August 21, 2014

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Digging into Digital: Action Lab Gets Innovative in Going DRM-Free

The DRM-free dominoes are coming fast and furious now (as I predicted), with Pittsburgh-based Action Lab being the latest to announce their move to DRM-free books.

Never one to do things exactly like everyone else, however, the publisher's plan, as outlined in a press lease sent out on Tuesday, involves using digital as a way to drive print sales. From the release itself:
PITTSBURGH, PA- Action Lab Entertainment is proud to announce that Beginning with the Action Lab hit, F1rst Hero and the Action Lab Danger Zone sexy mega hit, Zombie Tramp, all of their titles will now be released as full issue, digital first offerings through Comixology.   
The entire catalog from both Action Lab and their mature readers imprint, Action Lab: Danger Zone will be available DRM Free as part of Comixology’s Digital Ownership Initiative.

Single issues will be $0.99 during the first two weeks of release, before returning to their regular price of $1.99.. In addition, books will be timed to release digitally the same month they are offered in Diamond Distribution’s retailer catalog, Previews, giving comics fans a taste of what we do and driving them to comic shops nationwide.
Note carefully that last sentence: "In addition, books will be timed to release digitally the same month they are offered in Diamond Distribution’s retailer catalog, Previews, giving comics fans a taste of what we do and driving them to comic shops nationwide."

In other words, if you want to get the new Action Lab/Danger Zone books for the cheapest possible digital price, you need to look for them in the Previews catalog and pick them up right away. Grabbing new Action Lab books for 99 cents (when the print version are $3.99) is pretty sweet, but you're going to have to be quicker on the trigger finger, going ahead of when most websites will be talking about Action Lab's books.

If you miss, the $1.99 digital price is still half off, and now includes a PDF copy, so it's good value, but I like the fact that Action Lab, like Oni Press, is trying to see what happens when you provide digital content ahead of print release. Only time will tell if the results are positive for the publishers.

Regardless, this makes seven companies now that are going DRM-free, six of which are on Comixology. The pressure is definitely on not to get left behind, and I expect I'll be doing more of these updates in the near future.