Archie Comics Embraces Digital As Immediate Delivery System

In the world we are slowly creeping towards, print will be a niche market for alternative communication seekers, collectors, and history buffs. All mainstream media will be provided digitally.

Well, at least that's a distinct possibility. But if it is a possibility, and it is, the print publishers of the world would do well to branch out now and branch out bravely. One comics publisher is, and has been for several years now.

Quite honestly, this is some remarkable recent news we missed:
"Beginning in April, Archie Comics will offer digital versions of its comics on the same day that the print editions arrive on newsstands. The company will be starting with six monthly titles: Archie, Archie & Friends, Betty, Veronica, Betty and Veronica, and Jughead.

“We have a very exciting little business here,” said Jon Goldwater, the co-chief executive of Archie Comics. “We have to keep figuring out ways of pushing it forward.” ... “The more I thought about it, and the more I saw the sales, I realized these formats aren't competitive, they are supportive,” Mr. Goldwater said."

~ from The New York Times Arts Beat blog, George Gene Gustines, January 12, 2011
And the digital edition's price will be a full dollar less per issue. $1.99 instead of $2.99.

Those six titles are the series the company itself described later as "its 6 core titles" in the recent press release wherein it announced that the same material will be offered through the third-party digital comics publisher as well as in Archie's own downloadable iPad app. ("Archie continues to lead the comics industry in embracing the digital medium, as well as making it easier than ever for our fans to get their favorite Archie comics." ( blog, February 16, 2011.) Yeah. Pretty much. Couldn't have said it better.

The move to place their most popular titles in a digital format represents a seriousness in the purpose of this initiative. The fact that Archie Comics, among the oldest publishers of comic-books in America as well as the most often derided, has been the first in America to step up and accept digital is nothing short of remarkable.

That said, will there be a backlash from comics shops fearing a cannibalization of their sales? Probably not. Why? Because comic shops no longer sell many Archie comic-books. Archie has long been a mainstay of the newsstand, itself a shrinking market for the past twenty years. It was pointed out to me by a friend and manager of a NYC comics shop: 'Of course Archie has gone digital before everyone else. They had the least to lose.' This is probably partially true.

In his interview with Ron Richards of iFanboy, Co-CEO Goldwater said: "We value our partners in the direct market [i.e. the non-newsstand, comics retail shops market] ... We see the print and digital reader as two different groups, with some overlap. Some people enjoy going to the shop each week and picking up the hard copies of their titles. Others enjoy the convenience of downloading titles via their mobile devices or tablets." This is probably partially true.

I say: Remarkable nonetheless.


P.S. ~ By the way, again we had a big digital move forward announced on a New Comic-Book Wednesday, i.e. the day of the week new comics arrive at comic shops. I'm beginning to realize that's more than coincidence. Drive a few curious people into comics retail shops to see the physical copies on the day you announce your digital move? Very smart comics publishing world. Very smart.

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