Dark Horse Digital Pushes Print Sales

Dark Horse Presents digital ad

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:

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!

Dark Horse Presents digital ad

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.”

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