Digital comics make up 15% of Image Comics sales, 27% of revenue

imagecharts Digital comics make up 15% of Image Comics sales, 27% of revenue
Wired has more info on Image’s big digital news today including charts and graphics. Basically, Image publisher Eric Stephenson isn’t afraid of no pirates since, as we’ve seen digital has been additive, not killing print sales but sending them up industry-wide.

“Over the last several years, we’ve learned the answer to the big question, and guess what: Digital comics have not destroyed the industry. Digital has shown tremendous growth, but we’ve also seen growth in the direct market and the book market,” said Richards. “If you look at other publishers, they’re seeing the same thing.”

Image has the statistics to back it up — and even more surprising in an industry where publishers have been notoriously cagey about providing data about digital sales, actually shared them. Although the publisher only started selling digital comics in 2009, digital sales now make up more than 11 percent of the company’s overall revenue, and is currently projecting sales of 15 percent by the end of 2013. Image’s best-selling comic, The Walking Dead, sees 22 percent of its sales in digital. And when measured solely against print comics sold in the direct market at comic book stores, digital makes up 27 percent of revenue.


27%?

Makes you wonder about Mark Millar’s stated “stand with retailers” not to go digital for six months.

Although there were some early malfunctions with the Image store that seemed to be adding sales tax, and the activation emails don’t actually activate, it took us about 45 seconds to sign up for the Image digital site. Our attempt to buy SCATTERLANDS was thwarted by the fact that they don’t yet take PayPal or Google Wallet. but it’s only opening day….give it some time.

Comments

  1. mario says:

    Here’s what I don’t get:
    “Digital has shown tremendous growth, but we’ve also seen growth in the direct market and the book market,”

    but in 2012 digital sales took 11% away from retailers (in all forms) and it’s scheduled to take another 4% of revenue away from “paper comics” retailers. So, it’s good for Image, but still a loss for retailers?

  2. Torsten Adair says:

    @Mario
    That’s a percentage. Not a whole number.
    If the pie is bigger, than a slimmer slice will still be bigger than a wide slice from a smaller pie. Do you want 45% of 1,000, or 48% of 900?

    It has been proven that if you GIVE AWAY a digital comic (Boom’s North Wind, for example), you will generate SALES of the paper comic.
    CrossGen proved this before Boom, with their Comics On The Web portal, but no one was thinking about digital comics back then.

    People will want a physical copy of the comics they love.
    They will pay $100 for a nice deluxe edition even when they own the trade paperback and periodical issues.

    I’ll say it again, because we’re talking DRM:
    Go read Corey Doctorow’s “Content”.
    Free online, at Craphound. In a variety of formats.

  3. Justin Jordan says:

    Here’s what I don’t get:
    “Digital has shown tremendous growth, but we’ve also seen growth in the direct market and the book market,”

    but in 2012 digital sales took 11% away from retailers (in all forms) and it’s scheduled to take another 4% of revenue away from “paper comics” retailers. So, it’s good for Image, but still a loss for retailers?”

    Because it’s not a loss? Their general thesis is that digital sales aren’t people moving away from print but in addition to print.

  4. giuliano says:

    Digital comics rise is good and one reason I don’t think it’s stealing readers from comics shop could be that many people like me, can now buy digital comics from foreign countries instead that relying on translations from other publishers (I prefer to read my stuff in the language has been originally written and with comics ore so given the balloon constrains that affects the translations).

    That said, the market can not grow forever (nothing can) so at a certain point the phenomenon will certainly affect the direct and book market. If I was a retailer I would invest in a good digital presence. Comixology already allows comics store to open their shop inside the shop, pushing for marvel, image etc. to do the same would be a good move. Comics shop could offer promotions, events, meetings, discounts on physical books tied to the purchaes of digital and so on.

  5. Selling digital copies also allows the seller to bundle collections of issues. Imagine DC selling retro ‘Grodd gorilla’ issues or ‘Neal Adams horror’ issues as bundles. That would encourage buyers to purchase runs and isolated issues that fall within that promotional theme. Cost to seller: only the marketing and generating some software code related to the sales function.

  6. @Mario : if every market is growing, then nothing is being taken away from anyone. It just makes up a different amount of the pie. For example, if 2012 is represented by total sales of $100, it is split $12 for digital, $44 for direct and $45 for book. If all three markets grow, then the total sales amount would grow, let’s say to $200 (just to keep numbers simple). That means, it would be split $30 for digital, $84 for direct, and $86 for book. It’s not eating into direct market sales if everything is growing.

  7. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Retailers are right to be afraid of the rise of digital because it will either put them out of business or force a dramatic change to their business model. That said, this change is not an evil thing, just a consequence of the forward march of technology.

    Ask yourself if you would have sacrificed modern voicemail to keep answering machine companies around? Back in the day would you have sacrificed answering machines to keep manned messaging centers open?

    In my opinion, comics and books will eventually move to majority digital with small publishers still being around to make (possibly pricey) print-on-demand paper editions for those that want it that way.

    I think for comic stores as we know them to keep going as businesses they will have to reskin themselves as more akin to nerd social clubs where people get together to play Magic the Gathering and tabletop stuff. A lot of the more successful comic/nerd shops I’ve seen over the last decade have indeed moved in this direction already.

  8. SniktSnakt says:

    Digital > Retailers, in my book.

    No hassle anymore of traveling to a LCS just to find the new comic you were looking for sold out even before you get there. Download that puppy onto your tablet reader from the comfort of your own home, anytime you want. It will never sell out!!!

    And the best thing? No more long boxes full of comics that aren’t worth (in most cases) even half of what you paid for it, only a few months later…

  9. Instead of having all those long boxes that aren’t worth much, you’ll have a iPad full of files that are worthless! Progress!

  10. Torsten Adair says:

    Let me ask about that elephant in the room…

    Both Comixology and Diamond have been running programs for a while which allow retailers to sell digital comics.

    How’s that going?

  11. mario says:

    I understand the market grows (in total) but retailers get a smaller percentage of that. The amount is bigger but the percentage is smaller.
    win-win?

  12. “Instead of having all those long boxes that aren’t worth much, you’ll have a iPad full of files that are worthless! Progress!”

    Sure, but I consider the lack of longboxes in my home to be a VERY good thing. I have more than enough already.

  13. Michael Kindt says:

    Before digital comics were easy, my LCS was getting almost nothing from me. I might pick up a couple graphic novels a year, although its more likely I would order those online since I’m no longer close to my favorite shop.

    After digital comics were easy, I spend thousands of dollars on comics. I’m buying new comics on Wednesdays for the first time in my life instead of trade waiting. I have a digital collection of 2000-3000 comics from the last couple years. Kickstarter is getting my support for special comic printings and crazy deluxe editions.

    Digital has turned a lapsed comic reader back into a voracious comics reader. I’m more passionate now than I ever was when the backbone of my fandom was 90s Vertigo Trades.

    There are many readers like me who wouldn’t be spending on comics if comics weren’t easily available via digital. It’s not taking a significant chunk away from LCSs. It’s making the whole freaking market bigger than it was.

    So excited to see Image embracing it and not fearing it. If Mark Millar ever pulls his head out of his ass, I’ll even give his comics a chance.

  14. >> I understand the market grows (in total) but retailers get a smaller percentage of that. The amount is bigger but the percentage is smaller.
    win-win?>>

    If a smaller percentage of a bigger market works out to more than you had before, yes, it’s win-win.

    If it works out to less, then not so much.

    The actual, in-the-till numbers matter. Not just the percentages.

  15. Chris Hero says:

    @Torsten

    I was thinking of digital comics back in the CrossGen days…I bought a lifetime subscription to their comics on the web thing. ^_^ Oh well, it was a good service while it lasted.

  16. Majorjoe23 says:

    “So excited to see Image embracing it and not fearing it. If Mark Millar ever pulls his head out of his ass, I’ll even give his comics a chance.”

    Jupiter’s Legacy is now available in the Image site.

  17. Michael Kindt says:

    “So excited to see Image embracing it and not fearing it. If Mark Millar ever pulls his head out of his ass, I’ll even give his comics a chance.”

    “Jupiter’s Legacy is now available in the Image site.”

    Has it gone Day and Date?

    I’m not going to support Millar as long as he believes digital readers should have to wait 3-6 months before he’ll let them buy at premium/new prices.

Trackbacks

  1. […] It was interesting to see that for ComixTribe, Comixology sales are, on average, about 13% compared to the size of ComixTribe’s direct market orders through Diamond.  There are some outliers. The SCAM series has had comparatively far greater buy in from the direct market than on Comixology, and THE RED TEN series has had a stronger digital adoption, with THE RED TEN series’ Comixology sales about 20% of the direct market orders, and growing. Interestingly, this puts us more or less in line with the experience of Image Comics, who have previously reported…. […]

Speak Your Mind

*