This link has been making thr rounds, but it definitely qualifies as MUST-READING: MIT’s Henry Jenkins interviews Todd Allen about micropayments. Now we admit, micropayments aren’t a very sexy topic, and Allen can get a little technical on you, but he has been following the developments in developing revenue streams for e-comics for some time. And, it seems to us, that is indeed the central question of the future of comics: how can comics on the web be monetized? Allen starts out looking at methods that are working:
If I had to point to one, I’d point to merchandising. T-shirts, posters, printed collected editions (graphic novels, if you prefer)… selling things seemed to be the highest revenue generator when viewing the area from a high level.
That said, the more popular web comics – your PVPs and Penny Arcades – do quite well with advertising. In these cases you have high page view counts and higher than average CPM rates for the advertising, owing to a desirable demographic, particularly to gaming companies.
Ultimately, different revenue streams will work for different web comics. There will be differences in audience demographics and merchandising options from property to property that cause variations in the productivity of a revenue model. There’s no reason not to mix the models until one clearly overtakes the other. Initially, merchandising will be a better option for more web comics. Advertising becomes a more viable option as your strip’s traffic grows
Allen also discusses the FLYING FRIAR experiment (the comic was made available for purchase online at the same time as the print comic and at the same price with a 2% return.) He also looks at the broader spectrum of Marvel and DC’s uneasy flirtation with web delivery:
If you look at the whole world, the web opens up possibilities to all, but more to DC and Marvel. Why? Because DC and Marvel are recognizable brands. You will have a magnitude more people seeking out Batman and Spider-Man online, than you will something like Fear Agent or Queen & Country. Your smaller publishers will need to do more marketing to catch up, when using brands that are, effectively, unknown to the mass market. That’s not to say that something like Fear Agent couldn’t become popular with the mass market, similar to how the Sin City film turned people onto the comics, but its a longer and harder road.
All of this stuff is increasingly important with such developments as the debut this week of the Sony Reader :
The general outline of the reader has been known for some time: its use of E-Ink delivers a sharp, clear reading experience on a six-inch screen and it measures 5 inches by 7 inches, is half an inch thick and weighs about 9 ounces. The player can hold approximately 80 books and has enough battery life to support 7,500 page turns. Sony is using a proprietary system, which means that e-books can be bought only from the company’s Connect e-bookstore.
Publishers have enough faith in the reader to make about 10,000 titles available for the device.
Among those publishers: TokyoPop. And Engadget shows that you can indeed read I LUV HALLOWEEN on the Reader.
Would anyone PAY to read I LUV HALLOWEEN on the Reader? Perhaps that is even more so the central question of our times.