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Comic book shops across the country have closed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, raising questions of how they will survive. On Wednesday, it looked like stores had found new hope in the form of an ambitious new plan by a company called ComicHub. The truth, however, proved to be more complicated, and far less clear, than the initial promise, communicated via a story on the pop culture site Bleeding Cool with the headline, “Today, The Comic Shops’ Direct Market Was Saved.”
Firstly, it’s unknown whether publishers have entered into exclusive contracts with ComiXology for the sale and distribution of digital content. Secondly, as the system currently stands, digital and print editions are sold separately; combining the two, as ComicHub intends to do, effectively cuts the earning potential for any individual release in half. When viewed in that light, it’s difficult to make a case to publishers to agree to the offering as it currently stands — what company wants to volunteer to cut its profits in two, particularly right now?
No publisher contacted by The Hollywood Reporter was willing to confirm that it was involved with the ComicHub solution at the time of writing.
Publishers aren’t the only problem, however. Multiple retailers have been voicing concerns to ComicHub and in private retailer forums, citing worries that the platform would enable readers to transition from buying in print to buying digitally. Additionally, concerns were raised over the fact that ComicHub didn’t actually address retailers’ primary worry in the current climate: Print distribution remains with Diamond, but in order to meet the criteria for purchase, issues would have to be released digitally, the very thing retailers complained about with regards to the idea of publishers releasing new issues digitally via ComiXology ahead of eventual print releases once stores reopened. In other words, it doesn’t actually solve any problems retailers are facing.
ComicHub reportedly intends to scale up from 100 stores on April 8 to the entire market covered by Diamond just one week later — and its relationship to both retailers and publishers remain. Expect this story to evolve and develop for some time — at least until ComicHub’s self-imposed April 15 deadline for complete coverage of the comic book market.
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