October 3, 2011

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Digging into Digital: Image Jumps on the Same-Day Digital Bandwagon

In a move that I don't think is unexpected at all, it was announced today that Image Comics is taking the majority of its titles day and date digital in partnership with Comixology, starting this Wednesday, October 5th.  With both DC and Marvel going after people who either cannot (or do not want to) go to a comic book store, it makes perfect sense for Image, one of the biggest of the remaining publishers, to ensure they aren't getting locked out of potential sales. Further, since Image's biggest presence online for digital comics is the same as the "big two", they can benefit from people browsing Comixology and seeing that there are other books out there available at the same time as the print editions.

Image notes that they were the first to go day-and-date digital, with Walking Dead.  I do not know if that's verifiable or not, since I wasn't doing much in the digital world at the time.  They are also big on noting that they have a wide variety of titles, which I think is a subtle swipe at the perceived sameness of DC's re-launch, made all the more ironic by the fact that several people well-known for their work with Image are now toiling away in the kinda-sorta rebooted DC Universe.

Obviously, as a fan of digital comics, I am quite pleased to see yet another publisher start moving towards the digital future.  I wonder how much of this is coming from Comixology, given that all three publishers who have made this a big part of their digital initiative worth with the premiere company for digital comics.  I should also note that while Comixology is announcing this change, there is nothing yet on the Image Comics website as of this writing (about 3PM on October 3rd).  It's interesting to me that the press release/blog post notes the retailer initiative, to try and take some of the sting out of this news.

Right now, there is no clear way to know how well digital comics are selling day and date because these details are not shared publicly, at least not to my knowledge.  (Anyone know if there is a way to find this out that I am just unaware of?)  Unlike paper comics, which have trails via Diamond or publisher book sales records, digital comics seem to lurk without concrete data.  That could mean publishers are still taking a bath on digital comics.  However, given that we are seeing such a strong move towards digital sales, someone must see a trend that shows this is the future.

Then again, this is comics, where people thought hologram covers were the key to success.  

At any rate, this puts a lot of pressure on Dark Horse, which uses its own digital store, to move towards day and date release.  IDW may be in a different situation, because so many of their books are tied to licencing, where they either cannot (or don't need to) worry about picking up digital sales.  I'll be really curious to see what the other, smaller digital players, such as Archaia, Boom!, and Dynamite, do in response to this apparent change in the market.

Below are a few details from the release, which can be read in full here.
New York, NY, 10/3/11- Images Comics, the third largest comics publisher in the United States, announced with comiXology that they would sell the majority of their highly acclaimed comics the same day as print. Top titles like Chew, Pilot Season, The Infinite, Severed and Skullkickers, along with various other titles will join the ranks of long-time same-day-as-print titles like The Walking Dead and Invincible on the Comics by comiXology platform on iOS,Android and comics.comixology.com the same day digitally as print, as well as online at the Comics by comiXology powered comics.imagecomics.com website and Image Comics iOS app.

“Image Comics was one of the first to publish a comic the same day digitally as print with Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, and that turned out great for all involved,” said David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology. “With one of the most diverse selections, we are excited to power their digital initiatives as they publish more of their top comics digitally the same day as print.”
Of course, all Image Comics will also be available digitally on all participating retailers digital storefronts. Retailers can take advantage of the digital storefront program at retailers.comixology.com.

“comiXology has built an amazing platform for digital comics and a vibrant community around it, which we have happily been apart of for a while now,” said Eric Stephenson, Publisher for Image Comics. “Publishing our top titles the same day digitally as print will allow our loyal reader to buy their favorite comics on almost any smartphone and tablet, while also getting them into the hands of new readers and grow the market.”

This Wednesday October 5th, the following titles will be available on the full comiXology platform, the comiXology Digital Storefronts, as well as on comics.imagecomics.com and the Image Comics iOS app:
  • The Last of the Greats
  • Marksmen
  • Moriarty
  • Red Spike
  • Red Gunther
  • The Strange Talent of Luther Strode
  • Vescell

So what do you think about this change?  Start of a needed trend, or over-reaction to a market that's not going to last?  Let me know what you think!