viagra 24 hours delivery

Byte Me!

Brian Hibbs

Hey, remember a few weeks ago when I said “There’s a big announcement coming!”, and then I had to walk that back a little? Well, hey, it’s here, below the jump!

So, like first off, I’m just going to lay this out person-to-person. You understand that I am a retailer, and I sell things for a living, but I don’t sell here at Savage Critic. I (and my wonderful cohorts) tell you what they think, whether that’s good or bad or indifferent or [Schrodinger's Cat]. While I’m working up to a good and/or service, I’m going to speak to you how I like to be spoken to: largely focusing on ones/(my) Perception of The Truth, rather than trying to Sell you on anything.

People think of me as anti-digital, I guess; though that’s really not accurate at all. It’s more that I’m against any kind “Everything will be 100% better with digital” thinking, because I don’t think the “problem” with the comics market is access and availability, but, rather that we’re a niche market, not a mainstream one. Even at our highest highs (boy, isn’t Walking Dead doing pretty super?), we’re still at just a small fraction of the viewers of that TV show.  WATCHMEN is past a million copies but, I think, short of two… while maybe something on the order of 15+ million people paid money to see it in a theatre, and hell, probably 3+ times that have watched it on DVD or streaming or cable or something else.  Meanwhile, it’s extremely unlikely that the “Before Watchmen” books will sustain 100k+ sales, and it wouldn’t shock me if some of the involved titles bottom out below 50k.

We’ve been through “The grass is greener!” more than once, most recently with the bookstore market, and, guess what? We can still count the number of million copy best sellers… well, probably not on one hand, but it certainly isn’t a large club. And that’s in a population of 250+ million people.

Comics are an acquired taste. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. Hell, I think we’re smarter and sexier because we know comics and “they” don’t, but “they” are a long long long way from even beginning to embrace us.

Further, I truly think that comics that are created for paper are inherently better ON paper, because physical space is an important part of how comics “work”. I especially think that panel-by-panel viewing thing that cmX has is the absolute work of the devil — the gutters are exactly where the magic of comics fundamentally lies, and you can’t remove that panel border and have it still be comics, exactly. I truly think that comics belong foremost as a print medium, and I think that most of the audience agrees, which is why we’re running entirely counter-cyclical to any “normal” digital trends in this medium.

Having said all of that, it is obvious and clear that some people disagree, whether it is from honest cognitive disagreement, or “well, that would be nice, but there’s no place within 100 miles that sells any form of comics” or, just, “fuck, I don’t want clutter any more”. What *I* think about the “purity” of the medium really means fuck-all, doesn’t it, when there ARE obviously some number of people that want digital.

cmX has a retailer participation model, but I’ve actually read the contract that you have to agree to, and I thought it was flatly one of the most lopsided, unfair, and kind of blatantly evil documents I’ve ever read. Others surely disagree, and there are certainly some retailers who will say that they’re generating large sums with no overhead. But I’m totally unwilling to do so under the contract cmX offered.

So, that brings us to Diamond comics partnership with iVerse to bring digital comics directly into retail stores. Most of Diamond’s focus has been on a kind of “do you want fries with that?” digital copy upsell in store. Hell, maybe that can even work — though I have a hard time picturing it, and, besides, the physical print market is already niche enough that physical retailers would be, I think, largely foolish to even raise the possibility that customers in their physical stores might migrate to digital (not that I think they WILL, as a mass) (but the REAL problem is that if the “wrong” 10% — the heavy users who buy most of the comics; the cats who buy 20+ comics every single week — shifts their business, the entirely possibility of much of the physical market kind of disappears for the other 90% of the participants, whether they want it or not)

All I know is that I’m sure as hell not going to promote digital within my individual physical sales environment. I think that’s plainly counter-productive to my physical print-based business.

The internet, however, is different. I’ll be surprised if even 1% of my regulars read this blog posting, or even an aggregation site’s picking up on the “story”. But there are hundreds, thousands, lots! of readers reading these words who will never set foot in my store for the simple reason that you’re nowhere near me whatsoever. SOME of you are interested in digital comics.

And so for you few and proud and awesome!!!, I’ve very proud to announce that because I’m one of the very very few people who has both a Diamond account, as well as an internet review site, boom, now we’re selling digital comics.

Yeah, didn’t expect that, didja?

We’re selling digital comics through iVerse’s program, but as you see from that URL and site, that’s branded as SavCrit, and ComixExp; and all sales are pretty much under Diamond’s Terms of Sale, with the main exception of the split. As it is set right now, I get one third, Diamond and iVerse get one third, and the publisher gets the last third. I don’t know how Diamond and iVerse are splitting dollars, but even in a crazy unfair world, I bet Diamond is still preserving most of the profit slice they normally get, while having almost no overhead at all.

(I’m losing 33% of my gross profit on publishers that cap in print at 50%, and 40% of my profit on a brokered publisher like Image, where it’s 55% off. But the upside is zero inventory expense for unsold copies.)

I know that there’s going to be a vocal contingent of people who will say “yeah, but I use comiXology, and don’t want a second system”, and I feel you, I really do, but y’know, in this app based world I kind of have to file that one under “white people problems” — switching between apps really isn’t hard.

I don’t expect anyone to really just go and “graze” at the store, instead what we’ll do is, when we’re reviewing a book that we also have for sale, there will be a hotlink to that book. I wish this happened a different week (Onomatopoeia, and order form this week!) so I’d have a proper review up at the same moment to show you how it works in practice, but pretend as I reprint this one from last week:

PROPHET #24: Ugh, now THIS is comics! Man, I don’t even know what this bit has to do with anything in the first three issues (same character, wholly different scenario), but I also don’t care, because it’s such fun science fiction, AND we get some wonderful artwork from Farel Dalrymple. I think I’ve said this before, but this reminds me of nothing less than HEAVY METAL from the 1970s, amazingly inventive and lavishly illustrated science fiction that may or may not make a ton of sense, but who cares because the passion just drips off it. I think this is truly EXCELLENT work.

Something like that, anyway — I may not link the review summary word now that I see it looks kind of ugly. Either way, it’s meant to be unobtrusive and not all “Buy!”-y

There are drawbacks to iVerse & Diamond Digital — the first being that the back library  is, right now, only a few months behind. The second being a fairly small number of publishers represented — Ape, Arcana, Archie, Bluewater, Boom!, Broadsword, IDW, Image, Top Shelf and Viper. More, we presume, will be added as time goes on.

Also, I’m told that while you can buy comics using Firefox, you’ll have to READ THEM (if you’re doing so on a browser, rather than using the app) on a different browser for now. That kinda sucks.

All of “my” (1/3) share of the digital sales will be split evenly amongst the SavCrit participants while we test this — so if you’ve always wanted to support the site, but have felt like you didn’t want to do a direct Paypal donation or something (though certainly feel free to do that, as well), now you can buy comics and understand that it keeps Graeme and Jeff doing podcasts (and maybe even written reviews again, wouldn’t THAT be nice!), or John one step closer to that high powered telescope, so he can watch EVERYthing that Howard Victor Chaykin does, and so on and so forth.

Oh, the last thing is that I, like Mark Waid before me, intend to be fairly open about the success and / or failure of this initiative. I suspect that once a year I’ll pop in with a “this is how digital is doing” post.

Well… that’s about that, I think? Please feel free to offer comments in the thread below, though I doubt I’ll be able to answer any tech questions whatsoever.

So, what do you think?

 

-B

12 Responses to “ Byte Me! ”

  1. Seems like a win-win. Honestly, I’m still not that likely ever to buy a digital comic, but I gotta say there was a small part of me that wanted to click on the Buy button for a sweet scifi Farel Dalrymple story.
    Anyway, not to ignore the real point of you post, but the main takeaway for me is, YES it WOULD be nice if Graeme & Jeff did some written reviews again. I always enjoyed what they had to write about comics, but I cannot for the life of me sit and listen to their podcast, no offense to them.

  2. A clever way to monetize the site.

    I’ll check it out. Good luck with it.

  3. That’s a good idea! If you have two separate crowds with the website and the store, then providing the website audience with an opportunity to buy through you makes a lot of sense. There are lots of icons and widgets you could use (AFAIK) to make an attractive, non-obtrusive link to order books.

    I am a little surprised you are not (also?) doing a direct delivery type service (eg., DCBS) but i presume the economics of that are not in your favor.

  4. Smart post as ever! And thanks for all your hard work and patience getting this going. Thanks most of all for still referring to people as “cats”. I love that!

    I’m looking forward to my telescope because right now I have to get really close to Howard Victor Chaykin and for an old guy he moves fast and he’s getting really good with that ‘taser.

    Welcome to Future Town, Mr. Hibbs!

  5. Danger Club #1 was my first buy. Which was odd, considering it didn’t appear on the Image page. I searched for it and it turned up so, by all means, I suggest a little prospecting. I would have bought the first couple issues of Roberson’s Memorial – neatly dovetailing supporting interests – but at 3.99…

    Ah, no. Not yet anyway.

    DC #1 was getting a look from me a couple weeks ago but I was a little turned off by the violence level. At the time I didn’t even realize the creative team was the same one behind “Supergirl’s Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade.” Those two have plenty of my goodwill and the review by Sims over at CA didn’t hurt.

    ( http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/04/12/danger-club-1-comic-review/ )

    Happy motoring – I will support where and how I can.

  6. This will be interesting, your logic is certainly sound.
    Are you going to redesign the website to accommodate the store?
    It may get a little forgotten about with the current design.

  7. [...] Retailing | San Francisco retailer Brian Hibbs explains why he decided to partner with iVerse and Diamond to sell digital comics via the web. “All I know is that I’m sure as hell not going to promote digital within my individual physical sales environment. I think that’s plainly counter-productive to my physical print-based business. The internet, however, is different. I’ll be surprised if even 1% of my regulars read this blog posting, or even an aggregation site’s picking up on the ‘story.’ But there are hundreds, thousands, lots! of readers reading these words who will never set foot in my store for the simple reason that you’re nowhere near me whatsoever. SOME of you are interested in digital comics.” [Savage Critics] [...]

  8. YAY!!! I’m down!!

    I’ve realized in the past few months I would prefer digital comics, but I’m not in love with the current offerings. On the other hand, my desire to support your store outweighs that, so I’m going to plan on buying a few books from you every week! YAY!

  9. “People think of me as anti-digital, I guess; though that’s really not accurate at all. It’s more that I’m against any kind “Everything will be 100% better with digital” thinking, because I don’t think the “problem” with the comics market is access and availability, but, rather that we’re a niche market, not a mainstream one.”

    Yes, this is key.

    SO MUCH of the pointless chatter about digital comics would be cleaned up if people could just overcome their unconscious, irrational belief that “digital is the future… and the future will be wonderful.”

    Digital is just another option. It’s a rather large option, in some ways a very cool option, but it’s just an option nonetheless. There are dozens of factors that go into, color, and potentially derail the digital experience: Is the comic intended for the dimensions of the screen you’re reading it on? Is it DRM-free? Is it formatted so that you could use it on another device? Are there double-page spreads? How much overhead cost was need to format this comic to digital, and how much did that add to the price? Are you having as memorable, pleasant experience reading off of a backlit screen? Because comparative studies have shown that those who read from backlit screens TEND to engage in the material less deeply and remember less of what they read.

    And yet people seem to think that digital is just perfect. They think it’s only a matter of time before “they’ll figure it out” in such a way that will make economical sense to charge only $0.99 for all new comics. And they think that is sure to attract a mythical audience of millions of new fans who are sure to love comics if only they could have them digitally.

    But really if a big audience was out there, signs of many new readers would have already emerged. Yet this has not happened. And still the digital utopians think it’s blindingly stupid for digital comics to cost more than $0.99. They don’t understand the situation or its economics, but they still feel entitled to dictate how reality should work if people weren’t such “luddites” or whatever.

    It’s madness. Speaking out against illogical utopianism is not being anti-digital: it’s being realistic. I guarantee that a lot of these people speculated various, absurd timelines of when all this digital stuff would happen and how soon the turnaround would be. If you asked them in 2004 or 2005, I’m sure they would have thought that by 2012 we’d be in this digital comics wonderland, and especially after the iPad came out there would surely be hundreds of thousands of new comics readers. It almost makes me want to go back and listen to old episodes of Comic Geek Speak, just to hear the absurd prognostications one certain digital utopian pundit.

    They’ve always been wrong on every projection they’ve ever made. And yet that doesn’t seem to deter them from continually rolling out these ridiculous non-reality-based ideas about how digital comics should work. They pick up all of these utopian ideas just from passively soaking up hyperbolic advertising and pop culture hype. They’re the same people who assumed that EVERY movie after Avatar would need to be in 3D.

    I have three laptops, two Kindles, three iPods, and have read many digital comics before. I’m not anti-digital. But digital comics aren’t “the future”. People who equate digital with “the future” need to pull back and stop spending so much of their waking hours in a digital dreamworld.

  10. Don,

    You spend a great deal of time attempting to dispel the myth of digital without addressing the utter and total choke point that is the current state of the Direct Market.

    The “reach” of the DM is pitiful in comparison to the reach of digital media via the internet and that gulf is only going to grow.

    I’m not saying retailers or the DM can’t be a component of the overall readership (and make a good living catering to peoples niche needs besides) but if companies are not investing and building business models around digital media they are doing themselves a disservice based solely on market size.

    This is not a broad generalization in the sense you’re speaking of. People that speak in absolutes are generally hyperbolic, as you say, and have a vested interest in seeing a specific outcome or in promoting a specific outcome.

    What cannot be denied is the expansion of digital media AVAILABILITY via readers, computers, pads and phones. The market has spoken – they want these technology products. IF comics want to be part of that bonanza then they need to make plans.

    I think the question becomes where are the “tiny titans” interactive book apps for bedtime? The coloring book apps? All these things can be hammered out and branded – engaging new buyers and new generations with no downside! But instead these companies are creating another chokepoint by focusing too narrowly on comics themselves!

    “I have three laptops, two Kindles, three iPods, and have read many digital comics before. I’m not anti-digital. But digital comics aren’t “the future”. People who equate digital with “the future” need to pull back and stop spending so much of their waking hours in a digital dreamworld.”

    Digital isn’t the future, Don. It’s the now. You have three laptops, two kindles, three ipods and whatever else. You don’t use an antenna for tv reception anymore and you may have satellite radio. My 4 year old can practice writing his letters and numbers on an iPad. This digital dreamworld of which you speak is digital reality. I’m having a conversation with you via the internet! They don’t even teach handwriting in school any longer!

    There’s a dreamworld but it’s an increasingly analog one when it comes to print / visual media.

  11. [...] Brian’s review site the Savage Critics (disclaimer: I was one for a short one) signing up to sell digital comics through Diamond’s program with [...]

  12. I for one think this is awesome! It will allow me and Sam to start buying comics from you again (we finally had to face that we just don’t get back to San Francisco often enough, now that we’re living in Oakland, even though we were very sadpanda about cancelling our subs).

    I’m stoked.

Leave a Reply


three + = 10