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I’ve been buying some of DC Comics’ “new 52” titles via the Comixology app for my iPad. I’ve loved a few of them (Action Comics, OMAC, Animal Man). But that’s just a few. Most are par for the course, it seems to me, for contemporary superhero comics — neither great nor terrible. I haven’t hated any of them, but I also haven’t bought a whole bunch, and specifically have avoided the ones that I’ve seen people really griping about. So that’s my point of view.

Comic book retailer Brian Hibbs, owner of San Francisco’s Comix Experience, one of the most well-known comic book stores in the country (and the place where I used to shop, when I lived there), reports that these books are doing very, very well in his store. He also implies that they’re doing well for retailers generally — and being Brian Hibbs, activist retailer, I think he’s in a position to know this. All good news. I’m glad to hear it.

This relaunch was positioned as the first big push for “day and date” digital distribution of new material from a mainstream publisher. Meaning: every single one of DC’s comic books is being released digitally for sale at exactly the same time as its print release. I heard retailers (Hibbs among them) worrying aloud, in kind of frenzied language, that this was potentially a deathblow to their businesses.

So. Not the case, apparently. Again: good news.

Question time.

Does the success of DC’s “new 52” relaunch in comic book stores mean:

a). Digital and print customers are completely different people, so these two channels don’t interfere with one another at all, or …

b). Digital was a flop, for whatever reason (the pricing on digital comics — which is exactly the same as the print pricing, strikes me personally as way too high)?

c). Or neither?

d). Or both?

e). Something else?

The answer, of course, is, “We don’t know yet.” Or, at least, I don’t think we do. We need for DC to release those digital sales numbers, to have a better understanding. And that’s not something they’re obligated to do. The only reason they’d do it is if they wanted the rest of the industry to learn and grow.

One thing I noticed, which is purely anecdotal and proves little: Comixology is currently listed as the third-highest grossing app of all time* in the iPad version of the App Store.

Since the app itself is free, that has to come from comic book purchases. Note, too, that the DC app, which is just a dressed-up version of the Comixology app with only DC Comics in it, rather than a full selection, is #11. Those two should actually be combined, in terms of sales. Whether that would be enough to push Comixology up to # 2 (or even # 1) is, again, unknown to us.


* It is unclear to me what period of time the “highest grossing” charts speak for.

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