At The Sci-Fi Block, Robert Ring talked to BOOM! Studios Marketing Director Chip Mosher about the company's decision to put its backlist online. This seems to have expanded the publisher's market rather than cannibalize print sales, and Mosher explains why:
Before we went whole-hog, spread-eagle on making the whole BOOM! Studios back list available, we parsed the data and found out that 40% of the consumers of our digital comics are foreign. They are overseas, outside the country. So, that was really interesting. And that has stayed true. In the other surveys we’ve done we’ve found that about 20% of the people had never bought a comic book before, and then the rest were people who just hadn’t been to a comic shop in the last ten years.
He goes on to say that it's a false analogy to compare the digitization of comics to the music business, because comics are consumed differently: For the existing fan base, going to the comic store and getting the print comic is part of the experience. Digital comics are a way to reach the millions of people who never set foot in a comics store.
Not too surprisingly, Mosher allows that converting the comics to a digital format is a pain in the neck, and he thinks the $1.99 price point is just fine. And he also makes an interesting point, that comics are the last bastion of serialized storytelling:
I think Tom Wolfe has serialized a couple of his novels in Rolling Stone, but I think the last time that happened was over ten years ago. I remember Bonfire of the Vanities was in the eighties, and I think that he did A Man in Full in the nineties, but I don’t think people are acclimated to month-to-month storytelling, so my interest right now is just [asking], “Can we get more than 200,000 people interested in reading comics in whatever form -- digital or print -- in a month-to-month periodical basis, or should our focus be on done-in-one storytelling as in, for instance, graphic novels?” -- whether that’s a good thing to promote.