Home Publishers IDW Must-read: Plain talk with IDW's Ted Adams

Must-read: Plain talk with IDW's Ted Adams


ICv2 has started its annual round of CEO chats and kicks off with IDW’s Ted Adams in three parts.. Adams is a good choice as IDW has made significant recent gains as the first new front-of-the-book publisher since exclusives were invented, and he doesn’t give you a lot of doublespeak when asked direct questions. A few excerpts:
On pricing (IDW has always been $3.99):

I think if you’re putting out great and compelling product, that $2.99 vs. $3.99 is kind of a moot point. The reality is that collecting comic books is an expensive hobby. It’s not a hobby you can do on a budget; it’s just not.

On digital sales (Last year Adams said it was 1% of their revenue:)

It’s still an insignificant part of our total net revenue. We are a print publisher. We’ve been aggressive in the digital space, [but] we can clearly say that it has not been cannibalizing our print sales because our print sales have been up substantially in the same period where our digital sales are up. I can tell you that at least from IDW’s perspective, the success that we’ve had with digital distribution has not cannibalized our print publishing revenue.

On transmedia and tie-ins (licensed books form the core of their sales):

We are from the standpoint that we’re doing prequels to Transformers 3. Like we did with for Star Trek Countdown and Transformers 2, our story lines will lead directly into Transformers 3, and our hope is we’ll have some of those transmedia things that happen with that. What we saw with iTunes for Star Trek Countdown and Transformers 2 is that there a lot of people out there interested in reading those comics at that time on their iPhone.

  1. “The reality is that collecting comic books is an expensive hobby. It’s not a hobby you can do on a budget; it’s just not.”

    I understand what he’s getting at, but I beg to differ. For one thing, there’s a difference between collecting comics as a hobby and being a reader of comics. (No one ever talks about fans of prose fiction as “book collectors,” or film enthusiasts as “DVD collectors.”)

    And people can and do read comics on a budget. I would think the majority of comic book fans have a limited budget. Very few people have the luxury of spending as much as they want to get all the books they’re interested in. At some point, most of us are forced to pick and choose what we buy based on how much we can afford.

    I have a 20-to-30 dollars a week budget, depending on what else is going on in my life. The way I do it is each week I pick up the books on my pull list then see how much I have left to spend. Then I see what’s on the shelf and take some chances. If I have $6 to spare, I’m a lot more likely to pick up two $3 books than a single $4 book. Unless the $4 book looks really good.

    So it’s true that quality will win over affordability. But I’m just a lot more willing to take risks with stuff I’m on the fence about when it’s cheaper. That just seems logical and I assume it’s true for most people.

    I haven’t read the rest of the interview yet, but thanks for the link.

  2. Yeah, I do have to disagree on a 33% increase in price being “moot”, particularly when we’re talking about a 22 page comic.

    I’m going to read the full interview though. Based on the success of IDW, Adams seems to know what he’s doing.

  3. Naveen, Adams’ point is that IDW comics issues have ALWAYS been priced at $3.99, there was never any increase. Anyone who has been buying IDW comics has been paying that price for as long as IDW has been publishing comics.

  4. IDW was my foot in the door of the comics biz, and they’ve been very good to me since. Also, as far as business practices go, they’ve been a joy to work with. Never a late payment or comps, always responsive to my needs, and great at communication. It seems to me that they’re very business savvy as well. They certainly took an early lead in jumping on the emerging digital platforms. But as much time and resources as they have put in it, it’s surprising to hear Ted talk about how minuscule a part of their revenue stream it is.

    But I’d be interested to see how that changes a year from now…

  5. @Dara – I was surprised to see how small it is, but I think they’re positioning themselves for the future.

    Also, glad to know they’re so good to work with. True pros!

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