Digital Comic Codes: Is a Free Online Copy Worth Losing the Ability to Browse?

Another day, another Marvel announcement about a product getting a “free digital copy”. This time, it’s the Season One line of graphic novels, retelling and “modernizing” origins of well-known Marvel properties that have movies, including Spider-Man, Daredevil, X-Men, and shown here, the Fantastic Four.

The books debut in February and run through Spring 2012. Marvel has announced that each one “will be shrink-wrapped with a code for a FREE digital copy of the story — a first for the comic industry — on the Marvel Comics app, at no additional cost to fans or retailers.” This “bonus” add-on, while perhaps making the book seem like a better value to customers and greatly annoying some retailers, has a gotcha attached, though.

The $24.99 books will, to keep the code secret, be shrink-wrapped. That means no one can browse through them — so now “new and old readers alike”, to quote Marvel’s intended audience, will have to buy them sight unseen.

I know plenty of comic shopping is done that way now, between having to preorder books to get to see them or buying for the best price on Amazon. But there’s a big difference between risking $4 (usually less with preorder discounts) and $25.

Besides, based on what happens at a lot of bookstores, the shrinkwrap will soon go missing. Between that and the ability for someone to buy the book, copy the code, and return it, I’m wondering just how effective this promotion will be in actually giving customers the ability to get a download. Will retailers accept returns if the code doesn’t work, or will customers even care if it’s missing?

Similar Posts: Marvel Gives Away Digital Copies But Considers Them Worth $4 § Digital Copies Through Your Comic Retailer? Witchblade Experiments § Why Did It Take So Long for the Ordering Catalog to Be Given Away? § The DC Relaunch: A Prediction of What Might Happen § Is It a Failure of Your Jumping-On Point If You Need a Free Digital Collection to Go With It?

7 Responses to “Digital Comic Codes: Is a Free Online Copy Worth Losing the Ability to Browse?”

  1. William George Says:

    “… so now “new and old readers alike”, to quote Marvel’s intended audience, will have to buy them sight unseen.

    It’s like their dreams have all come true. I can imagine nothing but 18 splash pages pretty soon.

  2. James Schee Says:

    Don’t most NC comics come shrink wrapped?

  3. James Schee Says:

    HC. Stupid autocorrect on IPad…

  4. Greg Manuel Says:

    How does this stop torrenters from finding a copy free of this so-called “shrinkwrap”?

  5. Johanna Says:

    It doesn’t. Publishers seem to think that “it’s harder to use and more expensive, but this version is legal” is a compelling argument to counteract piracy. I think they’ve misjudged the audience.

  6. Marvel Attempts to Bribe Digital Comic Readers Into Stores » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] in my town are participating? Given how many retailers are justifiably angry about being forced to advertise digital to their customers, I’m not sure how many have signed on for this effort. The announcement states: [...]

  7. Marvel Launches Original Graphic Novel Program With Warren Ellis and Mike McKone on Avengers: Endless Wartime » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] point, which is an admirable goal, if the sales outlets and marketing get on board. I guess the “Season One” line wasn’t as attractive, which I can understand — who wants to read another take on the [...]

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