eComics and Pricing Concerns

I’ve always had an interest in writing comic books. It’s one of those dreams I have. I even toyed with the idea of doing a graphic novel for Kindle and Nook.

A while back, Moses Siregar posted about an article on Publishers Weekly called Kindle, We Have a Problem: Amazon’s Pricing Policies Affect Publishers. There was some discussion about this article on Kindle Boards and some of the other forums I frequent. I decided to re-post some of my thought here.

Let’s face it, there are a lot of costs associated with printing, distributing and selling comic books. Those costs have helped jack up comic book prices for years. When it comes to eComic Books, there are less costs. Comic book publishers (independent and traditional) cold make more money per issue on eComics than they could on the same comic printed and distributed in the traditional manner. Unfortunately, a lot of comic book publishers haven’t figured this out yet. PW actually gives some good advice to publishers regarding the royalty rates and file compression with regards to Amazon.

Comic book publishers, like a lot of people, get caught up in the money aspect of the royalty plans offered by Amazon. They don’t think outside of the box or they cling to traditional models and thinking that no long apply. It’s actually more cost effective for writers and publishers to use the 35% royalty rate when publishing comic books and graphic novels. How is this possible? It has to do with the delivery fee based on the size of your book.

Let’s use the example from the PW article. IDW’s Star Trek: Mirror Images #5 has a file size of 12,884 K after compression. There is a $1.89 delivery fee when using the 70% royalty plan while there is no delivery fee with the 35% plan. If IDW sold their book at the 70% royalty rate for $2.99 they would only make 16 cents as opposed to the $1.05 they would make at the 35% plan. Even if they upped their price to $4.99, they would still make more money using the 35% royalty rate ($1.61 at the 70% rate minus the delivery fee as opposed to $1.75 at the 35% rate).

So the solution should be simple, use the 35% royalty rate if your book is going to have a high delivery fee. The PW article pointed out something I didn’t know. There is a minimum price you can list your book at based its file size when you use the 35% rate. I really don’t see this as an issue. If you don’t want to pay for delivery charges, you have to follow Amazon’s pricing policy. The alternative is to use the 70% plan and potentially have your eComic cost more than your print version which many readers will find untenable.

One thing I will add is that if your book has a lot of graphics, diagrams and maps such as a text book or a children’s book, you might also want to look at its file size. Don’t assume you will make more at the 70% royalty rate. Do the math first then pick the rate that is write for for.

There are other concerns in the PW article such as price matching. Give it a read. Finally, I really hope someone at IDW, Dark Horse or some other comic publisher reads this. It will give them a leg up on DC and Marvel who are currently spinning their wheels when it comes to making eComics mainstream. And yes, I would entertain any offers of employment.

Yeah, I had to add a shameless plug but that’s how I roll.

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