Much like the music and movie industries before, the comic book industry has entered the digital markets and faces the unfair competition of unauthorized sources. I conduct a survey among comic book readers to infer whether the unpaid channels harm the sales of comic books from the top American publishers. My data allows me to construct a time panel of comics readers and calculate the substitution rate between the paid and unpaid channels of comics acquisition. Moreover, I show that the digital comics – both paid and unpaid – are typically considered as inferior by the readers. With the price of digitally released new comics set at the same level as their print versions, this suggests that readers who do not want to pay the full price for print copies are more likely to use pirate sources than to switch to legal digital channels. Indeed, among the surveyed sample, lowering the price of digital comics could help convert some of the unpaid acquisitions into paid digital ones.
additional information: I would like to thank participants of the Institute for Structural Research – IBS and DELab UW internal seminars for their helpful comments. I would also like to thank Mateusz Godlewski for sharing his insights on the comic book market at the first stages of this research. The research was financed with the National Science Centre grant UMO-2016/21/N/HS4/01803. The usual disclaimers apply. All errors are mine.
Projects related to this publication:
Institute for Structural Research (IBS), University of Warsaw