Mark Millar is one of the creators who has seen his creator owned work doing very well in the digital comics realm.  Comixology has books like Wanted high on their charts.  But that doesn’t mean that everything is perfect.  Over at his forums Mark took the time to talk with his fans about what the other end of digital distribution is like.

Okay, I’m loving the fact that Millarworld books account for 8 of the top 10 downloads in 2010. That’s cool, but what superficially looks like a great deal for creators is less so under a little scrutiny. Yes, you’re eliminating paper, printing, comic store and distributor costs, but there’s hidden costs here I haven’t seen highlighted anywhere.

1/ Apple take 30% right off the bat.
2/ In the case of Wanted, Comixology then splits 50/50 with the publisher.
3/ Then the publisher pays the agent and creative team out of the remaining cash depending on their deal.

In hard numbers, the digital comic is normally half the price of the paper comic, but you have just as many percentages to pay out as a creative team to an electronic distributor and publisher. So effectively the creative team is getting half as much money. For creators, this isn’t great and for comic stores this is awful. I don’t mind paying thirty percent to a local store where my friends work and the guys care about the product. But do I want this money going to Apple?

In a nutshell, I’m very, very on the fence with this one. I don’t like the idea of digital replacing paper anyway, but unless sales more than double creators are going to be worse off and the lifeblood of the industry, the stores, are going to feel the pain more than anyone. Y’know, like, the guys who keep us in business? I know lots of stores who weather the economic busts we face periodically because they love comics and will always stick around. Would Apple do the same?

Also, and perhaps the most worrying question of all, how do we know what we’re selling? It’s quite hard to fake what comics are doing as you can check with the printers, distributors and a number of places. Official, quite accurate numbers are printed online. But I checked several sources last night and nobody could tell me what my download numbers were for these supposed record-breaking numbers of mine. Just their chart position. I’m really not liking this at all.

In other words, keep buying paper comics.

MM

Mark goes on to keep the conversation going.  Click HERE for the entire thread and see what people are saying.

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