In our efforts to get more feedback from everyone – we’re clearly not the definitive experts – we’re opening up our mailbag to you.
This will be a weekly feature this summer so if you have questions you want answered head over to the contact form and give us the isssssuuuue. If we don’t cover it on the podcasts, we’ll get to it here.
Each week you’ll get a reader issue covered by one of our Workshop gang – this week it’s Ken Drab from Rick the Stick.
Question: Geoff Hassing asked: I got one for you. Micropayments. I’m working with a micropayments company on developing a web comics viewer for cartoonists and web comic artists. But aside from having your current comic free and your previous 2 weeks of comics for free, then charge 25 cents to view archives, or offer an advanced preview of next weeks comic now for 10 cents, that kind of thing. What do you think would be the best way for web cartoonists to utilize a micropayment system for their comics on the internet?
This is a great question Geoff and one I’ve been doing research on myself. It’s extremely relevant right now because of the consumer’s perception of paying for content that’s slowly evolved over the last couple of years and what lies in our near future.
Personally, I credit Apple for the consumer shift. Specifically people paying for apps and ‘one-click’ access. And in case you were thinking it, Amazon deserves a nod as well. For instance, two years ago no one wanted to pay for the New York Times but today you have to pay for their content – and people will. And you’ll soon see other’s follow along.
But… one might say… they are the New York Times. For their micropayment, they have tons of content developed daily and a legacy and brand that they leverage.
For our micropayment, we have to fight the perceptive value of comics online (meaning little value) with thousands upon thousands offering theirs for free.
Of course of many comics online, most languish in obscurity and generally don’t stick with it long enough to get their audience. Obviously, as some point creating a great comic will justify asking for a micropayment. I think the real problem is standing out – creating accessibility. Developing a mechanism (in your instance a webcomics viewer) to do that is great, and I admire your entrepreneurial initiative, but in the end who has ready access to it?
That’s why I’m eagerly anticipating Apple’s upcoming release of ‘NewsStand’ with the iOS5 later this year. Actually, I’m excited about the prospect of where this is leading us. Fine, if you must know – I’m as giddy as a school girl! OMGOMGOMG!!!
For those who don’t know, aaaaand although it may appear as such, this isn’t an ad for Apple. The reason I’m “enthusiastic” about the possibilities of NewsStand is that it is basically a direct line between your comic and your audience’s iOS device. For the immediate future though, it’s initially, for magazines and newspapers.
That’s significant because it’s automated. When your new comics are published while your audience is sleeping, it automatically updates for them so it’s already downloaded and ready and waiting for them the next morning. They can even read it offline.
One problem, you could argue, is that Apple will presumably take their 30% cut. But my argument is 30% is a hell of a deal for giving you the audience and one-click accessibility that most of us NEVER dreamed of. I look at it as a distribution cost. Another problem is that it’s exclusive to the iOS (read Apple products). I assume there are or will be similar offerings or products for the Android and Windows markets – without knowing who they are, I go back to what makes the Apple model stand out. One-click accessibility.
Soooo, way down here is where I answer Geoff’s question: in my opinion, the best way is to use NewsStand. Since it’s going to handle audience, distribution and payment for me, I can’t wait to get on board!
That being said, the next two questions I am looking into are: what format and what development will need to evolve to help artists publish into NewsStand and would it be more economical to both creator and consumer if multiple titles were housed under one entity (distributor)?
Those are my thoughts, but we hope to hear what other Webcomic creators are thinking. Is the consumer mindset evolving and are we moving towards a socially acceptable pay-for-content model? Is it worth developing your own micropayment system? Are you ready to pay for the comics you read?