Spider-Man Action Figures

WWE Action Figures

home


Go Back   NEWSARAMA > FEATURES

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 04-11-2007, 01:11 PM   #1
MattBrady
 
BECOMING THE FUTURE: DAN VADO ON TAKING SLAVE LABOR DIGITAL

by Chris Arrant

Digital comics have been a big topic in comic circles for years. Several major companies have announced plans to roll out digital versions of their print comics, and some have already done it. One of those is SLG Publishing.

Last summer, SLG Publishing quietly launched EyeMelt.com. EyeMelt.com acts as a division of SLG Publishing, and has become one of the first ventures by established print comics publishers to embrace the digital medium not just for advertising but to deliver full comic books to readers for purchase. While the current count of comics available are less than 100, SLG are slowly adding new titles from it's publishing history to the site. There is currently two price points for downloads at EyeMelt.com, $.69 for previously printed comics and $.89 for new web-exclusive comics. SLG looks to eventually have it's entire publishing catalog to the site, and looks to partner with other comic publishers for non-SLG content in the future.

Newsarama.com spoke with SLG Publisher Dan Vado to find out more about his new initiative.

Newsarama: When was Eyemelt officially launched, and could you tell us how sales have been?

Dan Vado: We have been selling downloads of our comics from our old site since last summer, Eyemelt launched in January with a soft-opening (we weren't really ready, but we needed to make the switch and go live to accommodate the new regular web presence for www.slgcomic.com). Sales have been a little slow, but we have not really taken off on the marketing of the site yet. One of the things with Eyemelt is that we wanted to invite other publishers to be a part of it. Just about everyone is taking a wait and see attitude towards it and it does not make much sense to put a load of dollars into marketing something with so little product.

I take a slow and cautious approach to most things, so we didn't want have too many people involved with the Eyemelt program at first because it is kind of a labor-intensive process for us at this juncture.

NRAMA: Looking though Eyemelt, I notice two price levels -- $.69 for previously printed comics and $.89 for web-exclusive comics. Will that be the standard?

DV: For our stuff yeah, that's pretty much the system. We are allowing other publishers to name their own pricing depending on what is more important to them, profit per download or building circulation. For SLG, we feel that building circulation is the important piece to this, so the prices are low. On top of that our main competition in the download business are the torrent sites where people can get this stuff for free, so my feeling is that the prices of the downloads cannot be so high that we will just send people back to pirate sites.

NRAMA: The online comics at www.eyemelt.com are available as CBZ and PDF formats, both of which have relatively little digital rights managements (DRM) security. Why'd you opt for this format?

DV I actually spent time and a little money looking at DRM systems. I almost settled on one and then read that it had been hacked by some kids in a daycare somewhere. I am of course kidding about the daycare kids, but DRM systems are a huge obstacle in the download environment. Steve Jobs recently went on record as saying he felt that record companies needed to drop their DRM requirements from the downloadable music business. He cited the fact tat the record companies were selling non-copy protected content in the form of CD's already and that the download sites should not have to be hampered by a limitation the record companies cannot put on their own products. Basically what it comes down to is if you put some kind of heavy handed DRM on your downloads you wind up making the download more expensive, making it less usable by the end user and ultimately end up sending that customer back to the torrent sites to get this stuff for free.

The formats we choose were based on the need to remove as many obstacles to buying downloads as possible. We sell PDF's because most computers have some sort of built-in PDF reader on them, so the customer does not need any additional software. The CBZ file is a little better than the CBR (these are the file formats most commonly found on the illegal download sites) in terms of working in a cross-platform environment. CBZ needs a special reader and our site has links to places where you can get free comic reading software.

NRAMA: Since eyemelt.com was launched, a major comics torrent site has stopped trafficking in SLG comics. Did you have any conversations with them to do this?

DV: No, they did that on their own. That site has always maintained that they would stop making files available from their site when publishers started making their content available for download at an affordable price.

NRAMA: Have you approached any other pirated comic traffickers about carrying SLG products?

DV: No, although our site has an affiliate program and the ability to sell downloads from our site on ANY site, so anyone that wants to sell downloads (this would include brick and mortar retailers) can get in on our site.

NRAMA: At current count, you have 43 comics available on eyemelt.com. What would you say is your projected number in the months to come?

DV: My goal is to have our entire 21 year output of comics available as downloads, which is a load of comics. Also, as I mentioned above, we are inviting other publishers (or anyone with a comic they might like to sell as a download for that matter) to participate. One of the problems with our catalog is a lot of the stuff that you might like to see on the site, Milk & Cheese or Johnny as examples, were published before we were preparing our stuff digitally and would require a lot of rescanning. That's a load of work and, well, we're going to focus on the easy stuff first.

NRAMA: Will your Disney-licensed comics be available on eyemelt.com?

DV:No, downloads are not only not a part of that license, they are specifically prohibited.

NRAMA: I've read on Midnight Sun creator Ben Towle's blog that his comic is going to stop being printed in single issues in favor of serialization online. Is that a one-time thing, or do you plan to do that with your other serialized issues?

DV: We are going to be moving a lot of stuff that would have come out as comics onto our download site. The comic book format seems to be breathing its last and I think releasing a comic with sales under 1,000 copies not only is a money-loser for us, it doesn't do anything to build circulation. At 69¢ and with the notion of instant gratification, the barrier to trying something becomes reduced.

NRAMA: In another instance, a shipping snafu has resulted in Emo Boy #11 being delayed from February to April – even though the comic is finished. As a result, you're offering it on eyemelt.com now. Do you think that will affect the print orders of the single issue?

DV: Probably not. First, let me address the Emo Boy situation, which was something that was completely my fault. The person who had been doing our solicitations for us had left the company for a new job and Emo Boy #11 got lost in the shuffle of her leaving and my taking over her job, and I solicited it two months late. It was my mistake and something I do not think I have properly apologized for. The situation with Emo Boy is a one time deal and not part of the intended process. We put it up as a download in part because I felt bad for Steve Emond (Emo Boy's creator) having worked so hard to get the book in on time and here I screwed it up.

Now, as for what it will do for print sales, I think that the download market and the print comic book market are separate markets.

I hear a lot from our existing readership that they are not into reading comics on their computers; they want to be able to hold the product in their hands. More interesting will be to see if the small readership for something like Midnight Sun will embrace buying downloads instead.

NRAMA: Speaking to the broader issues here, is this move from singles to online comics a reaction to low sales in the Direct Market and/or an embracing of the possibility of online comic sales?

DV: Yes, I kind of answered that before. The direct market has moved itself into a place where only a small handful of stores really support a company like ours in any meaningful way. It has become a vicious cycle, really. A lot of retailers don't carry the comics because they don't sell, but then the potential customer has given up going into most comic shops because they don't see what they want. This and our other online sales address that.

We are not giving up on print, obviously we still print some things in comic book format and our emphasis is now going to be on graphic novels and books as well as associated merchandise. Even retailers who are generally supportive of our line tell us that there is a "wait for the trade" attitude out there that makes selling indie comic books unprofitable, or less profitable, for them.

I think if you are going to be in this, or any, business today you need to be able to embrace and be present in as many sales channels as possible. Online and downloadable comics are just one more channel for us.

NRAMA: In light of the increased output exclusive to online comics for SLG, this turns you as a print publisher into one more focused on graphic novels. Later this year you're doing your first original graphic novel since 2005 called The Clarence Principle. Have your graphic novel sales, both in the DM and in bookstores, prompted this, and why?

DV: Yeah, like I said, the market has moved more to supporting books rather than comics, at least for us. The book (graphic novel) format allows us greater access to more channels right of the bat. Not just direct market and bookstores, but other online retailers like Amazon and a few others prefer the more expensive book format. The book has a longer shelf life and is more attractive, because of its higher price, for a retailer of ANY kind to take a special order or to make one copy available for their stands.

NRAMA: On the flipside, two of your web-exclusive comics, Byron and Whistles, have been announced as going to print graphic novels in August and July. Can you tell us about your decision to serialize it online before a print edition?

DB: Those were both projects which were pitched to us as comic book series. Given what we were getting numbers-wise on comics from new creators (even established creators) I felt that the comic book format was not viable for these projects. A lot of money goes into marketing something that is new regardless of the format. Take Tron as an example, we spent a load of money on Tron (Full color posters, flyers, postcards) and while you might look at the sales and say they were okay, based on the numbers we got it wound up we spent almost $1.00 per comic sold on marketing. Not a very good Return on Investment. This might get paid back on the trade, but then that product will require a new round of marketing.

Focusing the dollars spent on marketing a book, which is more expensive and has more potential places it can be sold, is a better investment for us and affords us better shot at breaking even. Having the chapters available as downloads helps generate a small amount of revenue for us, gives us a piece of a business in which we were NEVER getting any revenue stream from and actually helps promote the artist and their work.

As important as the new revenue stream is, so is the marketing factor of the download business. While we could give away the downloads and probably do even better in terms of marketing, but the fact is that downloads carry a cost of their own. Storage, bandwidth cost money and if we wind up with thousands of comics in our download system (which I hope to at some point) then we are going to need to pay for that in some way. With the prices we are charging we're basically just covering our costs in terms of downloading and processing cards.

NRAMA: Your core site, slgcomic.com, has recently been redesigned and reflects more emphasis on ordering your comics through that as storefront. Why'd you decide to do this?

DV: Lots of reasons. A lot of the changes to our web presence are things you can't see, but for the first time our web presence is locked in step with our back office in real time which provides potential customers with better information on what they can order, what the status of their order is at any given time in real time and provides better security than our old one. This site and back office system will also allow retailers (or anyone) to become affiliates of our site in much the same way that Amazon has affiliates and put our items on their website and earn commissions for pieces sold. The system we are using is a tremendous improvement of our inventory management system and allows us to manage all of our sales channels in one place. It's something that, with a little tweaking, could be a huge benefit (the system we use, not our web site) to comic book retailers since, in addition to managing a web presence it also has an interface that can be used as a cash register. So, imagine you are a retailer and you enter something into inventory, you allot an amount to your shelf, an amount to your web site, another amount to eBay (or just your unsold overstock) and manage all of that from one back office.

With our old configuration (site with a separate store) I feel we were losing a lot of sales because people were not able to read about something and then click over to a store and then search for it again. One of the things that our direct-to-consumer sales does is help build circulation and readership for titles that maybe are struggling to find room on a stores shelves. You would be surprised to see that our web stores better sellers are usually things like Emo Boy and Rex Libris, things that a lot of stores do not carry.

We charge a pretty decent premium for postage since we do not want to compete too directly with retailers, so our website is really the place of last resort. But, we get enough stories about people who go to stores and can't find or are poorly served by whatever stores they shop in, so the store really needs to be there to help us build readership.

I can hint at one small thing I am also doing, or going to attempt to do, and that is to develop a service company for other publishers and companies (not just comics, but almost anything really) where we can direct and manage a merchandise and mail order program for companies that might not want to make the investment of doing that on their own. So, for instance, lets say company Y wants to have a commerce presence, but does not want to have to have its own order department and do the customer service, our new web system will allow us to host a companies website, but their items into our back office and manage the commerce, customer service and fulfillment for them. All they would have to do is manage their sites non-commerce content as they normally would. One other aspect of that is that we can develop complete merchandising programs for other publishers who want one. From shirts to plush to plastic toys to statues, the whole works. Basically I am marketing our companies particular skill set to the entire industry.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 01:34 PM   #2
aaron223
 
Awesome idea! I may try out some of these books because they're a lot easier to get a hold of. I hope the larger publishers are paying attention, this seems like the perfect way to take comics digital.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 01:53 PM   #3
vbartilucci
 
Spectacular.

Fairly priced, no DRM, and a wide (and soon to be wider) array of product.

May you not be alone on the bleeding edge for long.

I said it before: get me It's Science with Dr. Radium and a wider selection of Evan's stuff, and you've got my money.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 02:05 PM   #4
Boxful
 
i'm looking forward to this new approach for the comic book industry.

I'll always pick up the 'timeless' books that I'll read multiple times or just like to have for the collectible aspect.

But the download approach to comics will be a great way for me to give a new book a shot or get back into the monthly soap-opera style books that I would only read once and don't want wasting space in my boxes.

Plenty of room on my hard drives though. Good stuff ahead.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 02:09 PM   #5
AbacusComics
 
And then there's WOWIO.COM. As a publisher, I get 50 cents a download from them, and my fans get to read my books for free. Not much labor involved either, just PDF and load it on the FTP.

I've gotten over 1,000 downloads this week.

Might be a better, less labor intensive track for you to try.

Just a thought.

Last edited by AbacusComics : 04-11-2007 at 02:26 PM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 02:45 PM   #6
Abstrakt
 
why have i not heard about this before? they should have tryed to advertise it potential fans (me lol)

good prices, easy DLing, all i need to do is check out if there are good books and you got me lol
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 03:02 PM   #7
Nathan
 
I'm very open to the idea of digital comics (especially the physical storage of them), and 69 cents for a .pdf is outstanding.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 03:09 PM   #8
Carlos Javier
 
I'm kinda of curious why they haven't tooted their own horn more vocally, but I respect the fact that they're following a business plan and avoid overreaching too soon. I'm pretty sure I'll be checking them out.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 03:56 PM   #9
Brenticles
 
This was a great article, thanks. This guy really seems to have his head in the right place and a good business plan. There are so many things he gets. Like that the download market and the direct market are two different markets; like it's smart to be in as many venues as viable for increased sales; and that heavy DRM is a bad idea.

Go back and read the interviews with the retailers a couple months ago. It's sad and funny how much they just don't get in combinations with how much they get wrong.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 05:12 PM   #10
c_andrew_s
 
I like this site... I have bought several titles
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 07:52 PM   #11
CapVsBats
 
I'm glad they have them available in cbz/cbr format!
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 08:47 PM   #12
Somebody
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlos Javier
I'm kinda of curious why they haven't tooted their own horn more vocally, but I respect the fact that they're following a business plan and avoid overreaching too soon. I'm pretty sure I'll be checking them out.
Sounds more like there were still bugs in the system before ("we weren't really ready"), so they didn't want to start advertising until they had them sorted.

Kudos to them though, especially on the non-PDF/non-DRM option. I'll give the site a look and see if anything interests me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-11-2007, 11:15 PM   #13
thepoet
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbacusComics
And then there's WOWIO.COM. As a publisher, I get 50 cents a download from them, and my fans get to read my books for free. Not much labor involved either, just PDF and load it on the FTP.

I've gotten over 1,000 downloads this week.

Might be a better, less labor intensive track for you to try.

Just a thought.

Hmm - how are they as far as timeliness in payment?
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2007, 01:27 AM   #14
Chris Hunter
 
I think this is also a great idea, and I have downloaded many of your issues.

I had no idea they paid as high as they do. This is actually a pretty cool business model.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbacusComics
And then there's WOWIO.COM. As a publisher, I get 50 cents a download from them, and my fans get to read my books for free. Not much labor involved either, just PDF and load it on the FTP.

I've gotten over 1,000 downloads this week.

Might be a better, less labor intensive track for you to try.

Just a thought.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2007, 07:21 AM   #15
alan reut
 
I am definitely in favor of digital comics, BUT, only as an OPTION. I have friends that are freaking out, saying that if comics go digital it will kill the market, but I disagree, as long as they keep it as just another means of getting their product out there. Besides, I highly doubt digital distribution would kill the graphic novel market.

Thumbs up from me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2007, 09:27 AM   #16
seamonkey
 
Awesome. Very smart, sensible approach to the emerging downloadable comics market. Kudos to SLG!
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2007, 09:38 AM   #17
GOSD
 
I applaud them on this attempt but I'm not a fan of digital comics and probably never will be.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2007, 10:36 AM   #18
idkidd
 
Awesome initiative. I'd like to try Nightmares and Fairytales when it's uploaded.

I think it'd be really cool if maybe when Newsarama has one of their Indy Weekly reviews, a reader could click over to eyemelt.com to at least purchase one issue. Personally, I think I'd give those issues a try quite often this way; however, it gets to be a pain in the ass to track down a diamond order code for an obscure book, get it to your retailer, hope that the order is actually filled, etc. All that replaced with an instant 69 cent download would go a long way toward lowering the resistance level on giving an interesting indy a shot.

A few weeks back I thought the reviewed book Amour / The Evil Inside #3 sounded cool but it hadn't even been solicited through Diamond and I searched fruitlessly on the creator's website for ordering info and ended up having to communicate directly with the talk back message board to find out the only way to purchase was through him directly via paypal. I just gave up!

Last edited by idkidd : 04-12-2007 at 10:41 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2007, 03:37 PM   #19
AbacusComics
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by thepoet
Hmm - how are they as far as timeliness in payment?

They pay quarterly. And the checks don't bounce. lol.

I've had over 2,200 downloads now since April 1st.


I think digital is the future for sure. Maybe not for trades and whatnot, and maybe not so soon for Marvel and DC, but even Dark Horse has been trying to 'get out' of having to print individual issues for a while now. Us smaller publishers, man we have to sell over 5 thousand copies or more just to break even in most cases, making 50 cents a book is a bear! With Wowio, there is ZERO risk. I'm not surprised SLG is taking this route.

And us old-timers who like our printed comics are becoming dinosaurs. The next generation is HERE already, and they're reading from thousands of choices of free web comics found on sources like onlinecomics.net and topwebcomics.com, etc.

There's a boom in the comics market right under our noses, but nobody has noticed it because it's on the web already. Not in comic stores.

Web comics like Penny and Aggie, Inverloch, Dreamland Chronicles have had MILLIONS of unique readers, in a time where print comics readership dwindles month after month.

Anyway, enough time on the soap box. Good luck, SLG! If you want to give Wowio a shot, don't hesitate, I've made a thousand bucks this month already!

Last edited by AbacusComics : 04-14-2007 at 03:42 PM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2007, 03:43 PM   #20
Chris Hunter
 
Mike, does the money paid from this site and go directly to your company or does it also go to the creators of the comic books as well?

Is the money shared with the creators of the comic books?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbacusComics
They pay quarterly. And the checks don't bounce. lol.

I've had over 2,200 downloads now since April 1st.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2007, 04:48 PM   #21
AbacusComics
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hunter
Mike, does the money paid from this site and go directly to your company or does it also go to the creators of the comic books as well?

Is the money shared with the creators of the comic books?

The money goes to whoever signs the contract. Then it is that person/entities responsibility to get the proper royalties to the people who deserve it.

In my case, I do pay the royalties due to creators. I can't speak for anyone else.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2007, 04:54 PM   #22
Chris Hunter
 
That's a great, Mike.

I would love to see companies like Marvel comics and DC comics trying out this site.

I'm also impressed with the quality of the book and with the site itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AbacusComics
The money goes to whoever signs the contract. Then it is that person/entities responsibility to get the proper royalties to the people who deserve it.

In my case, I do pay the royalties due to creators. I can't speak for anyone else.
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2007, 05:09 PM   #23
idkidd
 
Quote:
I've gotten over 1,000 downloads this week.

Quote:
I've had over 2,200 downloads now since April 1st.

Mike, 1,000 of the 2,200 have come in just the past week?

I hope you'll approach Newsarama, CBR or somewhere to do a story on your success here: it sounds really great for you. Have you noticed any spill over to your trades or individual issue sales? How does wowio make money if the issues are free? Have you scheduled any works to go directly there instead of being printed first?
  Reply With Quote
Old 04-14-2007, 05:16 PM   #24
Chris Hunter
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by idkidd
Mike, 1,000 of the 2,200 have come in just the past week?

I hope you'll approach Newsarama, CBR or somewhere to do a story on your success here: it sounds really great for you. Have you noticed any spill over to your trades or individual issue sales? How does wowio make money if the issues are free? Have you scheduled any works to go directly there instead of being printed first?
idkidd,

The issues are downloaded as PDF files and they are formatted with advertising throughout the issue. The money comes from the advertising by the different sponsors in each issue. Given the amount of advertisers that advertise in Marvel comics and DC comics, and this should actually be a good deal for either company. I hope that they did this model some thought and eventually try it out.

Last edited by Chris Hunter : 04-14-2007 at 05:19 PM.
  Reply With Quote
Reply
   

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 09:45 PM.


Powered by vBulletin Version 3.5.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2007, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2006 Newsarama.com, LLC