OK, the ComicHub plan is not quite that simple. It’s pre-order print and get a physical copy when it is available…whenever that it.

Ok let’s back up. Last night, on social media and secret comic book forums, retailers started talking about big news coming today.

Of course, I started asking around to find out what the news was…but it was waiting in my in box all along, a PDF presentation from retailer Stu Colson, the owner of Heroes for Sale in New Zealand and founder of ComicHub, a POS system for comics shops. We’ve talked a lot about ComicHub on the PW podcast and a little bit here at The Beat, but it offers a suite of services for comics shops and readers that would be hugely beneficial to the comics industry, including pre-ordering, inventory management and more.

The big deal in today’s roll is that ComicHub is offering essentially a preorder system for comics in today’s crisis: customers would order a book through comic shops that sign up for ComicHub. They would get a digital copy of comics that are coming out, AS THEY COME OUT, and a physical copy when it becomes available, whenever that is.

The shop would get the customer’s money, and the publishers would get the retailers cut, with ComicHub taking a small percentage themselves.

The system is not available for this week but will be stressed tested next week (for April 8th books) and then made available to ComicsPRO shops and them, presumably everyone. Comics shops can sign up for the system starting this Friday, April 3rd.

It’s normally $400 to purchase the ComicHub software, but there will be a discount for new shops during this crisis time.

According to ComicHub sources, publishers have been contacted, and the rollout will allow for readers to get new comics in digital form throughout the Pandemic crisis.

While this does seem like an attractive option – IF you can get publishers on board and IF the software holds up – retailer reaction thus far has not been enthused, although Higgins and Big Bang’s John Hendricks remain big supporters.

The biggest issue among retailers, as always, is the fear that this will drive existing print customers into the arms of digital.  I’ve said before why I don’t think this is as big an issue as retailers do, but I’m not a retailer.

However a host of other questions remain: will the digital copies have DRM? How do Diamond and Comixology fit into this?

And that’s before you factor in all the virus-related questions.

It’s worth noting that Diamond has been working on its own “pre-order” software, PullBox. I first announced this in early 2018– and it’s still in beta. It’s safe to say that getting PullBox up and running was not a Diamond priority, however, such a system is desperately needed as shops are setting up their own digital storefronts. ComicHub is an option for shops, as are other POS systems.

The ComicHub solution got an unfortunate rollout today with an initial story that was short on facts and big on hype. This story is also full of more questions than answers. I’m told a fuller story is coming soon. And retailers are already up in arms over it.

It’s not the world’s most inspiring rollout.

That said, I believe that the comics industry – as it existed before COVID-19 and whatever form it takes when this is over – needs a POS system like ComicHub that can track consumer demand, offer pre-ordering, and give comics shops access to the kinds of marketing systems that every other industry uses.

It’s an ambitious scheme but one that asks many of the questions that need asking.

I”m told more information is coming out later today. I’ll update this as event warrant it.

Follow all of the Beat’s coverage of the Coronavirus Pandemic Crisis here. And if you have a tip or story please contact us here.

8 COMMENTS

  1. With any piece of Software as a Service type of thing, scale becomes the biggest problem. All those customers and codes getting generated and cuts of money getting distributed around. Can it keep up and be reliable when the user base explodes?

  2. Ugh. I’m not downloading yet another program to view comics. I think Bleeding Cool jumped the gun saying the direct market was saved.

  3. What if you don’t read flaccids – will you still be able to just get the digital comic? Maybe tell the shop to give it away to someone as a freebie when they reopen?

  4. Proposed systems for incorporating comics shops into the digital system always seem cumbersome and unnecessary. As Jon says, they’re inserting a middle man. How is “pre-ordering” any benefit to the digital reader as opposed to paying a flat subscription? (Let alone the options for not paying at all.) As for getting physical copies at a later date, most long-time readers of long-running books would probably pick them up for their collections – for a while, at least. But what about new titles or mini-series that don’t make much impression, or drop off sharply in sales after their first issues?

  5. This thing was basically Stu and Ryan and Big Bang wanting a get rich quick IPO offering without putting in the work. They didn’t talk to the big two, they didn’t get any buy in from comicspro, and of course it died the way it should have. They wanted to collect $100 per month from every comic shop, swipe any and all customers from them, without doing anything to help anyone. The comic shops themselves wouldn’t have made a dime off this plan. Glad it’s over

  6. It’s funny. Any question as to how this would work, Johnston on Reddit only replied along the lines of “step 4… profit!”. Like what was going to be his take in this scheme? Other than literally every website linking to his site.

  7. I understand the flaws to this plan people have pointed out… but, I’ve yet to see the opposition suggest a better plan, or one that was anything more than “shut down the industry for a few months” / “every shop for itself”.

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