The decline of brick-and-mortar comic book shops, the rise of digital media, and the real lack of cross-promotion between the incredibly popular (and profitable) comic book movies and the comics on which they’re based have all played a role in the financial troubles plaguing the comic book industry. But in spite of these struggles, comic book publishers continue to try finding ways to reach new audiences and retain faithful readers – each with their own degree of difficulty and success.
Having seen their uptick in readership following the New 52 decline, DC Comics took a bold approach with last year’s Rebirth. The move rolled back many of the New 52’s changes – changes which had been implemented to entice new readers but also ended up alienating many longtime fans. With Rebirth, DC’s comics remain approachable, staying clear of confusing canon which could overwhelm new readers, yet still honor the storied legacy of its characters. And by all accounts, DC’s Rebirth has been a success, renewing interest in their characters and stories just as the DC brand is poised to dominate both the large and small screens (with the DC Extended Universe and The CW’s Arrowverse).
In addition to its editorial changes, Rebirth also signaled changes to pricing and publishing schedules, with DC selling comics at $2.99 per issue and releasing many bi-monthly. But come this April, DC Comics will be bumping the price of several of their monthly comics from $2.99 up to $3.99 per issue, and for those at the higher price-point, including a code for a digital copy of the comic that can be redeemed at readdcentertainment.com. Those comics which release issues every two weeks, like Batman and Wonder Woman, will remain at the $2.99 price.
In the company’s official press release, SVP of Sales and Trade Marketing, John Cunningham, explains their decision, saying:
“Giving readers value was a key component of our Rebirth initiative, and we’re continuing that commitment with this move. We’ve heard from many fans that they like to read and collect our books in both digital and print formats so this new offering gives DC readers the convenience and value pricing they asked for.”
The comics which will increase to $3.99 in April are: Batgirl, Batgirl & The Birds of Prey, Batman Beyond, Batwoman, Blue Beetle, Cyborg, The Hellblazer, New Super-Man, Red Hood & The Outlaws, Super Sons, Supergirl, Superwoman, Teen Titans, Titans, and Trinity. All-Star Batman, which has been retailing at $4.99 will also come bundled with a digital code, but it’s unclear whether or not its price will be affected.
DC Comics has in the past toyed with the idea of giving readers both print and digital copies of comics with purchase, having done so with many of the New 52’s titles, but recently they’ve kept the two types of distribution quite separate. This moves upends all of that, allowing fans to read in their preferred format while still enabling for the collection of tangible comics (a longtime passion for many a comic book reader). It’s also interesting to note that unlike many had initially feared, digital comics have not led to the death of print comics. On the contrary, according to a recent CNBC report, sales of both digital and print comics have risen in recent years.
Of course, this decision doesn’t affect every comic DC is currently publishing, and it’ll be interesting to see if this move leads to more comics coming bundled with digital codes or less. The publishers biggest titles are the one releasing bi-monthly, and those are the ones specifically not included in this new plan. DC’s decision also comes only weeks after Marvel Comics announced their own change to digital distribution, doing away with offering digital codes specific to the title in which they appear, and instead offering digital codes for select free comics within every book. Only time will tell which approach readers prefer, but both major publishers are clearly looking towards digital comics for ways to both increase and retain readership.
Source: DC Comics