Marvel Pricing Digital Comics Three Times Higher Than Paper Copies [Updated]
from the economics failure dept
Adam sends over a link to Scott Kurtz’s discussion concerning Marvel’s decision to price its digital comics for the iPad higher than paper copies. (Update: as is noted in the comments, it looks like it’s not actually 3x the cost, but it still priced higher than the paper copy). As Kurtz notes, this serves no good consumer purpose whatsoever, and only serves to keep retailers happy:
I wish this made sense to me. The only reason to price the digital copy at 6 dollars is to keep retailers happy. It’s not in service of Marvel readers and it’s certainly not in service of expanding Marvel’s audience. I have a lot of friends discovering Marvel comics for the first time through the iPad app. Paying for 1/3 of a comic for the same price they normally pay for a whole comic is not something they’ll appreciate or understand. I get Marvel’s desire to make a move like this without spooking retailers or Diamond. It’s like a scuba-diver pacing his rise to the surface to avoid getting the bends. But what does Marvel risk by scaring off potential new digital customers by pricing a virtual copy of a comic higher than the physical copy you get to keep? And for what? To keep retailers happy?
Of course, we’ve seen this before. Incumbent businesses have legacy relationships. And one of the reasons why they’re often so slow to shift to smart new business models is because it will upset those legacy relationships. But if your upstart competitors don’t have those relationships and can route around them entirely to offer a better product for less, you’re going to get hung up by your legacy relationships. Kurtz suggests that Marvel stop worrying about retailers and focus on consumers for once:
The only problem with that thinking is that Marvel Comics isn’t in the business of keeping retailers solvent. Marvel Comics is in the business of producing and distributing comic books to as many readers as possible. At least it SHOULD be. And if digital distribution has a chance of being more profitable than brick-and-mortar store distribution then Marvel owes it to its readers, creators and stock holders to pursue that business without having to worry about someone else’s business for nostalgia’s sake.
Marvel should take a page out of Steve Job’s notebook on this one. Be visionary and push ahead no matter who it pisses off. Especially if it’s good for the company, readers and the industry itself.
It’s easier said than done, but not doing it can be a lot more costly in the long run.