Michael Murphy gives some great interviews and it’s interesting to hear his thoughts on digital comics:
Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a barrage of press releases from comiXology about exclusive deals it’s made with publishers, including, most recently, an agreement with Marvel to digitally distribute single-issue comics. That made me think about the digital comics market as a whole, and how these exclusives would affect the other big digital distributor, iVerse. So I called and asked.
What I was surprised to hear was that iVerse CEO Michael Murphey isn’t particularly bothered by these exclusives. That’s because he doesn’t see iVerse as going head to head with comiXology; he sees them as serving different markets in different ways, and the exclusives don’t affect them as much as you might think. Read on to get his very different take on the digital comics market.
Robot 6: I’m going to just ask you point-blank: comiXology has announced a number of exclusives lately, which shuts you out of part of the comics market. What does that mean for iVerse and for Diamond Digital, and what will you do about it?
Michael Murphey: There’s a couple of things that are going on right now. ComiXology, it seems to me, is trying to recreate the direct market in digital form. That’s not where iVerse has ever been. We have always thought of ourselves as a newsstand rather than the direct market. We do better than most people think because most of our customers are not direct market customers. We sell a ton of children’s product through Comics Plus Kids, we have Archie Comics and we have Pocket God comics—one thing you are going to see is we are launching that New Crusaders product with Archie. We are also rebranding our app and launching web and Android versions before the end of the month.
Our library program is going to be a very large revenue generator for ourselves. We announced it three or four weeks ago, and the response from the library community has been overwhelming. And all those places are different things we are doing that are finding new readers, reaching out to where the new readers are.
Marvel and iVerse have a good relationship. We haven’t ever sold day-and-date product for Marvel. We have always sold either single issues or graphic novels, and since we switched to graphic novels a month ago, our Marvel sales are better than they have ever been. We have started focusing on graphic novels — not just with Marvel; we have graphic novels with a lot of people. The graphic novels have done very well. The higher price point actually works really well for customers who aren’t direct market customers because they are used to e-book prices. The price of a graphic novel is comparable to an e-book price, so that is not bothersome to them. That is very exciting, and it is directing some of the ways we are modifying ourselves as we go along to accommodate that kind of customer.
The other thing we are doing that is a big focus for us that we believe has a tremendous amount of potential is the non-English language market. We will be making an announcement soon. It’s something we have been doing for a while, and some of those markets are pretty exciting. When you look at movies that are comic book based, look at the money they are making overseas in non-English-language areas, there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity in those places, and we are excited about that for the entire industry.