Daily Rant: November 23rd, 2007
Over the last couple of days I have received a couple of e-mails telling me that the Me Geek, You Geek site should not be considered a blog at all, but rather should be considered an audio blog or podcast. And they are right. So point taken. If you look over the site there is actually very little new text information to read except for the occasional blog post that doesn't fit into the Daily Rant audio podcast.
I've taken this point to heart. I know I'm a prolific reader of blogs and would be devastated (well maybe that's an exaggeration) if I couldn't read them on my Treo, read them in my Thunderbird, or in my Google Reader.
However, I have two podcasts each day that I listen to regularly and would be devastated (again, an exaggeration) if they went exclusively to print.
So what is a geeky blogger to do?
Yep, from this day forward I will be writing out the Daily Rants first so I can post them as a written blog as well. Kinda the best of both worlds. People who choose to listen to the podcast will most likely get more of my terrific insights (more exaggeration) as I will most likely go "off script" if an idea pops in my head, but overall I will try to keep tight to the blog post. The topics will definitely be the same though.
As I type this first Daily Rant I am realizing how much this will really organize my thoughts, which is an added bonus. However, it will also take away a bit of the element of "ranting" off the top of my head, but hell, it's a good move to make anyway.
Another note: Bart and I will continue to do our weekly talk show (Tuesdays at 9PM-ish Central) on Skype and it will be completely unscripted.
So without further ado, here I go into my first written Daily Rant.
DIGITAL COMICS and ONLINE DISTRIBUTION OF COMICS:
I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but somebody has to be saying it. Yesterday I reported that Marvel and DC are combining their efforts to take down some of the torrent sites who host their comic books. Okay, fine. I agree with that decision since it is copyright infringement. But, and this is a big BUT, lets learn from the music and movie industry. Why are people stealing comics online? Because they are horrible, rotten scoundrels? No. They are stealing it because they have a desire to have it stored on their computers and there is no other way to get it there. We just want a new distribution method for comics. And here's a little secret. Not only does reading comics online keep us interested in comics and buying the print versions, but it also turns us on to new comics we may have missed (for an example of this ask Bart who is still looking for a #1 issue of the kick ass title Atomic Robo).
"But Marvel is now streaming comics to their site for our viewing pleasure Jon!" you are probably thinking. And to boot, they broke their site since the demand was so high. This is going to be bad news for us in the long run as this will make them confident that streaming comics will be successful. But again I challenge Marvel. How much of that traffic was from guys like me and Bart who wanted to check it out and read the 250 free comics but have no intention of signing up and paying a monthly or yearly fee? Only time will tell.
So this morning I was researching more about this and came across a site entitled WOWIO.
WOWIO is a free (and legal) site which allows you to download three comics/books a day. I don't know why there is a limit other than it keeps you coming back to the site, but their implementation plan is pretty solid. Browse the site, look for comics or books that interest you, add them to your Queue (a la Netflix) and download them at your leisure.
So I get to downloading my first comic; Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters #1. After the download I open up the PDF file and I am struck with the first page. It's an ad from Verizon Wireless with their logos and the words "Verizon Wireless is proud to sponsor this ebook for Jon" (insert your name here since I am assuming Verizon isn't only sponsoring the book for me). But isn't that amazing, the PDF pulls your information from your WOWIO account and will feed you ads that are specific to your interests. The second page is another ad from Verizon with an embedded video that you can choose to play if you want more information. Both pages of advertisement are a direct link to Verizon's site. Then there's the entire comic book story, uninterrupted, and then a closing ad by Verizon.
This is exactly how I envision the future of comic books.
Now for kicks and giggles lets look at how DC could do this (Marvel already missed out). Because to me it makes perfect sense to base their online comic distribution off of the standard magazine subscription model. The following is my bulleted list of criteria which would make this model work:
- E-comics would be available on the Wednesdays their print counterparts are released. No waiting 6 months (Marvel!) to read the stories. Marvel says they are concerned about the retail stores. But I say phooey to that. The only guys in my store are the guys that have been in my store for the last 15 years. They will continue to come to my store and will continue to collect printed comics. These are the guys the industry is worried about losing, but this shouldn't be the case. Have you ever heard the sports phrase, "If you play not to lose, you'll end up losing"? This applies to this issue as the comic execs are too worried about us old guys who have, and will continue to, buy comics at our shops. For us it's not only the story that is interesting, but also the collectability of comics. We'll continue to collect. For kids or people coming to comics based on seeing the movies, these e-comics would allow them in to our world without having to take on the daunting task of going to a comic book store. It would allow them to get sucked into the rich history of the comics. And there should be many advertisements from DC itself, pushing people into book and comic book stores for the sheer purpose of collecting. Play that aspect of comics up. People will collect. We're pack rats. And we are completists by nature.
- No streaming comics. Complete, unfettered downloadable comics. To be read on the client side with a free downloadable comic book reader that supports jpg, pdf, gif, cbr, zip, and cbz. DC wouldn't even have to build it, they could just use ComicRack.
- Have the comics cost something, but very minimal. Look at iTunes. Copying iTunes = Success. Do $0.25 an issue or a subscription basis for unlimited e-comics a month. Again, the money making is not going to come from the cover price of the e-comic. If somebody wants to spend money they'll buy the print version. Basically give the e-comics away so as many people can see them as possible. Look at the e-book market. E-books should have taken off a long time ago. People say e-books haven't taken off because their isn't an inexpensive reader, or that people still want to sit down with a good old book on their couch (I agree with this too), but I think it's because their e-books are usually just as expensive as the hard covers. Screw that! No printing, no distribution, no electricity charges for the store front or cost of employees. And you're still gonna charge me the same amount for a small file (if text only) for the book? I say thee again. Screw that. But, if there was a nice, inexpensive ($200 or less) e-book reader that could store a bunch of books and I could buy them for $5-$10 bucks? Sign me up. Same with comics. Get an e-comics reader, with a ton of internal storage, and go nuts!
- Encourage trading! Encourage readers to share with friends. The majority of people just want access to these comics. So if DC told me I could read all of their comics for $9.99 a month, I'd do it (as long as these criteria are met). Most of us would. Again, look at iTunes. Do people still steal music through torrent sites? Sure. But the vast majority of people want it easier than having to go to torrent sites, worry about viruses, being illegal. So we are willing to shell out $1 a song for the convenience. CONVENIENCE. Now, we can share these songs with our friends as many times as we want through burning to a CD and then ripping the song back off of the CD. Fine. No big deal. Apple doesn't worry about that. And iTunes is huge! We're just looking for convenience of getting our comics. Now I wouldn't go as far as creating a website that allows and encourage trading to take place, but if I want to send a comic to my buddy via e-mail, so what? So what? Marvel can't be worried about this as their streaming comics are only password protected. So if I give all of you my username and password to their site, you can all read e-comics for free too. And Marvel isn't currently being supported by ads, so they aren't even increasing ad revenue from the increased readership if I gave out my username and password. Duh.
- Have the e-comics be supported by ads. Readers won't care. I went through a DC comic while preparing for this Rant and 11 of the pages are ads. Half of those 11 pages are for other DC products. Go through any Marvel comic and you'll see that most of their ads are from companies that license Marvel characters for their products (lunch boxes, undies, etc.). So it's like cross promoting over top of themselves over and over. Links to other e-comics would work great too! So I just got done reading a Batman e-comic? The last page should link me to the e-comics of Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, and all other Batman related e-comics.
- In regard to the ads in the e-comics make sure to go the magazine publishing route. If you have 10,000 subscribers to an e-comic and you can honestly say (and I am sure they could even get actual numbers out of these downloads if there's tracking code to see how many people share) the e-comics are being seen by 4-5 people after the the person who made the initial purchase, then you inflate that 10K to a possible 50K of impressions. Maybe this number is higher, maybe it's lower. But I guarantee advertisers would be interested. Especially with the interactive component that a computer brings to ads (links to site, video, audio, roll overs, etc.)
- Don't come up with some stupid name (like Zuda or Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited), just call them DC e-comics and move on.
- This is a maybe that I am still thinking through. But pull comics after 6 months of them being released. Why? To encourage purchasing TPBs and other collections. The e-comics are still out there, but not to be purchased, which leads people to buy the e-comics upon release (think Disney's "vault' policy).
- Pay the creators from these e-comics sales and ad sales, unlike what Marvel appears to be doing at the moment. For shame!
This idea is win win. A win for fans. A win for comic publishers. You'll still sell as many comics to us collectors. Still sell as many trades of past comics. You will open up stories for a wider (and younger) audience who may go to a comic book store after reading e-comics. You get increased ad revenue. Increased website traffic. Increased sales through the e-comics. Where's the problem here? C'mon DC. Step up.
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