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Digital Pricing - What's fair?

edited April 2013 in Do The Work
I started a thread about this on my facebook and twitter, but wanted to open it up to the group and get everyone's feedback / input. How much should one charge for digital comics? Single issues, graphic novels, etc.

In looking at Comixology, it seems like most books are either $.99 or $1.99, with a few larger format (ie: 48+ page) books running at $2.99-$3.99.

Since Comixology and iVerse have opened themselves to accepting indie books (after a lengthy review process), wanted to see if anyone had any luck with certain price points, or noticed any trends or industry averages. Or, share you opinion - how much should digital copies cost?

Comments

  • I would go $1.99 for singles (and by singles I'm thinking 28 pages of content), I've heard that called the magic price that people won't balk at.  Graphic novels depend on size, but my lowest price would be $7.99.
  • I'd agree with the $1.99 line for traditional singles in digital form. If you wanted to charge that much for something shorter, you should definitely have additional backmatter (sketches, script, concept art, something). As a consumer, I always thought a decent price for GNs was a little cheaper than buying all the issues collected (and I know you're talking about OGNs, but bear with me...). So a 112-page OGN should cost less than if you were buying 112 pages of 4 28-page singles. How much less depends on how much you can afford to get away with. I'd think anything up to one issue less than total page count would be a decent idea (using the above numbers - $5.99 for 112-page OGN). Seeing that always pushes me over the "that's about right" hump into the "oooohhh, that's a good deal and I should really think about getting this" category, which then adds another 'yes' vote to anything that strikes me about the writing/art.

    Plus, I think people will tend to think (rightly or wrongly) that digital should be noticeably cheaper than print, and the more you can get away with making the digital copy closer to a cheaper price, the more impulse buys you'll potentially have.

    A caveat: this is my uninformed opinion by someone who doesn't have to (yet) make a living or profit off this stuff, so take my "go as cheap as possible" advice with a healthy grain of salt.


  • When we did "Spirit of the Law" through MonkeyBrain and comiXology, it was going to be 22 pp. at $1.99 — until we found out that MonkeyBrain's $.99 titles were selling twice as well as their $1.99 titles. So we cut it in half and made each of the two issues $0.99.

    Right now, I'd do 22 pp. for $1.99 and shorter stuff (up to maybe 16 pp) for $0.99.

    Added complication is that Apple forces everything to end in $.99, so you can't do a title for, say, $1.50 through comiXology.
  • Interesting article here about Amazon vs. Kindle pricing for digital comics, and the problems in coordinating both:


    My personal take is that comics should cost what the consumer is willing to pay, and that depends on the quality of the comic. 
  • edited April 2013
    Interesting note on quality/price debate Jay. In my day job as a web developer we are aware of a phenomenon called the 'penny barrier' - this is a notional price point you can apply to online services taht are free, and that people happily use - but that they wouldn't pay a single penny for, despite the quality.

    Things like google search tools,  gmail, hotmail, news sites etc  - weird dynamic on the web is this sense of entitlement it seems to have fostered. I've certainly heard folk complain biterly about digital comics pricing, it's a tricky balance.
  • edited April 2013
    My personal take is that comics should cost what the consumer is willing to pay, and that depends on the quality of the comic. 
    I agree with the first part of this, but I'm not sure how much quality really factors into most readers' thinking like this.  That is, they don't seem willing to pay more for a comic just because the writing or art are really good, they're just more/less willing to pay whatever the standard price is.

    Instead the focus seems to be almost entirely on the cost of production (and by "production", I mostly mean printing and distribution ... the notion that creators need to be paid escapes them).  They tolerated price increases in the 1990s that were explained by higher printing costs (read: "our print runs are a fraction of what they used to be"), and now when you take the printing out of the equation altogether, they apparently expect prices to drop to 1990 levels.
  • I would note that it's also based a false idea of the cost of production and distribution (distribution here being the shipping an warehousing) - which only accounts for, at most, ten percent of the cost of a comic by the big two. Now, we're not the big two, but that's what sets expectation.
  • And the virtual nature of comics (or movies, music) feels insubstantial next to a physical object. Psychologically, I don't think we've fully made the transition yet.
  • If I were producing pure digital comics, I'd be aiming for about $.99 for a short single (roughly about 12-16 pages of content, probably best if it's drawn as 22-28 screens of content, so half US comic book size).

    Interesting discussion with Becky Cloonan on facebook the other day: her sales on comixology in one month, where higher than her other digital comic sales combined. That's interesting because, as many of you will know, comixology offer the smallest percentage of cover price to the creator, but, based on her numbers it's likely she still made more money through comixology than any other way.

    (Now granted that was a) the launch month, and comixology pushed Becky and b) the other digital formats, including iBook and Kindle, are rubbish and not in any way effective comic readers)

    -pj

  • My sales from any digital source that isn't Comixology are a fraction of Comixology. And not a large fraction. Comixology is easily 95% + of them.
  • So the others are not worth doing doing? Or worth doing because you make enough to justify the effort, and you may as well make every penny you can?
  • If it weren't something that automatically happened, I wouldn't bother. Looking at my last accruals, 95% is drastically understating. We made about fifty bucks from non Comixology sources, and about five grand from Comixology.

    Now, this might not be the case for someone who is doing sales directly from their website. Becky, for instance, does a lot of self pubbed mini comics and such, and so her income could be wildly different than mine. But for me, Comixology is wildly, worryingly dominant.
  • I've heard people say they weren't sure about submitting to comixology because they take so much of the money (compared to simply selling via your own website or via iBooks/kindle) but, based on those kind of numbers that's a real cutting your nose off to spite your face decision.

    -pj
  • Everybody I know that reads legally bought comics, uses Comixology, and I don´t mean creators, but regular comic book readers. I have comics on Graphic.Ly (and thanks to that in Amazon Kindle) and I have yet to see any money. 
  • I'm only coming from a reader perspective, I'm not at the publishing your stuff online yet, however, in this day and age its all about what you spend your money on. What I mean by that is that the internet has created a very intelligent consumer that has ways of judging whether they love a property or creative team well enough in order to pay money for it. So to answer your question I feel that digital pricing is indicated by amount of loyalty given to your project by your audience. So if your a well known name then you price it to whatever you feel is necessary. If your a person who is just trying to make it one day, your lucky that someone is looking at your stuff at all, so you really probably wouldn't want to charge anything and just make it free.

    But if money is necessary, I would say .99 cents because as a consumer it doesn't hurt my wallet and if you have cover that strikes my fancy, I would at least check out the 1st issue and see what its about.
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