Marvel Comics has opened a new on-line comics store on Marvel.com, powered by comiXology. It offers “hundreds of collections” and other titles, and allows access to those titles from anywhere, including via the Marvel Comics iOS and Android devices. It is also cross-compatible with the Marvel Comics on Chrome store, meaning that purchases made through Chrome will show up on Marvel.com.
Perhaps most importantly, if you purchase a digital comic on Marvel.com, you can now read it on the Marvel Comics app for your iOS or Android device. This will allow for a more complete digital comic reading experience that will allow all of our consumers to purchase an issue online and read it wherever they go on their iPad, iPhone, or Android devices.
That’s certainly one way to get around Apple’s 30% revenue bite. (Found via GalleyCat.)
Marvel has been making a lot of impressive moves with its digital comics lately, including bundling a free digital version with every print edition sold. Though to a certain extent this is because Marvel is doing what publishers everywhere should be doing: using new media to boost sales of old media, and not putting all its eggs in one basket.
It’s been widely reported that the comic book market has been dying out, killed by disillusionment after the “Death of Superman”, and I was all set to perpetuate the cliché when I wrote this…but when I looked up some sales figures, it doesn’t appear to be strictly true. The overall estimated market size for newsstand comics and bookstore trade paperback sales has doubled from 1997 to 2011. And while Diamond’s Top 300 Comic Books only sold about 3/4 as many units in 2011 as they did in 1997, that’s still 72.13 million copies per month.
Nonetheless, Marvel has been very heavily pushing comic book movies over the last decade or so, and has been coming up with more hits than misses, culminating in The Avengers which set a new world record for the best opening weekend for any movie, ever. If The Avengers sets a new record for total revenue, too, that’s tens or hundreds of millions of dollars more in Marvel’s pocket from just the one film. Just as newspapers have found they can mine their existing content for e-book sales, Marvel is mining its own IP to build a stellar film franchise.
(Its closest competitor, DC, doesn’t seem to have done so well. With the exception of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movies, most of its own tries at film adaptations have fizzled.)
I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel’s take from movies and merchandising dwarfed the income from pure comics. No surprise Disney bought Marvel for more than four billion dollars a couple of years ago. Perhaps that’s why Marvel feels free to make these bold digital moves that publishers would never make for fear of damaging their market—comics aren’t its sole source of income anymore, and haven’t been for quite some time.