Is It a Failure of Your Jumping-On Point If You Need a Free Digital Collection to Go With It?

Last month, Marvel announced that selected “.NOW” issues of their comics, intended to be “great first issue entry points”, would come with a free digital copy PLUS a digital code for the entire first collection of that series. The list of the bonus offers are as follows:

Bonus digital collection logo

  • Avengers #24.NOW – On-Sale 12/24/13
  • Savage Wolverine #14.NOW – On-Sale 1/08/14
  • All-New X-Men #22.NOW – On-Sale 1/22/14
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #11.NOW – On-Sale 1/29/14
  • Captain America #16.NOW – On-Sale 02/05/14
  • Thor: God of Thunder #19.NOW – On-Sale 02/12/14
  • Nova #13.NOW – On-Sale 02/19/14
  • Iron Man #23.NOW – On-Sale 03/19/14
  • Uncanny X-Men #19.NOW – On-Sale 03/19/14
  • Uncanny Avengers #18.NOW – On-Sale 3/26/14

Here’s some puffy promotional copy on the subject, with a lack of diversity of adjectives:

Featuring all-new ongoing series AND must-read .NOW entry issues for new readers, All-New Marvel NOW! takes the Marvel Universe in exciting new directions this Winter. With exciting new stories from the industry’s top creators like Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender, Dan Slott, Warren Ellis, Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, & more — All-New Marvel NOW! is set to deliver some of the best comics on the market.

“The .NOW issues provide a great first issue entry point for new and existing readers alike,” said David Gabriel, SVP of Print & Digital Publishing, Marvel Entertainment. “But by offering free digital collections with print issues, we’re offering fans who may not have experienced these exciting series a great chance to jump into the full story all at once, taking advantage of both the print and digital formats in a manner no other publisher has attempted!”

If you like to read digital comics, this is a great value, buying one print comic and getting a handful more for free. However, it’s also a sign of the devaluation of digital comics — have one for free! no, have more! There’s nothing stopping a publisher from giving away all previous series issues, if they wanted, killing a back issue market that was already on life support.

Morever, I find it fascinating that these starting points are being undercut by the implication that you need to read more than the labeled jumping-on issue in order to get the “full story”. One issue just isn’t enough to hook anyone these days, in most cases.

Then there’s the question of the gap. If the “starting point” is issue #23, for example, then what issues are reprinted in the giveaway “first collection”? The first five? The issues from the previous major storyline? Will this help new readers, or just confuse them further?

It doesn’t really matter, though, since Marvel isn’t angling for truly new readers. They’re hoping for conversions, convincing existing comic shop customers (since they aren’t selling elsewhere any more) to buy these titles instead of ones printed by competitors. If they were actually seeking new customers, they’d be talking about outreach in movie theaters or to DVD buyers or other cross-promotions.

One Response to “Is It a Failure of Your Jumping-On Point If You Need a Free Digital Collection to Go With It?”

  1. Dave Carter Says:

    Yeah—giving away promo codes for a Thor collection to everyone who went to see the latest Thor movie on opening weekend; if even just 1% converted that would be something like 85,000 new Thor readers!




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