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Diamond raises order threshold for publishers [Update]

Diamond Comic Distributors

Diamond Comic Distributors

In a move that will have a significant, and negative, effect on small publishers, Diamond Comic Distributors is increasing its order minimums from $1,500 to $2,500.

The distributor also will eliminate its Previews adult supplement in printed form, but continue to offer it as a PDF to retailers.

Diamond brand managers began informing publishers of the changes last week; the news became public on Friday in a blog post by Simon Jones of Icarus Publishing.

I contacted Diamond for comment late Friday, but I haven’t received a response. According to Newsarama, Diamond last changed the order minimum in September 2005.

The increase of the purchase-order threshold means each book needs to generate at least $2,500 of revenue to be listed in Previews. In an email sent over the weekend to The Comics Reporter, SLG Publishing’s Dan Vado points out that figure means “a little over $6,000 in sales at retail based on the discount we give to Diamond.”

That means the average $3 comic would have to sell more than 2,100 copies — a rare feat for many small publishers. (The number of copies varies depending on the discount offered to Diamond.)

“That does not mean that Diamond is going to cancel or not carry books which appear in the Previews but do not reach that benchmark,” Vado writes in the email, “but it does mean that if you have a line of books which consistently do not meet that mark, you will not be getting your books listed in the Previews for long.”

It’ll also mean fewer relists and, obviously, fewer new offerings from small publishers. One publisher I spoke to characterized the new policy as Diamond’s way of switching small publishers to the original graphic novel format. Still, I’m not sure how many indy graphic novels could meet the new order minimum.

Of course, we also could see more publishers raising cover prices in an attempt to meet the new threshold.

This morning Tom Spurgeon quotes PictureBox Publisher Dan Nadel as saying the new minimum could jeopardize direct-market distribution for several of his company’s books, including Powr Mastrs, Goddess of War and Cold Heat: “If true, I’m fucked.”

Update: Charts watcher John Jackson Miller breaks down the math, looking at price points versus copies sold for single issues and graphic novels. He also ponders how the new threshold might affect the tail end of Diamond’s Top 300.

Note: This post has been edited to replace the term “benchmark” with “threshold.” As Rich Johnston points out, there’s a difference.

More coverage:
• Simon Jones (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
David Welsh
Tom Spurgeon’s initial report
Johanna Draper-Carlson
Heidi MacDonald

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Comments

35 Comments

Speaking as an aspiring comic book writer, that’s so dreadful I can hardly believe it.

This news is not good for both the creators and fans of indie comics.

With the economy in recession. this increased threshold is going to make things harder and harder as time goes by. With the Diamond monopoly it is going to be very hard for small publishers to connect their books with comic book shop patrons. Web sales will have to their major means if they can stay in business. Its not like most small publisher are in good shape to weather such market disruptions.

…Well, there you go. It’s not just the publishers getting greedy, it’s the middle man who’s putting the screws to everyone.

This may force small publishers to raise their comic prices to $3.99, just to keep their heads above water. Then when Marvel does their increase across the board, it won’t be such a big deal.

The only other option is for new and/or soon to be expelled publishers to get proactive and find (or create) a new Indy-friendly distributor as an alternative. I’m not saying leave Diamond, but to expand your distribution opportunities. Haven is probably a good start, if they can handle the instant growth.

The retailers just have to be willing to support an additional distributor for product. If they don’t, we’re all in trouble.

This may be the death of many a small publishing outfit. I know we at Charlton Spotlight Central will have a hard time meeting the benchmark. That may mean we won’t be available through Previews anymore.

A sad day, indeed.
Ramon Schenk
Contributing Editor
Charlton Spotlight

This is worrisome. Part of the reason why Diamond gets away with minimal complaints about them despite their monopoly is that they’ve tended to treat this monopoly in good faith. I feel that this move breaks that faith, and it might well be time for a new lawsuit against them by small publishers to break up the monopoly, or at least some sort of new distributer specifically for small publishers.

There are a few things that need to be mentioned here. The first is that while Diamond is, in fact, a monopoly in comic book distribution, it is not EVIL by any stretch of the imagination.

The reason that Diamond was not dismantled when it was taken to court for its monopoly status is because anyone who CAN enter the field is more than welcome to do so. Unfortunately, the margins for comic book distribution are so small that nobody else actually WANTS to compete at the level that Diamond operates. Due to startup costs, etc., other companies entering the comic book distribution market would have to charge MORE and not less than Diamond. Eventually, they MIGHT be able to compete within the same percentages that Diamond operates but the rewards are so small that it is not worth the risk of capital.

Second, a number of posters have mentioned digital distribution — or, more specifically, the MP3 version of comics. While this is an understandable reaction, these posters have not thought through the problem very thoroughly.

TRICK QUESTION: What year did MP3s become the ubiquitous? ANSWER: Never. The number one music retailer (Apple) sells music in AAC format. While it could be argued that MP3 and AAC are nearly identical in compression technology, there is an important distinction there.

The AAC format was and is linked to the iPod and iTunes.

It is important to remember that MP3s were around for YEARS before digital music integrated into daily life in any real way.

It was the iPod, not the mere existence of digital music, that made digital music a ubiquitous technology. Currently, there is no technological equivalents for the comic book market. Yes, the Kindle is nice but it does piss-all for your four-color funnies or your Maxim subscription.

Up and until there is an inexpensive, portable, full-color digital reading device of an appropriate size and shape there will not be widespread digital distribution of magazines or comics. Period. Computers are great but useless for reading comics on the bus, upside down, on the can, in space, etc…

When that finally happens, digital comics will be feasible.

It is going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.

One major shift which will only become the norm in the months and years ahead is proliferation of independent publishers and creators moving their titles online.

By doing this, publishers and creators could offer published versions of their titles for pre-order. This way, the market (the fans who frequent their web site) will determine which titles should and should not be printed.

This would also create a closer, more one-on-one relationship between the publisher / creator and their fans. Coincidentally, this would also save advertising money because the publishers and creators could just focus their marketing on those loyal customers who pre-order their titles and other merchandise.

I realize this is a simplification of things but I can see this happening in the very near future. If this model works for musicians and groups- why not independent publishers and creators?

Wesley

As a retailer, I’m not sure what to make of it.

It’s quite the startling coincidence to see this blog posted up today, based on what I was just browsing for…

As an independent creator currently trying to work my way up from nothing, I’ve had an opportunity to learn about how Diamond treats little guys firsthand. I think someone up there mentioned that Diamond ‘isn’t evil’… That must be measuring by some imputed intent, rather than the actual results for the world of small press.

In addition to making graphic novels, I’ve recently posted a series of articles discussing, in detail, the state of comics and where Diamond sits in all of it. I was actually just hopping online today to do some research for my concluding article, one detailing the need and means for a revolution from independent creators. Reading the above news is just another brick in the wall affirming that, yes, the world of comics is in dire need of a change. Diamond’s rule has relegated the medium into the dark corners of society, cutting the medium down to a publicly percieved, embarrassing fringe on culture. For any who are interested, here are the links to my articles: I’d be welcome to all feedback, including corrections on any mistakes I may have-

COMICS: The Banished Medium
http://vividstuff.blogspot.com/2008/12/article-comics-banished-medium.html

HPCP: The Infection
http://vividstuff.blogspot.com/2008/12/article-2-hpcp-infection.html

Score One for Idiocy
http://vividstuff.blogspot.com/2008/12/article-3-score-one-for-idiocy-aka.html

The Creator Revolution
http://vividstuff.blogspot.com/2009/01/article-4-creator-revolution.html

With their position of power as the only viable distributor in the industry, Diamond should be ashamed of how it has quashed the chances of smaller publishers. By the way, has anyone in here ever heard of ‘Haven Distribution’?

“With their position of power as the only viable distributor in the industry, Diamond should be ashamed of how it has quashed the chances of smaller publishers. By the way, has anyone in here ever heard of ‘Haven Distribution’?”

David,

I am not saying that a change isn’t overdue. I am simply pointing out that Diamond is behaving exactly as a business should — not out of any malicious or greedy intent. The reason that there are not dozens of different comic book distributors competing to keep prices low is due to the simple fact that the industry cannot support more than a handful. Of those few, only Diamond has managed to produce a cost-effective method to distribute large numbers of books to large numbers of Local Comic Shops.

Net result: Diamond is as cheap as comic distribution gets.

What the comic book industry needs is exactly what the music industry needed. Not a SOFTWARE revolution (i.e., mp3) but, in fact, a HARDWARE revolution (i.e., iPod).

Until then, the whole discussion is moot. Independent publishers will now have to function as their own distributors to the best of their ability. Still worse, the industry is about to discover exactly how cheap Diamond was.

Yes, it’s a dark day. But technology can — and eventually will — make the difference here.

I blogged about this earlier: http://dwightmacpherson.wordpress.com/

I think it’s time for creators to find out what options are available to them.

-D

Agreed, Chris Jones, and I’m also trying to get a script of mine published.

Diamond seems to think that only Marvel and DC exists and those two pretty much have an unfair advantage since people before them has turned them into a household name, not to mention that some of them are living off them while acting like the best in the biz.

We need indies because of this. Indies focus more on quality because they can’t afford not to.

I have to disagree with Royal McGraw’s hardware not software argument. Digital comics is THE way to go
for the average indy creator who wants to get his product out there. The question is do you want it out there
to the 250,000 or so hardcore fans who consume direct market comics? Or do you want to access the
1,463,632,361 people worldwide on the internet right now (ref: Internet World Stats).

Selling a secure PDF or browser based subscription to your product of 2.00 an issue will generate more profit to the struggling creator than dealing with Diamond ( avg. comic is 2.99 a copy = 1.20 gross profit to you after Diamond gets their cut) After a per unit printing cost of around .50 a copy for a 22 to 28 page book, you’re left with around 70 cents on a 2.99 book (and we still haven’t factored in taxes, materials, rent, utilities, etc.)

Just selling comics over your computer RIGHT NOW will be better for the average creator’s bottom line than what they have to put up with now.

Hardware is not an issue. We’re not talking IPod numbers. You have to crawl before you can walk. But if you
sold 2,000 copies of your book digitally at 2.00 a download, you’re talking 4,000 dollars gross profit. Even after paying for bandwith, you still end up with more money in your pocket than doing a hard copy.

I totally agree with you that Diamond’s a business. Corporations are about the bottom line and cutting excess fat that’s not helping that bottom line, nothing personal. The corporate entity itself is psychopathic
in nature and behavior. Don’t expect it to care about you. Unless you’re a major shareholder. So stop considering the needs of a psychopathic entity in charting a pathway to get your creation out to the public at large

The name of the game is cutting the middleman loose. Be proactive, not passive. As a creator, I’ve been at conventions with indy creators griping about Diamond as they sit on 3-5,000 fan mailing lists! Learn to market your product using real world techniques, they’re out there. Stop sitting back, passively sending your solicitations in like good little drones, hoping and praying to make it into Previews. The internet is here NOW. You’re using it right NOW. Utilize it to realize your dreams NOW. They’re thousands, tens of thousands, possibly millions of potential readers out there for you, for all of us. Go get them.

Infolad,

I think you are absolutely correct short term. Moreover, given the changes at Diamond, there really is not an alternative. That said, I believe your numbers are incredibly optimistic. There is, as of yet, no truly actionable online comicbook buying audience.

Or, at least, not one that is well-trained.

2000 comics? At $2.00 a pop that is still just 4 thousand dollars. And, unless you are doing it all yourself, not nearly enough to make a coherent living. Of course, then again, that is far more than most indie comics likely get from Diamond.

Given the absolute nature of this decree, I suggest some prominent indie comic book creators band together to form a three-tiered internet-based imprint, coordinating POD, web download, and advertising-supported content approaches. Furthermore, I suggest Robert Kirkman get off his damn high-horse and lead the charge. He wants the indie-comic future. Well, the future is here. And it could go bad fast.

BTW,

I may be alone in this but I HATE reading comics online. Even in Previews. I like paper. I like books. I even like Kindle. What I hate is being chained to my desk. I also think there are a whole lot of people like me out there.

People like me want a magazine/comic Kindle. Anything less won’t do.

Infolad, you believe digital comics are THE way to go, yet you disagree with Royal McGraw that hardware is the solution. What exactly do you expect people to read the comics on? Digital comics won’t work until there is a pleasant way to read them.

What is needed is a 4-color Kindle. I don’t think reading off my laptop is fun. Didn’t think I’d like a Kindle, but I got one for Christmas and it really is like reading a book. Give me that kind of experience and I might give digital comics a chance.

I’ve tried downloading the free “Heroes” PDF comics from NBC. PDF on a computer screen doesn’t hack it – It’s barely tolerable and there is no way in hell I’d ever pay $2 for one. I am willing to pay $9.99 for a Kindle book because it provides the reading experience.

Hopefully this gets more readers and retailers to check out Haven Distributors and Enemi Entertainment as alternative distributors of small press. They are new, so I understand any hesitation, but they are worth a look. Plus, Haven/Enemi is carrying our series, Elemental Fources, So I could be a little biased.

Eric Mullarky
New Baby Productions
http://www.ElementalFources.com

@Royal McGraw

The device you’re talking about does exist. It’s the iPhone, and it works really well for reading comics. So does the iPod touch, and there are several other large screen mobile devices coming out in 2009. The T-Mobile G1 is another good one. It doesn’t have to be the shape of a comic book page for this to work.

I don’t like reading comics on my computer, hence I don’t download comics. I prefer to have the comics in my hand, sitting on my couch. So for me the thought of digital comics is out of the question. And what about those who buy comics but don’t have an internet connection? *Gasp!* They exist? They certainly do. So would you take those buyers out of your equation? Diamond is being ridiculous by raising their minimum requirements by $1000. Well there goes the money they could have had for advertising. Ooh wait no one advertises comics anywhere except to the comic buyers. Isn’t that a little like preaching to the choir?
I see two solutions:
1. Start advertising outside of comics. I’ve shed some weight from my pull lately so I know others are doing it too, so you don’t need old buyers buying more you need new buyers. And new buyers probably don’t have your comics to advertise to them.
2. Diamond needs a real rival. For too long they have nearly monopolized the industry. And with no real competition they can raise their minimum by any amount and kill the entire industry, saying they meant well the whole time.
Don’t let a big company dictate what small press can publish.

As one of the artists on a book that is set to come out through Diamond in March and be in the February Previews, how is this going to affect my team and my publisher? Are we being removed from Previews before our first issue even comes out?

Robert Frost said:

“Infolad, you believe digital comics are THE way to go, yet you disagree with Royal McGraw that hardware is the solution. What exactly do you expect people to read the comics on? Digital comics won’t work until there is a pleasant way to read them.”

Actually Robert, digital comics are working right now. Look at the success of Marvel.com’s digital initiative, PVP, Megatokyo, etc. And unfortunate as it may be for a creator’s bottom line, illegal scanning and downloading of comics is rampant. Whether people like it or not, the Industry is already beginning to suffer the predicament that first the music, and then the movie industries had to deal with. Not adapting fast enough for a newer, younger, computer and tech savvy audience that wants their product, and isn’t willing to wait for them to get with the times ( of course, they’re just some people that want something for nothing.)

The vast majority of current comics fans have obviously been conditioned to read printed material. So of course they’re going to have a problem with the new reading experience, it’s to be expected. But if you love the medium you’ll make adjustments. I gave options in my first post. Go for the 250,000 direct market fans,
and / or go for the 750 million English speaking internet users worldwide.

I actually didn’t disagree with Royal McGraw’s hardware point. Color electronic paper that’s programmable and you can roll up and put in your pocket is right around the corner. It’s coming, he is correct about that:

http://e-paper-reporter.blogspot.com/2008/01/pre-ces-lg-philips-to-show-hi-res-roll.html

There will be color ebook readers thin as bristol paper to view your comics, magazines,etc. as viable tech
in 5 years time. you want to start building your online audience now.

I said PDF because the software is free and most people use it, so it’s a viable option for creators who don’t have the money to hire a Zinio or NXTMedia to build a browser based interface for you.

If you just don’t like digital comics, that’s cool. It’s your right. But for people who have 500 copy print runs, who want to get their product out there, who want to grow the medium beyond the hardcore fans, it’s to be considered.

As any publisher knows, paper, ink, and shipping prices are going and will continue to go through the roof. Using recent history, what are you going to do when comics go to 4.50? 4.99? What is the Industry’s solution to the dominance of digital media like video games, Youtube, etc for consumer’s time and money?

If we still want to be considered a mass medium, we need to embrace these options and start talking about what can be done versus what can’t. The long term future of the comics art form may depend on it.

“Not Again” was my reaction. (Well, with profanity.)

I agree that Diamond likely was forced into this on account of the economy sucking- but it’s likely to make the dip in the comics industry even worse. A chain reaction, I guess.

You are calling Diamond’s “threshold” its “benchmark”. These are two specific separate terms with different implications. See this week’s LITG for details.

“Actually Robert, digital comics are working right now. Look at the success of Marvel.com’s digital initiative, PVP, Megatokyo, etc…”

Infolad,

Well, let’s be clear about a couple of points here. Without opening up the balance sheets on these projects it is impossible to say what is “working” and what is not — at least, not in any monetary sense of the word. My personal guess — I emphasize “guess” — on the Marvel Digital Initiative is that it is a loss leader, losing money short term in order to corner the digital market when it actually “arrives.” If it arrives.

That said, as I mentioned above, I agree with you that the near-term solution for indies is digital distribution. After all, what other options are there? However, I personally have my doubts as to what and what will not be monetized.

Regardless, I do believe indie publishers should be getting ready for the swap to digital, too. It WILL happen at some point (in some way) and creators should be ready.

But, in the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to be practical. iPod + iTunes did TWO important things. One, it provided a REAL way to integrate music into your life. And, two, it SOLD music — all in one spot.

Before iPod + iTunes, mp3s were just illegal downloads. Were any sales actually lost? Maybe. But two thousand illegal downloads does not equate to two thousand singles that would have otherwise been purchased. Moreover, how many illegal songs did you download and never listen to once? It was just a button click, right? Maybe, you’ll get to it someday. Or not.

Either way, iTunes monetized what had been an essentially disparate arena with a winning combo of ease of use, functionality, and an aggressive pricing strategy.

Currently, without an iTunes-esque Clearinghouse to provide digital comics (and an associated device to play them back for people like me), the internet will simply be a cluster of random creators clamoring for attention. The noise will make it difficult for any single creator to get attention without an extremely aggressive marketing campaign. Compare this with a blurb in Previews. No fuss, no muss, and — most likely — at least some bare minimum of sales.

So, again, if the hardware is years off and we’ll have to do without, we still need the software that makes it easy — by which, I mean the iTunes-equivalent. Count Marvel out. They have their own thing. DC is still deciding — by which I mean that Levitz has stated that the internet does not yet make any money — so that leaves only Image, IDW, Darkhorse, Dynamite, and Boom! with the capital to make anything real happen.

And they don’t have a vested interest as they are not in the habit of continuing to produce titles that are much below the Diamond benchmarks anyway — i.e., they make comics for love but also they want to make money. That means making books that sell.

Finally, and it has to be said, sorry, but comics are by no stretch of the imagination a MASS medium. Comics are the textbook definition of NICHE MARKET. They have been for decades now. On a bad night, a bad network show reaches millions of viewers. The BIGGEST comic of the year sold well under 300K copies. This is a crucial distinction and it needs to be acknowledged.

Now, I know. All of this sounds negative. Long-term, however, there is GREAT news.

When a 4-color kindle finally makes the show, I believe that we are in store for a comic book revolution. The decades of contraction — a shrinking direct market, diminishing readers, price hike after price hike — will finally be overcome — or at least have a CHANCE at overcoming them. This is because, for the first time in fifteen years, there will be comic books directed at and readily available to people who are not deliberately entering a comic book shop to buy them.

Why? Because these people will own a device capable of displaying comics and access to an online store capable of selling them. Just as the TPB market has tapped new readers by targeting bookstores, a 4-color kindle (or its superior offspring) will attract new readers by targeting owners of the technology — who may or may not have bought it with comics in mind.

This is HUGE and cannot be understated. Yes, the cluster effect of purchasing will probably tend to consolidate widespread sales to a few well-hyped books — this is a well-documented effect of internet sales — but a niche medium can profit from exactly this kind of rising tide.

So, I think my ultimate point here is this. HANG ON. The next few years are going to be ROUGH for everyone. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Those who make it will find themselves in an enhanced position — those who don’t, well, it happens. Good luck all!

I think we can all agree that change is needed — more so for self-publishers. The direct distribution via Diamond’s channel is no longer a sustainable avenue for survival.

Web comics is becoming to be an alternative. (I’m not talking about digital downloads. Just basic online presentation.) But hard copy (print) material versus digital copy (online) poses two different format. One reads up and down, while the other goes left to right to maximize monitor space. Then there’s the iPod and other handheld devices that seem to be just cube display screen.

Online comic book publishers and creators like Zuda and Kazu Kibuishi (of Flight graphic novel – boltcity.com) provide their offerings as landscape or horizontal format.

So let’s say, a comic book title ran as web comics. Then with due financial success, the creator decides to offer a collected version as print. It would be landscape format to maintain its original production work. Now how much of a different or turnoff would this printed format be for the average comic book reader and collector? And what do retailers think of book printed in this format?

My reason for asking this is that there are still publishers within the industry who believe in the golden rule of a “portrait” or vertical printing format. Some publishers say this is what customers are used to reading. And some believe this maximizes rack display at the stores.

Thanks for all your posts here. Your insights have been both informative and a motivational.

Then again, there’s always the print-on-demand approach. Color-copier reproduction techniques are so advanced that they can churn out one-offs easily. With a computer based system that sends print/order info to a print-on-demand machine (which has to obviously be designed and built, but anyone who has toured a manufacturing plant and watched as mechanization produced something from start to finish knows this entirely doable), people can either order their one-off copy for delivery by mail, or someone with the investment capital and guts to try it might just open a bookstore that displays one copy of everything, and people can browse, put in their order, have a cup of coffee, and in ten minutes their book is printed. This is a scenario that can work well for the book market in general, and not just for comics, though comics would be on the easy side to produce in this way.
Obviously this is an enterprise that would require large venture capital and commitment from an entity large enough to tackle it, but it’s entirely doable. And it’s one way to save the retail bookstore from becoming extinct due to Amazon/internet sales. Such an enterprise would entirely eliminate the middle-man. On the other hand, those willing to operate such a franchise would, in some sense, be a middle-man for the creative team. But it would mean an end to traditional publishers who would have nothing left to print/distribute.
Just an idea, but it would open markets to the smallest indie creators, prevent physical bookstores from disappearing, and satisfy people who love paper.
Frankly, the problem with a digital screen is you can only look at one thing at a time. No full-size side-by-side comparison of several things at once. And paper-books don’t suffer from power-outages or data-loss. It’s an entirely subjective area, I know, but there are many people who just prefer their books in dead-tree format . . and we aren’t giving them up.

It probably is the end of adult comics being available in comic shops. We have been anticipating some kind of event like this for a couple of years, one of the reasons we reduced our output and concentrated on online sales and the Demi the Demoness Movie that came out last year.

Carnal Comics will continue to publish and sell our comics via mail and online to fans of our books all over the world.

We have no illusions about what this will do to our sales to Diamond. For us adult publishers its a double hit. Not only is their adult catalog going to be very hard for consumers to get to, but the higher benchmarks make it very unlikely for almost all the adult publishers to get Diamond to carry our new products. We have always been a niche in the larger market. That niche has for all intents and purposes been wiped out as far as Diamond is concerned.

I have much more to say about all this, but I’l stop for now. SSC

Royal, I actually agree with 90% of what you’re saying. My only major point of contention is that we don’t have to wait for the Kindle Color to come out to execute a digital initiative. The average small Indy publisher (500 to 3000 copies) doesn’t have Marvel’s overhead to deal with. So a loss leader for Marvel would be a hit for most of us.

The software we need that you talked about is here. The magazine industry is using it:

http://www.zinio.com/publishers

http://www.nxtbook.com/products/magazines/index.php

I talked to one of the reps at nxtbook last year, and he said they were very interested in getting into the comics market. Check their reader out and see what you think. And it’s not as expensive to set up as people would think either.

Effective marketing will be key. Indy creators need to learn the marketing toolset that the digital magazine market and other digital media (Music, movies, MMORPGs,etc.) utilizes.

Comics are a niche medium now. You are correct about that. That’s okay. The niche market is in now. But with innovation and hard work, we can grow the artform back to a medium enjoyed by millions.

My main point is that Indy creators need to capitalize on what digital has to offer now, and grow with it from the beginning, instead of letting Marvel and DC be the ones to lay claim to the new medium. We can always migrate already digital product to multiple delivery systems (IPhone, Laptop, Kindle Color,etc.). We just need to start laying the foundation NOW. Thanks Royal and everyone else for a great discussion.

This is a kick in the pants to the comic Industry and to the direct Market overall. A friend of mine owns a Comic store and this Info just cost him regular Income from about 1/3 of his subscription/pull lists.
In tough economic times such as this hits like that are harder to recover from. Especially when added to the number of people who have recently had to either limit or completely quit their comic purchasing due to job loss or the currently rising cover prices.

The Comic Industry by and large needs to begin putting heavy investment into finding the best way to make the digital format work.
They need to look at recent history to see how the Music Industry struggled to catch up to the digital age. Musicians discovered that they could remove the moguls and forge their own path.
What was the Music Industries solution?
Sue everyone. Thats how they tried to solve it. Instead of working to create their own Digital distribution format that would work with the ipod format as well as the other standard formats thereby cutting apples hold on the Industry.
Sadly they never did this and the music industry is finding itself increasingly pushed into the closet where we all put things we don’t need anymore.

The digital revolution for comics has begun and if interested parties do not work quickly they will find it harder to make a place for themselves later on.

Next year the federal Government plans to start taxing the Internet. It will be at this point that new ip’s will sink or swim.

DC and MARVEL are using their respective setups for two different reasons.
MARVEL while they are preparing for digital are really just using their web comics to try and build a larger base of comic buyers. Using current tech to draw people over to an older format.

DC/ZUDA on the other hand is using theirs to Farm for new talent and to test different comic formats (different genres) They are also about to start using that site to test some new Vertigo titles without having to make the enormous investment that a new comic brings about.
This is all fine and good mind you as a few of the ZUDA creators have gained notice that will be bringing their creations to a wider audience.
Sorry in advance to those who may disagree, but all comic creators should create with the potential idea of expanding their creation into other media. That is the only way these days to get a truly diverse fanbase.
Disagree with me? Ok but you should take a look at the Japanese. They have created all of their product with the Intent of expansion beyond the original form. 2/3′s of the Japanese population reads comics. All kinds of comics. They are turned into Anime, TV shows, Novels and Films. And unlike America, these things are considered “SERIOUS” entertainment.

America is at the cusp of this happening now. Comic fans have been growing up for decades so acceptance has spread beyond comics. The films are now reaching a level that they have to be considered serious entertainment. The world at large is starting to finally see what comic fans have known for decades.

Back in 199586 I came up with a three year plan for creating an online comic company. A low cost subscription service that also took into account later releases inside of brick and morter outlets through encrypteddigital devices like flashcards and jump drives followed by a third release format of collected anthologies or Trades.
It was ahead of its time back then but now is the perfect time for it.

Also when considering Digital Comics, None of the responders here have even looked at it beyond the comfort zone of Print format.

But…Robert Kirkman has. Yes you read that right. He may be putting it on TV right now, but look at the MTV cartoon adaptation of Kirkmans Invincible. All that is is a flash animated reproduction of his comic. With voices music and sound effects. It looks and sounds like a cartoon, but it is really just a Digital comic.

Heck just look at the Animated WATCHMAN comic on itunes. That is just one guy doing all of the voices with canned sounds. and it rocks.

As the cost of Tech comes down and the abilities of the common person becomes more diverse, It will become much much easier for indie creators and large publishers alike to make their own books just like this.
That will make Digital comics a successful and financially rewarding format for creators to work in.

Stop approaching this with a pessemistic view and try to be more optamistic about how to make it work.

I’ve purchased every comic the iTunes store has offered, and enjoyed nearly all of them very much — and none of them were traditional superhero books, the kind I prefer (although I’ll buy anything by Ellis, Morrison, and Whedon). While I wouldn’t want iTunes to become the new Diamond (that’s a hint Amazon, et al) I think creators and their publishers need to embrace it or its model for moving away from dead tree-oriented publishing; it’s time to digitize or perish.

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