This week’s PW Comics Week newsletter included our owninterview with Dynamite’s Nick Barrucci, and it was a pretty frank talk, covering all the aspects of the Hobson’s choices that comics publishers must make. Barrucci says it’s all damned if you do damned if you don’t on many matters, and newer channels have their own issues:
On the digital side, Dynamite is one of the few comics publishers that has yet to make a major announcement, although they are currently on all the platforms, including ComiXology, iVerse and so on. Barrucci sees reason for a slow entrance. “A lot of people were jumping into it because—I hate to say it, but nobody wanted to be left behind. To be completely candid, there was no business in digital until Marvel and DC got into the mainstream of it. When Marvel was on its own platform and DC had yet to announce a plan, 80% of the business wasn’t even on digital. In our opinion, it became more important to focus on the actual comics and collections and wait until the market share would grow to get involved.” Currently most of Dynamite’s tiles, including The Boys and Green Hornet are available for download.
While enthusiasm about digital publishing is huge, actual sales are still low – most companies estimate their digital sales at about 1% of their revenue – a figure Barrucci says may even be optimistic. “I don’t have the answer yet. Some of our digital success has come from Kevin Smith tweeting about Green Hornet going digital, and his fans could just click through. His tweeting every time an issue was in stores definitely helped us.”
In the bookstore market, their dollars are increasing every month, but unit sales are going down, a phenomenon Barrucci thinks is widespread due to the number of books publishers are releasing every month. “The consumer still has a finite amount of dollars whether it’s in the bookstore or the direct market. Every comics retailer has only so much shelf space. You can’t order 50 to 80 collections a month and not diminish your ability to reorder. Barnes & Noble and Borders have limited amount of shelf space and unless collections start flying out the door, they’re not going to expand. Amazon, Indigo, Hastings.com all have ‘unlimited shelf space’ on the net, but if a consumer is going to spend $100 a month on collections it’s still $100 a month.
Despite all this, Dynamite managed to do very well on the periodical side in 2011, placing sixth among publishers on Diamond’s chart and pwning the non-premier publisher chart.