Cross-publisher digital comics distributor iVerse Media today announced a $4 million private equity investment from PS&J Group. The money will go towards expanding marketing and product development for its iOS comics reader app Comics+. While publishers such as Archie Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, and Marvel maintain standalone reader apps, Comics+ aggregates content from dozens of publishers to offer a one-stop comics purchasing and reading experience.
PS&J’s investment indicates its belief that the newsstand is quickly giving way to the App Store in terms of where readers get their comics. Apps have high monetization potential, as users can instantly buy the next installment of their favorite series. This facilitates purchasing binges where readers might spend more than $20 in a single reading session, rather than leaving a bookstore with just a few $1.99 issues or a single graphic novel.
Pierre LeRoy, PS&J Group chairman says that “Through digital comic sales, software licensing, and strategic partnerships, iVerse has been financially solvent for some time now.” Currently, iVerse offers its Comics+ app which includes video capabilities, and Comics+Kids which exclusively provides family friendly comics. Both iOS apps are free but charge users the standard newsstand price of $1.99 per issue through in-app purchases.
Comics+ already includes titles from many of the most popular publishers, but is missing some heavyweights such as DC Comics which can be found in competitor comiXology’s app. The funding could help it secure distribution deals to round out its content offering.
Marketing will also be an important use of the funding as comiXology’s Comics app currently has a higher search ranking in the App Store for the query ‘Comics’. If iVerse can get more downloads and increase its average rating, it could improve its discoverability. Product development that would allow Comics+ to host innovative new multimedia reading experiences could also aid its quest to become the #1 digital comics reader. iVerse already powers standalone reader apps for Archie, Star Trek, and other titles, and product development could attract more publishers to build on the company’s technology.
With brick and mortar comic book stores going out of business or diversifying into more lifestyle products, finding comics in paper form is getting more difficult. Still, the medium is very much alive with Marvel releasing big-budget films featuring super heroes and television shows like The Walking Dead being adapted from comics. The PS&J Group investment will give iVerse’s Comics+ apps a better chance of picking up first time readers and those switching to digital.