Dark Horse Tries to Get Retailers Onboard With Digital Exclusives

Dark Horse Digital

Dark Horse wants to get retailers to help them promote their digital comic store, so they’ve announced a Digital Retailer Exclusive program. Comic stores that sign up (before June 22) will get (via email) a sheet of 100 one-time-use codes. The retailer prints them out, hands them out to customers (how to determine which is an open question), and with the code, a reader can download a free eight-page digital story.

In July, the comic is BPRD (page shown here); in August, Buffy the Vampire Slayer; and in September, Mass Effect. They’re promoted as being Dark Horse’s “hottest titles” and containing “never-before-seen material”.

BPRD Casualties page

I congratulate Dark Horse on being creative in trying to drive digital traffic. This offer costs retailers nothing, and it could conceivably set their store apart if they have local competition that isn’t participating. (Of course, it does require the retailer be willing to promote digital comics to their customers. Some won’t even want to acknowledge the existence of an online comic store.) Dark Horse is aiming to drive traffic, including the hypothetical new customer, to participating stores — although I am curious whether stores will require a purchase to get a code, only hand them out to subscribers or favorites, or otherwise determine who gets the freebie. From the press release:

Not only do we want to bring people into the stores, but also show that the digital reader isn’t always the die-hard comic fan, it’s a new breed of reader — a more tech-friendly reader — who will be pleased to know the wonders of the local comic shop once he/she sets foot in one!

So it’s an attempt to replicate Free Comic Book Day for just one publisher? Dark Horse, meanwhile, gets a targeted mailing list of forward-looking shops who are amenable to online cross-promotion. And fans get free short comics that will get them to try Dark Horse’s online store and potentially buy more issues in the lengthy series featured. It’s a shame that the program isn’t weekly, which would really drive traffic to brick-and-mortar stores.

Retailers participate by emailing business name, address, email, and Diamond account number to Dark Horse. The publisher is strongly encouraging fans to get their stores to sign up for the program, telling them to tell their retailers that they want this material. They also sent out a blurb to all of their digital comic mailing list subscribers, reminding them that these exclusives are only available to local retail shops that sign up by June 22. The email ended, “So be sure to ask your local retailer to sign up! You won’t want to miss these amazing comics!”

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