Hi! I’m Stephen, and I have an iPad.  For the last year and a half (or more), I’ve been discussing ways mainstream publishers can make digital comics work and make everyone happy. DC made a huge splash in the digital comics market when it announced this week that all of its superhero titles would go digital day and date release.  While great news, the last day or so had me pondering what new titles I would get only in print, and which would be digital only editions.

One of my suggestions in the past has been to bundle a digital code with every print copy, much like the movie industry is doing with DVD releases.  I can go to the store and purchase a Blu-ray copy of Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, that not only includes the Blu-Ray HD version of the film, but also a standard definition DVD and an electronic code to download/transfer the movie to my iTunes account for use on my iPad, iPod, iPhone, or AppleTV (and yes, I do have all of them).

My worries over the question of Print or Digital have been answered by DC in the form of Combo Packs.

Those who want a physical copy of JUSTICE LEAGUE to read and collect, as well as the ability to download it onto their favorite device for easy transport, get ready. Each print edition of the comic book and an individual code for digital download will be wrapped in a poly bag and available for $4.99. Separately, the standard version will retail for $3.99 and the digital version will retail for $3.99.

This is a brilliant move, and one that sounds really, really familiar.  While this sounds like another way to get more money out of me, the dollar more I spend beginning August 31, 2011, will actually be saving me two dollars in the long run.

But, what about those of us who ONLY want a digital copy, but balk at the $3.99 price tag for the Day and Date (DandD) release?  You could wait a few weeks, and pick up the issue for $1.99.

Both digital and print editions of DC’s comics will have parity pricing for the first four weeks of release; thereafter, the digital titles drop in price down to our standard 1.99 digital price point. Oversized issues, including JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, will start at $3.99 and drop to $2.99 after four weeks.

Of course, I railed on the publishers for keeping the digital price the same as the print price when the first DandD issues first started appearing, but that was more of a move to keep brick and mortar stores from freaking out completely.  If you have followed the prices of digital comics, you may have already noticed that most publishers have lowered the prices of the digital editions the longer the comic has been out.

While this is all great news, there are still things that publishers can do to boost sales in the digital market, and that has to do with back issues.  Ever since publishers began offering their wares via Apps like comiXology, PanelFly and the like, they have slowly released their back catalog of titles.  Recently, DC has been releasing the first issues of the Batman series from the 40s, and Green Lantern titles from the Silver Age.  But unless I’m specifically looking for the first appearance of Sinestro through the app, getting access to that story is going to be rather difficult.

But what if comic reader apps like comiXology built hyperlink capabilities into their readers, that allowed publishers to use the old Editor Boxes to link directly to those digital back issues?  Suppose you’re reading the new Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, and Superman and Batman are talking about events that occurred in Green Lantern #1.  It would be a simple matter to include/return the Editor Box that said, “These events appeared in Green Lantern #1” and have that link directly to the online store for purchase.

That’s a freebie folks! Let’s hope you make a crap ton of money off that idea!  I have another one you might find interesting… read it here.

For now, I’m happy to prepare my next Previews order to include a note that reads, “Dear James, from now on, please make sure all of my DC Comics are the combo pack variant.  Sincerely, The Guy Who Put Your Kids Through College”

via The Source


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  1. John I.G.
    June 2, 2011 at 8:16 pm — Reply

    3.99+3.99=7.98 ~ $8
    4.99 ~ $5

    That’s $2.99 ~ $3 saving. Of course, it looks like 3+3=6 and 6-4=2 , but that’s the old marketing ploy to make you pay a dollar more for everything. Although in this case it seems to be backfiring. Although if I realised I was paying 5 dollars for a comic, I’d probably start to rethink my purchasing habits.

    Of course the price of comics still isn’t as inflated as the “witty comment on t-shirt” market.

    Anyways, considering they’ve been doing this kinda thing in both the movie and music market, I’m not really surprised. Although I do think it’s kinda weird they’re charging anything extra for the combo in comparison to the comic, just seems like they’re trying to milk it.

  2. June 2, 2011 at 9:16 pm — Reply

    Dammit, Stephen! Why haven’t you told us before that you had an iPad!?!

  3. June 3, 2011 at 12:02 am — Reply

    What would be awesome is if as they released the back catalog they would like add in a bar code scanner or some way of proving i already own the print version of the issue and get the back issue for free or at least a reduced price.

  4. Antonio Sanciolo
    June 3, 2011 at 5:30 am — Reply

    For what it’s worth, DC’s day-and-date digital comics angle AS WELL as the line relaunch has got me looking to buy an iPad this weekend. I really want to be there, riding what I hope to be the future standard of comic book retail.

  5. June 3, 2011 at 8:21 am — Reply

    Including a digital code with the physical comic is a great idea. Your hyperlink idea is an obvious way to increase sales. Can you imagine the web without links?

    Any idea how much a physical comic costs to produce? Compared to creating the digital.
    It seems like digital should be cheaper than physical, but so much of the cost of producing a comic is labor intensive (penciling, inking, coloring, lettering, etc). I can’t imagine the printing of the comic being that much of the total cost. Of course the paper costs have always been the excuse used by the publisher on how much a comic costs, but has anyone looked at how much paper is used in a comic? Not much. Also the logistics of shipping, warehousing, and the shipping costs would factor into the cost also.

    • June 3, 2011 at 8:52 am — Reply

      A few months ago someone wrote an article that quoted $500 per finished page for the art and writing team. The big cost is in the paper – and more importantly, the incredibly expensive ink. And don’t forget most of the books these days are printed overseas and shipped here, then dispatched across the U.S. via truck, etc.

      Remove the physical costs (sans art), and take into account that Apple takes 30% of every online sale, and that gives you an idea of the profit margins.

      • June 3, 2011 at 9:53 am — Reply

        But no matter how expensive the paper and ink are, how much is the paper and ink for one comic?

        I thought most comics were printed by Quebecor in Canada. They were having financial problems a few years ago, so it might have changed.

        >>Sincerely, The Guy Who Put Your Kids Through College
        I’m sure he appreciates your business very much.

  6. Sam K
    June 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm — Reply

    I gave up buying weekly new comics a while back, once they jumped the $2.00 an issue mark. I miss them, but I’ve found ways to keep my enjoyment going, thru cheap eBay lots, local conventions and trades on clearance sales. I love reading comics on my iPad, it’s made for this reason in my eyes. But I wouldn’t pay more than a buck for a digital download of a comic. I heard DC going to have 52 issues a month at day and date release… I thought “well, 52 bucks a month is a bit much, but I could really see that being a great way to get into DC comics (I’m a True Marvel Zombie since the early 1970s) But I guess there’s not going to be $1 day and date release for these… So thanks for nothing.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...