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.
Huge, game-changing comic book industry news just dropped. Waiting for the word… pic.twitter.com/K8jbLjAfT6
— Ryan Higgins (@RyanHigginsRyan) March 31, 2020
There is massive comic industry news coming very, very soon.
Keep an eye out, this is huge.
And for the first time in a long time it’s actually positive.
And when you hear… pic.twitter.com/16gjr599ib
— Big Bang Comics (@TheBigBang_) March 31, 2020
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.