Top Shelf Adds DRM-Free Graphic Novel Purchases to Website

Following in the footsteps of Image Comics, Top Shelf has announced that they will be selling DRM-free digital graphic novels direct from their website. They will continue selling through various partners, as well, but setting up their own digital store (with choices of PDF, ePub, or CBZ) allows them to sell bundles — if you buy print direct from them, the digital version is also available for a small add-on price.

Top Shelf DRM-Free Digital ad

The first titles in the program (which seem to be new releases and/or works by web cartoonists who likely understand the power of digital) are

  • March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell ($7.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Heck by Zander Cannon ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • Crater XV by Kevin Cannon ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire ($6.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • God Is Disappointed in You by Mark Russell & Shannon Wheeler ($9.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Chester 5000 by Jess Fink ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • We Can Fix It by Jess Fink ($6.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • The Surrogates (Vol. 1) by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • The Surrogates (Vol. 2): Flesh and Bone by Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele ($5.99 digital, $1.99 with print purchase)
  • Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell ($9.99 digital, $2.99 with print purchase)
  • Will You Still Love Me If I Wet the Bed? by Liz Prince ($3.99 digital, $0.99 with print purchase)

With this announcement, it appears that the last fears of retailer grumbling over publisher direct sales are gone… or irrelevant. Comic shop owners used to berate and/or try to punish (through ordering) publishers that pushed direct sales to customers, but it’s a whole new world now, and publishers need to reach out directly for their own success. After all, no one can push your book as well as you can.


4 Responses to “Top Shelf Adds DRM-Free Graphic Novel Purchases to Website”

  1. Anthony Says:

    I assume another factor’s the companies seeing they can take in much more money by selling digital comics directly via their own sites, vs. a bunch of middlemen like Apple/Google and Comixology taking the majority of sales money right off the top. Not sure how seeing 2/3 of sales gone before it even reaches the publishers/creators is a remotely appealing business model (“early days” or not), but the comics industry seems to have stampeded toward such with Comixology’s app…

  2. Johanna Says:

    Very good point. Which is probably why Amazon, for example, has clauses in their agreements that say you can’t offer a product for sale for less elsewhere than you do through them. If you don’t have to pay to the large vendor, then you could undercut them drastically.

  3. ComiXology Submit May Not Be Easy to Get Into » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] think it illustrates a much more basic principle, the same one I was talking about with Top Shelf this morning: you are the best salesperson of your work. The job doesn’t stop once you get picked up by […]

  4. ComiXology Allows Publishers to Provide DRM-Free Digital Comics » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] According to ComiXology, “Participating publishers include Image Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Zenescope Entertainment, MonkeyBrain Comics, Thrillbent, and Top Shelf Productions. In addition, our Submit creators and small publishers are now able to choose to make their books available DRM-free.” So this doesn’t cover DC or Marvel, which isn’t surprising — the biggest companies are usually the ones who most want to lock down and reduce customer choice. Image has sold its own DRM-free comics directly for a while now, by the way, as does Top Shelf. […]




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