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Digital: Week 1

Brian Hibbs

There’s NO WAY I am going to do this each and every week, but I thought it might be instructive to look at first week digital sales here.

So far, we’ve sold six comics.

One was to a fellow retailer, who, when contacted, said “just wanted to see what the user experience would be like, thought that was worth $4!”, so I’m kind of not going to count that one.

Of the remaining five, and I find this FASCINATING, only 2 of the 5 were a book from a review (in this case, Popeye #1… which, additionally, IDW seems sold out on; or at least, there were no copies to reorder this week)

Two other sales were for Danger Club #1 (which sold terribly for me in print — I’ll be cutting my order for the next one by 2/3rds, I think), and there was also one for Manhattan Projects #1 (which sold well, and continues to sell well with a second printing, for me in print)

The five sales were to four unique customers. Going by the mailing address on their PayPal accounts, two of them are in Ohio, one is in Texas, one is in Washington (the state). That’s as close as I’m willing to identify individuals to you. Three of the four live in cities that HAVE a comic book store. OBVIOUSLY, the mailing address on a PayPal account isn’t necessarily factual, or takes things into account like “I travel 10 months of the year” or whatever.

But, I have to point out that I sold 6 print comics within four minutes of opening the store this morning (and Tuesdays are, generally, our worst days), and I earned a much better margin on those sales, and don’t have to split them with a bunch of fellow reviewers, so this is not, as of this second, going to fund my retirement!

 

-B

13 Responses to “ Digital: Week 1 ”

  1. I tried a few of the free comics available, but I have to say that this iverse format is by a wide margin the weakest format for digital comics I’ve tried, either on the web or on the Ipad, though none of them are close to ideal yet. I can’t imagine buying something on it unless that’s the only available format or the price is significantly lower (and the prices seemed to be higher whenever they were different). Hopefully there’ll be some improvements soon.

    Not that I’m a major market for this stuff yet. My purchases of digital comics to date are barely higher than your first week sales (Eddie Campbell’s DAPPER JOHN standalone app and a few 99 cent comics on Comixology). But I do plan on buying more in the future, I’ve already decided I’ll probably get Eddie Campbell’s LOVELY HORRIBLE STUFF book digital instead of print if it’s available soon after the print version, seriously thinking of it for the next LOEG but I’ll probably decide to stick with print to match the first two parts, and do like the idea of using affiliate programs like this when I do.

  2. I bought 2 comics from you! One was indeed Danger Club. The other was the new Haunt, which I thought would look cool due to the coloring. I’m hopefully going to keep on buying from you but it’s because you really kinda are my LCS since I travel so much. I might just try breaking you off a few bucks on the Paypal link, too.

    There are some comic shops in driving distance of my PayPal address. The one is awful, every cliche of a superhero man cave possible, the other is run by a guy trying really, really hard to have a good store but it’s really more of a game store that sells comics than anything. He does try hard with the comic stuff, though.

  3. Hi, Brian!

    I appreciate you keeping me in the witness protection program but I’ll out myself as part of “the grand experiment.”

    I think you’re being fairly intellectually dishonest with your comparison of your store (in business successfully for 20+ years and patronized by an invested and well looked after crop of loyal customers) and a digital storefront newly established and with nary a link outside of your original post. Combine that with 6 reviews of mediocre to bad comics (with only Popeye – a comic decidedly outside of my taste – rising above and actually AVAILABLE) to recommend it and you shouldn’t be surprised.

    Why Danger Club sold two issues is the instructive, and as you say, fascinating part.

    You’d have to ask Hero but I kinda blabbed enthusiastically about it in one of the threads and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if that had some effect. Of course, it could just be two entirely unrelated purchases.

    I would think a digital storefront like that would have to be an almost curated experience – not wasting your digital ink on “eh” “meh” or “crap” but rather extolling the NEED for people to get the GOOD –> EXCELLENT stuff.

    If you’ll be using this digital front as nothing more than a straw man to support your position of brick and mortar over digital then I’ll sadly withdraw my (admittedly limited) support. I have a very fine store in my neighborhood – run by some very excellent people – but I also like you and by proxy your “store” and want to see you thrive in all modes.

    So, here’s my action plan for you from one seller of goods to another:

    1) Put a major link to the digital store on the main page of Savage Critics above the Categories link or better yet in your banner

    2) Have a format to the material you review for digital purchase. 1 manga, 3-4 Image level, 1 creator specific.

    3) Tempting though it may be resist the urge to review predominantly shitty comics. It’s easier to write about crap and more complicated to write about things you enjoy. Conversely, it’s easier to BUY something if you see someone you respect enjoys it. I’m no more likely to buy something you hate. “Boy, these donuts I made today…whew…pretty shitty.” Silly, right? I’m a comic fan but I’m not a total masochist.

    4) Put it out consistently and see if watering your garden helps it grow.

    If this is a real thing for you I’ll gladly continue buying and I’ll certainly shill for good things I like in comments threads.

    Have a great day and sell those comics! In every format!

  4. @Brian Hibbs: I think maybe I acted in haste when I told my boss to stuff his job becuase I was going to live off Future-pounds from now on! BUT! That’s six extra comics you wouldn’t have sold, though! Ammiright?!?

    I think J_Smitty has a particularly good point in 1) above. It took me a while to realise that the only way I could access the store was through a link in your review. (I am, however, a bit s-l-o-w). On reflection you may have good reasons for not doing this; you usually do.

    As for reviewing sh*tty comics – well, you don’t know they are sh*tty until you’ve read ‘em, J_Smitty! I can’t imagine Mr. Hibbs goes out of his way to read sh*tty comics, he’s just blessed in that they are in abundance these days.

    Q: What do you call the sale of six digital comics?
    A: A start.

  5. “As for reviewing sh*tty comics – well, you don’t know they are sh*tty until you’ve read ‘em, J_Smitty! I can’t imagine Mr. Hibbs goes out of his way to read sh*tty comics, he’s just blessed in that they are in abundance these days.”

    You’re right in that, JohnK (UK). I would say that if the purpose of the reviews is to drive sales to the digital store, much in the way he might “hand sell” a physical book, then my point holds.

    And if that’s not the point, then why isn’t it? I mean, we all like a good rant now and then but the selling of comics isn’t Hibbs’ hobby. It’s his livelihood. And if I could write 4-5 paragraphs about something I really enjoyed and get paid $5 or whatever via 6 people buying that issue then so much the better.

    I suppose it’s an interesting “critical crossroads” because as a critic you need to be of a certain “above the fray” level but to sell anything you really need to become an advocate.

    Still, SC has always straddled (stomped all over) this line quite effectively and to my eternal benefit.

    In the time I’ve come to this site I’ve gone from being effectively out of comics to not only having a pull at my local store but getting turned on to a wider reading experience than I ever thought possible.

    That’s the power of the internet and the people working at this fine site in this specific case. Why not use it to expand his own PERSONAL EMPIRE?

  6. I actually tried to buy one, but all I get is an error message.

    I also had difficulty finding the shop link from the Savage Critic main page.

  7. For what it is worth there IS a link over there in the sidebar (twice!) — one under “Comix Experience Links” and one under “Industry Links”.

    I’m not going to give it a lot more real estate then that, however because, in theory, there will be steady hotlinks within the reviews each and every week.

    J, I have more comments for you as well, but it will have to wait for later today after I’ve taken Ben to school, and gotten to work!

    -B

  8. [...] Retailing | Retailer Brian Hibbs reflects on his first week of digital sales (via a Diamond Digital storefront), and emerges with his skepticism intact. The comments to this post are instructive, however. [The Savage Critics] [...]

  9. @J_Smitty

    “You’d have to ask Hero but I kinda blabbed enthusiastically about it in one of the threads and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if that had some effect. Of course, it could just be two entirely unrelated purchases.”

    Yep! That definitely played a part. I think of the SC regulars as my comic buddies, so when you or John K or whomever has good things to say about a book, I try to give it a look.

    As for the negative reviews and the purpose of the reviews…I can’t speak for Mr. Hibbs. I suspect he reviews a spectrum of stuff that comes into his store and any negative reviews aren’t to further an agenda other than showing he both wants better comics to sell and is shooting straight with us. His negative reviews certainly seem much more honest than another person who works at a comic store and writes weekly reviews about how much he hates everyone who doesn’t like the exact same comics he likes. (Petty? Yes, I am! Hypocritical? ^_^)

    Anyway, Popeye was a very, very good comic, but I think the love for it depends on how much you either love Popeye or Langridge (or both). Still, I thought it was a good one to link to because Mr. Hibbs was both highlighting a book he likes and it was a book that’s going to benefit from the long tail.

  10. J_Smitty,

    Now that I have more time:

    “I think you’re being fairly intellectually dishonest with your comparison of your store and a digital storefront newly established”

    Yeah, I’m just a little bitch sometimes.

    Actually, I was very positively surprised by SIX whole sales — I honestly thought it would be 1-2 max, for much of the reasons you listed. And, really, the point of the post was the “Wait, they’re buying stuff that WASN’T reviewed”, which I, IN NO WAY expected.

    I think that eventually this could be an OK revenue stream, but I don’t think that, even with a national audience, available 24 hours a day, in all weathers and conditions, even if I was selling DC and Marvel comics, that we’d even come close to matching the sales of a single neighborhood store, let alone the “significantly increase it” we’d need to match the REVENUE I get from print. I believe I’ve been upfront about that?

    “I would think a digital storefront like that would have to be an almost curated experience – not wasting your digital ink on “eh” “meh” or “crap” but rather extolling the NEED for people to get the GOOD –> EXCELLENT stuff.”

    I agree, but there’s not enough of a depth available yet on iVerse for that to be a rational course. Yet. For now, I work with the tools I have access to.

    “If you’ll be using this digital front as nothing more than a straw man to support your position of brick and mortar over digital then I’ll sadly withdraw my (admittedly limited) support.”

    Well, again, I expect that the end results will be “OK, but not great”, but I do NOT plan on bringing this out week after week, or use that in formal arguments in a Tilting or something like that — my expectation is that I might revisit sales here publicly, say, end of the summer, then end of the year.

    So, yeah, not meant as straw man (but if it becomes “that”, then don’t blame me!), because I sure could use more revenue for this site, and the other authors!!!

    “Tempting though it may be resist the urge to review predominantly shitty comics.”

    The premise of this site has always been “good, bad and ugly”, and engaging directly with what we don’t like, as well. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

    I also strongly believe that my willing to be honest about what I dislike means that people are more willing to trust me when I tell them what I DO like.

    Thanks for the commentary!!!

    -B

  11. BTW – You have my full permission to disclose anything I buy if you ever feel the need to. My comic buying habits are always ready for friendly mocking! ^_^

  12. Thanks so much for the responses, Brian and Chris.

    It’s your business, of course, and I respect your willingness to discuss it openly and with clarity as to your reasoning.

    Still…(cough)biggerlink(cough)

    At any rate, thanks again and you can count on my support!

  13. 3. Easier accessibility.

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