Dark Horse Digital Pushes Print Sales

Dark Horse’s digital newsletter, promoting their online comic purchases, is always interesting to read. It points out their new digital releases and any special offers. And yesterday, it sent a very mixed message:

Dark Horse Presents digital ad

It’s finally here! Dark Horse Presents is now available digitally! The legendary premiere anthology is back, and better then ever. Get seventy pages of comics for only $3.99! Be sure to pick up the print version of DHP #1, loaded with content not found in the digital version, and get DHP #2 on sale next Wednesday at your local comic shop!

This, to me, perfectly summed up how schizophrenic comic publishers are about their digital comic efforts. They change immediately from “buy online, it’s a great deal” to “but you’re not going to get the full content”, clearly giving the message that print is what they really want to be selling. I understand the value of upselling — telling a customer who’s ready to buy “oh, here’s a better version (that makes us more money)” — but that usually applies when both products are available in the same venue. Someone who wants to buy a comic now on their favorite device isn’t, in most cases, going to change their mind, look up a comic store, get their keys, drive there, and pay more.

Well, except in this case, if they want to read the Star Wars story, or the “exclusive sneak peek of Frank Miller’s highly-anticipated prequel to 300, Xerxes!” Both aren’t included in the digital version — I’m presuming, at least in the first case, due to rights and licensing issues. It’s honest of Dark Horse to make it clear to the reader what they’re buying, even if it risks sounding like “nyah, nyah, you digital readers can’t have it.”

4 Responses to “Dark Horse Digital Pushes Print Sales”

  1. John Jakala Says:

    I thought that was strange, too, but since I don’t have any interest in Star Wars or Frank Miller at this point, it didn’t bother me much and I decided to buy it. (My first digital comic purchase!)

    There were a couple clunkers (Neal Adams’
    “Blood” was particularly bad) but overall it succeeded as an anthology – I enjoyed more of the pieces than I disliked.

    I’m more excited about some of DH’s other digital offerings — FINDER collections for six bucks apiece seems like a great deal!

  2. Matt M. Says:

    Well there’s a name I haven’t seen in a long time. Hello, John.

    As for print/digital, nobody yet and that especially includes DC with their latest plans, has yet to grasp that digital and print markets are different things. And honestly, playing lip service to the DM doesn’t really help their print side. Unless they’re actually aiming at people who aren’t actually buying comics right now in either form.

    Pricing chapters of a story for three bucks each online, however, is a non-starter.

  3. D. Peace Says:

    I find this incredibly disappointing. Dark Horse and every other publisher should mean what they say and say what they mean when it comes to digital distribution… the days of using digital as a means of giving us a little snippet or “preview” sized portion of the entire work are over. This reminds me of the kind of meager “we’ll dip our toes in the water” attitude that publishers have had for the past decade now. I understand that they’re trying to drive potential customers into the shops because the shops are the only business that the comic book industry had known until now and it’s awfully hard to pull away from that teat entirely but new media and new frontiers in publishing needs commitment and incentive-loading the dying print system seems really backward to me.

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