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Breaking: Image Comics Will Stop Selling DRM-free Titles Starting November 5

Image Comics has sent an email alert stating they will stop selling DRM-free titles through their website beginning November 5th. DRM-free versions of their books will no longer be available for purchase and all sales of DRM-free versions through ImageComics.com will be discontinued.

The company announced in 2013 at Image Expo that they would be offering DRM-free digital comics through their website.

What this means for folks who have already purchased?

  • From November 5th, 2018 through February 3rd, 2019 customers can still access their previous purchases. Image recommends that customers download and save their purchases at their earliest convenience before February 3rd, 2019.
  • Future titles will be available for purchase through other digital vendor partners, and DRM-free versions through other services that offer it, like comiXology.
  • You will still be able to purchase physical copies of Image books and subscribe to series through Image Direct as well as your local comic book store. Image Direct will NOT be affected by this change.

Sunday Roundtable: Digital vs. Print

JLA Roundtable Digital vs PrintWelcome to our latest feature, the Sunday Roundtable! Each week the Graphic Policy team will discuss a topic, giving their thoughts and insight.

This week’s first topic, Digital vs. Print comics! It’s almost as controversial as Marvel vs DC with some folks. Team Graphic Policy, what are your thoughts on the two ways to consume your comics? Discuss pluses and minuses of each. And what do you see as the future for each?

Daphne: I prefer digital to print for a couple very specific reasons.

Looking at the pros and cons of both mediums for a moment – print can be damaged or lost much more easily due to careless pets or natural disasters, and also takes up physical space that can be really inconvenient in small apartments like I’ve had. And of course print has ads.

The cons of digital are things like DRM on reading material, losing space on electronic devices, or the possibility of network issues and data loss.

comixology egift card 2Print offers the actual experience of reading, of turning a page and having an object to feel and hold and smell. Tangible objects make for more meaningful emotional connections to a collection or series.
Digital formats are what I infinitely prefer for a very personal reason though: safety. Comic shops are notoriously unfriendly to women, and there’s a lot of gatekeeping fans who don’t want “fake geek girls” or people who can’t “prove” they appreciate a series to buy comics sometimes. Being transgender I also just generally don’t feel safe in public often due to my short life expectancy and the high rate of hate crimes against trans people. With digital comics I can find really old or obscure issues of stories I want to experience for the first time, read about characters I want to learn about without having to prove my nerd cried, and enjoy the stories I love without feeling like my safety is at risk or I’m in an unfriendly environment. For me that makes digital the best option any day of the week.

Edward: I am not much of a collector when it comes to comics, in fact I have lost all of my physical collection at various points in my life and it hasn’t really bothered me. That being said, the format doesn’t really matter to me, only the story. Whether paper or screen, as long as the message is passed I am happy, though digital make it far easier to purchase and consume, even though I still buy both.

Brett: I read both, and while I like digital for the convenience, I feel like you can miss out on amazing two page spreads. I think there’s something about the tactile touch of the comic page, but that’s what I’ve mostly read for 30 years.

Is anyone bothered with digital products that you might not “own” it like a physical one? Or the service might shut down? That’s not counting PDFs you can download.

Daphne: I do worry about the service shutting down or the digital rights management people encode in files causing problems someday. But I have faith in the Internet to come up with some way to get around that if it ever becomes a reality.

Marvel_Unlimited_LogoAlex: Maybe I’m an old soul, but I’m a staunch print fan. I enjoy collecting comics as much, if not more, than I do reading them; bagging and boarding is actually relaxing for me, an I love hunting out old back issues. I’m fortunate in having a really awesome Local Comic Shop that has a large selection of back issues that I enjoy looking through.

Like Daphne said, print offers a tangible object to interact with, and, perhaps the biggest bonus for me, it isn’t on a screen. I don’t mind digital comics, but given a choice, I’ll buy print any day of the week over digital.

And yeah; I’m not a huge fan of owning a license to a product that I can get a physical copy of for the same price.

I do still read digital comics, but they’re limited to Marvel Unlimited, and the review copies we get through Graphic Policy.

Daphne: Having moved from the US to Russia and back, and going from state to state a few times in my life before settling in Oregon, I have to say I really appreciate not having too many super heavy trade paperbacks and individual comics to drag around. Those big cardboard boxes can be such a nightmare, especially when I’ve lived above the ground floor of a building. That’s another thing I like about digital over print. It IS awesome to see all my trades taking up space on my bookshelves though.

Alex: Yeah, I agree with you there, Daphne; my comic collection is spread between England and Canada because moving them from one place to the other is expensive and/or time consuming. It’s also mildly annoying that I can’t reread the full run of Ultimate Spider-Man as the best part of a hundred issues are across the pond.

Christopher: Honestly, I do enjoy digital if I’m traveling, or trying out a new series, since it is something I can read at my leisure. However, I also enjoy collecting the physical thing. Each medium has pros and cons associated with it. Than agian the same could be said about books, and ebooks. In the end I think it comes down to personal preference.

A slight addition. Also it seems to me people if they see you with a physical copy tend to leave you alone if your reading it. With digital I think they are more likely to approach you.

Brett: What do you think of digital’s limitations compared to print? I find it harder to appreciate double spreads, and some times when a the reading flow goes from page one to page two and back, I some times lose that. I tend to read straight PDFs so don’t get the benefit of guided view, which is on me, but still many are allowing you to download PDFs now, so that may become a bigger issue.

Alex: Personally, I find that, aside from a lack of physical product, for me that’s another major limitation. I find that reading a straight PDF limits your ability to enjoy a full page (and I usually avoid guided views if I can).

This also may be unpopular but I also miss the ads. I find that the ads are usually placed in a way to add tension to the comic; not always, but sometimes.

Edward: The double page spreads still work in the right context, especially if they are edited together well. I find that the reading experience is not all that different after figuring out a way to navigate. What is interesting as well is that there are no more left page reveals in digital, because every page can be the left page if needed.

Daphne: Totally agree about the left page reveals. That’s one of my other favorite aspects of reading digitally. With the right editor and formatting some digital comics have this awesome flow to them I don’t think paper comics can replicate. So it also depends on how much the writer or publisher has embraced the digital medium. I think we’ll see a lot more experimentation with the digital format as time goes on.

Alex: I think that’s the problem I’ve had with digital comics; most digital comics I’ve read are digital copies of print, not digital first.

Brett: What advantages do you all think digital has over print or vice versa? There’s absolutely things one can do the other can’t.

X-Men92Alex: Print is much more collectible, where as digital is MUCH easier to get your hands on (digital downloads are pretty quick compared to traveling to a comic shop). There’s also an absolute lack of storage space for digital, like Daphne has already mentioned.

Brett: But what about storytelling itself between the two? Digital we’ve seen other things mixed in like small amounts of motion, music, information, do you care about that as readers? Marvel had their enhanced app for print, but seem to have given up on it. I know I used it a half dozen times and it was buggy as all hell.

Daphne: X-Men ’92 uses the comiXology app to some great results when it comes to transitions between panels or pages. It’s the kind of thing more comics should do. There’s some great examples of freeing up screen space for actual art by having speech bubbles disappear so new ones can take their place.

Alex: That’s actually pretty cool. I don’t really have an opinion on this, because I haven’t experienced anything like it before, but it definitely sounds like a selling point for digital comics.

iVerse Shakes Up Digital Comics with ComicsPLUS 8.0

ComicsPlus_Logo_2012As much as 2014 has been about diversity in comics, the second big story is digital comics, and the massive quakes over the year. We had Image going DRM free (followed later by other publishers), comiXology being bought by Amazon, and the emergence of alternate business plans with apps like Farrago. Now iVerse, which had  been a distant second behind comiXology, seems to be doubling down and making their case as to why individuals should give the digital app a second look with ComicsPLUS 8.0.

The updated app features:

  • All-New Design
  • Graphic Novel Rentals w/ OFFLINE READING
  • uView enhanced reading experience
  • Enhanced Search w/ Popular and Saved Search Options
  • Import Digital File support (ePub, PDF, CBR, CBZ)
  • uView creation and editing for imported files
  • In-App Parental Controls

The new app has been built from the ground up, and the addition of being able to add PDFs that aren’t purchased is huge. Their new “rental” program also adds a new revenue stream and business model that should be interesting and allows people to “rent select graphic novels for 24, 48, or 120 hours.  Rented comics  can be viewed offline without the need for an Internet connection.”

The uView feature is interesting in that it allows individuals to edit their own reading experience in a do-it-yourself guided view. My guess is, this is a feature that’ll be generally underused as it takes away reading time.

On top of a shiny new app though is the big news that all of DC Comics’s monthly comics will now be available on iVerse and backlist is coming. DC’s move continues the slow chipping away at comiXology’s dominance through selection alone, though the chances of people completely abandoning their past purchases for a new app are pretty low. While DC’s comics have been available digitally for some time, it was only the comiXology platform that really had them when it came to apps.

That’s a lot of pretty big news on the digital comic front for the end of the year, and wraps up a pretty shaky year as a whole. My gut (and what I hear through the grapevine) says this is only the beginning, and we should expect some bigger news in 2015.

ComicsPlus_press_small

ComiXology Announces More DRM Free Publishers

comixology drm free wave twoToday comiXology unveiled the latest group of publishers offering DRM-free backups, allowing comiXology customers to download and store copies of their books. ComiXology’s new DRM-free backup feature was announced this past July during San Diego Comic-Con.

The second wave of participating publishers include IDW Publishing, Valiant Entertainment, Oni Press, Fantagraphics Books, Aspen Comics, Action Lab Entertainment, Th3rd World Studios, A Wave Blue World, Blind Ferret Entertainment, Caliber Comics, Creative Impulse Entertainment, Devil’s Due Entertainment, GT Labs Comics and Kingstone Media. They join Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions in offering this new option to customer. Creators using comiXology Submit also have the option to offer their comics, graphic novels, and manga as DRM-free backups. Some of the new publishers have previously announced going DRM free, or provide the option on other platforms.

To obtain the DRM-free backups of digital comics on comiXology, customers can go to the “My Books” section of comixology.com on their desktop computers and click the button that appears next to their books. Books and series from the second wave of participating publishers will be available for backup starting today. Backups from participating publishers can be downloaded in high definition PDF and CBZ.

Customers will continue to enjoy all their purchases – whether available as a DRM-free backup or not – on the comiXology platform in comiXology’s exclusive cinematic Guided View reading experience, anytime and anywhere.

Action Lab Goes DRM Free and $0.99 on All Digital Titles

It looks like the hot thing to do in comics is go DRM free! Action Lab Entertainment has announced that beginning with the Action Lab hit, F1rst Hero and the Action Lab Danger Zone sexy mega hit, Zombie Tramp, all of their titles will now be released as full issue, digital first offerings through comiXology.

The entire catalog from both Action Lab and their mature readers imprint, Action Lab: Danger Zone will be available DRM Free as part of Comixology’s Digital Ownership Initiative. That initiative was announced by comiXology at this  year’s San Diego Comic-Con. This is the seventh comic publisher to announce going DRM free this year.

Single issues will be $0.99 during the first two weeks of release, before returning to their regular price of $1.99.. In addition, books will be timed to release digitally the same month they are offered in Diamond Distribution’s retailer catalog, Previews, giving comics fans a taste of what we do and driving them to comic shops nationwide.

action lab and danger zone logo

Dynamite Goes DRM Free and Raises Money for the CBLDF

Dynamite10thAnnivImageDynamite Entertainment is going DRM-free with comics available in PDF file format. All of this is part of the publisher’s 10th anniversary celebration.

The program launches today with an available selection of over 80 individual comic books, which includes creator-owned and licensed titles from Dynamite’s massive library. The debut selection represents a wide variety of titles:.

  • Cryptozoic Man by Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson
  • Blood Queen by Troy Brownfield and Fritz Casas
  • The Boys by Garth Ennis and Darick Robinson
  • Captain Action Cat by Art Baltazar, Franco, and Chris Smits
  • Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers by Joe Casey, Nathan Fox, and more
  • Chaos! by Tim Seely and Mirka Andolfo
  • Chastity by Marc Andreyko and Dave Acosta
  • American Flagg by Howard Chaykin
  • The Devilers by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Matt Triano
  • Evil Ernie: Origin of Evil by Jesse Snider and Jason Craig
  • Garth Ennis’ Red Team by Garth Ennis and Craig Cermak
  • Jennifer Blood: Born Again by Steven Grant and Kewber Baal
  • Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files: War Cry by Jim Butcher, Mark Powers, and Carlos Gomez
  • Jungle Girl by Frank Cho, Doug Murray, and Adriano Batista
  • Justice, Inc. by Michael Uslan and Giovanni Timpano
  • Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet by Kevin Smith and Jonathan Lau
  • Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure by Bill Willingham and Sergio Fernandez Davila
  • Miss Fury by Rob Williams and Jack Herbert
  • The Mocking Dead by Fred Van Lente and Max Dunbar
  • The Ninjettes by Al Ewing and Eman Casallos
  • Pathfinder: Dark Waters Rising by Jim Zub and Andrew Huerta
  • Project Superpowers by Jim Krueger, Alex Ross, and Carlos Paul
  • Red Sonja by Gail Simone and Walter Geovani
  • Red Sonja: Blue by Peter Brett and Walter Geovani
  • Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, Chuck Dixon, and Chase Conley
  • The Shadow: Midnight in Moscow by Howard Chaykin
  • Terminal Hero by Peter Milligan and Piotr Kowalski
  • The Trial of Sherlock Holmes by Leah Moore, John Reppion, and Aaron Campbell
  • Vampirella by Nancy A. Collins and Patrick Berkenkotter
  • Vampirella Master Series by Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, and more
  • Vampirella vs. Fluffy by Mark Rahner and Cezar Razek

In celebration of their 10th anniversary, Dynamite will offer ten of its comic books at 10 cents apiece, introducing new readers to Dynamite’s most accessible and successful titles at a great value. The introductory-priced comic books include:

  • Blood Queen #1
  • The Boys #1
  • Evil Ernie: Origin of Evil #1
  • Jungle Girl #0
  • Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet #1
  • Miss Fury #1
  • The Mocking Dead #1
  • Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time #1
  • The Trial of Sherlock Holmes #1
  • Vampirella #1

cbldfDynamite will also offer ten (10) free wallpapers to consumers featuring The Boys, Cryptozoic Man, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Neil Gaiman and Alice Cooper’s The Last Temptation, Red Sonja, and Vampirella. These wallpapers can be downloaded from Dynamite’s digital DRM-free page for a limited time.

Following today’s launch, Dynamite plans to release its DRM-free comics on a weekly basis, every Wednesday, with new offerings announced via the company’s Facebook, Twitter, and website as they are made available for download. There will be a slow, focused roll-out over time that will grow the available titles to reflect the vast majority of Dynamite’s library.

Throughout its first month of operation, Dynamite will donate ten percent of all sales to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers.

SDCC 2014: DRM-Free at ComiXology

comixology small imageToday during their panel at San Diego Comic-Con, comiXology unveiled a new DRM-free backup feature that allows customers to download and store copies of their books.

The first wave of participating publishers making their books available as DRM-free backups include Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. In addition, creators and publishers that are self-publishing through comiXology Submit are now able to choose to make their books available with a DRM-free backup.

To obtain the DRM-free backups of their books, customers can go to the “My Books” section of comixology.com on their desktop computers and click the button that appears next to their books. Books and series from participating publishers will be available for backup starting today. Backups are available in high definition PDF and CBZ.

Customers will continue to enjoy all of their purchases – whether available as a DRM-free backup or not – on the comiXology platform in comiXology’s exclusive cinematic Guided View reading experience, anytime and anywhere.

drm free comixology 1 drm free comixology drm free comixology 2

 

 

Top Shelf Launches First Wave of DRM-free Graphic Novels!

Since 2011, Top Shelf has embraced digital distribution wholeheartedly. They’ve presented an unmatched library of award-winning and fan-favorite graphic novels on multiple platforms, working with numerous digital partners to offer readers a remarkable degree of choice, while keeping digital prices substantially lower than print.

Fans have taken advantage of having their Top Shelf library handy and easily on the go by downloading Top Shelf comics by the thousands from excellent vendors like Comixology, Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Kobo, BN Nook, and more, while continuing to shop for their favorites in printed format from their favorite retailers.

Today, Top Shelf is launching a new program that gives digital readers even more options. In addition to selling through their digital partners, select titles are now available in DRM-free digital editions directly from their online store at www.topshelfcomix.com! Using this DRM-free option allows you to download your purchase as a simple PDF, ePub, or CBZ file — yours to keep, back up, or transfer to mobile devices.

What’s more, this new direct-download option allows Top Shelf to launch another great feature: add-on pricing. Starting today, customers who order select titles from the www.topshelfcomix.com online store can purchase both print and digital editions at the same time, for a substantial savings!

For example, Jeff Lemire’s The Underwater Welder is priced at $19.95 print and $6.99 digital, but now when ordering the print edition, it’s only $2.99 extra to add on the digital edition. One for home and one for the road? One for you and one for your sweetie? The choice is yours, with add-on pricing!

Top Shelf’s new DRM-free ebook program launches with the following titles:

  • March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell ($7.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Heck by Zander Cannon ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • Crater XV by Kevin Cannon ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire ($6.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • God Is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler ($9.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Chester 5000 by Jess Fink ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • We Can Fix It by Jess Fink ($6.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • The Surrogates (Vol. 1) by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • The Surrogates (Vol. 2): Flesh and Bone by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince ($3.99 digital, $0.99 with print purchase)

Also, the following digital-exclusive titles are now available DRM-free:

  • Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer (Vol. 1) by Dusty Higgins & Van Jensen ($4.99 digital)
  • Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer (vol. 2): The Great Puppet Theater by Dusty Higgins & Van Jensen ($4.99 digital)

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day, what’s everyone getting today?

Around the Tubes

ArtsBeat – Reeve Carney Hangs Up His Spider-Man Tights And now someone else can hurt themselves!

Bleeding Cool – The Flash Joining Arrow Before Spinning Off Into His Own Series, Wonder Woman Series On Hold Interesting. I did like the old Flash television series.

The Beat – Thrillbent Launch Their Digital Comics Store TODAY DRM Free is the new digital.

ICv2 – ‘Robotech’ vs. ‘G.I. Joe’ You hear that? That’s the sound of happy toy flippers from SDCC squealing.

 

Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – Injustice: Gods Among Us #29

Bleeding Cool – Sidekick #1

Image Expo 2013: Image Drops the Mic & Gives the Middle Finger Part 3 Other Digital Services

In the first part of this three-part story, we examined terms of service and the claim that Image was “first” when it comes to offering DRM free comics. The second part delved a bit deeper into the concept of ownership. This third part looks into the possible fallout from this decision by Image Comics.

IMAGE VS. COMIXOLOGY

Image has been releasing comics through comiXology, the leading service in digital comics, having joined the comiXology digital service in August 2010. They also release digital comics through iVerse, iBooks and some of their imprints such as Top Cow and Shadowline have DRM Free deals with other services like DriveThru Comics and My Digital Comics.

And while Image comic books will still be offered for sale on ComiXology, iBooks, and every other platform where it was previously available, Image’s Director of Business Development Ron Richards says that offering the direct-to-consumer downloads is important. “There’s something to be said for the ownership factor. If readers purchase a book on ComiXology, that may be their library [on the service] but from what I understand that could be revoked. And God forbid, if ComiXology goes under or their data center has an earthquake all their hard drives go away — then you’ve got nothing.”

Ron Richards has a history in the digital realm. He was the founder of iFanboy which was later acquired by Graphic.ly which is the highest profile digital comic service to fail. His comment about comiXology “going under” is from his own experience in that previous venture. ComiXology CEO David Steinberger has addressed this previously during conventions stating the company is doing great and if it were in trouble it’s a high target for acquisition, something I’d believe. But with their current growth any issues are far down the line.

But Richards’ logic completely fails the smell test. His quote is filled with hyperbole and logical conclusions that apply for Image’s own business as it does comiXology.

And God forbid, if ComiXology goes under or their data center has an earthquake all their hard drives go away — then you’ve got nothing.

The act of God scenario. ComiXology has had issues in the past, most famously when the service crashed due to high traffic load during their promotion to give away the first issues of over 700 Marvel comics. Weposted on why it happened, a massive influx of interest which resulted in a denial of service. However that interest is a good thing as it caused many people who have never known about the service to traffic the site and as you can see by our graphics below, the service has retained a lot of that traffic. There wasn’t a “database” issue and a tech company like comiXology will have multiple copies of databases. Data centers are built for those types of scenarios and redundant features are built in by major technology providers. But these issues arise on occasion as services move to the cloud, Netflix, Amazon and many others have suffered the same fate.

But, this also applies to Image. When you purchase a comic, the comic is saved in my profile. Does Image have multiple data centers and back-ups of these purchase in case of failures on their end. I do have the downloaded file, but a similar issue arises for them, that of data storage. So, best the publisher has everything set on their end. The first time their site goes down, he’ll have to eat his own words.

The publisher has also taken numerous opportunities to criticize the digital publisher in the past. But, using Ron’s logic, is Image opening up it’s own physical distribution as well? Currently the comic industry is serviced by Diamond Distribution, a company that has an almost near monopoly on the business and that has had serious financial issues in the past. Going by this same logic, there needs to be another “just in case” (a belief I actually have, but that’s a discussion for another time). There has been some communication issues in the past, many of the issues attributed to comiXology are also due to Apple’s terms of service. Richards’ comments sound like sour grapes the more you factor in his previous work history.

Going through the purchasing process of Image’s digital comics, there seems to be no age restriction, an issue that’s just begging for trouble down the road. Comics such as Black Kiss II which are very mature are available for anyone to purchase without ratings present. That’s a poor choice in this digital age.

No matter, I can’t see the relationship between Image and comiXology being the same going forward, this is a clear kick in the nuts to the digital platform.

IS IMAGE GOING THIS ROUTE THE SMARTEST THING?

One can only sum up Image’s move as burning bridge between themselves and comiXology. Ron Richards himself admits they are now competing with other digital services. The growth of digital sales Image cites can really be attributed to these platforms, especially comiXology which has been a leader. They have shown it’s a viable business and people want to consumer their comics this way. But, to have sales you need eyes on the product.  Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come to paraphrase Field of Dreams. That’s partially what comiXology brings with millions of users and millions of page views a month on their website alone, plus recommendations. People might come to comiXology to purchase one item, but then discover others, something you don’t get with an “Image only” store.

I took a look at traffic between the two companies and you can see comiXology dwarfs Image in the United States (and we’d imagine globally as well).

comixology_vs_image_traffic

To make up the ill-will, Image needs to make sure that they will have enough traffic to their site to make up for possibly less views on comiXology. The gap though is enormous. One just needs to look at anemic traffic for Image and you better believe we’ll keep an eye on this.

2013-07-02_2130(This graphic compares the terms “Image Comics” to “comiXology”)

Further while Image might seem to have all of the buzz with their numerous comic sell-outs, the buzz online isn’t there. Looking at Google Trends, we see that Image has had a downward slide since the early 2000’s while comiXology has only seen massive growth in interest regularly dwarfing online buzz since mid-2011. Image needs a shot in the arm, maybe this is it.

IMAGE’S IMPRINTS

The other question is how this decision affects Image imprints like Top Cow, Joe’s Comics, Skybound and Shadowline. Can they opt-out of this? Top Cow and Shadowline currently offer DRM free comics through other services.

IMAGE SAVES ON FEES

By selling through their website, Image cuts out fees they’d have to pay to Apple, comiXology which are a decent chunk. Image saves on those fees, minus whatever new costs are associated with this venture. Will they be paying better rates to creators then?

From CBR:

Aside from a promotional edge for Image with readers wary of digital comics apps, the publisher is also anticipating more benefits for its creators. “I can’t get into specific contracts, but basically there is no middle man,” Richards said. “There’s no cut for comiXology or Apple or any other piece getting taken out. Ideally for a creator, sales through the Image website gets them the most money per sale.”

It sounds like that hasn’t been determined. That’s a pretty big deal since contracts tend to need to be settled before large ventures like this. This backs up my thought that this concept was rushed and not totally thought and planned out. A lack of Terms of Service is another thing, something no lawyer would allow them to launch without. If I were a creator, I’d be digging through any contracts I had right now, especially if one of my comics was a launch title.

IMAGE VS. BRICK-AND-MORTAR

The final question is the impact on brick-and-mortar stores. They made Image Comics and by offering this service Image will absolutely hurt them, though by how much is to be seen. We’ve seen the digital and print market can grow together, there’s no opportunity so far for stores to profit from these digital sales like they can with comiXology. I haven’t seen the normal outcry concerning digital comics and their dooming print sales, but this is a slap in a face to them.

CONCLUSION

Digital Rights has been a topic of much buzz, especially since Microsoft’s launch of the Xbox One and their failed decision involving DRM. While Image has been deservingly winning praise for releasing some great new series and revitalizing their brand over the last few years, the praise lavished upon this announcement is a bit premature. Hard hitting questions, like the many we’ve covered, haven’t been asked (or answered) and whether this is truly a good deal for creators hasn’t been established. Until we get some of these answers, lets cool it with the adoration. While this sounds like a step in the right direction, the devil is in the details.

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