At Book Expo America Marvel’s Ira Rubenstein claimed that Marvel’s iPad app, which was available on the first day of launch, helped move units in the physical world. From MediaBistro:
In a BEA panel discussion yesterday, Ira Rubenstein, the executive VP of Marvel Entertainment’s global digital media group, explored the company’s early experiences with an iPad app…
“It’s been tremendously successful, tremendously well received,” he explained about the iPad app. “What we are seeing is that in-app purchases are actually increasing week over week. People are downloading the app, finding content, and downloading more. What we’ve see also with some of the research is that digital books are actually leading to physical purchases.”
While this might be a positive turn of events the proof is in the pudding and numbers need to be released to fully evaluate the impact and if this impact is positive or negative. Here’s the questions that need to be answered.
- Of the people who purchased, how many are not regular comic book readers, or returning comic book readers?
- Of the people who purchased, how many purchase physical copies regularly or irregularly already?
- For those regular readers, are they purchasing more or less physical product?
- How many would have not purchased a comic that did if this app were not present?
All of that should lead an understanding if digital sales are cannibalizing physical sales, expanding physical sales or are they two distinct universes with little overlap. If it’s the former, there’s issues. If it’s the middle answer, that’s great for everyone. If it’s the latter then more can be done.
We’ve seen expansion of materials to other media is good for everyone, and digital sales can potentially be just as beneficial. There was some coattails as far as physical sales with the releases of the X-Men, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Kick-Ass and we should strive for the same results when it comes to digital apps. How can apps drive individuals to their local stores? That’s a question and puzzle we all should be trying to answer.
The above are just some of the small questions that need to be answered. The potential is there and at this moment digital dsitribution’s impact on the real world can’t be determined, but there is potential for disaster as much as there is for success. If digital products become the norm and preferred the livelihood of brick and mortar stores becomes endangered and the chain to distribution and printing. No one wants this and we all need to work together to make sure that’s not the end result.