have a hard time buying that same-day digital release at a price point less than the print version is anything but a blow to comic retailers.

    Yes, digital CAN be a gateway to physical.

    But if it’s cheaper, it’s far more likely to be simply a gateway to more digital…especially considering iPad/Tablet devices will be as ubiquitous in the next three-five years as iPods/MP3 players quickly became.