The Covid-19 Pandemic took the world by storm. Stores, restaurants, and other “non-essential” businesses were forced to close their doors indefinitely. On top of businesses closing, a “stay-at-home” order was put in place. This advised people to not leave their homes in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.
Businesses closing paired with a stay-at-home order resulted in a lot of free time for many American’s. To the dismay of Marvel fans, one important non-essential business closing its doors was comic book shops. With free time on their hands, and no access to comic books, what do avid comic book buyers do at a time like this? They find a new alternative- going digital.
Marvel Comics has become a household name since they were first introduced during the 1930’s. Taking off with characters like The Fantastic Four, Marvel created a Marvelous world unlike any other. When the world began to evolve, so did Marvel. As society became more technologically advanced, the comic book giant looked for a way to keep up. In 2007 Marvel launched ‘Marvel Unlimited,’ their digital comic book subscription.
For $9.99 a month Marvel Unlimited grants you access to thousands of comic book titles. These comics can be accessed anytime on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Marvel Unlimited also has a convenience factor to it. Unbeknownst to them, Marvel Unlimited would help to create relief during a worldwide pandemic.
(Image Courtesy of Guile Canencia)
Marvel followed popular superheroes, to save the day themselves. In an attempt to help out Marvel fans everywhere during the pandemic, Marvel elected to make a handful of comics free to those at home. Marvel Unlimited allowed anyone to access the released comics (including titles like Avengers Vs. X-men). Marvel Unlimited waived start up fees, and won’t ask for any credit card information to get started.
This gives everyone the opportunity to enjoy the stories they love for free. Interestingly enough, Marvel Unlimited isn’t the only way Marvel fans are accessing comics in a post-Covid world. Comic book junkies are utilizing another digital feature to buy comic books, Instagram Live.
Instagram is a photo sharing site used by billions of people worldwide. This website allows users to share photos and videos with a caption. Instagram has another feature aside from sharing content, live streaming. The idea for live streaming is that users are recording themselves for people to watch. Other users can log on and gain instant access to a live stream video. Comic book lovers caught wind of this, and began using the feature to sell comic books.
With the click of a button comic fans can watch live stream auctions. Sellers will show a comic on video that can be purchased instantly through them. These sellers will then mail the comic to the buyer. All of this without even leaving your home. Instagram live sales are a good way to get the same comic book for less. Jamie Medlin, the author of ‘How I made Profit Selling Comic Books From Home’ said, “With the reduced fees you pay when buying direct from users, it really gives you the power to close on a great deal.”
Marvel Unlimited making some titles free and sellers using Instagram Live to reach their audience has created a new era for comic buying. So what does this mean for the future of comic book buying and selling? I’m interested to see if the post Covid-19 World will continue buying digital. Or, will people begin packing into comic book shops once again, practicing new social distancing guidelines?
I spoke to one Marvel fan who seemed optimistic about the digital future of comics. Josh Kaya, an avid comic book collector said, “The option to digitally buy/sell comic books is an amazing idea! I will be looking to purchase digitally in the future.”