“We usually see a dip of 10% or more between issues #3 and #4 of any of our series. That said, we saw nearly a 20% increase in orders between issue #3 and #4 of NORTH WIND. An increase like this has never happened in the history of our company. Never. Bottom line – we are talking about a 30% increase over the norm,” said Chip Mosher, Marketing and Sales Director for BOOM! Studios.
If you take a trip down memory lane, Boom! Studios got the ire of many a LCS for simultaneously releasing issue #1 of North Wind in the stores and online at MySpace. Those who got all cranky said the release would actually drive down sales in the store if it were given away for free. Later those wiped the egg off their face when North Wind #1 sold out 10 days later.
Mr. Mosher seems to be on to something here. Much like a crack dealer, Boom! Studios giving readers a taste of their work has prompted an increase in sales. Would this same thing work if the company did it with every issues? Probably not, but offering up the first issue for free online seems to have driven many into the stores to seek out additional titles, and I’m sure, much to the chagrin of those LCS owners, people who visit the shop are probably purchasing other titles as well.
Whenever I flip through the Previews catalog I have a very difficult time deciding if I should hop on a new title just because it has a fancy cover or EIC that I happen to like. Actually reading that first issue might prompt me to part with my hard earned $3.99 for the next 12 issues in the series. Instead of looking at the sales figures for a single issue, Boom! Studios is thinking long term – a variation of the Long Tail me thinks. Major Spoilers just happens to be on the review list for Boom! Studios (thanks guys), but that doesn’t mean we won’t buy Boom! Studios titles. After finishing the first issue of The Foundation, I put it on my pull list because it is a title I really like and want to support. Now, as long as the series continues to be good, Boom! Studios will be getting that cover price from me for months/years to come – something that would never have happened had I not had that first free issue.
Is this a revolutionary new way of marketing products? No. Steven Soderbergh did something similar when he released Bubble on DVD and in theaters on the same day. Granted, Bubble didn’t do much at the movie theater or over the counter, but it does show that the idea of breaking the distribution model is on the minds of many different creators.
What should Boom! Studios do to follow up on this marketing idea that has worked for them the first time? Release issue #4 online and have readers pay what they feel like giving. It’s worked for recording artists, why not try it for comics too? The company might just discover readers are willing to pay wholesale price for a really good story.
And in case you are curious about North Wind
NORTH WIND, written by David DiGilio, who is best known for writing the film EIGHT BELOW and creating the ABC TV show TRAVELER, is a five issue mini-series set in a future Los Angeles after a new ice age has covered the earth. NORTH WIND chronicles the rise of a new hero in a dystopian world where people burn books for fuel, and Skinrunners trade valuable pelts for rations and warmth. The first issue features a cover by Andrew Huerta with interior artwork by newcomer and future Spider-Man artist, Alex Cal.