Diamond Digital Calls It Quits

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Diamond Digital program, announced three years ago, is ending.

Diamond Digital logo

This isn’t a surprise. It took them longer than expected to get off the ground, and with ComiXology’s early lead in digital distribution, including its own retailer offering, there was a lot of competition. One of the big issues was that DC and Marvel had contracts with ComiXology and weren’t available for Diamond to offer. Those publishers are the two biggest reasons customers think of or shop in the direct comic shop market, so that was a noticeable gap.

The program was only available to physical comic stores. Diamond partnered with iVerse to offer the service, but the question was always “why would I go through a comic store to buy digitally?” The point of digital is that it’s available anywhere, any time, and the Diamond Digital program seemed to exist not because the established monopoly distributor thought it was a valuable service, but to maintain their market dominance. The official reason given for the shutdown was “18 months after its launch, results indicate that Diamond Digital has not gained enough traction in the marketplace to continue.” Comics purchased will remain available to readers through the Comics Plus app.

Update: Brigid Alverson has great analysis as to why the project never worked.

…the initial concept was flawed. The idea wasn’t to provide readers with a simple, easy-to-use digital comics service; it was to protect brick-and-mortar retailers by providing them with a digital comics service that wouldn’t compete with them. That drive to avoid competition resulted in a clunky and almost-unusable platform. Meanwhile, comiXology took a different tack and expanded the comics market, bringing in new readers — who then found their way to comics shops and bought print comics.

Of course, the biggest problem operationally was that Diamond Digital catered to a market dominated by Marvel and DC but didn’t carry single-issue comics from either publisher.

…protectionism trumps logic. At some point after February 2011 (and this is where the delay really becomes a factor) everyone decided that to protect retailers, digital comics would be sold at the print cover price for the first couple of months (and in a lot of cases, that price never goes down). That’s the paradigm, and it’s working great for comiXology, but two years ago, you might have lured readers away with that discount, if you could negotiate it and if you could get Marvel and DC on board. Those are two big ifs, but the fact of the matter is, there was no discernible benefit to retailers to offering that discount — it would just undercut print sales.

Similar Posts: Digital Exclusivity Returns, With Marvel Singles Exclusive to Comixology § IDW Dumps iVerse for ComiXology, Goes Same-Day Digital at Full Price § Diamond Digital Update: They Built an App § Savage Critics Launches Digital Comic Store § Is the Last Independent Comic Distributor Calling It Quits? Haven Shutting Down


5 Responses to “Diamond Digital Calls It Quits”

  1. Chris Arrant Says:

    I wonder if now that Diamond is out of the digital comics marketplace if they’d partner with ComiXology on something — maybe linking the comic shop locator in the ComiXology app, or offering ComiXology gift cards for sale in PREVIEWS for comic stores.

    The latter would be especially interesting, if ComiXology offered the Gift cards at the standard discount physical comic books are offered at to retailers. Gift cards for ComiXology could theoretically get around the Apple iTunes store cut, so comic stores could get a piece of that.

  2. Johanna Says:

    Those are great ideas… I’m used to thinking of motives in the comic market as being adolescent, though, so I wonder if Diamond decision-makers would be able to get past the idea that ComiXology was successful where they weren’t. I would hope so.

  3. Ralf Haring Says:

    “…will remain available to readers through the Comics Plus app”

    Until the app stops being updated to work on newer devices. Until the servers the data is stored on/that authenticate the users are shut down.

  4. Johanna Says:

    AKA why DRM-free is preferable. Although I do think many of the apps/services that have shut down in other media areas did try to provide a conversion method.

  5. Jamie Coville Says:

    Quote:
    “but the question was always “why would I go through a comic store to buy digitally?” The point of digital is that it’s available anywhere, any time, and the Diamond Digital program seemed to exist not because the established monopoly distributor thought it was a valuable service, but to maintain their market dominance”

    I think the other reason was to stop comic shops from closing. 3 years ago the economy was really bad and with all the hype about digital comics, I think those store owners were wondering if selling comics then was like selling CDs in the 90s. I think the hype played a factor in convincing shop owners to close up and move on when times were tough, instead of trying to work through it like they had in the past. The number of comic shops went from roughly 3000 to 2000 around this time.

    The believe Diamonds plan was to convince some of those on the fence store owners that if the digital comic hype was real they could benefit from it and keep their stores open. Which was a benefit to Diamond as well obviously.

    No point in that now. The print market has recovered and Comixology has captured and ran away with much of the digital market.

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