Digital Comics
Will Diamond Comics and iVerse’s Digital Comic Book Newsstand Work?
By Hervé St-Louis
February 10, 2011 - 09:37

I’ve been very busy in the mobile world this year and last. I’m currently at a mobile event somewhere on the planet. My daily work with mobile takes a greater and greater share of my time. In 2010, The Comic Book Bin released three ComicBookBin apps and many more updates for Apple iOS, Google Android and HP webOS. The world of comic books has been strongly taken a look at digital comics and their Web cousins for a while now. The news that Diamond Comics with the help of iVerse Comics, a publisher of mobile comics apps, have found a way to keep comic book stores in the loop of the emerging digital comic book is good news. We, at The Comic Book Bin, with our emphasis on comic book conventions and store locator features within our apps that actually work can only commend this effort. But will it work?

Let’s break this down. Comic book customers will be able to redeem a coupon at participating comic book stores who will print them a coupon that will allow them to download a digital version of any comic book from participating publishers for 99 cents. All retailers require are a printer and an Internet connection. Retailers will somehow also be able to sell their back issues through this service. Little details are available.

The Good

Use of An Extensive Sales Channel
This program is genuinely trying to keep comic book retailers in the loop of the digital developments with comic books. As the press release claims, there are over 2,700 comic book stores in Diamond Comics’ distribution channel. Leveraging them for new sales is a good idea.

Pioneering Sales Model
This sales model is potentially unique in all of the new technology industry. There have been online to mortar sales models before, but very few mortars to online sales models. What the partnering companies are proposing is interesting.

Back Issue Model Could Be Useful
Although quite sketchy at this point the back issue model could prove the real dark horse in this new venture.

The Bad

Not a Direct Process
The same way the mortar to online sales model seems new and interesting, it is also risky because the techworld seems to have shunt it for some reason. It feels like Diamond and iVerse are trying to put back the genie in the lamp.

What Is the Mobile Solution?
There are no words on any integration of this model with a mobile solution? On what platform will readers get to see their digital comics?

Not Enough Headliner Material
Some of the participating publishers are important enough, some are not. To entice users to use this, there’s a need for solid properties from select and recognizable publishers. The content has to appeal to current comic book readers that visit comic book stores.

Security, Portability and Piracy
The press release says the system is secured, but how so? Will it prevent piracy? How will users consume this data? Will they be able to port those digital comics from one device to another or will they have to pay another fee every time? What is the breakdown that Diamond and iVerse propose to enable security, portability and to prevent piracy?

Not Enough Preparation Time
Has Diamond Comics made the system simple enough for participating retailers to understand it and use it properly? What kind of training resources are available for stores and their employees?

This system is good, but it won’t cut it for long. I see this as a stop gap measure, but having poured through this and using the intelligence I have and experience with mobile apps development and deployment both related to comics and non comics content, I see far better models out there that would benefit retailers better and be simpler for them, their staff and users to use. The Diamond Comics, iVerse proposal is at best a temporary stop gap measure that aims to keep comic book stores in the loop of the digital distribution system, but effectively and ultimately, weakens them further.

About the author
Hervé St-Louis is the founding publisher of The Comic Book Bin and the developer of the ComicBookBin apps. Having successfully defended a master’s thesis in January 2011 on cyber security where he had to do intensive and original research and develop unique methodological models to analyzing Twitter transient data during the Iranian political unrest following the 2009 presidential election. St-Louis works full time as a developer and has created several other mobile, Web and interactive apps.  He’s written several articles on business and the comic book industry such as the business plan for comic book creator series available at The Comic Book Bin. St-Louis has also been published scholarly articles and presented at several conferences on his research topic - Iranian Political Unrest on Twitter.

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