Perhaps the biggest response to the announcement of new publisher DSTLRY came from its digital plans, with founders (and former Comixology executives) David Steinberger and Chip Mosher talking about an intent to create re-sellable digital collectibles… leading to some suspecting this was a new way to describe NFTs. According to the two founders, nothing could be further from the truth.
“NFT’s are a product of the cryptocurrency, blockchain marketplace, and we just have nothing to do with that,” Mosher explained in a new interview with Popverse's Zach Rabiroff. “We’re a centralized, closed market.”
“There are lots of proponents out there for digital collecting and reselling works. I mean, video games have been doing this forever. And there’s no good reason to do it with the negatives of the public blockchain, and smart contracts, and all the stuff that is causing a lot of fraud, and a lot of heartache, and a lot of stolen artwork from comic creators that have been sold as NFTs,” Steinberger continues. “We want a bunch of stuff: we want to be able to give a refund if somebody mistakenly buys something. We want to give a good reading experience, and ensure they get a good experience every time. We want a reliability factor. We want great customer service. All of these are reasons to do it.”
Purchases will be recorded in “a ledger database that we’re using to keep track of stuff,” according to Mosher, and accessible via DSTLRY apps on Apple, Amazon, Google, Android and more. “Wherever people are reading, and buying, and downloading digital books to read,” as Mosher put it. “It’s going to be a lot like Comixology, or a Kindle or Apple Books [reading] experience.”
Steinberger is a firm believer in digital publishing as a fan-led experience, he explains. “I can tell you from experience that people like having their library of comics to show other people in digital. So I think there are plenty of ways to allow people to enjoy seeing other people’s collections [digitally], and fostering an environment where people feel that they can do the digital thing,” he reasoned. “We will have some benefits at launch for owning things: so, as an example, maybe have a discount on the second issue beyond the first, that kind of thing.”
While there’s a purposeful lack of specifics on offer just yet — “I don’t think we’re talking about pricing yet,” Steinberger says when asked about the topic — the entire enterprise is clearly something that both executives have thought about to some degree. Or, to put it in Mosher’s words: “Dave and I both have over a decade’s worth of pretty hardcore digital marketing experience bringing in new readers to comics, and I think you’ll see that applied to this venture.”
The complete interview with Steinberger and Mosher, which also covers the print editions and DSTRLY’s relationships with creators, can be read here.
Will DSTLRY redefine the digital marketplace? While you ponder that, remind yourself of the current reality.