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At Publishers Weekly Comics Week, Todd Allen does the math on digital comics to see if it is possible for publishers or creators to actually make $1 per issue. Most publishers are going with a distributor such as comiXology and sales through the iTunes store, who between them take 65% of the cover price, leaving the creator/publisher 35 cents on a 99-cent download. The other extreme—publishing comics as downloadable PDFs and accepting micropayments through PayPal, the “not .99 method”—nets the publisher up to 89 cents for the same comic, and there are several alternatives in between.
Allen acknowledges that digital sales are only a fraction of print, and these numbers matter more if readers start migrating away from print to digital—in that case, you want to make the same amount of money from your comic in either channel. On the other hand, if your print sales stay the same, digital is added revenue, and maybe it’s less important to make a dollar a comic.
However, Allen looks strictly at the yield per comic sold, without considering the question of whether cover price affects the overall number of comics sold. A high-selling comic with a low per-issue yield could bring in as much as a lower-selling comic with a higher yield if that is taken into consideration.
As it happens, there’s a new site out there selling comics downloads as PDFs: The Illustrated Section, which seems to focus on webcomics (Nathan Sorry, Ellie Connelly) and includes some former Zuda titles (In Maps and Legends, Marooned). The site has a nice, calm interface and an interesting collection of comics, so if you’re interested in trying an alternative digital comics store, give it a whirl.