- Posted by Johanna on November 10, 2006 at 11:41 am
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
PixelStrips.com, a “webcomic community”, has just announced that they’ve eliminated their subscription plans. (No word on what this means for those who subscribed previously, although when it comes to announcements like this, I tend to think that there couldn’t have been very many of them, or the change wouldn’t have needed to be made.)
All content on the site including comics, archives, tutorials, and extras are now free for everyone to enjoy. No more subscription fees.
According to Kevin Volo, creator of Pixelstrips.com, “We’ve been looking into going totally free for quite some time now and decided that sooner rather than later was the right time to do it. I think it’s just the next step in the continuing evolution of the site.” Since the inception of Pixelstrips.com in September of 2005 the site has been subscription only.
“Payment models for web comic sites are always tricky,” continued Volo. “Many start out as subscription sites and move to where we are now. Between sites like YouTube, MySpace, and the medium of podcasting, people want and now expect their content to be free.”
In other words, it’s very hard to compete with “free”, especially when entering an area where you’re challenging established brands. Value has to be obtained elsewhere, though ads or merchandise, perhaps. Volo’s also right to expand his basis for comparison beyond other comic sites, because he’s really competing for the reader’s attention against a diverse lot of other choices.
Volo goes on to say that the site’s artists are excited, because “What artist doesn’t want their work seen by the widest audience possible?” Careful with that logic. He’s got a point, but taken to extremes, that kind of attitude justifies copyright violation. A smaller audience but one that allows for more (or any) profit may be a more sensible strategy.
This got me thinking about just how one intelligently sets a price online. Take, for example, The Honor Brigade, a self-published, self-distributed comic. (Although they’ve recently been accepted by Diamond, so they’ll be appearing in Previews next year.)
Their issues are sold on consignment at a few shops (mostly in the Midwest), through mail order (at $5 an issue, including shipping), or as digital downloads. They’ve priced the PDFs at $1, which seems like a good price point, but I’m curious about what readers think that says about the price of the physical issue. Does that make them seem overpriced? Is 20% of the price enough to cover creative costs once you eliminate printing, shipping, and distribution?
And bravo to them for considering so many different markets to get the book out there and visible. The more business work they can do now to build awareness, the more likely they’ll be able to keep going.