DC Comics launches new digital comics strategy Wednesday

It began with music. It continued with movies, TV shows, books and magazines. Now the revolution in offering entertainment via digital means is just beginning to expand to the comic book industry. While sales of comics offered via download currently pale in comparison to their print editions DC Comics is about to make a big leap into this medium. Beginning on Wednesday with the launch of the new Justice League comic, DC will begin offering all of its DC Universe comic books via download on the same day that the printed editions are offered for sale in comic book stores.

The new strategy is part of an overall relaunch of the entire DC Universe-based comic book line. After Justice League 1 comes out on Wednesday, the entire month of September will see 51 more number 1 issues from DC Comics. The digital versions will be priced the same as the print editions ($2.99 for the regular sized comics and $3.99 for comics with some extra pages). However the digital prices of those same comics will be reduced by $1 a month after they are released. DC Comics will offer the digital versions via Comixology, which lets comic book fans download and read comics on their PC and Mac and also via apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 devices.

In a USA Today article, it points out that transferring the comic book pages to digital form is not as easy as it might sound. Reading a digital comic page on a tablet like the iPad is simple but for smaller smartphone screens like the iPhone programmers must break up the panels of each page so they can be read clearly and in the right order. ComiXology CEO David Steinberger says the company is prepared for what it expects will be a surge in business for the DC Comics relaunch, saying, "We've been rearranging servers and setting scalability and updating the app."

Image via DC Comics

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Yeah, I'll be buying the real deal (to support the industry and local comic shops) and "acquiring" them to read digitally on the iPad... while I prefer digital, I'm not going to pay the same price for a comic that I'm essentially renting for as long as DC or Comixolgy keep them available online... also, where's the option that if I *do* buy them digitally, I can get paper versions sent to me at a "plus shipping and handling" price.... ?

Gunzip said,
Yeah, I'll be buying the real deal (to support the industry and local comic shops) and "acquiring" them to read digitally on the iPad... while I prefer digital, I'm not going to pay the same price for a comic that I'm essentially renting for as long as DC or Comixolgy keep them available online... also, where's the option that if I *do* buy them digitally, I can get paper versions sent to me at a "plus shipping and handling" price.... ?

+1

i think ill stick with my paper copy's! there something about have a paper comic! would be nice to buy the paper copy and get the digital copy for free! now that would get more people onto your service!

lflashl said,
i think ill stick with my paper copy's! there something about have a paper comic! would be nice to buy the paper copy and get the digital copy for free! now that would get more people onto your service!
This. Some subscription mags do this already but some still are not on board with it.

The only trick to keeping the collector market is to offer limited edition digital versions. In the future, it should not matter whether we own issue #xxxx on paper or the digital version - which is where DRM works.

People are still stuggling with digital media, and the DRM backlash didn't help, as people saw it as evil, yet it is the reason companies like Audible.com and other were able to exist. The next step is that instead of traditional DRM, digital copies are highly encrypted with a unique serial number that is transferable. A variation of private public key method could be used so that two people could exchange digital copies, without involving an authenication service.

There are places DRM is needed, and unique serial numbers for digital content is needed. This is NOT a bad thing for things that 'precious' or need to exist in limited quanities. Movie rentals, DRM is even needed, but less important. Movie purchases cannot exist in a digital world without DRM.

And good analogy of overcoming the DRM concept is to change out the words: I bought a new Music Album today on (vinyl, 8-track, cassette, CD, DRM)... Instead of seeing DRM as a lock, it should be seen as how 'non-fake' versions of something can exist in a digital world. So it becomes the 'medium/media' or more accurately the layer of the media/medium that lets it exist as a unique item.

Digital at some point in the future truly replace all print and other forms of media. This has happened before, as we moved from writing on walls and stone to writing on animal skin to writing on paper and also moving to the printing press of writing on paper.

These transitions were just as hard, but living 'past' them, we don't get how they are same. People would have thought it was 'handy' to have a rolled up skin with writings/pictures, but other people of the time would have seen it as having less value, as it wasn't 'locked' to a physical location, like the cave wall it was drawn on. So the location importance was removed, which you can find when studying history and even theology.

So digital is the next evolution, until the next one comes, where we are storing data directly in our biology, and then quantum concepts that seem like magic now.

thenetavenger said,
The only trick to keeping the collector market is to offer limited edition digital versions. In the future, it should not matter whether we own issue #xxxx on paper or the digital version - which is where DRM works......

Quick questions:
1. What about making back-ups or copies for those just in case moments?
2. If there are people/programs that can bypass DRM encryption, what's stopping them from decrypting this?
3. You note that "two people could exchange digital copies"; wouldn't this not sit so well with content publishers?

The digital versions will be priced the same as the print editions

FAIL.

IMHO DC Comics should do :

a) comic quality, they must get rid of those lousy artist can hurts some franchises.
b) move their core as a franchise company instead of a comic seller business.
c)) use comics as a way to push a franchise.

Seams that comic book people have the same thinking as gaming people.

Charging the same amount for a digital version as a physical one. At least they openly say they will drop a dollar each month after but what do they bottom out at? Free? I doubt that. Guess I will either be on a month or more delay on the digital versions or just buy the physical print versions at my local shop.

I will also believe their server changes when I see it. The free issues of Mass Effect a month or so ago was total chaos.