Why I’ve signed with ComiXology

I’ve signed with ComiXology to make my comics available digitally. This weekend I’ll be prepping SIP for them. I’d like to get Rachel Rising to them ASAP as well.

Don’t misunderstand me as abandoning print. That’s not the case at all. I’m adding this to the mix, not replacing anything. For me, digital is another retail outlet. I want—I NEED—to be on your iPad, and ComiXology is the way to do that. I’m very happy to work with them and I’m happy they want to carry my work.

Because I have a larger readership than my direct market figures suggest, I constantly hear from readers about the difficulty in finding my books. That’s not good. Today, in the age of iPad, new readers are practically demanding I get my digital act together. And they’re right. It’s time.  I leave you with my latest readers’s story. This is from Aaron in Massachusetts. I couldn’t agree with him more.

Add me to the list of those who really hope Rachel Rising will be going digital as soon as possible. The current Direct Market is thoroughly broken, in my opinion. I work in Framingham, MA, and there simply is no comic shop worthy of the name here. I read only a few books a month, but your comics have always been among them. The problem is availability. I went to Bedrock Comics today, asked about Rachel Rising #5, and was told that they only ordered two copies, and both were pre-orders. The shopkeeper said when the book first came out, he ordered more, based on track record, but they didn’t sell. I simply don’t have the time to go searching around, and I don’t buy enough comics to warrant a pull list. I’m not sure what the problem is that there “isn’t a single penny” for you with digital, but I’d buy PDFs straight from this site if I could. Unfortunately, I can’t justify $6.99 plus shipping for a comic. How many others are there in my position? How many more issues could you sell, if only they were available to purchase? Is the problem piracy? Conversion costs? Honestly, a bit of piracy would probably be a good thing for Rachel Rising, because it would get the title into more people’s hands, build more buzz. 

There is something profoundly wrong with the distribution system when a title from a leading creator can’t be found at a comic store in a major metropolitan area. I can’t see how digital would be any worse for you, and it would be a lot better for me (and I’m betting plenty of others). I want to support your work, but it shouldn’t be this difficult.

[And as a footnote, I should point out that I am not exclusive to ComiXology. They are simply my first digital outlet. Like any book or magazine, I want to be in as many outlets as possible. Thank you to everybody for your terrific support and encouragement. Your enthusiasm is contagious! —added Jan30, 2012]

 

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34 thoughts on “Why I’ve signed with ComiXology

  1. I agree with Aaron. I spent a few weeks looking in shops for Rachel Rising #1. No one has it, so I finally just ordered it from mycomicshop.com (b/c i could get it there for $3.50 including shipping). However, I know I can find 2, 3, and 4 but it will take going two local comic shops (first world problems, I know).

    You could easily sell PDFs right here on your site by using Quixly.com. I set it up for a client who sold ebooks (and previously emailed everyone individually – lost a lot of orders due to human error) – and it worked beautifully.

  2. I’m a new comic book retailer and I’ve found this this article eye opening. What really struck me was this, “There is something profoundly wrong with the distribution system when a title from a leading creator can’t be found at a comic store in a major metropolitan area.”
    I 100% agree with this. I have a finite budget to bring new comics into my shop every week. These are comics that I now own. Unlike large retail, I can’t return unsold product to the vendor. Because of that, every weekly shipment comes with great risk. To minimize that risk I depend on pre-orders and listening to my customers to understand what they will be interested in buying. I’d love to carry every single comic but it’s impossible. Although I’ve worked hard promoting creator owned and have been praised by fans and creators a like, I’m still stuck bringing in books I know will sell. So because of this, every now and then someone comes into my shop looking for a new comic that I don’t have.
    So in this system the only real way a fan can support their favorite creator is to pre-order these books. Other than the comic industry where does this happen? To the masses, I’m sure this is a crazy concept. If someone wants a new novel from their favorite writer they know they can walk in into a book store and get it.
    So here we are retailers, creators, well all have to find our solutions to this issue. For comic creators digital will get their comics out there for everyone who wants, this is true. To accomplish this in print, it seems clear to me that the whole system is in need of big change. At this time the only way I can see this being fixed is for publishers to take on the risk of over printing and making the product returnable or have all product on consignment. I can’t see that happening. But, Like I said I’m only a new retailer and I’m sure I have a lot to lean about the industry.

  3. When I started in 1993 stores had 20+ distributors and vast inventory, which allowed me, the noobie, the chance to get ordered and tried in the first place. All publishers overprinted by a few thousand because reorders were the norm, sometimes big reorders to make up for the lag time in the order system vs what caught fire by the time it hit, like Shi #1-3. More than a few publishers offered returnable books. When the collectors left, the industry didn’t adjust well to the downsize and the trimming just never stopped. Now it’s almost the opposite of those fat days in every way. One distributor, no returns, no extra copies wanted so none printed so no way a book can grow. The whole eco-system of it is designed to shrink, so it has. It’s time for something wonderful to happen for brick and mortar. They can be part of the new world order if they make a new way that is expansive and enticing. My observation is that small stores ordering just the Top 100 are going down fast. The stores with full range of inventory are happy, healthy and expanding. Bedrock Comics in Mass. is perfect example of what NOT to do; Bedrock City Comics in Texas is perfect example of what TO DO! Check them out.

  4. Terry,
    Wow. Thank you very much!
    I sympathize with the retailer, but seriously, I’m not asking him to carry “every single comic,” just the really good ones, from creators who have proven themselves. And promote them, just like every other retail business does.
    Anyway, this is great news.

  5. I’ve been fortunate to have good comic shops in my area (you should thank Erin @ Zanadu Comics for her glowing recommendations of your work), but it’s comforting to know that if I ever move I’ll have easier access to your work in the future. Plus it would be cool if you’re able to pack some extra goodies into the digital works (I think you Tweeted about music being possible?).

  6. As per my comment the other day, I’ll be behind this 100% with my wallet when I see RR on comixology. Hell, it’s likely I’ll rebuy SIP as well just for the convenience.
    Thank you for this.

  7. I’ll definitely be rebuying SIP in digital comic form. I’ve been getting Rachel Rising through my girlfriend’s pull list(she’s the super hero fanatic of the duo). Thanks so much for making digital available!

  8. This is a fantastic idea, Terry…but will ComiXology also bring these to the Android platform? I know the iPad and related platforms are certainly popular, but I hope that ComiXology realizes that they don’t represent the whole market–last I heard, iPad and Android were running about neck-and-neck, which suggests that you’d be reaching only 50% of your potential market by being platform exclusive…?

  9. Thanks Terry for doing this. I will be all over your material on the iPad. I just don’t have the room to keep trades etc. This way your work can live on for and I can relive it in perpetuity. I’m looking forward to re-reading all of SIP when you put it up.

  10. Great! Super excited to hear this. Since SIP and Echoes are already completed runs, can you please put up ‘digital trades’ (instead of, or in addition to, individual issues?) They are easier to purchase and manage. Thanks! Looking forward to buying them…

  11. And don’t forget – retailers with websites can easily sell digitally partnered with Comixology and get a cut. So it’s not like retailers don’t have a chance on digital sales.

    I went with Graphicly, but another great thing about digital is that it’s not exclusive distribution. You can go with more than one company. If you haven’t yet, take a look at Graphicly’s new digital system for creators/publishers. It’s so easy to use. I just set up and uploaded 2 issues in about the same time than it took to create the PDFs. (And making PDFs is pretty fast.)

  12. awesome news :) i can’t wait to watch with everything! i hope you will consider sketchbooks and how to draw series too, terry. thanks for doing this!

  13. To Jerry Harris- I have an Android phone and Comixology works great on here.
    To Mr. Moore- I have the same problem as your example from Aaron. I only purchase a few floppies a month, and only have stores around me carrying the Top 100. It disappoints me, but I understand how the retailers have to work to get ANYBODY in the door. I’m glad to see you joining Comixology, even if to just spread the good word of SIP/Echo/Rachel. One question though, will we ever see a digital version that includes the various media such as Emma’s Storm or I Dream of You music?

  14. @Jerry D. Harris,

    I feel your pain on Android getting skipped over, but Comixology, as well as most other reading apps (Kindle Store, Graphicly, Nook, etc) is fully represented on Android devices. Also, Comixology plays on PCs, and some game systems as well.

    @Terry,

    I know this is not you abandoning retailers at all, so I hope they understand that and don’t “react” without understanding. Diamond, not creators, has really caused a lot of the pain to what the Direct Market is going through, helped by the flooding of the market by The Big 2 (with little-to-no diversity of titles, so it feels like the whole industry is one big lump of spandex). Now, I love me some superhero comics, but it can’t be the only representation for comics overall, or most people will never feel the need walk into a store.

    Digital defeats nearly all these problems (but doesn’t give you the obvious benefits of having a retailer actually offer your book, talk it up and such, to their customers). Certainly for the new creator, it’s an easier entry-point.

    Now, are you “exclusive” to Comixology, or can you also offer your books through other apps/stores as well?

  15. I’m not exclusive with ComiXology. They are my first digital outlet though. Like any book or magazine, I want to be in as many outlets as I can.

  16. Terry, as a retailer who has carried EVERY book you have done since SIP #1 (ordered directly from you, before Diamond carried it), let me tell you that it is a necessary move, and I am surprised you waited this long. For every shop like mine who seeks out independent creators and makes sure that new and original voices are given space, there are 10-20 other shops who don’t know anything past Fables. Direct market is broken because the supply chain is not set up in a way to make retailers comfortable of carrying books upfront and and aware of the new things that are coming. It’s wrong that I get most of my news from consumer sites like CBR & Bleeding Cool. It is wrong that publishers do not stand behind their books and cancel them half way, eroding consumer confidence. The system is broken at every level.

    I really hope you find a whole lot of new readers on Comixology. Your books deserve it. Recommendation: Give away SIP #1 for FREE and it will earn you hundreds of new readers.

  17. So glad to hear this news and I really appreciate the fact that you’re not seeing this as a zero sum game. I find the discussion about digital vs. paper to be a little tiresome because there should be a place for both. I get RR at my excellent comic shop via a pull list. But, RR is a comic that I actually WANT to own and I’m trusting that it’ll be as good as your past work (I actually get most of my paper comic bound into hardcovers). However, for about 50% of the comics I read, I have no need to “own” them. They’re fine comics, but I just don’t need the paper cluttering my house. So, I’m about 50/50 on my paper/digital split and don’t envision that changing.

    However, I think digital is GREAT for sampling new titles. Even good comic shops don’t order a lot of extra copies of creator-owned material. The only way to be sure you’ll get them is to put it on your pull list. But the problem with that is if you read #1 and really don’t like it, you’re pretty much stuck with the first few issues OR sticking your comic shop with a #2 and #3 issue that they probably can’t sell. OR you have to annoy your comic shop with constant and real-time pull-list updates. Screw that… So, now I sample digitally and if it is so awesome that I must have the paper, it can go on the pull list then and the back issues can be found via eBay.

    Anyhow…..keep up the good work on RR. It’s great so far.

  18. to the folks who say they shopped around for Rachel Rising and were unable to find it: did you ask if your local comic shop could order a copy for you? We order thousands of comics every month ( i run three small stores in eastern Canada) and so much of it is guesswork, there’s bound to be times when we sell out of an issue or title before we want to but if anyone asks for it, it can usually be ordered back in for a customer.

    Yes, I think it’s foolhardy not to have a few copies of a series by someone like Terry, but we sold out of the first two issues of Rachel and were lucky to be able to reorder them from Diamond, then from Terry when Diamond sold out.

    It’s great to see more comics available to a wider audience and digital is a perfect way to get more eyes on comics. I just don’t think it needs the “my comic shop sucks – go digital” mantra that these discussions often echo.

  19. We’re really excited to be able offer Terry’s work on comiXology’s platform — iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and even the Web! As a marketing guy, I can’t wait to introduce a whole new generation of reader’s to Terry’s work — from those who are current readers to those they haven’t read a comic before ever.

    C.

  20. A big issue with bringing in new readers with digital comics is most publisher, at least for the first month of release, price their digital material at the same price as print to appease retailers that look at digital as undercutting the direct market. The fact is digital ISN’T undercutting the direct market, it’s a new market with new readers who are more used to buying songs at $.99 a pop than comics at $3.99, and the other fact is that a digital product simply isn’t worth as much as print product (for multiple reasons).

    Since your problem is that retailers aren’t carrying you in the first place I see no reason to risk your sales to appease them, and hopefully you choose to release Rachael Rising same day as print at the digitally acceptable price of $1.99.

  21. Great news as I’ve been interested in SiP for some time and buy almost all of my comics digitally at this point, with ComixOlogy as my preferred platform. One thing I would like to suggest though is to make everything available as a collection in addition to individual issues and to make sure that the collection isn’t more expensive than the individual issues.

  22. I just want to leave a note for Aaron and hope he sees this–you mentioned you’re in Framingham. That’s not a far jump at all from Worcester, MA where the biggest comic shop in New England is, called That’s Entertainment (www.thatse.com). I worked for their sister store in central MA, and I would be shocked beyond belief if they didn’t have copies of Rachel Rising. I know for a fact we carry the title, and if you wanted to go the extra step and put your name down for copies, they will hold them for you without hesitation. We are worth our salt, as you say, have a reputation as such, and would very much welcome you.

  23. I will buy all RR to date as well as future issues, the moment they become available on Comixology. Any reason why you’re making SIP available first?

  24. Terry, I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear about this. Everything you said about the publishing and distribution of comic books is true, including the death spiral they’re in. At the same time I’m seeing more wonderful books from the smaller presses that never actually get into the stores. Digital books break the publishing mold by destroying most of the cost of printing; they break the distributing mold by destroying most of the cost of inventory. For me as a buyer, it removes the hour round-trip cost of getting my books from the store – an especially important cost, as I only pick up a dozen or so books a month. Yes, I don’t get the ‘floppies’, as someone noted above. But I still get the read, and for the ones that are really good, there will always be TPBs, etc. (By the way, my copy of ‘Echo: The Complete Edition’ arrived with startling speed, many thanks!)

    So thanks for getting on this bandwagon. It’s much appreciated. And if you ever get the urge to do a DVD of the complete SIP . . . well, I’m sure it will sell too.

  25. I started reading SIP and bought some back issues a year before the SIP series ended. I look forward to starting from issue #1 and carrying the series in my pocket :D.

  26. Hi, many thanks for the article (and all the comments, very interesting). Can you fill me in a bit on how you actually get published with Comixology? There doesn’t seem to be any pricing info, or clear steps on how to do it. Do you just make contact with them via their website and wait for them to ‘return your call’?
    Quite a contrast to Graphicly, who have a very clear pricing structure.

    Thanks again,

    Lisa
    ps I loved Strangers in Paradise!

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