Answering Shawn Pryor

Shawn Pryor, the mastermind behind PKD Media (and the Noisy Award nominated podcast PKD Media Black Box) asked on Twitter what on the surface seems to be a very simple question:  “If you were able to buy a digital comic book that came with a PDF/eBook/CBZ/CBR/Kindle version (all DRM free) would you buy it for 2.99?”

My immediate answer was “ It depends on the comic book.”

However, as I thought about it more, I was dissatisfied with my answer. Yes, it depends on the comic book, but since Shawn is the Founder of Action Lab Entertainment, I’m pretty sure this isn’t just a random question, but rather a harbinger of his company’s plans and it should be answered with a little more consideration.

So here it is my little more consideration:

The $2.99 price point is a decent one for the big comic book companies releasing dozens of comic books a month to a mainstream audience. Personally, I think $2.50 is a much sweeter spot and anything lower than that is ridiculous if the companies want to make a profit on their overall line. However, $2.99 is too much for a digital comic book because I believe that most comic book buyers see digital as something that is in addition to and not as a replacement for comic books. I think that if a comic book were ordered from an online retailer (either an publisher’s site, a regular online store or from the website of their LCS ) and a digital version were offered to for immediate download while the physical copy was in transit, most people wouldn’t bat an eye at getting both.

[Notice that I said comic book BUYERS. There are a lot of comic book readers out there who download digital comics with no intention of ever buying it, whether it is a physical or digital copy. Those people shouldn’t even factor into any future digital plans, so don’t sweat them.]

Since PKD Media is a small but up and coming publisher, they don’t have a track record with most of the comic book buyers. This can work in their favor because a lot of their probable digital comic book consumers will be familiar with their work and would be more inclined to take a chance on their titles.

I am glad that Shawn isn’t even considering DRM because that helps no one except for the companies that sell DRM “solutions” and their employees.

I know this isn’t really all that coherent or well researched, but if it was, it really wouldn’t be a Derek Coward production, you know? I hope this helps a little, Shawn. And whatever PKD decides to do, do it for the long-term and don’t change your mind after a few months

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2 thoughts on “Answering Shawn Pryor”

  1. Nice post. A comment for the 2.50 price point – I believe, if Shawn were to sell a comic through something like Comixology which goes through iTunes, Apple has a standard of prices ending in .99 cents. Sounds dumb, but that was the recent case for Erik Larsen as he made Savage Dragon day-and-date digital. The print SD sells for 3.50, but the digital will sell for 3.99. He wanted to do 3.50, but Apple dictates price up to 3.99.

    That's really all I can add, but I just felt like commenting.

    1. Apple fucked me over with Deliberate Noise and the iTunes directory so any dumbassery they commit, I believe without sourcing.

      What they did to Savage Dragon in that instance was stupid and will do nothing to help accelerate the adoption of paid digital comics as a viable alternative.

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