in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: e-publishing, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 37
By: Heidi MacDonald
Blog: PW -The Beat
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
, Digital Comics
, Top News
, Bruce Lidl
, Add a tag
One of the real breakout comics of 2013 was Bandette, from the husband and wife team Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin. A digital comic that is creator-owned and sold by Monkeybrain for only 99¢, the tale of young Parisian cat-thief Bandette and her team of accessories has been a hit both creatively and commercially. Awarded the Eisner Award for best digital comic, while nominated in three other categories, Bandette is a great example of the digital first/print second phenomenon in comics, with the first five issues released in hardback form by Dark Horse last November. Coover and Tobin, both of whom have long and esteemed resumes in comics where very kind to submit to an interview from me, to catch up on how things have gone for them and the title since the big Eisner win at Comic-Con in San Diego.
Colleen Coover and Paul Tobin, with Allison Baker of Monkeybrain
BRUCE: I got to speak with you guys in San Diego the day before the Eisners. How did it feel to win for Bandette, and has the award changed how people perceive you and your work? Did it have a noticeable effect on Bandette sales?
PAUL: It felt strange to win an Eisner. There was a moment after the announcement when I just froze in confusion, and then I apparently teleported up onto the stage, and it really wasn’t until I was looking at Colleen that I understood we had won. Luckily, even while still on stage I was able to reflect how wonderful, and how rare, it is to be holding an Eisner in my hands, and watching my wife accept an Eisner as well. And it’s definitely heightened awareness (and sales) of my other works, and of course Bandette itself. It’s just great that of the four nominations, we won the first one announced, because that allowed us to be truly happy for our friends when they won. Our friend Chris Samnee winning best artist over Colleen? No problem, because we already have an Eisner on the table!
COLLEEN: The euphoria really was heady. The only drawback, if it can be called a drawback, is that since winning the award, I’ve felt an added sense of responsibility about making Bandette even more awesome. It’s like, “Okay, you’ve given us this thing and we like it, here’s your reward. Now what else have you got?” I should say that this sort of inner dialog is all part of the necessary balance between swagger and self-doubt every creative professional must have in order to keep motivated.
BRUCE. You guys are such a great example of the digital first-print second phenomenon with the release of the Bandette hardcover in November. How has that experience been? Are you happy with the reception of the hardcover, critically and commercially?
PAUL: Definitely happy. We chose Dark Horse because they’d done such a fantastic job on the Bucko hardcover by our friends Erika Moen and Jeff Parker, and they did an equally great job with Bandette. We wanted to make sure it looked like something that belonged on a shelf, or on display.
COLLEEN: Yeah, also, Dark Horse made it really clear that they wanted to be the print publisher for Bandette, and that they would work with us to make sure that it not only looked great, but came in at an affordable price point. I don’t know what the sales numbers are, but we hear from people every week who have picked up Bandette and love it!
BRUCE. While I’m sure there is no way to know with certainly, but what is your impression of the hardcover purchasers? Are they primarily the same audience as the digital purchasers, but now looking to own a tangible artifact? Or is it a whole new audience that was not interested in the comics as digital purchases?
PAUL: Both. We’ve had plenty of readers contact us and say that they loved the digital comic so much that they were thrilled to have a hardcover, and then there were others who wrote to say how happy they were to have the hardcover, because reading comics digitally either didn’t appeal to them or that they just didn’t have access. I think it was the right way to go for us; it’s not even a “best of both worlds” situation, because it’s “both worlds” straight up.
BRUCE: What have you guys learned from the hardcover experience so far? Is there anything you might do differently next time?
COLLEEN: Fortunately, Dark Horse has so much experience publishing good-looking books, all we had to do was sit back and make approvals. They were even able to accommodate a totally last-minute change I wanted to make to the frontispiece when I suddenly got the idea to put in a “This book belongs to…” bookplate.
PAUL: Really… we were quite happy. Sometimes the best thing to do is to relinquish a bit of control and let things happen. Of course, you can guide the process, and we certainly did that, because it still needs to feel like it’s “yours” at every step of the process.
BRUCE: Top Shelf just announced a program by which purchasers of select print titles can also get the digital version for a heavily discounted price. Is that something you might offer, or would it be too complicated with two different publishers, Monkeybrain and Dark Horse?
PAUL: Individual issues of Bandette are already only 99 cents, so I think that’s pretty cheap!
COLLEEN: And yeah, it would be difficult contractually, since Monkeybrain holds exclusive digital rights and Dark Horse has the print rights. I do think it’s a very good business model to include ebooks with the sale of print titles.
BRUCE: Are there plans for a paperback version? Do you have a longer term plan to release print versions for every 5 individual Bandettes? Are you contracted to return to Dark Horse for future print releases or can you make new partnerships on a book by book basis?
PAUL: We’ve talked about a paperback version, but it’s not something we think it heavily needed. We worked really hard to produce not only a great looking hardcover, but to keep the price VERY low, so it’s a 144 page hardcover for only $14.99, so a paperback isn’t a pressing need. There will be more hardcovers up-coming, but I’m not sure exactly how many issues will be in each one. Storylines will help determine that.
BRUCE: What kinds of things did you specifically do to keep costs down? Do you have advice for other creators looking to convert digital properties to print?
COLLEEN: That’s all secret Dark Horse economic jujitsu at work: Paper stock, book size, number of colors used to print certain pages– every little bit you can save without making it look like you’ve held something back adds up.
BRUCE: The hardcover is beautifully printed, and the colors especially pop out from the page. Has the experience of seeing Bandette in print changed anything in your approach to the digital production? Are you still wedded to the three panel page layout that you’ve done so far with Bandette?
PAUL: We love the three tier approach to comics, at least for this project, because it’s not only handy for digital, but also an homage to the comics we’re emulating to a certain degree… Tintin, for instance. And, it has such a clarity that I think it lends itself well to the stories.
COLLEEN: It ain’t broke, so I’m not looking to fix anything!
BRUCE: I really enjoyed Colleen’s work on Batman ’66. How did it feel to work with Jeff Parker as writer after having done so much work with Paul? Did you enjoy the experience of creating art for the Guided View style of digital comic, as you previously told me it would not work with Bandette? Did it change your mind on that?
PAUL: This question is not about me, and is therefore invalid.
COLLEEN: I’ve worked more with Parker than with anyone other than Paul, back when we were doing stuff for X-Men: First Class, so it was a very familiar place to be. We work together in a totally different way from the way Paul and I work: Paul will present me with a complete script, and then he steps back and I draw it. With Parker, we’ll spend time hanging around in the studio, talking about old comics, and ideas for the story he’s going to write for me come out of that. When Jeff found out he was getting the Batman ’66 job, we spent hours reminiscing about watching the TV show when we were kids in the 70s. A lot of the stories he’s written springboard directly off those conversations.
As for the enhanced view, Jonathan Case, who was the first artist on Batman ’66, and is also in our studio, did a lot of the legwork on figuring out how to make it happen without driving himself crazy, and I picked up some tips from him. For starters, we both drew our stories digitally, so that the little changes that happen in each panel match up precisely. The kicker is that no matter what additional “action” we put in the story for the digital product, there has to be a final printable version that makes sense when they publish the story in the comic. It’s a real storytelling challenge, and it was a ton of fun!
BRUCE: In San Diego you told me that a Pixar version of Bandette would be a dream come true. Have had any more thoughts or approaches to put Bandette in other media? I believe there are Bandette T-shirts for sale, but merchandise could be a way to further monetize your digital property, I imagine?
PAUL: So far we’ve done very little on the merchandising front, mostly because we haven’t had time to set everything up, but we do have some thoughts about Bandette in other media. I guess, for right now, we’re just trying to really get our own feet on the ground and establish Bandette, before we start looking to expand.
COLLEEN: Yeah, I set up some tees and mugs and phone cases on Café Press and on Zazzle, which is about the bare minimum of effort you can make to provide mech. Merchandizing is a lot of work, and requires monetary investment, so we’re going to wait and see what opportunities come up from people who do that sort of thing for a living, rather than try to do it ourselves. I’m still very open to Pixar doing a Bandette film. Or really, any other studio.
BRUCE: I know Paul has the new Prometheus comic scheduled for release in June. I would assume Dark Horse is kind of feeling the heat in regards to licensed properties now that Star Wars is no longer theirs. How has the experience been so far? It must take quite a change of mental pace to go imaginatively from Bandette‘s whimsical Paris to the rather grim planet LV-223! And that is not a cross-over I would want to see! ;)
PAUL: It’s going to be later than June, because we want to match some things up, but… yeah, it’s been a blast. I’m working with three other local writers on the project, each with our own book. There’s me on the lead title, Prometheus, and then Chris Roberson on Aliens, and Josh Williamson on Predator, and Chris Sebela on Aliens vs. Predator. It’s great because we’re all local, and all friends, so we can get together a lot, talk about the project and eat cake. As far as the change of mental pace between projects, I’m really all over as a general rule. I just finished an Adventure Time series, a Plants vs. Zombies project, a whole bunch of writing for Angry Birds, and of course Bandette, and that’s all fairly light-hearted material. At the same time, I’m working on my Colder horror series, and Prometheus, and the Witcher comics for Dark Horse… all much darker. My upcoming novels are much the same: you’ll see some humor titles, and then some darker material. I actually find it easier to work in several areas. It keeps my brain bouncing, moving from one project to the next, so that I don’t grow stale and predictable.
BRUCE: Do you have a philosophy or even rule of thumb that you use to guide what projects you take on, specifically in the realm of balancing personal/independent projects with more commercial properties? Does the success of Bandette allow you more freedom in pursuing your projects?
COLLEEN: Last spring, right as I was finishing up Bandette #5, I had two short projects I had committed to previously come due. Once those were done, I was going to get right back to Bandette, but then the Batman ’66 gig came available. Any other project, I would have turned down, but the Batman TV show was just too big a part of my early life to pass on that opportunity. As a result, there was rather a long wait for Bandette #6. Now, I’m focusing entirely on Bandette. No other projects are being considered.
BRUCE: And one more question, with Bandette #6 out, when can we expect #7? Are you guys hoping to maintain a consistent schedule of issues in 2014? And the Urchin stories have been so fun, with #9 now available from the Monkeybrain site. Any artist names of future Urchin stories you want to tease your readers with?
COLLEEN: Bandette #7 is about a week from being colored and finished now, at the end of February, and then it takes several weeks for Comixology to get it ready to go live. As for our schedule, we will continue to put out issues as quickly as I can draw them!
Urchin artists of the future include but are not limited to: Sheli Hay, Ron Chan, Dylan Meconis, Ron Randall, Cat Farris, Emi Lenox, Steve Lieber, and Juan Ferreyra.
Bruce: Thanks very much!
by Bruce Lidl
The last few weeks have seen a number of big developments in the digital comics realm, from the highs of Marvel’s big announcements at SXSW to the lows of JManga’s imminent closure. Comixology continues to distance itself from its rivals, and with the new Submit program is poised to expand greatly the revenue possibilities for independent creators. By all accounts the digital slice of the comics industry does remain considerably smaller than its print sibling, and there are many comics fans that steadfastly prefer their floppies, yet little doubt exists that the trend and momentum for growth is strong for digital comics, JManga’s demise notwithstanding.
The crucial undercurrent to ever expanding digital offerings has been, and continues to be, the seemingly unstoppable proliferation of devices capable of displaying digital comics in an effect and compelling manner. And even more specifically, it is the specific recent trends towards ever larger smartphone screens and paradoxically, smaller and cheaper tablets devices.
The tide towards larger, and higher quality, phone displays has been going on for a number of years, but has clearly picked up steam in recent months. Last week saw the announcement of the eagerly awaited Samsung Galaxy S IV, with very nice 5 inch display sporting a 1920×1080 resolution, up from last year’s S III which had a 4.8 inch 1280×720 screen, and rapidly approaching the “phablet” category of Samsung’s popular Galaxy Note II, with its 5.5 inch screen, considered gargantuan not very long ago. The speed at which smartphone screens have grown, particularly on the Android side has been astonishing, especially when you consider the fact that the very first Samsung Galaxy phone from 2009 had a 3.2 in, 480×320 pixel screen, relatively tiny by today’s standards. And of course, even mighty Apple, which had resisted the trend towards larger screens in favor of consistency and compact sizes, finally changed course and released the iPhone 5 last year, bumping the screen from 3.5 inches to 4 inches while maintaining a “Retina” pixel resolution (1136×640). Reading digital comics on a smartphone has gone from a somewhat eccentric notion to a far more mainstream possibility, at least with readers willing to zoom in and out, or let their reading be directed by functions like Comixology’s “Guided View.”
While the increase in smartphone screen sizes is powering more digital comic reading (and hopefully sales!), a trend towards smaller screens on tablets is paradoxically also contributing to expanded digital comic penetration. Apple’s iPad basically invented the category of the tablet, and has dominated sales since its release in April 2010, and continues to be an excellent device for digital comic reading, with a brilliant 9.7 inch screen that has increased in resolution iteratively from the original 1024×768 to the current 2048×1536. However, the recent relative success of Android-based tablets with smaller form factors, primarily in the 7 inch screen range, has demonstrated a hunger among some consumers for smaller and cheaper alternatives to the iPad. Beginning with the original Barnes & Noble Nook Color and then really taking off with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s own Nexus 7, smaller and less powerful Android tablets at the $199 and below price point have established themselves as real options for customers outside of the Apple orbit. And just as with the iPhone, Apple has not remained unmoved in the face of fierce competition, as shown by the November release of the smaller 7.9 inch 1024×768 iPad Mini. Overall, something like 170 million tablets were sold in 2012, with roughly half coming from Apple, and the rest overwhelmingly split among mostly Android providers (Microsoft’s push into Windows based tablets have struggled mightily, and current analysis puts the number sold at less than 1.5 million units since the October 2012 release). The surge in sales of smaller (less than 8 inch screen size) tablets has exploded in the last few months, with about half of tablets sold in the fourth quarter of 2012 fitting into this category, and driving the adoption of tablets ever higher. Smaller devices and cheaper prices have put tablets into the hands of an ever expanding body of potential comics readers, for while the screens used in the smaller tablets tend to be inferior than those on their larger cousins, they do still present a quite nice package for comic reading. More compact form factors also boost portability, although even the 7 inch tablets won’t fit into many pants pockets.
The boom in demand for smaller and cheaper tablets is expected by industry analysts to continue through 2013, and in fact, the iPad mini is currently even outselling its larger standard iPad sibling, while the rise of popularity in Android offerings will likely lead to that segment overtaking Apple this year.
How has the the shift in device formats affected your digital comics reading habits? Do the new devices encourage you to read more digital comics? Personally, I still read most of my digital comics on my 24 inch desktop monitor, but I do use my relatively large (4.8 inch) smartphone screen more often than in the past, and I like using the “Guided View” option quite with it.
Have you been affected by the JManga shutdown? Do you consider the DRM aspect and the vulnerability of locked-downed purchases a crucial weakness of digital comics? Do you prefer to purchase from Comixology, the publishers’ own sites directly or from online retailers like Amazon? Are you interested in Netflix style offerings of unlimited reading of older titles? Do you acquire comics from unauthorized sources, and does the ease of use of pirated comics versus the restrictions of legitimate content enter into your purchase decisions? Have you been swayed away from physical copies entirely or do you get some titles digitally and some in print?
It's amazing how much publishing has changed in just the last year and how quickly authors, readers, and publishers are embracing this new world and these new publishing opportunities. As any of you who follow publishing news know, agents are tying themselves to self-epublishing in a variety of ways. Some are making the decision to represent authors who choose to self-epublish at the standard 15% commission, while others have started their own epublishing houses to fill the void between what we're calling "traditional" publishers and self-publishing, and still others have chosen to stay uninvolved and let their clients handle self-publishing on their own. After a lot of thought and work, BookEnds has also come up with a plan for how we will work with self-epublishing and what we want to be able to provide our clients, and it's a little bit of everything.
One of the things I've always said is that there is no universal way to be a great agent. Each client is an individual and each career needs to be approached differently. I feel the same about self-epublishing. In looking at what we could offer our clients, there wasn't one universal path that would fit every client and every need. So after much talk and consideration, BookEnds is taking a variety of approaches to self-epublishing in the hope that we can continue to provide the best opportunities for our clients.
Some of our clients are self-publishing all on their own. We are asking that they keep us informed of their activities so we can use the information they provide (numbers, books they are publishing, etc.) when working with their publishers. In other words, the more informed we are the more we can possibly leverage that self-epublishing success when negotiating contracts or even making new deals. With these clients who have chosen to handle all aspects on their own, we aren't involved in any other way. In other words, we aren't taking a commission and, frankly, we aren't doing any of the work.
We have clients who are working closely with us on their self-published books and using us as agents. For the work we are doing with them we are getting paid a 15% commission. In most of these cases we have worked with the clients on the books prior to the decision to self-epublish and are now continuing that work. The clients cover the costs of conversion, the cover, editing (if necessary), etc., and we manage all the books once they are ready to be loaded to the sites. We also provide revisions and edits for those books that might not have been published before. What this all means is that we work with the clients to market the books, upload them to the retail sites, and we're constantly talking to the clients about how we can leverage their self-epublished books to spark sales on their "traditionally published" books as well as build sales on the self-epublished books.
And last, we have Beyond the Page Publishing, a company we've built with a new and separate epublishing team to work with those clients who have a real interest in self-epublishing, but don't have the desire, inclination, or time to manage the publishing process. In other words, these clients want to test the self-epublishing market, but want the support that a publisher provides. With Beyond the Page, the author submits a manuscript and the publisher provides editorial services, manages the cover design, converts the files, and uploads the books to all sites. In addition, marketing and product management support is provided throughout the process. This could mean updating files to match changes in the author's career, price changes, book teaser changes, or general marketing changes to, again, help push the titles the author is publishing traditionally.
It's such an exciting time in publishing and I think we can all honestly say that we're exploring and experimenting to see what works best for each of us and our business models. Just as authors are testing self-epublishing, agents are testing the possibili
This week I have been wasting colossal amounts of time on my new toy...
(Note the lovely case, a bargain from the nice people at Lente Designs
I made the silly mistake of putting lots of stuff on it for the children, which means they are constantly trying to wrestle it away from me. Favourite apps so far include Squeebles
, a sort of maths version of Moshi Monsters
, which has actually got S eager to practise her times tables. She's also keen on SketchBook Pro
and 123D Sculpt
, though the latter is way too complicated for me to actually create anything worth saving. But the sketch app is very satisfying, even if, like me, you're very rubbish at drawing...Nosy Crow
has been rightly lauded for its imaginative and original children's ebooks. We've got Cinderella
, and I will definitely be downloading more of their work. And if anyone knows a good spelling app, please let me know - I downloaded Spelling Free but it's very dull and the heavy American accent confuses the children (and their spelling).
However, my favourite so far is the Usborne Sticker Dolly Dressing
, an app version of those great sticker books - really, I was fighting E for a go on this - and it's a bargain at £2.99, compared to the actual sticker books.
The downside of the iPad, as you will have noted from the amount of apps I have loaded, is how ridiculously easy it is to spend money. Amazon 1-Click
make buying an item so quick and easy, I almost forget there's real pounds involved.
I also think the iPad is making me a bit, well, jumpy - all that information at my fingertips means I'm skipping from breaking news to tweeted conversations to Facebook without really focusing on any one site. I think once the novelty of exploring apps wears off, I'll be using it more to watch and listen to stuff (for example, check out Khan Academy
, which is like carrying round your own university lecture
A quick update from Emerald City Comic Con, a convention which you can only access by jumping into your nearest hot air balloon and flying directly into a cyclone. Monkeybrain’s Allison Baker is at the convention this weekend, and on Friday announced the immediate release of a new comic from the company, available now on ComiXology – for free. Free comics, you guys! Live the dream.
Called Frost, the comic is written by Brandon Jerwa and Eric S. Trautmann, drawn by Giovanni Timpano, coloured by Andrea Celestini and lettered by Simon Bowland. Here’s the solicitation for the issue:
Meet FROST. His name is spoken in whispers from deep within the American intelligence community–a cypher, a walking secret, and the ultimate weapon against global terror. In the far-flung fields of battle against America’s enemies–a world where those who would protect us from harm must often trade in violence, deception and betrayal–there are those who strike a deadly balance between order and chaos. In this struggle, information and secrecy are as lethal as the gun, and where the ultimate practitioners of the military arts engage the enemy in the shadows…
Free comic, everybody! Available through this link.
Well, digitally publishing your comic for mobile and tablets just got as easy as an upload. ComiXology has unveiled its Submit portal, which allows creators to upload their comics and have them transformed to comiXology’s Guided View technology for free. Materials submitted must be approved, but once they are available, comiXology and the creators will then share revenue. Pretty simple.
Works by R. Stevens, Becky Cloonan, Jake Parker, and Shannon Wheeler have been rolled out as proof of concept.
More will be revealed at this week’s SXSW, but in the meantime the long-brewing program finally gives creators everywhere access to comiXology’s mobile and web platforms. We can see some moaning about the approval process but that’s only to be expected. Also: discoverability.
In honor of the occasion, Shannon Wheeler drew three cartoons, all of which you can see here.
Starting now, independent comic book and graphic novel creators can build a worldwide following and profit from their work. Through a portal called comiXology Submit, from comiXology, the revolutionary digital comics platform, independent creators simply need to upload their comic book and graphic novels for approval at no cost. ComiXology does the rest, from transforming the work with comiXology’s Guided View reading technology, to making it available on comiXology’s buy once, read anywhere digital comics platform, which includes an iTunes top 10-grossing iPad app, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Windows 8 apps, and a web store and reader at www.comixology.com. Creators and comiXology equally split all profits, with creators maintaining full ownership of their work.
ComiXology Submit enables independent comics creators, from promising new talent to established veterans, to reach a global audience of comic book fans for whom comiXology already created the first viable digital marketplace for leading publishers. At the same time, comiXology Submit bolsters comiXology’s commitment to bringing its customers the best and most diverse content available.
Independent creators’ works will be transformed into Guided View, comiXology’s groundbreaking technology that turns reading comics into an immersive, cinematic experience. Works from Shannon Wheeler (“Too Much Coffee Man” cartoons), Jake Parker (“The Antler Boy and Other Stories”), Becky Cloonan (“Wolves,” ”The Mire”), Richard Stevens (“Diesel Sweeties”) and other top independent creators are available today, with many more to follow now that the platform is open.
“While we continue to push ourselves to innovate the digital comic experience, comiXology Submit provides an incredible opportunity for creators to sell their work to a highly targeted and global audience of comic book and graphic novel fans,” said David Steinberger, comiXology co-founder and CEO. “The next generation of creators will reap great benefit alongside more well known creators selling books that are no longer available in print.”
“This is also about making sure we always have the best, most diverse content available, the best reading and buying experience, and at the same time, supporting comic book creators around the globe,” said John D. Roberts, comiXology co-founder.
“ComiXology Submit opens it up for independent comic books artists, creating the chance to digitally publish comics that one can sell everywhere,” said Shannon Wheeler, creator of the critically hailed “Too Much Coffee Man” series and a contributing cartoonist to The New Yorker. “When I created ‘Too Much Coffee Man’ 20 years ago in Austin, I spent many late nights making the stupid comics. Then I spent long days bugging shop owners to sell my stuff. Then I spent minutes losing the invoices, ensuring I never got paid. With comiXology Submit, I could have spent all that time creating my comics and I’d have gotten paid twice as often too.”
More details about comiXology Submit will be unveiled on Saturday at 5:45 PM CST at SXSW Interactive, as comiXology co-founder and CEO Steinberger takes the stage with fellow co-founder Roberts and Wheeler on the SXSW GEEK Stage at the Palmer Auditorium in Austin, TX.
Creators interested in submitting works for approval can visit http://submit.comixology.com. Comic book fans interested in finding works by independent creators now available on comiXology are invited to visit http://www.comixology.com/submit.
What is your thought about authors who publish on Kindle? I first became aware that authors were doing this with their backlist about a year ago. Kindle makes it easy by offering a 70% royalty rate at a certain price point. Then J.A. Konrath announced she was releasing a new title on Kindle. That seemed to open the floodgates. Now, I know so many multi-pubbed authors who are not only selling to NY, they are releasing their backlist and even new fiction on Kindle as well.
What do agents think about this new trend of authors self-pubbing through Kindle? In your opinion, does it harm us? Help us? Does it affect the way you look at prospective authors?
This is a post I’ve been wanting to do for some time, but knowing it would take a lot of thought and work, it took me a while to get my thoughts together or, more to the point, my thoughts on paper.
Today’s post is going to be Part One of a two-part piece on self-publishing electronically, whether it’s through Kindle or another format. Today’s post will focus on the unpublished author, as per the reader’s question, while tomorrow’s will take a look at the published author who wants to use electronic self-publishing as a way to build or enhance an already successful career.
It’s a really interesting time in publishing. Self-published electronic books are changing the way many of us think about books and giving authors quick and easy ways to get their books out to readers without the help of traditional publishers or agents. And there is no doubt that we’re seeing success stories from authors who are doing it their own way and on their own. That being said, we’ve seen this before.
When I first launched BookEnds 10+ years ago there was something hot and new on the scene, something that was going to revolutionize the way we publish and finally get rid of those “gatekeepers,” otherwise known as agents and editors. That something was POD (print on demand). Sites like iUniverse and Lulu were popping up everywhere and for a mere $99 (or something like that) authors could publish their books and find an audience themselves. The talk at the time was that we didn’t need agents anymore, we don’t need editors. Readers are going to be able to make the decision about what books should and shouldn’t be published, and some bookstores were even working with these sites to carry the books. Sound familiar?
Just as there is today, there were success stories with POD, authors who went out there and did it their own way and found readers, a lot of readers. Eventually a number of those authors were picked up by what we’re calling today “traditional publishers.” The truth, though, is that, just like today, there were many, many more authors who floundered, sold very few copies, and never had anything near the success they dreamed of.
It’s true that self-epublishing is different in the fact that you are guaranteed “bookstore” space since most of the opportunities available are directly through the sites readers are already going to for their books. Right there you see more potential for success than you did with POD. And there’s no doubt that it’s appealing to sidestep the tedious process of finding an agent and finding a publisher, but is it really easier to find a reader? I’m not so sure. Remember, just because you put the book out there doesn’t mean the readers will come. Think of it this way: If every single person who is querying me this week (that’s 300+ people) decides to epublish on their own, it’s not going to take more than a week before the market is flooded with books, and when readers are overwhelmed, what do you think they’re most likely to do? My guess is go back to those books that are tried and true, those authors they already know will deliver a good read. Heck, there might even become a time when readers rely on the brand name of publishers to help them weed through the mass of books to choose those they feel will be quality books.
Yesterday I shared some of my thoughts on unpublished authors self-epublishing as a way to launch their careers. Hopefully I was able to present a fair and balanced portrait of my thoughts on the subject. Today I want to continue that discussion by looking at what self-epublishing can do for published authors.
Just as unpublished authors see Kindle and other self-epublishing opportunities as a way to launch a career, published authors see self-epublishing as an opportunity to keep books that might have gone out of print in print or publish books that haven’t yet been published.
There’s no doubt this can be a wonderful opportunity for many, and we’ve seen some of those success stories right here at BookEnds. Angie Fox posted about her own experience in her blog post Taking Charge of Your Career, and author Bella Andre has responded to her readers by self-epublishing some of her erotic romances. That being said, neither of these authors made the decision to self-epublish lightly. Both carefully considered why they were doing it and worked very, very hard to ensure that the product they were putting out was just as good as, if not better than, any book they’d ever written or published traditionally. Most important, they have continued to keep their author brand in mind and are always working to make sure that their next book is always better than the last, whether it’s been self-epublished or traditionally published.
When it comes to readers you are only as good as your last book, and by last book I mean the last book they read. So even if your most recently written title is the one coming out from Big Name Publishing House, the one readers will remember and base future buying decisions on is the one they last purchased. So while self-epublishing can be an exciting way to move those books out from under your bed, you need to consider whether that’s the best decision for your career.
Let’s look at it his way: You have a series of historical romances you’re publishing with Publisher XYZ and they’re doing great. Your career is on the rise and readers love you, so you start thinking of all of those paranormal romances you wrote years ago. You still love those books and why wouldn’t your readers? They’ve made it clear they can’t get enough of you. So you dust them off and send them out to self-epublish. But those books aren’t as good as your historical romances. You might love them, but let’s face it, you’ve grown a lot in the last 10 years and the reason you are having so much success is because you’ve worked hard to perfect your craft. You also have an editor who works hard with you. You constantly praise her for her brilliant mind and editorial eye. You can’t say enough about how good she makes you look, but obviously if you’re self-publishing she won’t be involved with this book. And it shows. Of course readers snatch up your books because they love you, but they’re disappointed. The books aren’t what they’ve come to expect from you, and now they feel like they’ve wasted their hard-earned money and time reading books they found unsatisfying. Your next historical romance is published and sales drop. Your publisher can’t figure it out, they blame it on the cover, but the truth is that the readers have moved on. They don’t want to risk wasting more money or more time so they’ve found another author to follow.
Is this a doomsday scenario? Yes, it is, and I realize that, but it seems we’ve read so many stories lately about authors making millions by self-epublishing that I wanted to use an extreme example to remind you not why self-epublishing is bad, because I don’t think it is, but why you need to carefully consider what you’re putting out. It’s not the fact that you self-epublished your paranormal romances that’s the problem, it’s the fact that you’ve decided to put out a product that simply wasn’t as good a
I’m curious about the opinion you and Kim have about the rise in e-books and the rights therein. Is this an issue authors should pay closer attention to, or is it strictly agent territory—or perhaps, is it the responsibility of both parties?
There is nothing in this business that is “strictly agent territory.” As the author and owner of your business (your author brand), it is imperative that you learn about the business and keep yourself apprised of what is going on. When I look at those authors who have truly achieved success, there is one thing all of them have in common, and that’s knowledge of publishing as a business. That doesn’t mean they necessarily understand every clause in a contract (a smart author also surrounds herself with smart people), but she does make an effort to understand the contract as a whole, the rights she’s licensing to others, and what the options are for her career. She works as a team with those smart people she’s hired, which means she has conversations with her agent about the contract and the rights that are being licensed, she discusses design and style with her website designer, and she works hand in hand with her publicist to come up with the next brilliant publicity idea.
So the answer is a resounding: It’s the responsibility of both parties to understand and seek knowledge about not just digital rights, but all rights as they pertain to the book.
We talked a little last year about “the brave new world” of publishing and how authors can take advantage of self-epublishing, the pros and the cons. I’ve been thinking a lot about epublishing and what it means for the publishing business, and I have a lot of opinions (surprise, surprise) on the topic. Now, I’m not in the know on what publishing execs are planning, but if they are not looking down the line and thinking in new directions, we’re all in a lot of trouble.
One of my thoughts is about nonfiction, specifically self-help nonfiction. You know, things like parenting books, business books, do-it-yourself type of books. In my opinion, these subject areas are going to be some of the hardest hit in the years to come, primarily because authors with platforms might find that they can do it on their own, or keep their audiences better updated through the Internet and their own sources. Seth Godin and his decision to dump his publisher and do it himself is a perfect example of this.
So what do I think publishers need to do to keep updated and what do I think they should do to keep readers happy. It’s really simple if you ask me (or one of my ideas is simple). When a business author comes to you with his amazing new idea, you publish the book as you normally do through normal channels. You issue a print version, an epub version, and any other versions the market can support. And then, when an update occurs, let’s say it’s an update to chapter 10 on tax laws for the small business owner, instead of updating the entire book and selling it again for $9.99 (and incurring all the production costs of doing so), you update only chapter 10 and sell it for $1.99. When buyers of the original book want an update, they can simply buy that chapter, which should (tech guys, pay attention) automatically update and replace the chapter of the book they already have in their ereader.
Let’s use a popular pregnancy book as another example. Every woman buys this book when she first learns she’s pregnant and then uses it with each subsequent pregnancy. But let’s say her pregnancies are five years apart. A lot can change in five years. Sure, the core information is still there, but the book has had some updates, maybe a new edition, but mom-to-be doesn’t feel like shelling out another $9.99 for the book. She’ll just use what she has and read the Internet for the rest. On the other hand, she would consider shelling out $2.99 for an update to the book she’s already using, something that would give her all the new information without costing her nearly as much. Think software update.
Sounds simple in theory anyway, and, if you ask me, it’s a win-win for everyone. Readers will have an easy way to always keep the information in their ereader current, publishers and authors can continually make money on the same book and keep that book current, and it’s a great way to use this new technology in a way that makes sense.
When I talk to members of the publishing community about all the changes that are happening in publishing these days, I think one of the biggest concerns everyone has is for the bookstore. None of us can imagine life without a bookstore. I’ll admit, I love shopping online almost more than the next person. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it fits into my lifestyle. But it’s not shopping. In my opinion, it’s almost impossible to make an amazing discovery online. I can’t just go to the mystery section because that’s what my brother likes to read and discover something fun and exciting that I know he’s never read before.
I do think bookstores will make it, but I think to do so they need to stop fighting each other, stop worrying about their individual electronic devices, and start coming together as a community. In other words, they need to work together. Do you know what I would like?
I would like to be able to go into a bookstore and browse books, admire covers, read the back blurbs, and buy the book in whatever format I have available to me. I would like to be able to browse the bookstore and enjoy the experience. I would like to have a coffee from the coffee shop while I’m doing this and maybe even drop the kids off for a reading hour so I can shop unencumbered.
How will this work? I’m not sure, primarily because you can simply download the book on your own device and the store gets no credit, but it seems there has to be a way for bookstores to get some sort of credit for whatever books are downloaded from their store, even if it’s for a device that’s different from the one they make themselves.
(diehard DIYers: that’s only somewhat easier)
Guest Expert: Laurel Marshfield
Several months ago, while paddling around on the Internet’s vast ocean of information, I happened across a convert-your-eBook-to-Kindle video made by a highly caffeinated person. And though his shoutin’-at-ya, rapid-fire presentation style was headache-inducing, I persevered. He promised I’d have my eBook on Amazon THE VERY SAME DAY !!
Problem is, the eBook I had in mind was designed by a professional designer, so it contained lots of design and formatting features, plus floating images. This isn’t the sort of fare that the Kindle likes to consume for breakfast, I soon learned.
My eBook Disaster
My upload to what was then called Amazon’s Digital Text Platform (DTP)
– but has since been renamed the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform
– looked like an outtake from Picasso’s cubist period. Headers were separated by spatial wastelands. Elements darted senselessly across the digital page. Text started and stopped illogically. In short, it was an eBook disaster.
Kindle eBook Resources
Returning to the scene of the crime — dogpaddling on the Internet — I located an avalanche of resources. From them, I selected just a few (which kept the not so tech-oriented in mind):
• The first is a video by Denise Wakeman of Blog Squad fame, in which she very calmly explains how to upload your eBook on Amazon by first converting it to HTML. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/h3AyZh
• The second is another video (because when I hear the same thing explained several ways, I get it; explained one way — not as easily). This instructional video by novelist David Lantz shows how he converted his novel — despite its design features — for Amazon and the Kindle: http://bit.ly/hXFF6q
• The third provides the Big Picture View of Amazon eBook publishing. And a workaround. Because, don’t you kinda wonder why the online giant won’t accept eBook authors’ expensively designed PDFs? Here, book coach Kristen Eckstein spills the beans: http://bit.ly/g4S92E
Even so, there are ways, Eckstein says, to circumvent Amazon’s insistence upon doing it their way, or no way. You can upload your PDF to a long list of other online stores — the not-Amazons — where your eBook can be downloaded directly to the Kindles of interested readers.
What I Did About My eBook
However gratifying that workaround, I still wanted to get my eBook on Amazon. So I turned to yet another online resource — a company called eBook Architects. Founded by Joshua Tallent in early 2008, the company’s eBook conversion and coaching services are now in such demand that publishers and authors wait an average (right now, at least) of nearly three months.
That waiting period aside, I asked Tallent if he really could convert my two-
Sorry for not posting stuff as often as I should. Have been really very busy - proofreading and correcting and re-formatting both print and digital versions of a novel, visiting the UK, and researching the wonderful world of ebook creation, publishing and distribution. Fascinating stuff, and I'll probably report back on my findings at some point.
In the meantime, if you're interested in following developments around ebook distribution and sales then check out the inimitable J.A. Konrath's blog at A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
and An E-publisher's Manifesto,
the Self-published Authors' Lounge
, and, for an interesting UK perspective, Lexi Revellian's blog
All of which seems a strange introduction to announcing that I've added another 5 links
to the U.S. Literary Agents' Websites
sidebar and another 5 links
to the Literary Agents' Blogs
Expert: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Carolyn’s previous post – Ta Da! E-books are great tools for promotion
The anatomy of a free e-book might be just what you need so you can make one work for you. A free e-book I assembled with several fellow authors was one of best and most long-lasting promotions I’ve done. Let’s call it the new math for free publicity. It is: E-book + E-gift = Promotion. Oops. Error. Make the answer FREE promotion.
An old e-friend thought of this promotion. She asked more than two dozen authors from several countries to contribute to an e-book that would be given away. Cooking by the Book could be used as a gift of appreciation to the support teams it takes to edit and market a book and to the legions of readers who cook but who had never read any of our other books.
Authors who had at least one kitchen scene in her book were invited to contribute to Cooking by the Book. Each author’s segment begins with an excerpt from that scene. The recipe comes next, and then a short blurb about the author.
This e-tool was a cross-pollinator. Each contributing author publicized it any way she chose. Participants were asked to promote it and expected to disseminate it at no charge. Each contributor benefited from the efforts, and the contacts of the other authors. It turned out that we had some superior promoters among us:
- One set up a promotional page for the cookbook on her Web site and most of the other authors followed suit.
- One promoted it in her newsletter.
- Mary Emma Allen writes novels and nonfiction but she’s also featured the cookbook in the columns she writes for New Hampshire dailies The Citizen and The Union Leader.
- David Leonhardt incorporated the cookbook into a Happiness Game Show speech that he delivered over a dozen times in Canada and elsewhere.
- We all gave away coupons offering this gift at book signings. Because it costs nothing, it is a gift that can be given to everyone, not just those who purchase a book. Some had bookmarks made up featuring this offer.
- I did a lot of cheerleading, too. I redesigned yy business cards to a two-sided affair with an “e-gift” offer on the back.
- If we were doing it today, we’d all blog about it and use Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, and YouTube, of course!
- We treated the promotional book like a real book. We got blurbs and reviews. Reviewer JayCe Crawford said, “For a foodie-cum-fiction-freak like me, this cookbook is a dream come true.” That review has popped in places we didn’t even know existed.
- We used them as e-gifts when to thank editors, producers, or others online.
Our most startling successes came from sources we had no connection to at all. The idea for using a promtoinal e-book like this was featured in Joan Stewart’s, The Publicity Hound, in Writer’s Weekly, in the iUniverse newsletter and more. They probably found it especially newsworthy because it worked so well for writers of fiction.
When I queried radio stations for interviews with angles related to this cookbook, I had the highest rate of response I’d ever had and that was in competition with a pitch for This Is the Place just before the 2002 games in Salt Lake City and an intolerance angle on the same n
by special correspondent Bruce Lidl
Techland Presents: Comics and Digital Piracy
A “hastily thrown together” panel on the last day of the Con made for some lively discussion about the realities and moralities of pirated comics.
Moderator Douglas Wolk from Techland.com, a long time music critic, is concerned that the comics industry will fall into the self-destructive pattern that the music industry pursued, spending enormous sums of money to try to get the digital genie back in the bottle, without doing much of anything to slow file-trading down and instead alienating many of its most ardent fans. Wolk also observed that there is now a generation of comics fans that is accustomed to having a digital copy of every new comic released each week, in an open format, on that Wednesday, for free. Not to mention the fact that essentially every comic book ever published in the US is just a few mouse-clicks away from a free download.
Jake Forbes and Deb Aoki discussed in detail the particular permutations of the large “scanlation” community of Manga readers that grew specifically out of the unavailability of so many Japanese comic books in English. While things are changing, the overall situation remains as the huge output of the Japanese comic industry only trickles out slowly to non-Japanese readers. As hard-core manga fans themselves, Forbes and Aoki claimed they could understand the passion of the fans, but at the same time, as editors, they were dismayed by the arrogance and short-sightedness of “scanlators” that self-righteously ignored the desire of creators to make their own decisions about the distribution of their work.
David Steinberger from comiXology, the provider of the technology behind both Marvel and DC’s iOS offerings, diagnosed the situation primarily in terms of the disconnect between the speed of technological developments online and the business pace of the large companies and their licensing requirements. He would love to do more day and date releases, he said, but the fear of cannibalizing direct market sales, and the “bottle neck” of his small start-up’s capabilities continues to slow the trend in that direction. Steinberger considers those fears to be “irrational” as his best sellers tend to be comics that have a higher mainstream profile from movies, such as Wanted, Hellboy, Kick-Ass, etc. To him that demonstrates that digital sales come from non-traditional comics fans, precisely not the people in their local shop on Wednesdays. The non-US component of his customers (over 40%) would also seem to argue against a corollary between digital purchasers and hardcore weekly fans. Steinberger also contends that unauthorized downloads should not be equated simply with lost sales, as in his experience, people tend to grab a great deal of free stuff without ever actually consuming all of it, or certainly ever thinking of buying it. Steinberger does betray an acute understanding that his business exists in a challenging position, having to work within the often byzantine restrictions from publishers while at the same time competing with free. comiXology’s answer is overwhelmingly based on quality of experience, or their ability to create a digital version of the comic pamphlet that is qualitatively better than what a pirate can provide, and that requires far less technical know-how.
None of the panelists directly responded to Wolk’s concerns about the wisdom of maintaining an adversarial relationship with down-loaders, as in his view, strict enforcement has proven utterly ineffective for slowing unauthorized distribution, A punishment based approach can also be problematic because it overlooks the possible positive effects of widespread unauthorized distribution, particula
Joining Marvel, DC, Boom and Scott Pilgrim, Image Comics now has it’s very own Comixology app for iPads, iPhones and Ipods. IDW has a bunch of storefronts via iVerse, while Dark Horse mostly sells comcis through their own stand-alone apps. New Image comics are selling for $1.99, which is about industry standard. Initial offerings include Chew, Youngblood, and Savage Dragon. In case you’re wondering what to get first, Chris Sims has a good guide to what to download.
Image Comics enters the digital market today with the launch of the Image Comics app for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. The app, developed on the leading digital comic book platform by comiXology, allows fans unprecedented digital access to the creator-owned comics that Image proudly publishes.
The partnership between Image and comiXology offers Image creators a direct line to digital distribution. Among the independent content now available digitally are Image’s most popular titles, including SAVAGE DRAGON, CHEW, BATTLE POPE and Rob Liefeld’s YOUNGBLOOD. The Image Comics app will also be the first to feature work from Todd McFarlane with the inclusion of HAUNT, created in collaboration with Robert Kirkman (THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE).
“With the launch of the Image Comics app, we have an opportunity to provide our creators with the digital support that, for many of them, was unattainable before,” says Image Publisher Eric Stephenson. “comiXology has established a very impressive track record of bringing independent content into the digital world. Today represents a milestone in our growth as a company and enables us to increase the availability of the fantastic titles we publish.”
“Our partnership with Image is indicative of our shared vision to help independent creators thrive in the traditional print community as well as the explosive digital marketplace,” adds David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology. “The demand for creator-owned content is at an all time high, and we are thrilled to be able to provide fans with what they want. We’re lucky now to work directly with Image and to offer the creators a clear path to the digital market.”
The Image Comics app is now available for free download from the iTunes App Store. In addition to individual issues for ongoing series, which are priced for $1.99, Image will also offer fans issues of several popular Image titles, sneak peeks of upcoming titles, and other exclusive content for free.
Mark Waid has reconstructed his controversial Harvey night speech and made it much clearer what he was getting at:
“Yes, Professor Waid, you hippie freak, sharing is all well and good, but how does that pay my bills?”
I know. I know. We all still should be financially compensated for hard work so we can keep doing this and make a decent living. No argument. And that brings us back around to filesharing. If you’re genuinely morally indignant about this issue, I understand and respect that. But I worry that a lot of the moral indignation I hear over filesharing is just a way of trying to mask our panic over how our ability to make a living with our art is quickly eroding under the current business models. And I understand that fear. I really, truly do.
Look, if you are in comics just to make money, I can respect that. Honestly, no sarcasm. But if you are here to create a sustainable living for yourself while at the same time finding some way to give back to the world, then filesharing is not a problem…it’s an opportunity.
Like it or not, downloading is here. Torrents and filesharing are here. That’s not going away. I’m not here to attack it or defend it–I’m not going to change anyone’s mind either way, and everyone in America at this point has anecdotal evidence “proving” how it hurts or helps the medium–but I am here to say it isn’t going away–and fear of it, fear of filesharing, fear of illegal downloading, fear of how the internet changes publishing in the 21st century, that’s a legitimate fear, because we’re all worried about putting food on the table and leaving a legacy for our children, but we’re using our energy on something we can’t stop, because filesharing is not going away.
Much more in the link. Perhaps if Waid had said all this on Saturday, there wouldn’t have been any confrontations, just nodding.
See also David Brothers’ essay on digital comics today on Comics Alliance: Please, Just Kiss Digital Comics On The Mouth Already.:
Here’s the problem with that: Digital comics are not there to support retailers. They are a competitor. They are the new gunslinger in town to blow the head off the old gunslinger. They’re the person trying to break up your marriage. Netflix doesn’t hold back on content, let publishers set ridiculous prices, or send customers to Blockbuster, so why should digital comics do the same?
It’s a common talking point precisely because digital comics are a huge threat to retailers, and since the Direct Market depends on retailers to sell comics, they don’t want to anger their biggest business partners. That’s totally fair; you don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you, and you don’t want to count your digital distribution eggs before they hatch. But at the same time, (and to continue the increasingly ill-advised New Girl In the Building comparison): if you keep holding back and selling yourself short, you’ll eventually be left with nothing. If the digital effort continues to be a half-effort, the failure of digital comics will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. At some point, you need to either make your move or give up.
In the meantime, comics creators were still feeling vag
Filipino comics artist/self-publisher Gerry Alanguilan (Elmer), was supposed to deliver an address at a symposium called “Future of the Book” but he was forced to bow out, so instead he posted his speech for all of us to read. While reading the whole thing is the best way to approach it, the gist can be conveyed. Although Alanguilan is basically married to the idea of print publishing, he thinks it can exist with digital:
WASTED is the title of a comic book that I created from 1994 to 1996. It has gone through several editions in print, the first edition coming out in 1998 through Alamat Comics. In 2000 it was serialized for several months in Pulp Magazine. In 2002, Pulp Magazine published another compiled edition. A few years later, Wasted went out of print. In 2007, I decided to upload Wasted completely online, including a DVD-like commentary for each page at Webcomicsnation.com. It allowed a lot more people to read it, specially those from abroad.
But then, a strange thing happened. I still get letters and emails to this day from people looking for copies of Wasted. I always point out that they can read the entire thing for FREE online. The reaction is almost unanimous and immediate: No, we want to buy the print edition. There is not a comics convention that goes by (and believe it or not, we have something like six or seven of those a year here in the Philippines) that people don’t ask me for a copy of Wasted. The demand has grown so much that I’ve put it in the front burner of my company’s publishing schedule.
Another vote for free sampling.
This is Not Comics, but it does shed some light on behavior. While we’re rounding up some scientific jargon, GigaOM reports that millennials need Wi-Fi the way previous generations needed fresh creamery butter. (Millennials are here defined as 17-29 year-olds.)
According to the survey, commissioned by the Wi-Fi Alliance, almost 70 percent of respondents said they spend more than four hours a day on a Wi-Fi connection. More than half of those polled in the U.S. consider Wi-Fi a necessity in restaurants and malls, and 64 percent of U.S. respondents and 89 percent of Chinese users stated it would be almost impossible to maintain many of their friendships without Wi-Fi. Denying them Wi-Fi would also darken their moods considerably: Three out of four U.S. respondents said they would be grumpier if they went without Wi-Fi access for a week compared to going a week without coffee or tea.
But…see next story!
At yesterday’s Dark Horse panel, more details of their digital initiative were announced. It will be proprietary, available on every web browser, and sold for iPad and iTunes. (However, Apple only accepts prices that end in .99 — one of the controlling things that folks were complaining about on Thursday — so it’s not entirely clear how that will work. There will be 170 titles available at first, with some titles available day and date.
Dark Horse had been the last of the big publishers to go digital and by launching their own app and system, it’s obviously a big investment.
While everyone is going digital, further details of the one aspect of the move that seems the most groundbreaking — the in-store exclusive downloads to keep customers going to brick and mortar — were not announced.
To promote the venture, Dark Horse is offering several free comics just this weekend:
Today at New York Comic Con, the publisher that revolutionized creator-owned comics announced a new and ambitious digital publishing plan that’s set to do the same for sequential storytelling in the digital medium! By creating and managing its own digital publishing program—the Dark Horse Bookshelf app—Dark Horse Comics has eliminated third party fees on its digital editions. Not only will readers be able to enjoy Dark Horse comics at lower prices, but comic creators will receive a greater percentage of each digital sale. In short, readers pay less for their comics and creators make more money.
“We are excited by the opportunities offered through this new channel of distribution,” Dark Horse president and publisher Mike Richardson said. “The comics and graphic novels published by Dark Horse will now reach more readers than ever, while creating new customers for traditional brick and mortar stores.”
The Dark Horse Bookshelf app will be available on iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone. Comics can also be purchased and read on modern web browsers at the Dark Horse Digital Store. Launching in January 2011 with comics priced at $1.49 per issue—50 cents lower than the industry standard—the Dark Horse Bookshelf app will be available for download from the iTunes Store and online at digital.darkhorse.com. To drive customers to brick and mortar retailers, the app and Web site will also include links to local comic shops.
Launching with over 150 titles including Dark Horse’s wildly popular horror anthology Creepy, Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and B.P.R.D., Joss Whedon’s Fray and Serenity, Felicia Day’s The Guild, BioWare’s Mass Effect, Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Gerard Way’s Umbrella Academy, Eric Powell’s The Goon and many more, the pricing at the Dark Horse Digital Store offers readers unprecedented value. While single-issue comics will be available at the low price point of $1.49, Dark Horse will also offer an extensive list of free introductory #1 issues. The Dark Horse Digital Store’s comic bundles will group together story arcs spanning multiple issues into easily affordable packages, allowing readers to get the three or four issues that comprise a complete narrative at manageable prices from $2.99 to $5.99. Starting in February 2011, some Dark Horse titles will feature synchronized release in both the digital and print formats.
Dark Horse also has a plan in place that will allow retailers at comic shops and bookstores to offer rea
Kind of lost in the scrum at New York Comic Con, even Disney was getting in on the digital comics bandwagon. At the ICv2 Comics and Digital conference, Dario Di Zanni had some pretty confidant things to say about the future of ebooks. Disney has been doing Digital Books for a while — a subscription service for kids to read kids books on the web. With their growing comics publishing ventures — not to mention the team-up with Marvel — a close eye should be paid on what Disney is planning, and it sounds pretty ambitious:
It was during their Mickey Mouse discussion that Disney began to really stress their commitment to digital comic books, going as far as stating that their goal was to have everything published in both print and digital from now on. In the end of November, Disney will be releasing the “Epic Mickey” graphic novel on the Apple App Store with the first issue (of six) being available for free. The remaining issues will be available as a bundle for $8.99.
LongBox, the long brewing desktop app for purchasing digital comics, has just gone to version 1.1 and announced that it will be bundled with Norton Ink’s upcoming ADAM tablet, which features a Pixel Qi screen which enables it to be read in even bright sunlight. PR on the move below, but CEO Rantz Hoseley also stopped to chat with Bleeding Cool and reveal some of the reasons why a desktop store is still useful in a world filled with proprietary apps:
I think the ‘Branded App’ approach that a number of publishers have done on the iPad or iPhone is exactly what I had mentioned at a SDCC 09 panel that the industry needed to avoid. For years now, publishers have hesitated to jump into the digital stream, in part, because of the concern of hurting the Direct Market retailers… I honestly thought, based on all of the discussions with creators, publishers, and the various digital companies that comic were going to prove to be smarter than the music, film, TV and videogame businesses, by NOT repeating the same mistakes those industries made. In all of those cases, as they started in the digital space, there was the ‘Sony’ store, the ‘Warner Bros Music’ store, where you could just get their content. Now, those companies make the majority of their revenue from services such as Amazon Digital, iTunes, Zune, Steam, Netflix, etc.
We’re rapidly becoming a ‘cloud’ entertainment society… that your purchase of digital content goes through a multi-channel service, that allows you to access it anywhere, any time. The ‘Publisher App’ just runs counter to that trend, and hence attracts the existing fans… which again, neither grows the market, and has a higher potential for damaging the DM channel, because you are only appealing to people who know these comics, who are passionate about that company’s characters and brands that they are willing to hunt down the app, download it, and pay a price higher than what the casual digital entertainment consumer does. It comes down to the goal… are you building for the long term, or are you simply looking for short term gain.
It’s a salient point. The .mp3 is a pretty universal music format — ecomics coming in a variety of systems and platforms. Is simpler better?
LongBox, Inc. announced today their partnership with Notion Ink, the company behind the much-anticipated ADAM tablet. The partnership places the LongBox Digital Platform as the exclusive pre-installed service for purchasing, cataloguing and reading digital comics on all four of Notion Ink’s announced tablets, as well as any other tablets or portable devices utilizing Notion Ink’s Genesis system over the next two years.
“We’re incredibly excited about this”, said LongBox, Inc. CEO Rantz Hoseley. “Our goal from the very beginning has been to expand the market for comics and graphic novels beyond the current audience served by the print market, so OEM partnerships have been a key focus for the platform. Having a partnership with Notion Ink… ensuring that LongBox Digital will be part of the core entertainment system on all ADAM tablets side by side with their eBook, TV, music and film services… well, that really is a dream come true for us.”
Notion Ink’s ADAM tablet garnered the attention of the tech industry, and Hoseley himself, at CES with its Pixel Qi screen. The dual-mode technology makes it possible to read the screen like color ePaper in bright sunlight, or as a normal LCD screen in dim surroundings. The power of wha
Another jam packed and fascinating discussion among people who have a lot to say. nycParticipants:
Print vs. Digital–War, Co-existence, or Collaboration
Publishers, retailers, and others on how the digital revolution will impact on print sales.
- Ted Adams, CEO of IDW Publishing
- Eric Beaulieu, Vice President Premedia, Transcontinental Transmedia
- Dave Bowen, Director of Digital Distribution, Diamond Comic Distributors
- David Gabriel, Senior Vice President of Marvel Comics
- Alison Hendon, Youth Selection Team Leader, Brooklyn Public Library
- John Riley, owner of Grasshopper Comics
- Moderated by Calvin Reid, Senior News Editor, Publishers Weekly
Again, thanks to Milton Griepp for making the audio files available to us.
This is easily one of the most interesting panels I have ever participated in. The panel consisted of:
The Medium and the Message–Digital and Creativity
How will the digital medium affect how comics are created?
- Mark Waid, Chief Creative Officer, BOOM! Studios
- Dave Baxter, Deputy Director of Robot Comics and Senior Agent at Killing the Grizzly
- Alex de Campi, Writer, Director
- Douglas Wolk, Author
- Rantz Hoseley, CEO, Longbox
- Mark Siegel, Editorial Director, First Second Books
- Moderated by Heidi MacDonald, The Beat
Unfortunately, the recording is missing the very beginning of the panel, with Dave Baxter’s answer to my question of how they had decided to approach digital comics to begin with. Luckily it includes Alex di Campi’s
View Next 11 Posts
Gareth Hinds is a very accomplished artist (and former Xeric winner) whose comics adaptations of classic literature have found a home at Candlewick Press. His full color Odyssey adaptation just came out, and there’s a nice story about it in today’s PW.
While we were looking around for some art to illustrate the story, we came on Hinds’ own page for the book and were struck by the “embeddable comics preview” on the page, which he said was developed by Candlewick:
Candlewick has released a short preview, using some new “widget” technology which enables it to be easily embedded in any blog or webpage. There are still a few rough spots in the implementation, but it’s pretty handy. See below — and feel free to repost it elsewhere!
The embed is available in different sizes, but as you can see, one is too small and the other is the wrong size for a comics page. The code suggests this was developed by Random House, and while we haven’t seen it used elsewhere, it seems pretty handy — embedding allows quickly sharing media for viral penetration — if only they could get it to a size where you could actually read the comic.
Issuu also allows embeddable comics and magazine, as with this issue of Comics Comics (woot!)
but we’ve always found it really hard to navigate and linking is impossible.
Embedding tech makes sharing very easy, but on the other hand, we STILL never found what we were looking for — a page of Odyssey interior art we could easily cut ‘n paste to showcase the book’s art.
What do y’all think? Is embedding previews necessary or desirable?