Long-running comics publisher Archie is taking the plunge to become the first comics publisher to put its entire line for sale in print and digital at the same time, it’s been announced on their blog. DC announced day and date with BATMAN BEYOND last week, but this is the first time a publisher has made the whole line available. The policy goes into effect on April 1, and will include KEVIN KELLER #1, starring the popular gay character.
It’s not that much of a surprise, given that Archie’s comic app has been downloaded some 1.7 million times in 2010. That’s a lot of potential eyeballs — even a 1 percent fulfillment rate would double newsstand sales.
“Archie is an icon that’s recognized and read around the world,” said Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater. “It’s our goal to make Archie’s stories and those of his friends available to everyone and anyone that’s interested in his adventures. Digital provides us with the tools to reach out to a whole new readership, and we’re excited and emboldened by the opportunities going day-and-date line-wide presents. This is an exciting day for Archie and the comic book industry.”
An interview with Archie’s Jon Goldwater at Comics Alliance pretty much answers all the basics on how this affects the direct market:
Jon Goldwater: We’re continually in touch with and value our partners in the direct market — this is something we decided to do after a lot of consideration and analysis. After seeing the numbers come in from our standalone digital app, we knew there was a strong and fervent Archie fan base that was interested in seeing more content digitally. Think about it — by the end of 2010, we saw close to 2 million downloads of our standalone iVerse app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. That’s impressive.
So, it became a question of, how can we best serve the digital reader? Because we see it as two different kinds of buyers: There’s our core market, the fan that wants the comic in their hands and then there’s the digital reader who likes the convenience of buying something on their mobile device or iPad. We have always been proactive and forward-looking when it comes to digital. We were the first company to launch a standalone app and we’re proud to be the first company to go day-and-date digitally with our titles. It’s about making your content available to as many people as possible. Because, let’s face it – not everyone has a comic shop nearby. So, we have to find a way to serve those readers too, and serve them with the latest and best content we have.
As far as concerns — none, really. Like I said, we’re always looking for ways to reach new readers, and this is a major initiative for us. I think you have to really explore every avenue when it comes to getting books in front of people, and we’ve made a point of being at the forefront of the digital marketplace. We’re not sitting back and watching what others do first. Quite the opposite.
Somewhere in our Year-End survey of potential big stories for 2011, someone picked a major publisher going completely day and date. It took exactly 12 days for that to happen. Going by the Diamond charts and Archie’s postal circulation figures, their sales on periodicals are evenly split between newsstands and comics shops — digests sell overwhelmingly on newsstands. Archie has a bit less to lose in the DM than Marvel or DC, and so risking LCM anger isn’t as costly for them.
The move is noteworthy for the future of comics, although as George Gene Gustines notes, it’s sad that Ms. Grundy did not live to see this day.