In a follow-up to his hit post on the economics of print comics, Jim Zub is back with a look at digital comics metrics, including the percentages taken by each step in the pipeline complete with PIE…charts.
A lot of people have talked about the need for cheaper digital comic prices to drive impulse buying in casual/new readers. Right now most of the digital comics available are selling at a similar price to their print counterparts. Outside of sales and special promotions, a $2.99 print comic is selling for $2.99 digitally. People assume that digital content should be much cheaper because it has no physical component, but there are development and infrastructure costs that go into creating and maintaining a digital platform. It’s hard to say whether they’re equivalent, but right now the pricing is relatively equal.
After running through the equivalence, Zub even mentions the unmentionable, his digital sales…as a percentage of print.
The only remotely solid numbers I have are my own. I’ve done quite a bit of promotion about my comic Skullkickers being available on comiXology, iVerse and Graphicly. We have a free zero issue and we’ve had a couple 99¢ sales, so some of our early issues have sold quite well digitally but, if you count 99¢ copies as a 1/3 sale money-wise, we’re selling at about the 15% range of our print sales on early issues. Later issues are sitting at around 8-10% of print sales right now. Admittedly, the 99¢ pricing has expanded our audience much faster and that’s nothing to sneeze at. They’re not blockbuster sales numbers but at least I know that as our exposure increases back issues will keep selling without any fear of ever being out of stock.
Meanwhile, here’s another equally seismic piece by Dawn Griffin of Zorphbert and Fred called Open For Debate: Ditching the Webcomic Business Model
I followed the rules. Where’s my success?
Instead, I see a plateau. I have kept the readers I have made over the years. I have a handful of very passionate readers whom I deeply appreciate. I want more of those, but just can’t seem to find where they are hiding. They certainly don’t seem to be the general “webcomic readers” demographic: men & women(to a lesser degree) in their late teens, 20′s and early 30′s. My demographic seems to be mainly.. well… everyone else. Preteen boys, men 30-50 years and men and women 50+. Whu-oh.
It’s a pretty thorough rundown of why the webcomic model hasn’t worked for this particular comic.
To her credit, Griffin also addresses the fact that maybe webcomic readers just aren’t that into her. She goes on to propose a new model based on boosting print sales, and opens it up for debate.
I haven’t read the strip in question, but at a quick glance we field it under a certain demographic on our brain. As we’ve mentioned here many times, comics are the most inclusive industry on earth, and the bar to entry is unbelievably low. Put up a tumblr and get a table at a con and you’re in the club. But not everyone is a superstar, a star or even a “veteran creator.” Sometimes it isn’t just the business model.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.