Friday, February 10, 2006

STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

I was reading a discussion about comic books moving toward online sells and downloadable files and I had to add my two cents. I have posted the discussion with responses


Downloading Comics: Uncompensated Downloading

Great parallels will probably be drawn in the future between the music industry and the comic book industry with regard to uncompensated downloading. The music industry ignored what was happening with its product until it became a societal norm to swap music and therefore a habit impossible to change. The comic book industry seems to be doing the same with the torrent of its material being digitized and exchanged weekly. Lawsuits may be filed by various publishers sooner or later, but those will not stop people from continuing. Unlike the music industry that has dealt with bootlegging for decades, the comic book industry has never ever had to deal with something like this. This can not excuse ignoring the increase in uncompensated downloading. Unlike the overblown nonsense of the music industry, if uncompensated downlaoding is left unchecked in the comic book industry, it has an actual chance of bringing it down.

Why? Because the comic book industry does not come close to reaching the revenue levels of other media industries. Consider that when Infinite Crisis from DC nearly became a million dollar book (link), it was noticeable and record breaking. To the music and movie industries, a million dollars revenue on one offering is practically routine and uninspiring. Therefore most elements of the comic book industry are small businesses. While Marvel and DC dominate the industry, the heart, the growth, and the creative center is small publishers and enthusiast-owned retail outlets. The slightest reduction in revenue would be immediately felt.

Despite the industry's inexperience with bootlegging, it must come to terms with what is happening. While the idea of downloading comics is a good idea, all the publishers and retailers will have to cooperate, which seems nearly impossible. An iTunes for comics could be a business concept to follow. Ironically, this will work for some of the very reasons that make the industry vulnerable. Most comic book consumers are enthusiasts and appreciate the efforts of publishers, creative talents, and the small business owners. That is why these consumers are called fans, and they are willing to pay for a good product. However, even they have limits. Whether the comic book industry supports it or not, with increases in average comic book prices, downloading comics will invariably become an option. So, the comic book industry better learn to support it. The faster it embraces the idea, the better chance it has at setting the rules.

Comment: Martheus Wade

Interesting.
I will have to agree with you. It is time for some changes to take place. I think that the new media, which make it easier for small guys to publish, are not being utilized at the large DC or MARVEL levels. If they embraced the idea, others would follow.
I would like to know what you think about Diamond tho'.


Answer: Comic Books Commentary

Hi Martheus,
Thanks for visiting the site and posting a comment.
You're right to bring up Diamond. I don't think anyone has the power to create one uniform format and system for online comics except for Diamond. Their position as the only distributor of comics gives them the advantage of having everyone's ear. If they were smart, they could take that power and push the industry into a new direction. It would be tricky, but I believe only they could do it. Of course Diamond is a distributor and not an innovator, certainly not in the world of computing. So it would be a great effort on its part and hopefully one not undertaken haphazardly.

What do you think?



Response: Martheus Wade

Thanks.
I'm glad that someone is taking the time to look at this from a perspective that would allow growth in the comic book industry. As an independent comic book creator, I find that I have a different view on the industry sometimes than that of others. Most people (bigger names in the industry) do not like the fact of using the net and other similar methods to promote or publish a book. This is because:

1) In their eyes, the medium of comic books (printed) would be lost. That is a key factor in many arguments for and against such a move.
2) The creation of entities that print comics digitally and on demand via the internet will allow for more competition for the dollars of mainstream books.

Bringing to light the importance of the comic book industry to grow towards this new source of media will allow the industry to grow. But that growth would be at the expense of major dollars from the big guns of the industry.

I for one have a love hate relationship with Diamond. As you said, they alone hold the key to the industries growth in whatever way they deem fit. However, certain institutions that they are putting into place to keep smaller books out of distribution ( thus keeping the industry from growth ) are contrary to the important roll that they should be playing in the greater game of comic books.

Bottom line:
Until the comic book industry can come together instead of continuously working against itself, growth (in any form) will be impossible.

Martheus Wade

2 Comments:

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Erik said...

Truer words were never spoken.

I know I was a mite irritated to discover my last comic had been pirated...

But really, there are several things that need to change in comics, but all of them involve the catch-22: there can be no change until there is growth to support it, and there will be no growth until there is widespread change.

So... y'know... yikes.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger Martheus Wade said...

Amen to that!

 

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