Pay Attention, Comics
This article at GigaOm by Darrell Etherington points to what I’ve long thought of as the elephant in the room in all discussions of the comics industry: comics’ crappy cost-to-minute ratio.
While subscriptions might be an important part of the solution as Etherington suggests, I personally think that a 99 cents price point could be attractive for a one-off comics story. IF that comic was 50 pages long AND formatted to the screen.
Kurt Busiek has long made the argument that comic books took a wrong turn decades ago when they started cutting pages to keep the price the same. That less satisfying read plus a product not earning its shelf space for retailers, led to fewer copies sold, the loss of the economies of scale, and even higher prices in the long run; while in Japan, Manga’s cheap phone book sized anthologies were selling in the millions.
Now we actually have the opportunity, through a potentially more efficient distribution channel, to get prices down AND bulk up the page count (no printing cost for pixels!). Let’s not make the same mistake twice.
Rule #1: Is your comic a satisfying read?
Rule #2: Is the price low enough that your readers won’t mind paying it again and again?
Rule #3: See Rule #1. Repeat.