Why Isn’t Previews Online?
Graeme McMillan asks a good question: Why isn’t the entire Previews catalog online?
Well, actually, he does’t ask that. What he says is:
There’s something depressing about the amount of great material that not enough people are aware of, because they rely on the internet for solicit information, and it’s just not really out there for them to find easily. There’s so many comics that people just don’t know about. Short of just putting all of Previews online, what’s the solution?
I’m not sure why he rules out putting the ordering information online — although I can make some guesses. First, there’s copyright. If publishers provide the text for their sections, they likely maintain reprint rights to it, so putting the whole catalog online would mean getting everyone’s ok.
Then there’s profit. (That usually plays a role when the question is “why?”) Previews sells those catalogs, and plenty of retailers sell them to their customers at cover price. We can debate how silly it is to charge customers to sell them more product, but it’s an established factor in the comic market at this point. Even if it benefits the stores as much as the end buyers, who have a better idea of how much to order. (To build loyalty, many stores give the catalog to subscribers, which since it would otherwise have a cost, feels like a bonus.)
The big publishers don’t need to worry about it, since their upcoming issue solicitations are considered “news” stories at several comic sites. It’s the smaller publishers who would really benefit from having their descriptions available in a central location. Since the order form is online, everyone’s titles and prices are out there, but the contents and credits aren’t. If you see something you’re curious about, you can search, and smart publishers will have the same description posted as is in the catalog, complete with order code, but that’s a hassle most potential buyers don’t go through.
Since putting the full catalog online would only benefit those publishers with the least power, I don’t see it happening any time soon. They don’t have any pull with Diamond Distributors, and those who do don’t have an incentive to encourage people to buy comics by smaller competitors. Comments at Graeme’s post point out that some online stores, such as DCBS and comiXology, have more information available, but that doesn’t seem the most ideal choice.