Top Cow has digital strategy!

We did an interesting interview with a sharp young fellow from a radio show the other day — yesterday, in fact — (details to come) and he asked if any comics publishers had a “digital strategy” and we had a hard time thinking of too many names. But Top Cow does seem to be plunging boldly forward on a variety of carriers.

Top Cow Productions, Inc. proudly announced today that the publisher has partnered with comiXology, iVerse Media, WOWIO, Amazon.com and Longbox Digital to distribute their digital comics on mobile, portable and desktop readers.

The move is in direct response to requests from fans and in an effort to tap into a new growth market. The publisher plans to focus on primarily archival material and sold out issues of recent series. The first of Top Cow’s digital comics will be available beginning tomorrow, December 10th, 2009.

Top Cow’s digital comics have been optimized and reformatted for mobile devices and desktop computers, such as Amazon’s Kindle and Apple’s iPhone.  The publisher will have numerous first issues and entry point issues available for free, as well as a pay-per-download.

“Top Cow is very excited to have our titles available on multiple platforms,” said Top Cow publisher, Filip Sablik.  “The potential to reach out and connect to a new audience and hopefully drive those new readers to physical comic book stores are all driving forces for this coordinated push. And partnering with comiXology, iVerse, WOWIO, Amazon and Longbox ensures we’re using the most up-to-date technology to provide our readers with an easy, accessible and satisfying experience.”



The move follows the mobile digital distribution of The Darkness/Pitt #1 on the iPhone made available through comiXology’s ‘Comics’ iPhone application.

“In many cases, we will be able to make recently sold out issues of comics available digitally right before the following issue comes out in direct market stores and encourage new fans to continue reading the story at their local comic shop,” added Sablik, “We’re value our direct market partners a great deal and are taking measured steps to ensure we help grow our business with them, rather than cannibalizing sales.”

Top Cow will release the following titles for the month of December for free: Witchblade #1, Wanted #1, The Darkness/Pitt #1 (already available on Comics by comiXology), Witchblade #80, Tracker First Look, The Darkness Volume 3 #1, Berserker #0, Impaler Volume 2 #1, Hunter-Killer #1 and The Darkness Volume 1 #1. Each week will see new issues available for fans to download.

For the month of January, the additional titles will be made available including: Witchblade #2-8, Wanted #2-6, The Darkness/Pitt #2, Witchblade #81, The Darkness Volume 3 #2, Witchblade #82, Tracker #1, The Darkness Volume 3 #3, Impaler Volume 1 #1, Witchblade #83, Berserker #1, The Darkness Volume 3 #4, Impaler Volume 2 #2, Impaler Volume 1 #2-6, Witchblade #84, Hunter-Killer #2-12, The Darkness Volume 3 #5 and The Darkness Volume 1 #2-6.
                   

Comments

  1. Nate Horn says:

    “The potential to reach out and connect to a new audience and hopefully drive those new readers to physical comic book stores are all driving forces for this coordinated push.”

    *smh*

    It’s like selling gasoline for cars so people can drive to the closest horse-and-buggy whip store to buy the newest whip for their horse….

  2. Even Dave Sim, who doesn’t even own a computer(!), is getting in on the act with http://www.cerebustv.com.
    It premieres a new episode every Friday 10PM Eastern Time with the goal to, as he puts it, “to “reforge” the direct link between creators and retailers”

  3. I’ve just been given an iPod touch and I’m exploring how comics work on these tiny devices. Wasn’t Longbox supposed to have launched by now?

  4. Nate Horn says:

    Now that I have more time, I’ll explain why I’m cynical about the approach of using digital to drive media people to physical media. The approach Top Cow describes misses what consumers actually want – the ability to buy full issues of comics to read and store on their computers. I don’t think downloaded scans are only popular because they’re free (by virtue of “stealing,” and I only use quotes because I don’t wish to get into that argument either pro or con). I think there’s an appeal of having a collection of digital scans you the reader can compile into their own trades, store conveniently, and delete conveniently.

    I think comics is a media essentially screaming to be on an iTunes like service – which this Longbox service may end up being. I think $1 an issue would really sell some issues. I think if companies like Marvel, DC, or Dark Horse would offer their entire weekly line-up for $12, it would work because people would keep what they want and delete what they don’t want without feeling like they’re tossing money.

    The Marvel approach by Dan Buckley described in yesterday’s interview seemed especially senseless. I think just like music services that have failed, the approach of a monthly fee for unlimited access to pre-selected content is bound to fail.

    I know whenever someone suggests a model that can serve the future of comics better than the direct market, some retailers feel the need to defend their good stores, and I understand that. But I think we’re already seeing with music people don’t want to own physical media when a reasonably priced digital option is available.

  5. I think this is great. I want Top Cow and Cory Doctrow to keep giving away books for free, because then it much easier for me to find something I like, and then want to own a copy of it if its really great. And then I want more companies to start doing it.

    There is so much research now that shows that people who download the most music, buy the most music, and music artists have for a couple years now been doing consistently better business through live shows due to the fact that it is so easy to listen to their work beforehand.

  6. Big Head Press has been serializing our graphic novels on-line since 2006, and we keep the entire works on-line continually, because it drives sales of our printed material. That’s our digital strategy so far, although we have had talks with iVerse and with Rantz Hoseley for his Longbox project.

  7. I wonder if they’ll have releases for The Nook. Also, yay, free comics!

  8. Torsten Adair says:

    I’ve read enough “sold out” press releases to know that stores might still have copies on the shelf to sell. Will this cause retailers to become even more conservative? Will the digital files be posted before or after the trade collections? What royalties are paid on a free download? Do the digital files contain an ad for the comics shop locator service and the trade collections?

    Kudos to Top Cow. Free digital does drive book sales (XKCD, Wimpy Kid, Doctorow, Penny Arcade) IF the product is good. Promotion is easier, word of mouth is easier, and advertising is much more flexible.

    Now… if I could just get my monitor to rotate…

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    If so many publishers are digitzing comics, offering sneak peeks at new issues, how come so few utilize the “look inside” feature on Amazon or BN.com?

    We know Free Comic Book Day works… so why not make it everyday online? Just the first five pages should be sufficient, like most other publishers.

  10. You know, that’s an excellent point. I wonder why.


    QR

  11. I’ve just caught up with Alex De Campi’s blog over at BleedingCool where she describes the hurdles she’s had to overcome to get her on-line comic book Valentine to be, well, on-line. One of the targets of her ire is Amazon, who promises a smooth publishing experience yet throws road blocks up time and time again. I’m just theorizing, but this might explain why more publishers don’t offer the “look inside” feature.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Top Cow announces some digital initiatives, and Heidi MacDonald concludes that their digital strategy is to release their product on as many platforms as possible. […]

  2. […] Top Cow Productions decided to get in on the digital distribution, partnering with comiXology, iVerse Media, WOWIO, Amazon.com, and Longbox Digital. […]

  3. […] ♦ You may have already seen ComixTalk’s 2009 Roundtable and some of the intriguing thoughts presented by notable comic folks such as Gary Tyrrell, Shaenon Garrity, Fesworks, Derik Badman, Brigid Alverso, El Santo and Johanna Draper Carlson. I enjoyed the variety of responses to the questions and especially the creatively bold predictions about webcomics in 2010. You probably also saw the critique of TCJ’s rollout by the Hooded Utilitarian. I charitably chalked it up to things going awry at just the wrong time like it does for me so I’m hoping they get things straightened out. In the meantime, more popular print magazines are feeling the pinch and other companies are making forays into the digital jungle, even though it’s a little scary. […]

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