Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kindle Fire, DC Comics & Comixology: "Let's all lose money."

It was at a panel at New York Comic Con a few days ago that Comixology, the online comics reading platform, acknowledged the announcement that Amazon's Kindle Fire would receive exclusive digital publishing rights to certain DC Comics graphic novel titles, including Batman trades and Alan Moore & Dave Gibbon's masterpiece Watchmen.

Comixology, of course, is relevant to this deal in that they power the official Marvel and DC Comics comic book apps.

Yup. Both of them. Online, iDevice, Kindle, and any other proprietary app those companies want. They even do Dark Horse. Cute, right?

Here's where we play "Good Idea/Bad Idea," dedicated to Steven Spielberg and the executives of daytime programming at Warner Bros. studios back in 1998.

Good Idea: Securing awesome, exclusive content for your new device from a major industry player.

Bad Idea: Refusing to allow users of any other device access to the same digital content.

Amazon, great job. You gave yourself a definite boost. Even if this fails miserably, you got a couple extra nerds to buy Kindle Fires they would otherwise possibly pass over for a competitor. Savvy move.

DC, are you legitimately mentally handicapped? Who told you this would be a good idea? Did you see one too many "Call of Duty" commercials where preordering through a specific retailer or for a certain console gets you an exclusive bonus? Did you not realize that those features are generally available to all users after a set amount of time? Or that every platform gets it's own exclusive extra content, while everyone shares the basic game features? At what point, DC, did it seem like a brilliant idea to take your most profitable stories ever, and make them exclusive to one device?

I understand you're backstepping a bit by admitting that you can't promise anything yet, but the exclusivity isn't permanent, and you just wish you hadn't signed that non-disclosure form so you could tell us when you were planning on unscrewing your fans. You're even trying to taut the Kindle app as a go-between despite prior comments to the contrary. I get it. There's fallout you didn't see coming and now you're on damage control

It's still not stopping Barnes & Noble and other booksellers from removing all physical copies of the "exclusive" titles from their shelves.

Hey look! It's that time again!

Good Idea: Boycotting products for which your supplier is trying to grant your competitors certain exclusive permissions.

Bad Idea: Boycotting those products and now making them actually exclusive to that competitor's device.

And while we're at it, Bad Idea: Trying to force a weak business model where digital comic sales are designed to encourage physical comic sales, and then accidentally making your comic sales preclude physical sales. Oh, and now your digital sales are slipping. Congrats.

Comixology, I'm so sorry you got stuck dealing with these kids. I bet you feel like the guy who hired Larry, Moe, and Curly as bakers because they came so very highly recommended.

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