After Marvel Comics announced last Wednesday (aka, the day that most comics hit the stores in the U.S.) that it would be offering Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 as a digital download on the same day as its regular print release, the blogosphere went into a tizzy and hasn’t fully recovered yet.
Written by Matt Fraction with art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, the annual will include a story about the Mandarin’s origins, which to date has never really been explored.
Reaction hit the ‘net on Friday, and I think the best place to find a nuanced argument would be courtesy of Dirk Deppey at The Comics Journal‘s Journalista! who today writes:
[You] need to keep in mind that no legacy media, — film, television, music or print — has found a proven and stable way to make the Internet pay for itself in the same way as has their previous business models. While it’s difficult to get firm music-industry statistics without paying for them, Wikipedia notes that record sales shrank by close to 40% in the United States between 2000 and 2007. A 2009 Yankee Group report makes the claim that television advertising revenue is dropping faster than the increase in advertising revenue for online video. This isn’t a swamp into which a content publisher leaps lightly, especially is you’re a division in a larger company, and doubly so if that larger company in turn is owned by Disney.
I personally don’t have a large enough cellphone screen to make reading comics on it a rational decision, but I can totally understand and get behind being able to get the newest release of a favorite book or series fed directly to my computer on a subscription basis. Once I finally decide between an iPhone and a Droid, however, this is definitely something that will become a concern.