CouchGuy Digital Comics

Though the headline and some of the language may be a bit… too unequivocal… I admit I am swayed by Alex Zaiben’s argument for release of digital comics at 12:01 am EST on Wednesday is today’s MTV Geek op-ed. I have been seeing how much comic traffic is being driven to stores by the Twitter and Facebook buzz on Wednesday mornings and it is providing a considerable amount of free advertising for the stores.

Let’s face it — most converts to digital comics are not coming from among the hard-core comics fans who make up the bulk of the store’s sales. They are coming from guys like me who don’t get to the comics store every week, let alone first thing Wednesday mornings and from people who don’t want to drive to a store (or don’t have one nearby) that still want to read a good comic book or two (or ten…) and will do so if they can just click something on their iPad screen and get it immediately.

Meanwhile, almost all of those with a pull list are going to buy paper books because that’s what they want. They are collectors, mavens, enthusiasts, the intelligentsia of comics — in other words, they are true fans.

That said, comic stores are not going to lose any significant number of sales if a new issue is available online before their doors open in the morning. But they are likely to benefit if the guys who eat, sleep and breathe comics see a lot of Wednesday morning buzz on Twitter about the new Batgirl # 4. “Heck, that sounds great and it’s not on my pull list! They say it’s already sold out, so I’d better grab that with the REST of the stuff I buy this morning!”

The proof thereof is in how the buzz (from people picking up DC #1s in the UK hours before our stores open) reaches ME and makes me add stuff to my list for my Wednesday Digital Comics Lunch. (I do the WeDiCoLu at McDonald’s about 3 pm on Wednesday because I’m blocked from App Store-powered transactions through my work computer…)

Also, it is prudent to remember that the busy scanners are working hard from the second that paper copies become available, which led to the embarrassing spectacle of Justice League #1 being downloadable from Pirate Bay hours before it could be bought legally as a digital file. The music industry found out that the only effective way to sell your product in the face of piracy is to make it available inexpensively, easily and in a timely manner in legal digital form. Midnight releases will not stop piracy. Nothing will stop digital piracy. You either plan for it and embrace it or you frustrate yourself trying to hold back the tide with a spoon. But reasonable prices and easy access to legal digital file purchases in a timely manner WILL prevent the vast majority of fans from becoming casual pirates. Remember: if it is EASIER and FASTER to download a pirate copy than buy a legal copy, you need to take a second look at your distribution plan.

Read the linked article. It convinced me that a midnight release will do far more good than harm for everyone. Let’s hope it convinces the publishers.

  1. couchguydc posted this
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