- Posted by Johanna on December 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
At the beginning of the month, when Dark Horse announced it was moving to same-day digital release, there was confusion over their pricing. It took several days and a good deal of retailer anger before they clarified that digital comics would be the same price as print, in order to prevent retailer boycotts.
As followup, Brigid Alverson has written an insightful piece (that also clarifies that the same price announcement was a change of plan, based on what was originally communicated by email). As she introduces it,
Given the opportunity to give their readers what they want — new digital comics at a price that they perceive as reasonable — and potentially expand the audience from niche to something approaching mainstream, Dark Horse chose to retreat and give the retailers what they want instead. I think Dark Horse was wrong, and here are six reasons why.
She points out that maybe it’s time for publishers to pay attention to what their actual customers, the readers, want instead of what the retailers demand. She also makes the good point that a publisher like Dark Horse, who does business based on a variety of genres, including licensed works, should consider a different strategy than a superhero-dependent company.
The direct market of dedicated comic shops, while historically important, is no longer as significant to publisher business as it used to be (especially if you’re not DC or Marvel, since a substantial portion of stores are focused on those titles and customers). It’s a weird quirk of the distribution system (and non-returnability for comics purchased by stores) that publishers pay so much attention to shops instead of end readers. Those customers, the readers, don’t think digital books (of any kind) should cost as much as print versions do, and publishers need to pay attention, because that’s where the potential new customers are going to come from, especially given how few comic shops there are across the country, compared to population.
Visit the link for more of Brigid’s reasoning, and how she gets to this conclusion:
Forcing your customers and potential customers to pay higher prices is not going to endear you to them, even if it does protect your business in the short term. As for Dark Horse, this was its moment to shift the paradigm; it’s too bad someone blinked.