Robot 6

Marvel abandons digital ‘vault’

As the digital marketplace continues to grow and evolve, it seems that some folks can’t (or won’t) grasp the distinction between digital and physical media. Thus you have HarperCollins trying to sell libraries on ebooks that expire after 26 checkouts (because ebooks don’t wear out like physical books do), numerous publishers who think they can put regional restrictions on ebooks, and the Marvel Digital “vault.”

Last year, Marvel sent out a newsletter saying that Daredevil #1 and The Invaders #1 were going “into the app vault” on a certain date. This mimics Disney’s strategy of making its DVDs unavailable for long stretches of time, to encourage people to buy them before they disappear. Disney basically creates artificial scarcity to drive sales, which is kind of obnoxious from the customer’s point of view. With digital comics, it seems downright perverse. As David Brothers cogently explained at Comics Alliance, it tries to carry over the physical concept of scarcity into the digital world. At the time (last November), he urged fans to speak up.

Either they did so or someone at Marvel came to their senses, because the Wall Street Journal reported last month that Marvel seems to have abandoned the digital comics vault; an unidentified spokesman told WSJ reporter Eric Felten that “Marvel is not implementing a vault strategy at this time for its Marvel Comics app.” Admittedly, they weren’t pushing the idea that hard—aside from the newsletter, there was no press release, and no one at Marvel wanted to talk to Brothers about it at the time.

Still, that doesn’t mean the vault is blown up. The comiXology and Comics+ apps carry both comics, and Graphicly has the Invaders but not the Daredevil one. The only app I couldn’t find them on is the Marvel app. Maybe they have a mini-vault for just that app? Both comics are available through the Marvel Digital Comics online service as well. Which points to another problem with Marvel: Too many digital platforms, not enough integration between them. But that’s another post.

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Comments

6 Comments

Putting it in a vault just means that the *only* way to get it is illegally. Good to see they figured that one out.

Glad to hear this. Now if only they’d go into the Marvel DCU and fix the random missing issues within long runs of titles. Why do they have every issue of Howard the Duck but #3, for example?

If they would just put out affordable trade-paperback reprints (with the kind of coloring and paper that DC used for their recent Fourth World Omnibus editions), people wouldn’t have to bother with all this “app” shit and the problem would be solved.

Marvel is owned by Disney.

I wonder if this spells the end for the Disney vault.

I got both for free from the Marvel iPhone app.

I put an old pair of my underwear in a vault, but nobody cared, so I took them out. At first, I felt dumb, but then after reading this story I realized, it could happen to anybody.

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