August 22, 2014

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Digging into Digital: Dynamite Launches DRM-Free Site Site with Sales


The digital news is flying faster right now than it has since the introduction of the iPad changed the math in terms of making digital comics a viable alternative to their paper-based cousins, as yet another press release crossed my plate yesterday.

This time, Dynamite, as part of their 10th Anniversary, announced that they now have their own DRM-free digital comics website, joining Image as (I believe) the only other comics company to have an in-house site that features DRM-free downloads.

From the release:
Dynamite Entertainment is excited to announce the debut of its brand new digital comic program featuring DRM-free comics. Launching initially with comics available in PDF file format, the initiative makes a selection of its most popular and celebrated titles ready for download today directly by consumers.  The sale of DRM-free digital comics coincides with the comic book and graphic novel publisher's 10th anniversary celebration, and can be found at their company website's dedicated digital sales page:http://dynamite.com/digital/.

The program launches today with an available selection of over 80 individual comic books, which includes creator-owned and licensed titles from Dynamite's massive library.  The debut selection represents a wide variety of titles, spanning numerous genres, featuring name brand creators (including Kevin Smith, Bill Willingham, Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, Alex Ross, Gail Simone, Robert Jordan, Jim Butcher, Walt Flanagan and Bryan Johnson, Frank Cho, Art and Franco, Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, and more), and highlighting some of the industry's most beloved characters (Red SonjaVampirella, and The Boys, just to name a few).
The opening list contains most of the titles that were in the recent Humble Bundle (makes sense), and this of course has me speculating on whether Boom! and IDW, who also recently did Humble Bundles, are using it as a trial balloon (albeit one for a good cause) to see if there's a strong call for DRM-free books. (HINT: THERE IS.)

In addition to the announcement, ten #1 issues are on sale for ten cents each:
Blood Queen #1
The Boys #1
Evil Ernie: Origin of Evil #1
Jungle Girl #0
Kevin Smith's Green Hornet #1
Miss Fury #1
The Mocking Dead #1
Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time #1
The Trial of Sherlock Holmes #1
Vampirella #1
There are also free wallpapers, for those who dig that type of thing.

A bit more from the release. Quite honestly, Dynamite does a wonderful job of quoting their management team. They're very good at saying things that make me want to share them. This is no exception:
 "The market has been growing for DRM-free content. Each and every day, fans want to choose how to buy and enjoy their comics, and we're taking our titles to the next level for digital sales," says Nick Barrucci, CEO and Publisher of Dynamite Entertainment. "Expanding into DRM-free content, made available directly to consumers from our website, is simply giving the consumers the option for what they want and how they want it, and continues to reach out to a non-traditional comic-reading audience.  Our hope is that the availability of comics in a digital fashion will continue to draw new readers to the medium, helping to complement the growth for physical sales through our retail comic store partners.  Following the trend we've seen over the past few years in our industry, the world's continuing love affair with books in print will benefit from a surge in Dynamite interest."
In other words, Digital is not the Enemy. Comics companies are finally getting out from under that misnomer shouted by (bad) retailers.

Now, given that Dynamite is already DRM-free at Comixology, going out on their own like this (especially since they're already partnered at Dark Horse, iVerse, and other sites, this is an interesting choice. It definitely has the chance to give them more of the profits, but how many folks, sans lots of sales, are going to go to their site instead of just clicking on the familiar existing sites and then downloading their PDF (if they use the main platform, Comixology.) It's going to be interesting to see how this works, and how the other mid-major companies react. One thing is clear--standing pat and holding on to locked-code comics is a losing hand. There wouldn't be this much movement if it wasn't.