- Posted by Johanna on November 17, 2009 at 9:10 am
- Category: Comic News
Yesterday morning, via their blog Journalista, Fantagraphics announced that The Comics Journal‘s final print issue as a magazine, issue #300, would be put online in full for free. They were promoting their upcoming plans to expand the TCJ.com website with lots of free content, while in print they put out “bigger and more elaborate” versions only twice a year.
This announcement got widespread coverage, since it sounded like there were plenty of good, meaty articles to read. I saw it mentioned on many news sites (for example).
However, by the time I decided to check out the pieces — I waited because I knew I’d want to spend some time on the site — the announcement had changed.
Update: Well that didn’t take long. All apologies — we’re withdrawing the whole concept.
I’m afraid that on Gary Groth’s instructions the experiment in online marketing has been cancelled. Sorry.
Not only does that resemble a bait-and-switch scheme (“hey, that content we said was free? Psych! You’ve gotta pay to see it!”), although I’m sure that wasn’t the intent, now all those links on all those sites promoting the idea are broken. All users see is a message that says “Subscribers’ Area You are not authorized to view this resource. You need to login.” Visitors to the home page see this message: “(All apologies for the earlier “enthusiasm” on the website.)”
I’m guessing that various people who stood to make money from selling the issue, including retailers, complained. The lesson here is that you’ve got to be sure of what you’re doing before you make an announcement of that sort, since you risk turning a great promotional idea into a bad taste in customers’ mouths.
Update: (11/19/09) The latest Journalista explains:
We pulled TCJ #300 offline largely due to retailer concerns over not having been given adequate warning about said plans before ordering the issue. It was a fair point, and one that we hadn’t properly considered. The issue will again be made available online in late December, after retailers have been given time to sell the print edition.
Sounds like a great compromise and a good kickoff to their continuing online plans.
Update: The issue is completely online as of today, January 8. So a week late, but that’s not bad.