By Hervé St-Louis
January 21, 2008 - 09:00
There are specific aspects that are difficult to deal with at many comic book publishers’ Websites. These include solicited material, images of published books, lack of proper search engines and convoluted Website interfaces.
Many publishers send us press releases without images. Even though we keep reminding them that we need these images because they cut our work in half, they often don’t include them in their releases. That means we have to look for them on their Websites. Many publishers have no clear way of separating what has been published from what has not. Also, when they do have solicited information, it is not organized by date or offer complete information. Many publishers also neglect to include large enough images for downloads. I don’t understand how someone can think that adding a tiny image of a visual intensive product can help sell said product. Make those images large and easy to download!
If you are really afraid that people will copy the image of the cover of your book, then you have serious issues to deal with. It’s a cover. Wake up! It’s meant to sell your books. Make it BIG and easy to redistribute.
Images of Published Books
Often looking for the cover of an old comic book published a few years back is difficult. Some publishers think that they should remove such information after a few months. Don’t! Leave all these pages up and easy to access. Publishers should think about making their sites as user friendly as possible and understanding why their customers go to their Websites in the first place.
Lack of Proper Search Engines
One of the greatest deficiencies of comic book publishers is the lack of a suitable search engine that visitors can use to quickly locate information. Many have such search engines, but the results are not targeted and all over the place. I have personally tried the search engine of several comic book publishers’ Websites about books they have published and could not find decent results quickly. This is a problem that is generalized with all comic book publishers, whether they publish alternative material, super heroes, licensed properties or manga adaptations.
Convoluted Website Interfaces
Publishers seem to not understand what people who come on their Websites are looking for. Most likely, they are looking specific information on a comic book and may not be interested in sifting through a complicated “community.” Publishers often think that spotlighting their entire movie and licensing deals on the first page is what readers are looking for. Others pretend to be comic book magazines with news releases, articles and interviews taking up m ore space than books for sale. Some offer so many choices in their menus that it’s as if they were ashamed of being seen as comic book publishers, preferring the umbrella of the entertainment venue. Well, here’s a wakeup call. Before being a media conglomerate/first class entertainment venue, the core of your business is comic books. Put them in front and everything else in the back.
It is better to split the site into another one or giving it a subsection that only takes care of media related information, without forgetting about your core clientele which the last time I checked for all major comic book publishers has not changed.
A comic book publisher’s Website is supposed to showcase what they do first and foremost which usually is also what pays the bills at the end of the month. That press representatives and visitors have to struggle through the Websites of Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf Comix, Devil’s Due, Boom Studios, IDW Publishing, Tokyopop, Viz, Archie Comics, NBM, First Second Book and many more in order to find simple information quickly, is unacceptable and a detriment to the comic book industry. All comic book publishers should seriously reconsider the layouts of their Websites and make them user-friendly.