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Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

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Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby LOLtron » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:34 pm

Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?Under pressure from a backward thinking direct market monopoly, Dark Horse responds to allegations that they would dare to make same day digital content affordable.



Last week, Rich Johnston over at Bleeding Cool reported on some pretty underhanded tactics being used by retailers to stifle the growing digital market for comic books in order to maintain the failing direct-market-only print monopoly. According to Johnston, Jetpack Comics in New Hampshire and Larry's Comics in Massachusetts planned to stop stocking any Dark Horse print comics in the shop as a response to rumors that Dark Horse would be making Digital Comics available on the same day as print comics for up to $1.50 cheaper per issue.

As it turns out, the rumors were mistaken and Dark Horse actually intends to release the digital comics at the same price as the print versions, dropping the price a month later. Dark Horse sent out the following email yesterday afternoon to clarify the situation and stop the controversy:

December 5th, 2012

Dark Horse retail partners and fans,

You may have been surprised by our recent announcement regarding digital pricing.

We apologize for the confusion and concern surrounding Dark Horse's recent announcement of simultaneous release in print and digital. We want to make it clear that nowhere in our announcement (see below) did we indicate that our same-day digital pricing would be less than that of our physical books. Due to some miscommunication, there has been widespread speculation based on our current pricing model.

To clarify: We have chosen to release all new single-issue comics digitally for the price of $2.99 for the first month, dropping to our standard digital pricing of $1.99 after that.

Dark Horse values our retail partners and is grateful for the twenty-five years of business we've done together. We have considered the retail community in all of our digital decisions and look at direct-market shops as crucial to our continued success. With that in mind, Dark Horse will make every effort to keep our comics retailers strong in a changing market.

We continue to value everyone who both buys and sells Dark Horse products, and thank you for your support. All of you are the reason we are here today.

Mike Richardson


While this reporter certainly understands the fear that publishers harbor toward taking a risk that might hurt their current distribution system, the fact is that the direct market, while profitable for now, has resulted in a dwindling customer base and a complete lack of new readers. The possibility of expansion resides solely in the digital marketplace, and artificially inflating prices for an unlimited potential number of new readers in order to keep the stores that sell to the feeble number of existing readers seems very shortsighted.

Print comics sold in comic shops cost money to print, cost money to ship, and must be marked up so that Diamond and the comic shop can all get their cut of the price. They have also risen drastically in price over the past decade because of the shrinking readership that all print industries are suffering from, and a spiraling solution of bilking more and more money out of fewer and fewer readers. Digital comics do not have those limitations, so pricing them at the same rate cannot be seen as anything other than self-destructive appeasement.

This reporter was excited to believe that Dark Horse was planning to lead the way into the digital future, and perhaps they still might, but it looks like now is not the time. Sooner or later, however, one of the publishers will have to if the comic book industry ever plans to grow beyond its current niche market.


Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Written or Contributed by: Jude Terror


http://173.199.169.70/index.php/news/comics-news/17524-onward-into-the-digital-age-with-dark-horse-or-not.html/
Last edited by LOLtron on Fri Dec 30, 2011 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby e_galston » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:00 pm

As someone who is friends with a comic shop owner, i find it kind of wrong to be "happy" that they could potentially go out of business..
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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby mrorangesoda » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:19 pm

e_galston wrote:As someone who is friends with a comic shop owner, i find it kind of wrong to be "happy" that they could potentially go out of business..


If your friend is a decent owner, they'll be working to provide more to the community than just a haven for weekly comics releases.

I have friends that work for book publishers and magazines. Doesn't mean I can't say that the current publishing landscape is fucked up (they actually say this more often than I do).

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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:28 pm

e_galston wrote:As someone who is friends with a comic shop owner, i find it kind of wrong to be "happy" that they could potentially go out of business..



When did I say that?

My opinion (abbreviated) is that the direct market requires a source of new readers to feed it. That source must come from outside the direct market, or it is simply feeding on itself (through inflated prices, variant covers, etc.) until there's nothing left. Comic shops need to become the place to go for the full comics experience (books, trades, valuable back issues, merchandise, knowledge, apparel, toys, cards, games, etc.), and the digital market draws in new readers, a percentage of which, just as in the days of the newsstand/pharmacy/grocery market, will eventually become new customers of the comic shops.

What those shops in the article were doing, and what the industry as a whole does, is prevent growth to cling to the dwindling revenue source they have now. There's no risk, but no reward, and longterm it is a formula for attrition until death.

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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:30 pm

Imagine if you lived by eating vegetables grown in your garden. You don't want to go out and buy seeds for new plants because you don't want to plant new seeds and disrupt the delicate ecosystem of your garden, plus buying seeds costs money and you have to leave the comfort of your home to do it. But even if in the short term the plants in your garden are enough, eventually some plants will die. If you don't plant new seeds, eventually, you will have no plants.

/hippie'd

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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby e_galston » Tue Dec 06, 2011 7:35 pm

mrorangesoda wrote:
If your friend is a decent owner, they'll be working to provide more to the community than just a haven for weekly comics releases.

I have friends that work for book publishers and magazines. Doesn't mean I can't say that the current publishing landscape is fucked up (they actually say this more often than I do).


he does.. he has frequent events, yet he's still almost closed twice because people aren't picking up the books he's holding for them..
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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Tue Dec 06, 2011 9:23 pm

e_galston wrote:
he does.. he has frequent events, yet he's still almost closed twice because people aren't picking up the books he's holding for them..



So I would think he would be excited about the prospect of getting new potential readers into comics through digital. I mean, obviously, based on the past twenty years or so, selling comics in only comic shops is not a viable strategy for that. The readership has only declined.
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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby e_galston » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:29 pm

S.F. Jude Terror wrote:

So I would think he would be excited about the prospect of getting new potential readers into comics through digital. I mean, obviously, based on the past twenty years or so, selling comics in only comic shops is not a viable strategy for that. The readership has only declined.


he doesn't just sell comics, he has gaming and other things as well.
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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:30 pm

e_galston wrote:
he doesn't just sell comics, he has gaming and other things as well.


So IMO, he would benefit from the successful digital distribution of comics.

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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby mrorangesoda » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:31 pm

e_galston wrote:
he doesn't just sell comics, he has gaming and other things as well.


If pull list customers can close his doors, it kinda sounds like comics are all he's selling.

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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby e_galston » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:33 pm

mrorangesoda wrote:
If pull list customers can close his doors, it kinda sounds like comics are all he's selling.


but its not.. he does friday night magic tournaments and does all the release tournaments..
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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby S.F. Jude Terror » Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:49 pm

mrorangesoda wrote:Brian Wood on the Dark Horse kerfluffle-
http://brianwood.tumblr.com/post/13826679493/the-digital-question-mark



He's right. It's a mix of greed and fear on various levels from the retailers and publishers. The fact that the retailers are threatening boycotts in order to force people to buy products from them at inflated prices is pretty disgusting.

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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby Doc Jon » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:16 pm

I can't believe he hasn't boycotted Magic tournaments, which released a videogame on their property that makes possibly getting the physical cards redundant... :smt102
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Re: Onward into the Digital Age with Dark Horse? Or Not?

Postby doombug » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:21 pm

My opinion as said to Russ a few minutes on IM:

it's the digital age at the end of the day, while physical comics aren't going to die, it's obvious the business model of the retailer's and the publishers need to change to embrace it

The way the retailer embraces is, is by actively promoting things that cannot be ordered through diamond anymore while maintaining a relationship with that new consumer.

The way the publisher embraces is is simple, bite the gun and drop the price for the digital issue. We live in the .99 pocket god/angry birds age and as soon as the comic industry realizes that, the better off they'll be.
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