In the face of intense – and I mean INTENSE – retailer backlash, the plan put forth by POS software ComicHub yesterday has been withdrawn, I’m told.
The idea was for customers to preorder printed comics via ComicHub affiliated comics shops, read the comic online and then get the print comic on that happy day when print comics are once again released.
Although touted as a way to save the industry – and though I’m told many publishers had provisionally signed on – the idea is not going forward.
The plan was originally set forth to the public via a PDF proposal sent to several people – among them myself. However as news got out, the reaction from comics retailers was extremely negative. Brian Hibbs, as usual, spoke for many with this:
“A poll on a retailer forum right now has 119 opposed, 17 unsure, and 5 for “digital first” releases, EVEN IF IT “comes from a retailer source”.
Beyond the philosophical idiocy of encouraging cross channel migration (even passively), the mechanical aspects of it are insane — how could ANYone process and deal with 4-20 weeks of physical print comics dropping at once that would be needed to “catch up”?
I can barely make a profit with my MUCH MUCH larger discounts than what the ComicsHUB plan offers, and this creates an EXPONENTIAL amount more of work in having to track and organize such sales, all for what will be a paltry revenue stream.
I am now firmly convinced that Marvel and DC didn’t “cave” to retailer pressure (which is like 90% against!), but that they merely hit “pause” so that Stu Colson and ComicsHUB could provide them with the fig leaf of cover they need to go full bore on comixology.
Seriously, people, this is a shitty shitty plan, and any publisher that goes for it is my enemy.”
While ComicHub proponents said it would be a way for shops to make money during the Diamond shut-down, the vast majority of retailers saw it as a way to lure their customers from print to digital and rejected the plan.
Stu Colson, the owner of the ComicHub software, wasn’t really set up to answer press questions, so retailers Ryan Higgins and John Hendrick stepped in. I spoke with Hendrick, of Dublin’s Big Bang Comics several times over the last 24 hours.
While Hendrick is a strong supporter of ComicHub and the plan, today he conceded that retailer negativity had been overwhelming, and most publishers had pulled out of the plan.
“The market is not ready, and we are not going to move ahead at this time,” Hendrick told The Beat. “But ComicHub will continue to keep signing up retailers for its POS system.”
I reached out to several publishers and they all confirmed they would not be taking part in the ComicHub plan – Marvel’s David Gabriel posted on a retailer forum this morning that they were not going to go with ComicHub.
My own opinion here: I don’t think Colson is looking to make money off this, having spoken to him many times over the years. I think he was genuinely trying to help. I understand other stores (and everyone) are a bit fraught now, and everyone is spending their time online and emotions are running wild.
Although the idea of a CV-19 reatil fix is tempting, there were a lot of problems with the ComicHub plan from the gitgo, including rights issues, and whether the software would stand up.
As good as the intentions may have been, the plan seemed doomed from the start.
But that doesn’t mean that the comics industry – when it does emerge from quarantine, won’t need a good POS system. There’s a lot of existing good in ComicHub, and it can still help the industry.