Image announces DRM-free digital downloads of its comic books
Image Comics is now selling DRM-free digital comics directly on its website. As far as digital comics go, this is pretty big news. Up until now, all of the major comic book publishers have used digital rights management (DRM) to limit the distribution of its digital comics. As an example, you can buy a digital comic on a site like Comixology, but you can’t actually download it outside of the Comixology app and you can’t share it with others. With Image’s DRM-free comics, people will be able to download and share them as they like.
Image has relaunched its website, setting up a DRM-free comic store where people can purchase high-resolution digital comics in various file formats. These comics will be available for sale the same day as print (aka “date and day”) and will cost the same as copies available in comic shops or on sites like Comixology or on Amazon. Additionally, after being available for a month, Image will reduce the price on the comics, allowing people to pick up back-issues at a discount.
In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Image’s Director of Business Development Ron Richards talked about the decision to offer DRM-free comics. The two biggest concerns with this type of distribution revolve around digital comics harming “hard copy” sales and on DRM-free comics fueling piracy. Here’s how Richards addressed both of those issues…
Our theory on digital has been that it’s not going to hurt print sales. Digital will just emerge as another channel that has the potential to reach a different audience. Image has been doing digital since ’09, so there’s a few years of data now, and we’re seeing growth in the direct market, growth in the book market and growth in the digital market. Now, if there was growth in our digital market but decline in the direct market, then you could maybe posit that there was cannibalization happening. But there’s growth in both.
Our thought on piracy is that the only content hurt by piracy is bad content. Look at the example of ‘Game of Thrones’ on HBO. That is the most torrented television show on the internet right now, and it’s also HBO’s highest-selling DVD set. Clearly, people are pirating it, sampling it and going, ‘I want that for my DVD collection now.’ If that’s happening, it’s happening. You’re never going to fight it. You’re never going to stop it all. But if people pirate a bad comic book, they’re going to stop pirating it — and they’re going to stop buying it, too.
Additionally, Image has said that it will continue to sell digital comics, with DRM restrictions, via Comixology, iTunes, and Amazon. The DRM-free versions, available directly from the Image Comics website, will be an alternative for people who are concerned about ownership of their digital comic collection.
DRM-free digital comic books also address two major concerns that many people have with comics purchased on platforms like Comixology. The first concerns is; What happens if Comixology goes out of business and people aren’t allowed to download the comics they purchased through the site? Do those comics just vanish? Second, it allows Image to continue to publish digital versions of comics that sites like iTunes might otherwise ban due to concerns over content.
What are your thoughts on Image Comics deciding to begin selling DRM-free digital comics on its website?
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