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Digital comics study: Most readers won’t pay same price as printed version

Fleen blogger Gary Tyrrell has been helping Mia Wiesner (of the University of Applied Sciences in Liepzig) conduct a study of purchasing attitudes for digital comic content. He’s posted initial findings and has a more in depth look at the implications of the numbers yesterday.

Final statistic for you: the largest single age cohort in the responses (34.2%) is 22 – 30 years old, who are both young enough to be completely immersed in technology, old enough to have some disposable income, and have decades of comic buying in front of them. They want digital, they have reasons to buy them, but they ain’t going to spend as much for non-physical artifacts as they would for actual things they can hold – and the two least appealing things about digital comics for them are not actually owning the comic (51.0%) and DRM (44.1%).

I’m emphasizing the pricing models of publishers, but Garry has info on who buys and why.

Community Comments

#1 Ben Carlsen
October/12/2011
@ 10:35 am

I’d be willing to pay more for digital if there was no DRM. It’s a ridiculous idea. I like digital because it’s more portable and more convenient, but with DRM, it isn’t. Paper then becomes more convenient and more portable. It’s worthless anyway, because every Wednesday the scanned comics are still going to come out just like they always have. It’s not stopping piracy; it’s stopping honest people from getting a good product. DRM would probably increase piracy, because even if someone bought the print or digital version, they still might download a CBR/CBZ in order for them to do whatever they wanted with it. You couuld scan it yourself, but why do that when someone else (or several someone elses) have already done it for you?

#2 Daniel Boris
October/12/2011
@ 11:36 am

I believe that it true,
People have recommended giving away your original work for free, online, and then make your money selling fans printed collections (and merchandise). My printed book project is evidence that can work. And I’m not even syndicated…yet!

http://www.indiegogo.com/Hoxwinder-Hall-a-printed-collection

#3 Kat Ruhl
October/12/2011
@ 4:02 pm

I’m 26 and it’s hard to justify digital books and comics for me personally for a number of reasons… such as physical books can’t crash on me, can be read with no fear of running out of battery life, provide a pleasing tactile and sensory experience, won’t break when dropped, and don’t have to be turned off when waiting to take off/land when flying. Not to mention if a digital reader gets stolen, there goes your whole library. That’s just a handful of reasons, I could go on for a while.

Digital downloads have a lot of perks but there are so many disadvantages to them that physical products just don’t have that it’s rather obvious people aren’t willing to pay as much for them.

#4 John Platt
October/17/2011
@ 8:21 am

If you use Cafepress to sell t hirts/merchandise of your webcomic , rooughly on average how many readers does it take to buy a product this way? 1 in a hundred, 1 in 200? I’m really curious to knon and any infomation would be really helpful and interesting thanks!

#5 Jeff Pert
October/17/2011
@ 11:04 am

John, I think that depends on the comic and its popularity. If you’ve already got a sizeable fan base of regular readers, you could sell quite a few tees or other merchandise. But starting out, not so much.

My Cafe Press page barely gets looked at even though I have a decent following but only because w/ a full time day job I can’t promote it, my blog and my Facebook page as much as I’d like.

#6 John Platt
October/19/2011
@ 5:34 am

thanks jeff, i know some comics sell t shirts to 1in 1000 readers but i wondered if that ratio figure goes higher/ lower according to how popular the comic .
For example two comics both have 10000 regular visitors a day but one can sell 100 t shirts a month and the other 20 because the first one is more ‘funny’? Does that hold true with anybody out there?

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