Not Getting Digital: Weekly Webzine? Going Out to Buy Online?
People are trying to hang onto existing businesses in this brave new internet world, but clinging too tightly to the way things have been done just looks silly.
Why Restrict a Webzine to a Set Publication Schedule?
Exhibit A: After abruptly closing Wizard magazine amid talk of an online presence, Gareb Shamus revealed more of his plans in an iFanboy interview. The new Wizard World digital magazine will be a free weekly download.
That approach doesn’t seem to understand the speed of news online or how there is no traditional publication cycle anymore. But since Shamus thinks “websites are pretty worthless”, that explains why he’s ignoring the way the digital world works. With plenty of comments like “we reach the influencers out there, the people who actually vote with their dollars, that buy products, that want to know what they’re going to get are going to do that,” it’s clear Shamus is only interested in spinning bullshit to advertisers who think he’s actually a conduit to selling to fans. Those prospective customers will find out soon enough that he and his projects are jokes to that audience.
Shamus wants to “work with everybody to get it everywhere,” but given how the email spam is already going out, I think it’s just a way to build a mailing list for his ads. Bear in mind that if you do support this project, you support someone who thinks “People don’t know what to buy. People don’t know what to read. People don’t know what to believe” and they need Gareb to tell them those things. He continues, “we are going to continue the dominant influence that we’ve had on people’s taste and what people will like and what people will want and because we have the influences out there, we have the people that are the people that the companies are looking to reach, and we reach them en masse all the time. We reach the people who have the dollars that spend money on this product, and we’re going to be marketing to them every single day now.” Shamus has nothing but contempt for anyone who buys a ticket to his show or reads his magazine, in whatever format. Keep that in mind before indulging.
Why Do I Need to Go to a Store to Buy Online?
Last week, Diamond Comic Distributors announced that they would be fighting the threat of online comics by launching a program in which physical comic stores can sell digital comics. So to get an online comic through this program, a customer has to travel to a shop. Not only does this have most of the problems of other digital comic “solutions” — limited selection, $2 pricing, complicated rules, restricted files, and no truly cross-platform options — it adds a brand new one: making users travel.
DC and Marvel aren’t included, so most comic shop customers won’t care. (Also omitted are Dark Horse and Image, which means four out of the five of Diamond’s biggest publishers aren’t participating.) It’s using the iVerse technology, which so far is losing the digital distribution race to its competitors, which means customers will likely have to install yet another program and sign up for yet another account. Digital copies are 99 cents if you’ve already paid $3 or 4 for the print version, so this becomes a backdoor way to up the price of the paper version. Most importantly, many many of those interested in buying online don’t have a viable local shop — that’s why they like digital. This is a brand-new way for the backward-facing to stomp their feet and demand progress not pass them buy. Todd Allen has a lot more reasons this is a ridiculous idea.
The key reason it doesn’t make sense for Diamond to get involved in digital comics is that online eliminates middlemen. It’s a way for producers to sell directly to consumers. For now, the only intermediary that makes sense is the enabling software, and that’s where companies like comiXology and iVerse come in. There’s no reason anyone else should get involved — or get a cut. What service is Diamond providing, other than preventing prices from dropping because someone else has to get paid?