June 29, 2011

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Digging into Digital Special: Digital Manga Publishing Partners with IDW on eManga

Digital Manga Publishing announced today that they had formed their first partnership with a company publishing Western style comics, IDW, to put IDW's comics on their eManga digital comics platform.

The partnership is effective immediately and starts with 21 titles from IDW's vast catalog of original and licensed works. Digital readers can go right over to eManga and begin using their points system to view IDW comics on the Adobe-based cloud system that Digital Manga Publishing employs for their own manga titles. According to their press release, there will be a price adjustment from the original paper versions, though it appears to not quite be the unofficial industry standard of half off the paper price: "Originally sold as comics and as a full graphic novels with an average price ranging from $3.99 to $19.99 in print, IDW’s titles will be available on eManga.com varying from $1.99 to $14.99."

Points are a penny each if you buy 1000 at a time, with a slight additional charge for less and a slight discount if bought in larger quantities.

Digital Manga states that their reason for doing this is to try and attract crossover readership in both directions, which makes perfect sense, and they end their release by extending a hand to other publishers in both the manga and non-manga comics world: "Digital Manga invites partnerships with other manga and American publishers to showcase their titles to eManga’s online storefront. If interested please contact (e-mail address) for inquires."

I have to admit, this one caught me by surprise a little bit. IDW is already on arguably the two biggest names in digital comics at this time, Comixology and Graphicly. I did a little checking, and while IDW has a completely different set of comics on Comixology (it's Transformers central but I was unable to find any other IDW comics on their roster unless they're through Apple), there is some overlap between Graphicly and eManga. It seems like IDW is trying hard not to compete against themselves, as the overlap between Comixology and Graphicly is minimal as well. I'm also kinda sad to see that IDW, like Marvel and Viz, make digital comics available to those with Apple-related products but not the vast majority of the computer-smart phone world. (We're out there, and we have money, too, you know!)

It would be really interesting if someone with ties to IDW could talk to them about their digital strategy or point me towards something that already exists. It looks like there is master plan in place, and if so, I think it makes sense for IDW. Why put all your eggs in one basket, and why make those baskets fight for market share when you can get a little bit from each of them?

I do think it's a bit strange that IDW is not advertising their new partnership as of yet. Wednesday is traditionally "buy Western comics" day, so I would think IDW would want to tout this new avenue a bit more. This is definitely bigger news for Digital Manga than IDW, but I do scratch my head a bit at the fact that IDW is lacking any information on this deal while touting their new comics, including what's available digitally from Apple and on Android phones.

As far as the comics selected for eManga goes, I think they make a lot of sense. There's the Astro Boy adaptations, which is a no-brainer, but I also think leaning heavily on familiar licences makes a lot of sense. Manga readers probably know Star Trek, Dr. Who, and similar properties, so why not let them see what they look like as comics? The same goes for just about anything relating to zombies and vampires. I love the addition of Locke and Key, which can serve as a nice bridge into IDW's original properties.

Overall, this is a win for everyone involved. Readers get more comics on their computer, for prices that reflect the rest of the industry. Digital Manga gets a foothold in the Western Comics community and a partnership that hopefully will be a lot more stable than their one with Tokyopop. IDW spreads their name to another platform and possibly a new group of readers, if they can match the right comics up to eManga's current readership. I'd love to see more of these kinds of deals in the future as the comics industry moves slowly into the digital age.