Some more disconnected rambling about digital comics:
The FREAKANGELS method did work for us. I don’t have numbers to hand, because I’m currently in the garden writing on my iPad and getting pissed on Bodiam Harvest organic white wine, but it goes something like this. Somewhere around 40K people read FREAKANGELS every week. 25% of those people buy each new collection within a few months of its release. So we break even and go into profit. And the collections keep selling. Simple as that.
I’m reading the first ARTESIA collection on the iPad via Graphicly. Or trying to. Graphicly doesn’t automatically remember where I stopped reading, so when I reopen the book I have to start from the beginning again. I’m assuming this is stupidity on my part, and there must be a bookmarking function I keep missing that I should apply manually. But the function of transparent user interfaces is in part to protect the idiot with the iPad from his own stupidity. So, while this annoyance is very probably on me, Graphicly might want to consider this for the future.
(I like Graphicly’s breadth of available work, but the app itself isn’t doing it for me yet. I had problems with it as notes earlier, and the “tiling” effect with each page turn — which I think is an aspect of their page commenting/”social reading” system — really isn’t as elegant as the page refreshes in other comics reading apps.)
I’m talking with various publishers about digital right now — mostly in a conversational, advisory way — and the one thing I’m trying to impress on everyone is that digital comics revenues are going to stay small for as long as everyone treats digital comics stores as back issue bins. While day-and-date digital releases of print comics is going to help with that, it won’t help enough on its own. It’s going to be the combination of day-and-date AND original digital material that drives the use of these services. (And remember that digital comics aren’t tablet-bound, all these services have web ends too.) And, further, original digital material should not and probably CANNOT be bound to the old model. Forget monthly release patterns. Original Digital Comics — Digital Original? — I need an acronym like my OGN, Original Graphic Novel — could drive people to these services fortnightly or even weekly. And they don’t have to be 22 pages or 20 pages or whatever the current print standard shakes out at. And the price, so far as I know, only has to end with a 9. I’m okay with, say, 10 or 11 pages a fortnight at USD 0.99. Or maybe even 8 pages a week at USD 0.79.
From which point, one might follow the FREAKANGELS model — serialise on digital, collect in print.
(Also, of course, subscription models will soon apply in digital — commit to a number of episodes, get a couple of points knocked off the price, get the comic automagically sideloaded to your bookshelf/app on release day.)
This all seems to surround my basic thinking on the mechanics of the thing. I’ll build on this at a later date.
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