Savage Critics Launches Digital Comic Store

It’s not just that comic shop retailer Brian Hibbs makes such interesting decisions, it’s that he explains them in such informative ways. Take the latest, with Brian’s review site the Savage Critics (disclaimer: I was one for a short one) signing up to sell digital comics through Diamond’s program with iVerse.

That Diamond connection is key, because right now, their offerings are only available through established retail accounts with physical storefronts, as Brian explains:

Most of Diamond’s focus has been on a kind of “do you want fries with that?” digital copy upsell in store. Hell, maybe that can even work — though I have a hard time picturing it, and, besides, the physical print market is already niche enough that physical retailers would be, I think, largely foolish to even raise the possibility that customers in their physical stores might migrate to digital (not that I think they WILL, as a mass) […]

All I know is that I’m sure as hell not going to promote digital within my individual physical sales environment. I think that’s plainly counter-productive to my physical print-based business. The internet, however, is different. I’ll be surprised if even 1% of my regulars read this blog posting, or even an aggregation site’s picking up on the “story”. But there are hundreds, thousands, lots! of readers reading these words who will never set foot in my store for the simple reason that you’re nowhere near me whatsoever. SOME of you are interested in digital comics.

And due to the Diamond connection, those readers can now buy from his review site, but not from mine. If I wanted to sell digital comics through my own links, I can’t. Brian acknowledges the combination: “because I’m one of the very very few people who has both a Diamond account, as well as an internet review site, boom, now we’re selling digital comics.”

There is a market for such an affiliate program, I’m confident, and someone will eventually set one up, although now, it risks raising the ire of store owners who are already very uncertain about digital “competition”. Letting anyone sell digital comics opens the door to divvying up the market among so many potential slices that the cost may not be worth the damage to established outlets and distributors.

Since this effort isn’t through comiXology, the two major comic shop publishers, DC and Marvel, aren’t included. Prices are either cover — making the digital comics cost as much as $3.99 — or a dollar less, in the case of Archie titles. As for potential profit, the business side gives each major player a third of the sale: the retailer, the publisher, and the distributor (Diamond and iVerse together). Which isn’t a balance that I suspect will last, because it’s unclear that all of those people are needed.

I look forward to hearing more about how this effort proceeds, since Brian’s dispatches from the front lines are always educational, and I appreciate his willingness to share.

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