In what may be the best move ever in the comic book industry, Marvel Comics recently announced that it will soon be offering a free digital download code with every new comic priced at $3.99. In a time when comic creators and fans alike have struggled to find a way to keep the industry viable, this is the best idea that has come along since comics have gone digital.
Long before the iPad came out, digital comics have made their way onto the desktops of comic fans around the world. Years ago, comic shop owners were wringing their hands at what will come of the print medium. Luckily, true collectors would never let print comics die and the industry has held its ground, even as the iPad has made comic book reading more accessible and convenient than ever before.
Just the same, comic distributors have been trying to find a way to make the digital medium profitable, while still staying true to its print roots. Marvel’s solution is the best possible one. It is so simple that it is a wonder no one has thought of it before now.
Starting in June, Marvel will include a free digital download code to be redeemed through the Marvel Comics app with every title that is priced at $3.99. This ensures that fans will want to go out and buy the next issue of The X-Men from their local comic shop and won’t be resentful toward Marvel for charging the same price for a digital copy.
“We’re committed to bringing fans the best value in comics. By including codes for free digital copies in all our $3.99 super hero comics, we’re doing just that,” said David Gabriel, Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Sales.
The company has been moving in this direction for a few months now. In 2011, Marvel started offering free download codes for their Ultimate line of comics and at the beginning of this year, they announced that all Season One graphic novels would include a code as well.
Now, Marvel fans can buy a near-mint copy of Invincible Iron Man, Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man and much more and not even have to crack the binding. They can just download and read the same issue for free on their iPad. Hopefully, the success of this program will entice other comic book distributors to do the same thing. This is a smart move for Marvel and could be the beginning of a new way of enjoying comics.
The Marvel Comics app is also compatible with the iPhone/iPod touch, as well as Android-based devices. The iOS app can be downloaded for free in the App Store.