EXCLUSIVE: Diamond teams with iVerse to offer in-store digital comics sales

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diamond digital 02 EXCLUSIVE: Diamond teams with iVerse to offer in store digital comics sales

Bam, the other shoe has dropped: as long anticipated, Diamond is starting a program to offer digital comics sales. Comics will be offered day-and-date exclusively through participating retailers — with a 30-day exclusive for these stores. Products offered include regular downloads for $1.99 with “Digital Plus” comics — extras offered with a print purchase — for $.99, all in hopes of becoming a revenue stream for stores and publishers alike.

Sales will go through iVerse’s system, already used extensively by IDW and Archie. Thus far the publishers who have signed up include those who don’t have their own storefronts — Marvel, DC, Image, Boom and Dark Horse are notably absent from the list of publishers, although Diamond hopes they will join in some fashion.

This is clearly an initiative in its beginning stages — the timing is tied to Thursday’s ComicsPRO retailer meeting, which kicks off Thursday.

Gee, I wonder what they’ll be talking about. Full PR below:

Imagine a future where readers and fans can visit their local comic shop to buy not just physical copies of new comics, but also digital editions that aren’t available anywhere else, and can be viewed in multiple platforms including iPhone, iPad, web, and others.

That future is coming soon as Diamond Comic Distributors (DCD) — the world’s largest distributor of English-language comic books, graphic novels and related pop-culture merchandise — joins forces with iVerse Media — the pioneer of digital comics and creators of the popular ComicsPLUS reader — to empower 2,700+ brick and mortar comic shops to sell digital content. Plans call for day-and-date digital editions to sell exclusively at comic shops for 30 days for about $1.99, with “Digital Plus” editions – digital copies available with the purchase of a hard copy – expected to sell for $.99.

Thanks to a simple but technologically robust code redemption system, retailers will need only an internet connection and a printer to participate. They will have no inventory risk or carrying costs and will retain a significant portion of each sale, with billing occurring on their regular DCD invoices. Retailers with websites will also be able to profitably sell a wide range of digital back issue comics and graphic novels.

Diamond Executive VP and COO Chuck Parker had this to say: “Digital comics are creating opportunities for publishers to grow the comic market. Our task, as we see it, has been to structure a program that empowers comic retailers to play a role in this growth and, at the same time, make money selling digital content. We think we’ve accomplished that with this initiative, and we look forward to feedback from retailers and publishers alike to help us succeed in this endeavor.”

iVerse CEO Michael Murphey added: “We are proud to be helping Diamond develop systems which will immediately enable comic shop retailers at any level of technical ability to easily sell digital comics. We are also very excited about the potential of this new venture to create many creative print-to-digital and digital-to-print promotional possibilities.”

Publishers already on-board with the program include: Ape Entertainment, Archie Comics, Aspen Comics, Bluewater Productions, Broadsword Comics, Hermes Press, IDW Publishing, Moonstone Comics, NBM Publishing, Papercutz, Red 5 Comics, Studio Foglio, Titan Books, TOKYOPOP, Top Cow Productions and Top Shelf Productions. Talks with other publishers are continuing, and the first comic shop digital editions are slated to debut in July, 2011.

“Direct Market retailers have always been IDW’s most important market and we’re very pleased to be working with Diamond and iVerse to include them in the digital distribution of our books,” said Ted Adams, CEO/Publisher IDW Publishing.

Dave Bowen, Director of DCD’s new Diamond Digital division, said: “We invite all publishers to join our effort, whether with all of their books or a portion of their line. All we ask is that they give comic shops a 30-day head-start on selling whatever digital content they chose to make available through the program.” Bowen added that interested publishers are welcome to contact him (bdave@diamondcomics.com) or Michael Murphey (michael@iversemedia.com) for more information.

Further details with be forthcoming at the ComicsPRO Annual Meeting being held February 10-12 in Dallas, and at Diamond’s Retailer Summit to be held March 17-18 in Chicago, in conjunction with the C2E2 show.

Comments

  1. This is exciting news. Anything that can keep the comic shops viable in the digital marketplace is a good thing.

  2. Good idea. Bad app.

    I stopped using iVerse in favor of ComiXology because of the Guided View. I’m sure their system is much easier to use on an iPad or on the computer screen, but on the small screen of my iPod Touch? It takes forever to read a page.

  3. Al™ says:

    Bravo for the initiative to allow us to buy digital through a retailer.

    I like the idea that I can buy a $2 digital copy from the retailer on the date of release.

    Not sure about the next part: If I buy the physical comic, I can buy the digital copy for another $1? Is the ‘Digital Plus’ edition the same as the $2 digital copy?

    I would still like to see value added to the $2 digital copy or the Digital Plus copy to create incentive to sales.

    I like the 30 day retailer exclusive window. That protects the retailer from competition from online sales.

  4. David Myers says:

    Matt, do you know that if you hold your phone in widescreen, like watching a movie, that you get a panel by panel view of a comic in the iVerse apps?

    That’s just as fast, if not faster, than the guide view that comixology, panelfly, sony, and everyone else does.

    I’m not saying it’s better, it’s just not slower.

    I use it all the time with the Transformers comic app, and I like not having to flip the phone around and zoom into panels.

  5. Oscar says:

    I applaud the effort, and I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but I can’t see this being a big boon to brick-and-mortar stores in the long run. The problem, as I see it, is that it’s at odds with one of digital purchases’ biggest draws: instant entertainment in the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to go to a record/CD store to buy iTunes tracks, you don’t have to go anywhere to stream a NetFlix movie, etc., and that’s what consumers have grown to expect from digital content. Asking them to go somewhere to buy digital content at this point is sort of like asking car owners to attach a team of horses to their front bumpers.

    That said, I’d love to be proven wrong.

  6. John VanGuard says:

    @Oscar, I think what they’ll be offering will be similar to what movie studios are doing these days with DVD/Blu Ray sales. In most cases now, when you buy a DVD, you also receive a digital copy of that same movie. As a comic collector, I will gladly buy my print copy and pay an extra .99 for the digital version. I can bag and board the print copy and read the digital one wherever I go. I think the system will be tweaked as they go along, but I applaud their efforts for truly trying to include the brick and mortar stores in the process.

  7. Great idea! I can see it take off!

    You’ll have to go to movie theaters in order to use Netflix!

    You’ll have to study Russian in order to make Chicken Kiev for dinner!

    You’ll have to travel to New Jersey itself in order to keep up with The Situation’s wacky antics!

    It’s brave new world of middlemen!

  8. Bye, bye Jobs says:

    You have to actually TRAVEL to the store in order to buy the digital comic?

    Sounds stupid if that’s the case. Guess they wouldn’t care about us international comic readers.

  9. I think some people might be missing the idea that the digital comics would be exclusive to brick-and-mortar shops *at first*, and then presumably would be available for online purchase later. 30 days isn’t unreasonable for that sort of thing.

    I’m undecided on this, really. I love comic shops and I don’t want to see them go away, but this system really feels like something designed to prop them up, rather than one aimed at serving the customer. I have no interest in paying extra for digital copies of comics I’m buying in print.

  10. John VanGuard says:

    @Steve, why shouldn’t the shops be propped up? They’re still the lifeblood of the comic industry and they’ve felt excluded from the digital market since it started. This may not be the perfect system, but it’s a step in the right direction. I would gladly pay a little extra for some exclusive digital content, commentaries, etc. I’m guessing there will also be free digital exclusives to further entice people to go to their local shops. What’s frustrating is that people are always so quick to criticize something new before it’s even had a chance to prove itself. With that said, the pressure is clearly on Diamond and iVerse to deliver what they are promising.

  11. This reminds me of the current DVD marketplace, where every new release has a sticker on the front “Digital copy included!” So you buy the physical copy, but then have to trade in a coupon (or in some cases use the enclosed second disc) in order to view the movie on your digital device.

    The idea that I can spend 3 bucks for a paper copy, or 4 bucks for a paper copy plus a digital version…. Not sure how that’s all going to work. What if I want to just buy the digital? Can I do that? Why not just add the digital on as an extra perk of buying the paper copy?

  12. They lost SLG at the mention of the 30 day exclusivity. When we entered the digital marketplace we told all of the people who wanted to do business with us that we would not make exclusive deals with anyone. Even a 30 day window on new releases would seem to violate that.

    This felt, to me, like Diamond using exclusivity (albeit limited) to throttle competition in the digital marketplace. Sounds a little too familiar to me.

  13. Maybe we don’t have these details yet, but I’m curious how these transactions will work.

    My LCS doesn’t even have a computer in the store. Is Diamond providing some sort of interface from which you’d buy digital comics in the store? Will the digital comic files e-mailed to you, or what? I’m imagining this being quite different from buying digital files from iTunes or Amazon, where you just download them after paying.

    I may be more ignorant here than I should be because I’ve never purchased or read a digital comic. I am, however, quite curious about how this process will play out.

  14. You don’t have to travel to the store… IF that store has an e-commerce website which can sell you the comic online.

    Ut oh… You don’t have an e-commerce portal on your store’s website? You are now competing with every other store which DOES. Because those territorial limits that prevent people in the UK from buying The Black Dossier or Uncle Scrooge? It doesn’t affect stores in the SAME COUNTRY.

    If my LCS doesn’t offer digital comics online so I can download from my home, what’s to keep me from going to a site which does?

    Or maybe to a site which offers the digital comic FOR FREE if I subscribe to their mail order pull list service? “Buy a year’s worth of ‘Guys in Tights’ and we’ll send you the digital copies, for free, AUTOMATICALLY as soon as they are published!”

    Is the 30-day exclusive an exclusive contract? Can Comixology offer the same? Might we see an FTC inquiry similar to the Diamond/Capital case a decade ago?

    What happens if Barnes & Noble or (muWhaHaHA) Apple want to sell digital comics via their digital newsstands at the same terms as the comics shops?

    I won’t be at the Comics Pro meeting, but I hope every attending retailer is asking the Million Dollar Question: How do I set up an e-commerce portal on my website, and how can [Diamond/Comixology/some other company] help me make it successful?

    The $0.99 Question: What’s my store’s profit of each digital sale? Do I get the same terms as the print comics I’m selling (about 50%) or is it going to be less if there’s an agency model?

    Lots of big players waiting on the sidelines:
    Disney Comics
    Marvel Comics
    DC Comics
    Dark Horse Comics
    Image Comics
    (not to mention the regular publishers of graphic novels, like Random House, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Abrams…)

    So that leaves… about 20% of monthly comics sales which will be available digitally to comics shops. Of course, that’s 20% which wasn’t available before.

  15. A comics shop doesn’t have a computer?
    Not even to process the monthly Diamond Previews order and review Final Order Cutoff numbers?

    Wow. That’s like using a cigar box for a cash register.

  16. Yep, I had that idea.
    I’ll give you another: vouchers for digital downloads.
    Like you have for the ipod.
    $10 for digital downloads.

  17. Very interesting, but of course, it’s not really anything until Marvel and DC get on board. I could sell digital copies to my regular customers all day long for $.99, I think.

  18. A comics shop doesn’t have a computer?
    Not even to process the monthly Diamond Previews order and review Final Order Cutoff numbers?

    As best I can tell, the manager uses his personal laptop for Diamond orders, etc., but it’s not in the store when he’s not around. The other main employee uses his iPhone to look things up for customers.

  19. Maybe I’m crazy, but when most digital comics are available for free, $1.99 seems awfully high for a single issue. 25 cent single issues and 50-99 cent graphic novels would probably be about right if the industry wants to compete with .cbr/.cbz comics.

  20. Steve Horton says:

    This raises quite a few questions. Many retailers use PopShop, a service owned by ComiXology, who I imagine will be disinclined to set up Diamond Digital on their sites, seeing as it’s direct competition.

    How will sites, whether PopShop or not, be able to program ComiXology’s Retailer Incentive Program alongside Diamond Digital?

    Is the 30 day exclusive in-store only, or in-store and on the retailer website?

    Will the code redeem inside the ComicsPlus app (or IDW’s app, etc) or a new, separate app?

    iVerse mentions that this isn’t the same as an incentive program, where people other than the store get the money. So what’s in it for them, then? And what’s in it for Diamond? There are still middlemen in the process, I’m just trying to figure out who gets the money, when.

    Is this as good of a deal for publishers (and therefore, creators) as, say, ComiXology’s typical deal? Will the 30 day exclusive ultimately hurt competition, and will Diamond favor this program, since it has their name on it, creating a conflict of interest?

    Individual creators have been able to sign on to iVerse in the past and publish creator-owned books as self-publishers. Will this avenue be available to them? What if the book isn’t available through Diamond?

    What about digital trade paperbacks, both separate and as add-ons? What are the prices on those?

  21. Clint says:

    @ADD, free digital comics? Don’t you mean stolen, pirated comics from torrents?

  22. CitizenCliff says:

    This is great. Can’t wait until I can do something similar at my local travel agency or record store.

    Hello, comics Industry? This is the 21st Century calling. Yes, we have a nice place for you reserved at the Smithsonian over there next to the marbles and the jacks. No, no, keep going, yes, past the horse drawn carriages and the pinball machines.

    What’s that? You’d like to stick around a little longer? Well, we can give you another year, but you’ll have to stop wasting your time with trying to get fans to buy digital products through brick and mortar retailers. That’s right, you see the first sign of obsolescence is not understanding jack about the modern world you just happen to be inhabiting. But please go on with your folly a bit more, it is quite amusing.

  23. Naveed says:

    I read some ditigal comics and it sucks, sorry, call me old school, I like paper print better. But many people raise a good point (like Citizen Cliff) it seems that the print industry is doomed to fail…..and buying digital thru retailers is a nice way to save the retailers, but sucks for the fanboy. All and all, Prints will be gone long before we know it (5 years tops). We shall see how many fools want to pay 2$ for a digital copy (with $0 resale value) when you can downloadthem all for free on Torrent. Until then, I will keep buy my paper copy…..at my local store.

  24. Seriously? Buying digital comics thru a retailer?

    The major draw of digital *anything* is the ease of distribution. I’m working on a comic book myself and frankly I don’t understand why I need to go thru Diamond at this point if I want to distribute it digitally. My children’s book app went directly from me to the app store – no middleman involved.

    Not sure why DC or Marvel or anybody, really, needs to go thru Diamond for digital comics, unless it’s something in their contracts with Diamond.

  25. “As a comic collector, I will gladly buy my print copy and pay an extra .99 for the digital version.”

    That’s the thing. I’d like that.

    Naveed, you think the Itunes model is just for fools?

  26. Naveed says:

    Joe, yeah your right, that sounded rather harsh….didn’t mean no foul by it. I just can’t see why I should pay $2 for a ‘book’ with no resale value. I alo see it as a menace as it will lead to more illegal file sharing, so not a great situation for the publishers nor the retailers (and I guess not for fans like me who still buy the print copies)

  27. @David: I personally find it to be a bit clunky, honestly. Not to mention that it’s much easier to tap a corner than slide your finger across the screen (which leads to smudges on the reading area).

  28. I do believe this is the very definition of “quixotic”.

    Digital media and walking someplace to get it haven’t gone together since twenty-ought-one.

  29. It just seems so unnecessary in the long run, but in the short term I could see that somehow working because in theory what the LCS should sell is not paper but service, advice, knowledge, guidance.
    Problem is of course it’s just a temporary solution that doesn’t lead LCS anywhere.
    If LCS/Diamond are in danger they need to find a better solution.

  30. Al™ says:

    Maybe the next evolution of digital sales will be just to cut the retailer out of the picture.
    But in the meantime, there could still be a “distributor” in your area that you need to use to buy your online comic. We shall see.

    Maybe the majority of postings here are right, we should just download from one central online distributor, and ignore the retailer?

    I’m curious to see what FCBD will become. Will there be empty retail shops during “Free Comic Book Download in your home Day”?

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