Aaaand We’re Back
Welcome back to our discussion about the future of indie comic books. During the course of my sporadic posts, we touched on the indie publisher Ka-Blam and its online distribution site known as IndyPlanet. In light of a revelation from the online printer/distributor, I felt that we should revisit our discussion to elaborate on the possible benefits for creators and indie publishers.
Back to the Planet
As I alluded to last week, Ka-Blam recently posted an announcement that they intend to launch a direct market comics distribution system. I have some inside knowledge of a certain indie Publisher working as a go-between with Ka-Blam and certain comic shops to get his books on their shelves, but now it appears Ka-Blam is going to take it one step further, making their books available to comic shops directly.
Time to Speculate
Will Ka-Blam create a catalog similar to Previews or will it all be done digitally? If they do go the digital route, how do they intend to make shop owners aware of their site and services?
Here’s how I think this will go down: Ka-Blam will have a “Retailers” page on their IndyPlanet site where retailers can order directly from Ka-Blam. Since Ka-Blam will have to offer retailers a discount that is competitive with Diamond, the cover prices on the retailer page will have to be higher. In other words, average Joes who order their books directly from IndyPlanet can purchase a book with a $3.95 (for example) cover price, but retailers will be offered the same book with a $4.50 cover price. By doing this, retailers get their discount of–say–50 to 60 percent off cover price and still be able to make their money back. Creators and indie publishers will also be able to see profit. The downside, however, is that average Joes will have to pay the $4.50 cover price if they want to purchase the book from their local shop.*
*Note: This was written before ComicsMonkey’s announcement.
Ka-Blam has just launched a site that will become their direct market order page: ComicsMonkey.com. After reading the blog posts–especially the first two paragraphs on the main site–I’m concerned they haven’t given this a great deal of thought.
According to their site, ComicsMonkey will rely exclusively on word of mouth from creators to create public awareness. I think this is extremely shortsighted. An undertaking of this magnitude requires a PR assault that incorporates all media outlets available to them. This would include interviews and press releases on all available comic news sites at the very least. Sending a “sample packet” containing comics, graphic novels, t-shirts, etc. to the top 100 or 200 shops in the United States would also be a sensible move. I realize the site states that they will send sample packets to retailers upon request, but why not be pro-active and get the packets to retailers to generate interest beforehand?
Oh, and I understand that such an undertaking will cost money and time, but no one stands to gain more from this venture than Ka-Blam.
The Bottom Line
Let’s be honest, if I am the sole advocate of ComicsMonkey, I could make more money ordering copies of my books from IndyPlanet at publisher’s cost and selling them to my shop at a discount. So why direct them to a site where I stand to make less?
Listen, indie creators and small publishers must diversify if they wish to succeed in the 21st century. I would never recommend using ComicsMonkey exclusively, but I would consider setting up an account at the very least. After all, I believe they will be changing policies and adapting as they go along. It’s always a rocky road getting something like this up and running, so give them the benefit of the doubt for now.
And who knows… perhaps publishers will inadvertently learn about your books due to another creator making them aware of the ComicsMonkey site.
I Believe it’s Time For Me to Fly
I had to completely rewrite this frakin’ post from scratch after WordPress dumped it. Because of this, I’ve spent way too much time writing what should have been a simple entry. I’m sorry to say you’ve also gotten an abbreviated version of what I wrote earlier. My apologies for the brevity, but it’s time to make the funny books.