Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Monkey Pipe Studios - digital editions pt 2

I've been thinking about this quite a lot recently.

A real key factor to this was the realization that I create comics at a personal level for satisfaction.

Sure there is the small hope that this will one day become a money making venture, but for the most it is something I really enjoy doing, something which keeps my mind active, and keeps me learning new things.

With that in mind, I've been toying with the idea of having a completely open digital platform for the MPS website - that is to offer downloadable PDFs of each title from the site, free of charge.

Why?

Most of the stories will be going up as webcomic updates anyway - why not make it easy for people to own copies of the comics?

Which comics?

Here's the key, I will check with all creators involved in each book, and see how they feel. If they want to, the digital copies will be available as downloads. If not, they won't.

The store will still be up and running, and will be offering physical copies of every book I have a hand in. The physical copies will come at different levels - basic book, book with sketch card/collectors card/mini-print etc, and sketch cover edition - with prices on each level at a graded amount (something like $5/10/20).

There would be a slight delay to offering the free digital copies.

First available would be the physical copies.

Secondly, we would update the webcomic pages, one page per week.

Finally, once the webcomic has finished serializing an issue, the digital download would become available, and the next physical issue would then become available for purchase.

With this in mind, I really want to be operating far enough ahead on each title on the website to ensure that a flow can continue.

We're still a while away from the full site launch, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

4 comments:

Tyler James said...

I think it's all about what your goal is. Some loose thoughts:

- Why leave it up to your creative team to decide on distribution matters? Unless it's a straight up co-creator, shared IP, shared responsibility for promoting, etc. situation, I personally want to have control over how the book is distributed. I want the freedom to figured out what works best for each book.

- I'd suggest you do what Brad Guigar is doing with his webcomic. He has a 30 day buffer or so, and has been selling PDFs and other digital formats of the books containing essentially next month's webcomic content, for a reasonable price. So fans of the comic who want a collected experience to read on their tablets can choose to buy it that way, and support the creator at the same time.

- My ideal hybrid system would be: Physical copy available and digital PDF available on the same day as a new issue of that webcomic starts uploading. Both are premium products and are sold. The webcomic is the freebie.

The physical copy always has a cost associated with it, because atoms are never free to you, the creator.

But you might start a discount program on the PDFs for older content.

- What I think you'll encourage with your system, even in active, supportive readers, is:
1) Don't bother with the webcomic.
2) Wait until the PDF is free each month.

That's leaving money on the table...and potentially reader eyes and attention.

That said, if your goal is simply to be read, give it all away.

Then again, there's a TON of free content out there. As you've found with some of your experiments in the past, a FREE price tag doesn't guarantee attention anymore.

Jamie Gambell said...

This is all true. The act of publishing a webcomic is giving it away for free.

Perhaps a section on the site where one can download first issues of books that have been going for a while, of tasters and previews etc...

I think at the moment, it's such an open field - one can either try to keep up with what everyone is doing, and risk getting lost in the signal, or they can try something new.

Day and date physical and digital seems to be something people want, and to have a model in place which allows for a download of the digital copy when a physical copy is bought would be good too.

It's the ongoing struggle to find one's own value, and therefore price, in this game!

Gerimi said...

I wonder whether it would be better to make the new content, latest issue free and charge for the back issues, old PDFs? Maybe adding back matter/"Making of" content to the old PDFs or the Collected digital editions.

Jamie Gambell said...

That might be a cool idea, to have a time period during which the newest issue is available as a free download - then making them a micro-payment item.

It's a little bit of a vicious circle for me, I need to produce a run of a book (like Hero Code) in order for it to seem reliable and be taken seriously, but also need to build an audience for it. Giving it away for free would build an audience, but would it build a following?

Everyone is aiming for the magic small percentage of premium fans who support the product to build the audience, which you need in order to find that small percentage of premium fans, etc etc