Well, I’m no marketing professional, and my thoughts might not all be directly marketing related, but I have some thoughts on this anyway.
Same day digital was the first thing I’d do, so good on DC for that. But the price point is awfully high. It doesn’t make sense to me that the digital comics would be the same price as the floppies as they’re a) only digital, and b) require being on the comixology website or having a device that can use the app to read them.
Heck, I’ll be blunt-er: There is only one advantage to buying a digital copy of a book that is the exact same price as the hard copy and that’s ease of access. You can get it right away instead of heading to or trying to find the closest Comic Book Store in your area. But right now? That is the only advantage to buying the digital copy DC has set up here. You’re still paying the same price plus you have to make sure you have the correct app to read the digital copy.
And seriously - when buying something online, who pays full in-store price for it? I know I don’t.
And then of course is the problem of age demographics. To buy online you obviously need a credit card, meaning that - if a kid is actually into comics - he or she is going to have to get their parents to set up an account to purchase them. There was mentioned in one of the replies that there aren’t many places - such as news stands - that will carry low price point items or have been proven to sell comics regularly. Well granted, it’s been many years now, but there used to be very proven venues - notable local drug stores and supermarkets. Even with digital copies available, magazines such as EW, Newsweek, Time, etc. still stock hard copies of their magazines in the supermarket check out line and in the periodical and paperback book section of the drug stores like Rite Aid and Wallgreens. Would it really be that hard to get space for comics to be displayed in such places as well?
Comic Book Stores being the main and only place to purchase comics is just not an ease-of-access way to try and reach more people and sell more titles. Again, to be blunt, there is no comic book store or place to purchase comic books out there that is on the level of a chain like Barnes & Noble or even Amazon.com. Heck, along with books and magazines you can buy video games in places like Walmart and Target. You don’t just have to go to EB Games or Game Stop to purchase them.
When comic books are sold like they are nitch items because of the limited means in which they are distributed, then they will continue to have sales that reflect as such.
I’d also add the option to buy slightly cheaper digital comics bundles, akin to trades, collecting full story-arcs. None of the people I’ve introduced to comics in the past couple years are particularly pleased with single issues; they much prefer getting a whole story in a trade format.
This is something I’ve thought as well. And how about this as well: If a story arc spans, say 12 issues, then put six issues together in one cheaply priced TPB and the final six in another cheaply priced TBP and call one Volume I and the second Volume II. That way, people who want more than to try and buy one issue at a time get that, but those who don’t mind waiting to read the whole story have an option instead of just waiting for the whole thing to be done.
Also, allowing people to just “rent” books for s certain period of time instead of outright purchasing them would be great.
If we’re talking online, THIS would be a hard thing to do. Something akin to Netflix-for-Comics would have to be set up to handle such a thing/infrastructure. (Do they even have something like that set up for, say books?)
I’d also do more outreach to kids. Kids are MASSIVELY important. If you could get floppies of Tiny Titans and Batman: Brave and the Bold and other kid-friendly fare in the check-out lines of Toys R Us, that would be super. Working harder to get comics in the hands of teachers and libraries would also be helpful. Setting up a relationship with both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts would be amazing.
Again, the issue with digital copies is that parents would have to purchase them when it comes to kids, so it shouldn’t be heavily relied on for them. But stocking comics in school libraries and such is something I think should have happened long ago. The kid market is totally being left behind still. Heck, even in book stores the children’s section doesn’t have comic books in them from what I’ve seen. The comics are all over in the “Graphic Novel” section … if the section exists at all.
They are not going to bring in scores of new readers overnight. It’s impossible for them to succeed right away. You can’t toss an all ages book on the current comics market and expect it to sell well with no further effort on your part. The market, right now, pretty much caters to 18-34s. Because those are the people for whom the vast majority of mainstream comic books are being produced, those are the only people who are initially going to be aware of your new all ages book. And they’re not going to be as interested in a book that doesn’t cater to them specifically when they have access to scores of comics that do. Your potential new readers don’t yet know that comics aimed at them exist. You need to really increase awareness of all ages comics.
Hell, they need to increase awareness period.
Honestly, the problem with looking at all of this just based on demographics is that you miss the real targets that should be focused on here. Instead of breaking the market down in terms of age, sex, gender, etc., the market should be looked at this way:
- People who already read comic books.
- People who are interested in reading comic books but are either not reading yet, or are looking to get into it/start, or who stopped reading even though they used to.
- People would could become interested in reading comics but haven’t tried to start, or don’t think they are interested but are open to becoming so.
- People who have no interest in comics and never would have an interest in it.
When you approach the market this way, you are looking at everyone who could buy/purchase your product, and then you begin by trying to make inroads, especially with the people in groups 2 and 3. (With the fourth and final group being the only people left out). And you don’t divide the people in those groups by race, gender, age or anything else. The only thing that categorizes them is their potential interest in your product.
Taken this way however, there is no quick fix. You have to take time and plan a strategy to reach these people to make them aware of the product and why it will appeal to them. And it could be done in any number of way - again such as school libraries for kids.
But just talking and announcing new things among current readers and not making an effort to get these books to people who could be interested in them but just hear a breeze about it - if that - will mean it will not make much, if any, difference and you’ll continue to have good books with low sales. (And again, the unease of access to these books doesn’t help either).
as to getting women and other neglected demographics to start reading comics, but that’s a whole different essay that’s been writer by people more eloquent than I, so I’ll just say: stop alienating potential readers with art and writing that reveals/projects off-putting attitudes.
I’d also take a lot of care to make the comics TRULY accessible. I’m a little wary of DC using all new #1s as a way of increasing accessibility, because I think that’s a temporary fix. It only works for the people getting in on the ground floor, so to speak.
It also only works with people who actually care about getting in on the ground floor. Which would only consist of people who maybe used to read comics, or people who are looking to get into comics and have actually been seeking out info about this whole reboot.
What it boils down to me is expanding the market. It’s not about saving individual books by advertising them specifically, but by increasing the total readership, which would hopefully lead to higher numbers across the board. What DC’s doing with the relaunch seems to me to be a more successful gambit for bringing in lapsed fans and comics fans who don’t read DC.
And I’d say also people who were already actively looking to get into comics. But they were already on their way in anyway.
To most people who don’t read comics, I find that this whole thing is a minor curiosity, a bit of trivia to bring up over lunch. Bringing in substantial numbers of new readers, REALLY new readers who haven’t bought a comic before, requires DC to push more than just the idea that everything is going to be shiny and new.
Exactly. And again, it’s also not something that can be done with a quick fix of labeling everything #1 either.
Because I don’t think that newness is enough to attract the non-reader -
It isn’t. Not by a long shot. Because in a non-reader’s mind, it’s still a comic book. And the way the industry handles non-readers, they have to really want to read comics and figure things out for themselves, (such as that there are more than just superhero comics out there), if they even want to being getting into it. Getting access to buy and into a series of books is easier than getting to comics and finding what you might like to read IMO.
They need to see the ads in places they don’t expect, and they need to keep seeing them long after the reboot’s luster has faded. It needs to be pounded into them that there’s a whole medium of entertainment that they haven’t tried yet, and that has to be how they think of it - a medium of entertainment rather than a genre of entertainment. They need to be made aware that “comics” aren’t akin to, for instance, sci-fi and novels, but movies and novels in general.
This is key. The comic book industry should understand that they are competing with things like books, movies, tv shows, video games - they are competing for a consumers time - entertainment time. They are not an entity unto themselves. And when you don’t market your form of consumer entertainment regularly, and especially more widespread, to people they will always just look somewhere else to spend their entertainment time and money.
I think I’m starting to really ramble now, so I’ll cut this off. Basically: I really want everyone, EVERYONE, to read comics and it frustrates me that it doesn’t seem like comics companies agree, given how specialized their marketing tends to be…
It’s what I’ve been saying/arguing since the full news of the marketing and content focus of the reboot came to light. They’re going after the same people they already have, or were already somehow interested in getting into comics. None of that is fully expanding the market in any significant way. And if they are really not careful, the market for comics will just continue to shrink. (Or, at least DC’s share of the market will).