- Posted by Johanna on October 22, 2013 at 5:51 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
Marvel Comics has announced that the Marvel Previews monthly catalog will be available for free digitally starting November 6. It’s about time! I’ve wondered for a while why a customer should be asked to spend money in order to know what to spend more money on. However, there’s a big snag that makes this almost worthless: you can’t use it to preorder, since “Marvel Previews will not transition to a free download until the month its contents are on sale. Retailers can still enjoy selling the catalog to customers within the usual window.”
So Marvel will give you an out-of-date advance look at comics that have likely changed contents or creators by the time you’re reading the catalog. I thought this was a forward-looking idea, but it’s just a typical comics industry half-assed attempt to pretend to be modern.
I understand that print catalogs, especially monthly 400-plus-page phonebooks, cost money, and as times have gotten tighter, many retailers no longer offer Previews (and its little Marvel sibling) for free. That’s short-sighted thinking, though, in my opinion, since these days, preordering benefits the shopkeeper more than it does the customer.
What this boils down to is, instead of generating timely marketing material to drive customers to retailers (or encourage more digital purchases), which would cost money, this approach is a lame attempt to wring more value out of existing content.
Marvel’s SVP of Publishing David Gabriel attempted to put a shiny spin on the announcement. “By putting information about new print products and collected editions in the hands of our growing digital customer base, we can inform those customers about the great Marvel products available at their local retailers!” Except we’ve pretty much established that digital and print customers are different audiences, so this reads like a lot of wishful thinking. Even if I found something in this free catalog that I (as a hypothetical digital reader) wanted, why wouldn’t I just click a few buttons on the device in my hands and get it there?
While we’re on the topic, there’s an even bigger question still out there: why are retailers and end customers still being given the same advance promotional material?