Today, Marvel announced
that the upcoming Invincible Iron Man Annual will be available on their iPad app “day and date” with the paper release of the book on June 30th.
I’d like to look at this with optimistic eyes. It’s the first step to being able to buy and read all of my comics on my wonderful iPad device the day they are released. There’s a catch though.
According to Marvel:
“Fans going to their local comic store can pick up the entire Invincible Iron Man Annual at a low price that day or all three chapters through the Marvel Comics app.”
No actual numbers are given in the press release, but we know the paper comic is going to be $4.99. A la carte digital comics are $1.99 through the Marvel app. With a little conjecture from the “three chapters” wording, one can quickly deduce that the digital version will cost $5.97.
I can’t help but think of the bullshit we’ve gone through (and are still going through) with the music industry and mp3s. Digital consumers are again being treated as second class citizens. Higher prices than the “real” product. We’re supposed to be excited about getting ONE comic “day and date” with the paper release? Is it that hard to scan in 32 pages per book each week and program in the guided view? Why isn’t everything available digitally at the same time as the paper release?
Comics are expensive nowadays. $4-$5 per issue isn’t a trivial cost anymore, especially when you follow multiple titles a month. Like in the music industry, we need a proper subscription model here. I realize there’s a fine balance with the retailers that have to be kept, but as a consumer, it’s just becoming too cost prohibitive to continue reading what I’ve been reading, much less trying out new titles. Also, trying to convert the average movie-going audience into comic buyers with a $4 monthly book may be a pipe-dream out of the RIAA playbook. Try convincing casual radio listeners to buy $14 CDs nowadays.
A monthly unlimited digital subscription fee for iPad/tablet users might be a good first step. The traditional comic buyers are still going to go to the store for the paper copies. You’d expand your readership into the mainstream with a better chance of convincing them to become lifelong comics fans.
Hell, you might even get some double-dip cash from tech savvy readers like me.