Hasslein Blog: Self-Publishing: The Next Big Thing for the Comics Industry?


Hasslein Blog

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Self-Publishing: The Next Big Thing for the Comics Industry?

by Rich Handley
VentureBeat has reported that ComiXology is set to launch a portal enabling amateur comic book creators to professionally publish their work (see story). According to VentureBeat, ComiXology Submit will be broad in terms of what creators will be allowed to publish via the portal. ComiXology will keep 50 percent of revenue for each comic purchased, and will not charge creators to optimize their work with its Guided View technology (which enables readers to zoom in on a particular section of a comic page in order to view a larger version).

As someone who co-founded a business as an independent book publisher, I find this development fascinating. Comic book prices are soaring lately, making me re-think my desire to continue buying them. And the lack of distribution avenues available make it very difficult for indy comic publishers to sell their titles, or even to make others aware they exist.

This could change things, as it would allow those indy publishers not only to gain notice and a distribution channel for their work, but also to sell their comics below what the major publishers (DC, Marvel, IDW, Dark Horse, Image, etc.) are charging. Conceivably, this could eventually upset the balance, forcing the big comics houses to bring down their prices.

Of course, this could also be offset by the fact that any hack with a poorly written comic will now be able to offer it for sale at the portal alongside those with bona fide value, thereby diluting the pool (just as the indy book-publishing world has seen a lot of crap published by those with more ambition than talent). But the portal is still young, and in time, that may be dealt with.

How that will spill over into the book-publishing arena is not yet clear, but there's a lot of potential for this to have wider ramifications than just comics. The terms "independent publisher," "vanity press," "print-on-demand" and "self-publish" could gain some much-needed traction over time, making it easier for all of us to succeed in an industry long held hostage to traditional thinking. I think we may be seeing a new age dawning for indy publishers, and we at Hasslein Books will certainly be watching what happens with great interest.



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