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The Digital Bits

Brian Hibbs

You may recall that when we started the digital store here, I promised that I would keep things transparent and out in the open about our results. So, here ya’ go.

Clearly, iVerse/Diamond Digital is, at best, “people’s second choice” — ComiXology has won the day. Further, at least for now, the iVerse/DD store is missing a few keys players, like Marvel and DC, so it’s hard to say if they COULD catch up.

I thought (and still think, actually), that I have one small potential advantage from a lot of sites: we’re a well-established “brand” for reviews, and seamlessly connecting a store to that would seem like a bit of a no-brainer. The problem, of course, is that coverage here is very similar to what sells in the DM — it’s 70% or better for Marvel and DC, so there’s not as many direct links as I would have liked.

(What, I have to tell you to buy Saga?)

So, anyway, here’s what happened: in 2nd Quarter, we mad, after the split with the publisher and iVerse/Diamond, $21.92 from selling some 20-odd comic books. More than that were downloaded for free (like Saga #1!).

In the 3rd quarter, we sold exactly 3 comics, and made ourselves $2.95.

Somewhere in there, the store blew up due to something on the Diamond or iVerse end, and the store was down for “some amount of time” — maybe a month, even. It got fixed in the fourth quarter, but not without a wholllle lot of testing by iVerse folks. In the course of that testing (as well as testing things like with Top Shelf’s Double Barrel was actually up), and for something else that looked hella promising, but never followed through on, I made another $12.31 from various people testing various things. Not one cent of that $12.31 was from a consumer sale, however.

So, in year one, I grossed $37.08. Wow.

In exchange for all of these micro transactions, I had to pay PayPal an astounding $14.19 in fees (and that’s much less that in would have been, if I didn’t switch over to “micropayments”)

So, my net was $22.89 in year one. Not bad for something that doesn’t cost me any inventory or anything, but San Francisco minimum wage is current $10.55/hour, and I spent at least 20 hours of my life dealing with various things to do with the store and infrastructure, so HARDLY a productive use of anyone’s time, really.  Esssspecially because that net amount? We split it evenly among SavCrit writers.  My personal share was under $4!

I’m, of course, hopeful that the store will continue to generate more money as time wears on (honestly, there was one test they did there which could be paradigm shifting…. but that was months ago, and the follow up hasn’t happened yet [maybe at ComicsPRO, next month?]), but, as of right now “it isn’t worth the time I’ve invested so far”.

Either way, if you like this site, we always appreciate you supporting it — if you buy a comic from our digital store we get (as you see) a small cut, but it’s a cut nonetheless for something that, we hope, you were going to buy anyway.  You could also clock on the little “buy us a beer” button off the the right over there, and make a direct donation to us, if you wanted. So endeth the ad.

Time to go help Ben with his homework!!



6 Responses to “ The Digital Bits ”

  1. The problem for me is that I’m already pretty locked into the Comixology paradigm. That’s where my collection is stored, that’s where I’ve got gift cards, etc. So as much as I’d love to support you guys with my digital comics purchases, it just doesn’t make much sense for me. For what it’s worth, I have the same problem with buying Dark Horse digitally — I really prefer to have all my reading in one place, because i am just that lazy.

  2. I donated! Yay!

    I’m not the biggest fan of either iVerse or Comixology, but I hope iVerse continues to make money for you. Well, more that $4/person. You guys do a good job here.

  3. Matt T. — Sure, I completely understand… and this wasn’t meant as a guilt post whatsoever!

    Chris Hero: And we all thank you for it!


  4. I like your reader (for desktop at least) a whole lot more than Comixology’s. I see now that you have Double Barrel which I couldn’t read there. I really hope that your service can pick up steam.

  5. Can’t say I’m too surprised by the results. You’ve got two key problems.

    The first is that the iVerse format is just clearly the weakest available for digital comics. I’m not sure why Diamond hitched their wagon to that lame horse, but it was a mistake, maybe worse than just choosing to stay out of digital completely. And of course, the special problem with digital is that with iVerse seen as the “second (at best) choice”, I don’t think anyone has any confidence that they won’t fold in a year or two, taking all your “purchases” with them.

    (by the way, with DC offering their single issues through both Amazon and iBooks now, in addition to Comixology, I’m kind of surprised that they aren’t available through iVerse yet)

    The second problem is probably pricing, and I’m not sure how much that’s in your control. I was thinking of getting SAGA recently. For buying, my options were:

    In print, almost anywhere, for $10, probably a bit cheaper.

    Comixology, $10 for the collection, or first issue free and #2-#6 for $2 each, so also $10

    iVerse’s own app, same price as Comixology, but in their inferior format

    Savage Critic store, first issue free, $3 for #2-#6, so $15 total, same format as iVerse format, and the collection not offered, if I prefer that to having separate “issues”.

    Not too hard to see why I’d go with one of the first two options. I could buy it in print, support either a store or use an Amazon affiliate link to support a site I like, or buy if from Comixology through one of their store affiliates (and I know you’ve said you don’t like their affiliate program terms) and give some kickback to a store I respect (I usually use Isotope’s digital storefront, since no local store seems to be a Comixology affiliate, and despite the fact it would be marginally easier to just buy the comics in-app and give Apple its 30%. But I figure Apple gets enough of my money), and in any of those cases I’d get a better product and still have $5 or more that I could just donate to you directly if the mood strikes. You can get away with higher prices if you offer a superior product or a superior customer experience. In this case you, you do neither.

    To pick an example from this week that I’m trying to decide how to buy, you’re asking $30 for Paul Pope’s new book. Comixology is asking $18. In print, $30 is the maximum I would expect to pay, $20-$25 is more realistic. I don’t know what your flexibility on pricing that is, but how many copies do you expect to sell of that digitally with those options?

  6. […] was one of the first retailers to adopt Diamond Digital’s digital storefront, and he reports that after three quarters, his total take is $22. What’s wrong with this picture? Hibbs is […]

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