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Marvel offered a $5 coupon, good on Marvel titles at a participating retailer, to anyone who bought a comic through the publisher’s digital app on Saturday, and in the interest of research, I gave it a try. It all worked pretty smoothly. I bought my comic, and yesterday I got an e-mail with a link and a download code. The only thing I didn’t like was that it locks you in to a particular retailer: After inputting my download code, I was prompted to enter my ZIP code. I was then presented with a list of the three nearest retailers (two were the same shop, though — bad coding, someone!). I don’t frequent those shops, and I would much rather have used the code in a Boston or Cambridge store, but I couldn’t see any way to go back and change the ZIP code (although John Jakala seems to have done it, so maybe that’s just me). Johanna Draper Carlson was rather dubious about this offer, especially the fact that there is no way to know the retailers in advance, and I have to say, that was the only thing I didn’t like about this promotion.
Aside from that, it was painless. There was one more click to download the PDF of the coupon, and I was good to go.
The offer came with some peculiar caveats. It was only good in the United States, and only for comics purchased through Marvel’s iOS apps — Android and Chrome users need not apply. I don’t really get the reasons for those restrictions, but perhaps there are some levers that have to be pulled behind the scenes that only work under those conditions.
What is Marvel up to here? The press release seems to go both ways, with one Marvel executive saying this is a great way to get people to sample the publisher’s digital wares, and another pointing to it as a way to benefit comics stores. The Marvel app requires a separate login and password from the standard comiXology app, even though they are built on the same platform, so maybe they are trying to get people to go through that extra step to join up with the branded app. Or maybe they are trying to get their digital-only customers to sample the joys of comics shops. Either way, they will be getting me into a shop I don’t usually visit, and I’ll come out ahead on the deal, so I guess it’s a win for all of us.