Did Scans_Daily Help?

One of the many questions coming out of the Scans_Daily shutdown was “Did it really help?” Many S_D readers have said that seeing comic samples recommended by other community members caused them to buy comics or collections, driving sales up.

Now, of course, people who read posted comics for free or instead of buying have no incentive to publicize that, so we’re only hearing one side of the story. But Peter David went further. He found data that shows that “since 2001, unit sales on comics are in fact on the increase.” (With the exception of last year, where just about every business tanked with the economy.) Certainly, correlation is not causation — but those who were insisting that comic sales have gone down over the years with the rise of online sharing are apparently wrong.

Glenn Hauman, the last one standing at ComicMix, argues anecdotally that Scans_Daily wasn’t effective promotion because the one time he posted some pages from one of their webcomics, traffic barely went up. I think he’s ignoring two important factors:

* Community promotion works much better when a fan says “hey, this is great, check it out!” When a publisher does so, the general reaction is “yeah, of course you’d say that.”

* Maybe they just didn’t like the comic? The first seven pages of the book he’s showing aren’t even in comic format; only one of the pages has panels. It’s also a boxing story that’s rather hectoring about race.

In short, “They didn’t praise us, so they’re ineffective for promotion” is a big ol’ logical fallacy.

Similar Posts: Scans_Daily Shut Down: Another Free Comic Site Gone § Charming Bookseller Comic § Webcomics in 2006 Roundtable § Catchup LinkBlogging § How Long Will DC Stay in New York City?


18 Responses to “Did Scans_Daily Help?”

  1. Ray Cornwall Says:

    I like ComicMix (any place with free GrimJack is OK by me), but…did ANYTHING help traffic there?

    (reads article)

    OK, the NYT article did- but that only got a 25X increase? Given that my understanding was that traffic was really low, what’s 25 times low?

  2. Brigid Says:

    Here’s something that would help ComicMix increase their traffic: They should get one of those RSS feed thingies like every other website (even Newsarama!) has now.

    That would probably do a heap more good than posting a *webcomic* on scans_daily.

  3. Jim Says:

    I love Scans Daily. Or rather, did.

    I sort of gave up on monthly books. The constant over hype and non-stop events really drove me out. Now days, I only buy a few titles on a monthly basis (about 5, down from a high of over 40).

    Instead, I buy lots of trades. More trades then I should. But, I only want to buy the ones that are good. And, watching hype sites and message boards is too much work (the hobby is supposed to be fun, not work). So, I would follow Scans Daily to see what was good, then when new trades would drop I would know what to order.

    And really, if I don’t know anything about the book, if I don’t know the title is going to be good, I am not buying it. Too much money and too little time to read crap. I know I am missing some good stuff, but that can’t be helped. Would rather miss some winners then buy a lot of losers trying to catch it all.

    So Scans Daily being gone, well, please keep us in the loop on where it comes back. Otherwise, I will be buying a lot less.

    Will just shift the money to video games and the reading to novels I guess. Worlds of good $7.99 mass market paperbacks out there that I have not read. Cheaper then a trade, and will take longer to read. More value in the number of minutes of entertainment per dollar at least.

    I better stop this train of thought before I decide to get out of comics completely….

  4. David Wynne Says:

    Brigid- comicmix has an rss feed. I used to use it myself to keep up with the site, till they dropped the columns (if I’m honest I generally only read Denny O’Neil’s column on anything like a regular basis).

  5. RAB Says:

    Glenn Hauman is a smart guy…so it genuinely astonishes me that he can take a single datum and extrapolate it into a curve. Or as the cliche has it, “the plural of anecdote is not data.” He’s got to know better than that.

  6. Angelophile Says:

    “Community promotion works much better when a fan says “hey, this is great, check it out!” When a publisher does so, the general reaction is “yeah, of course you’d say that.””

    Great point and Warren Ellis said practically the same, pointing out that the community was unique in that it couldn’t really be /used/ like other comic sites where previews were at the discretion of the comic companies.

  7. Johanna Says:

    David: Really? I didn’t know that. I saw many people asking for an RSS feed; I’m surprised that they didn’t try to promote the fact when they added it. But then, I don’t think ComicMix did much promotion at other sites, which might have helped them build an audience.

    Jim: Go here: http://asylums.insanejournal.com/scans_daily/ for the reborn S_D.

  8. Glenn Hauman Says:

    Johanna: I got similar numbers from Kevin Church when he was promoting his webcomic– no appreciable bump.

    And I never said, �They didn�t praise us, so they�re ineffective for promotion�– praise didn’t enter into it. All I was going on was click-through. The comments I got back were thoughtful, etc. The overall ongoing readership? Negligible.

    Maybe it’s a logical leap– but I guarantee it’s based on more data than anything the “s_d helped sales!” crowd has. After all, there have also been over four billion dollars in domestic movie ticket sales in properties based on comics– somehow, I suspect that is more responsible for any increase in comics sales than a LJ community that didn’t crack ten thousand users– although we’re agreed that there’s no way to prove causation on that.

    Brigid: http://www.comicmix.com/rss/ Is it that unobvious? We may need to look at the site…

  9. Johanna Says:

    Kevin plugging his webcomic has the same negative factors as you plugging yours. (Although in his case, which one?) And ultimately, it’s irrelevant, since you don’t *buy* a webcomic.

  10. Brigid Says:

    Glenn, David,

    Thanks for the clarification. Before I posted that comment, I went and looked all over the site and couldn’t find the RSS feed, to check if you had added one since I was last there. I couldn’t find it anywhere. There is no RSS icon in my address bar–oh, snap, I just switched from Safari to Firefox and there it is! However, I just went over your whole home page again and I still don’t see any link there. So yes, I would make it more prominent.

    RSS feeds are important to linkbloggers like me, since I subscribe to so many feeds that I’m likely to forget a site exists if it’s not in my feed reader. But they are also increasingly important to webcomics readers, as many folks like to read the comics in their feed readers–or just be reminded of the updates.

    Also, in my experience, the best way to bump traffic is have Kevin Church link to you on his blog. Seriously, that always gives my numbers a push.

  11. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Slash Print | Following the digital evolution Says:

    [...] Johanna Draper Carlson points out some problems with Hauman’s experiment, and with his conclusion. I think [...]

  12. Adam Boorman Says:

    “I got similar numbers from Kevin Church when he was promoting his webcomic”

    Scans_daily was fan space. You can’t promote there. That’s not how fan space works. As a creator or publisher, you cant actually utilize it as a tool. Trying to promote there is intrusion. Its exactly the same as fans going into a creator oriented space and telling them how to create. You cant go into a fan oriented space and tell them what to fan.

    I think a lot of creators are very out of touch with how fan spaces work. ESPECIALLY female dominated ones (or, in S_Ds case, ones that begun as female dominated, i hear that evened out a bit towards the end.)

    (mind you, in the world of comics, an even male/female ratio is still a percentage of female participation that places it as a distant statistical outlier.)

  13. Glenn Hauman Says:

    And ultimately, it’s irrelevant, since you don’t *buy* a webcomic.

    So your position is that you get a greater response for something that someone has to go to a comic shop and pay money for than something that’s a single click away and free?

    There are entire industries that prove that theory wrong. See: “cost per action” vs. “cost per click” advertising. If you get a response rate of 2% of all your click throughs, you’re doing well.

  14. Johanna Says:

    Webcomics, because they’re free and anyone can put one up (sometimes with minimal effort), have the perception of being not as high quality as printed material in many people’s minds. That’s another reason why comparisons may not be valid.

    I’d actually expect greater response from a no-image text link (as people go to see what it looks like) than a substantial sample. With the sample, if it doesn’t grab attention, there’s no reason to click.

  15. Hsifeng Says:

    Jim Says:

    “…And really, if I don’t know anything about the book, if I don’t know the title is going to be good, I am not buying it. Too much money and too little time to read crap. I know I am missing some good stuff, but that can’t be helped. Would rather miss some winners then buy a lot of losers trying to catch it all.

    “So Scans Daily being gone, well, please keep us in the loop on where it comes back. Otherwise, I will be buying a lot less.

    “Will just shift the money to video games and the reading to novels I guess. Worlds of good $7.99 mass market paperbacks out there that I have not read. Cheaper then a trade, and will take longer to read. More value in the number of minutes of entertainment per dollar at least.

    “I better stop this train of thought before I decide to get out of comics completely…”

    OTOH, keeping that train of thought going could mean getting into the library instead of getting out of comics. :)

    Thanks to public libraries, you don’t need to buy a book (whether it’s a comic book or not) before you read it. If you want to try a book and your local library doesn’t have it, then you could recommend that they purchase it (this includes comic books distributed as books instead of as issues of periodicals). If you end up not liking it yourself, maybe some of the other patrons of that library still would like it so it wouldn’t be a total loss. If your local library faces a budget crunch and can’t afford to buy a copy, then you could request an interlibrary loan ( http://www.worldcat.org/ can help you find the nearest library-owned copy).

    Personally, if I did buy all the books I wanted to read then I’d have spent thousands of dollars on books I ended up not liking that much. Instead I borrow from my local library and its networks a lot, recommend purchases to it (the librarians appreciate suggestions from us patrons!), sometimes borrow from outside its networks via interlibrary loan, and only buy my favorite books for myself. :)

  16. Lorelei Says:

    That, of course, assumes that your local libraries carry comics or graphic novels at all. Which mine certainly don’t.

  17. Hsifeng Says:

    Lorelei Says:

    “That, of course, assumes that your local libraries carry comics or graphic novels at all. Which mine certainly don’t.”

    Do any of your local libraries offer interlibrary loan services? If one does, then could you request a comic book from another library or does it have a non-comics rule in its interlibrary loan policy?

  18. Dwight Williams Says:

    My public library in Ottawa, Canada does carry graphic novels. And while the federal government’s been making it fiscally harder for public libraries to borrow from each other in the last couple of years, it hasn’t thus far become completely impossible.

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