Marvel is endeavoring to focus almost exclusively on digital distribution to maximize revenue. In the past few months the company has pulled their comics from bookstores all over the world. You would be hard-pressed to find anything but the odd graphic novel in your favorite bookstore, such as Barnes and Noble.
Marvel is finding that they are selling more comics online, than they are in the retail environment. Comixology is their main partner in the digital sphere and they have dedicated reading apps on every major platform. They have sold over 125,000,000 comics since 2009, most of them from Marvel.
Selling digitally obviously has its merits. Marvel does not have to worry about printing as many comics anymore and having them shipped back to the supplier if they don’t sell. This is more or less how bookstores handle books, magazines, newspapers and comics. If they don’t sell before they become irrelevant they get cash back from the supplier from the inventory that is unsold. Comic shops on the other hand, are normally stuck with whatever inventory they purchase. If single issues go unsold, they go right into the bargain bins.
Marvel has trained their audience to buy digitally. Whether you have an iPad, Android, Windows or a myriad of others, you can buy comics in the comfort of your own home and get them the second the clock hits midnight on comic book Wednesdays. The process is simplified and digital comics don’t take up as much room as the physical thing.
Bookstores in the US and Canada are still carrying graphic novels by Marvel. This is primarily due to the fact they are being sourced by Hachette, instead of Diamond Comic Distributors. Diamond is still the ones who are selling individual comics and graphic novels to comic shops, but for how long?
What are Marvels plans for the future? The company is trying to be less reliant on Comixology and develop their own digital infrastructure. They have been hiring developers, designers and coders to make their own comic selling app. They hope to incorporate Marvel Unlimited, Marvel AR, Marvel Events and their new comic store into a singular experience. They basically realize that digital is their future and they don’t want to have all of their eggs in one basket with Comixology.