Robot 6

SLG abandons floppies for digital

Indy publisher SLG, the home of Halo and Sprocket, Pinocchio Vampire Slayer, and Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer: A Story About Chickens, will begin publishing all its serialized comics in digital format rather than print. President and publisher Dan Vado summed up the situation rather neatly in the company’s press release: On the one hand, the market for print comics is dwindling; on the other hand, serialized comics allow creators to build up a fanbase before releasing a completed graphic novel. Digital allows the company to bypass Diamond’s quotas and avoid some of the costs of print comics while ensuring as wide a distribution as possible. The first two comics to be distributed this way are Stephen Coughlin’s Sanctuary and Chris Wisnia’s Monstrosis. In both cases, the first issue is available as a free download from the SLG site or through the iTunes store, and subsequent issues are priced at 99 cents each.

SLG got into the digital game early, offering downloads of its comics from its website, and their strategy now seems to be to make the comics available in as many channels as possible: By direct download from their site as well as through iTunes (for the iBooks app), Nook, and the comiXology and iVerse services.

While this is an unusual step, there is a certain logic to it. Phil and Kaja Foglio did it years ago, switching Girl Genius from serialized comics to a free webcomic, and they found that sales of their graphic novels increased, while they were able to avoid the cost of laying out and printing the monthly comics. The Foglios already had a large fan base when they made the move, however. SLG has a diverse set of offerings, so it’s less of a slam dunk, but it’s worth watching to see if they can make digital-first distribution work.

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Comments

8 Comments

Since I won’t buy digital ‘comics’ I guess they lost a reader on this one.

I dig this move. Don’t get me wrong — I love floppies and I always will. But the economics suck for small publishers and self-publishers.

Since most comic shops won’t order (or order a very, very small amount) of (non superhero) comics from smaller companies like SLG, this makes total sense.
They won’t be losing readers, because for the most part it was next to impossible to get those readers.

This seems like the smartest way to do digital (though maybe offering a coupon or discount for the printed collection for readers of the digital version might be a thing worth looking into?)

Best of luck to SLG in this, they do some pretty interesting stuff.

I think the major drawback to this will be the way single issues act as advertisement for th tpb and their company as a whole.
I visit a few comic sights and blogs regularly, read a lot of different books, and can’t recall seeing any ads for SLG anywhere. (I can’t remember where I saw the advance for Elmer, but I’m sure it was online, and it took me months to find a copy in my local shop.)
They’ll have to step up in that department to keep their product in the minds of a broad range of potential customers. It should include other monthly comics and magazines as well, ideally.

And all this time I thought SLG was gone… Now it has been too long for me to say, but I haven’t also really looked or had time… But until I was hunting down a few books for my fiance I notice SLG wasn’t in stores. I wasn’t also looking too hard either (kids…family.. ya know..). I found this little nugget of an article today, now if I had time during nap times, and maybe if there was an Android app. you never know. I don’t ever sit at a computer.

This is a great move, it actually makes perfect sense. While DC and especially Marvel are too heavily invested in the collector-mentality direct market, with its “floppies are king” philosophy, indies are just better off going direct-to-digital with single issues, building an audience of new and interested readers, with focus on a more profitable graphic novel collection sold through a bookstore market later on.

I really think they’re better off that way. The direct market is 1) shrinking and 2) very close-minded in its reading tastes… it’s more just like the retail arm of DC and Marvel and it won’t survive this way forever. I think the most unique and forward-thinking comics published in the next twenty years will be through indies, in digital media and this model in particular will simultaneously take advantage of the internet’s limitless potential while giving the print-only “book store” crowd something they can buy and hold in person.

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