Noting that more than 50% of their digital comics sales each month are going to international readers, digital comics distributor IVerse has signed a deal with two publishers, Marvel and Archie, to distribute translated comics worldwide.
The Marvel deal is a worldwide exclusive for foreign language editions of trades and periodicals. For Archie, iVerse will create apps in China, Japan and India, with other countries gradually rolling out.
Both deals, which will begin before the end of 2012, are platform agnostic, says iVerse CEO Michael Murphey. Although both will see various apps introduced around the world, the main service iVerse will provide is to translate the comics and make them available, via a multitude of platforms, to international readers.
The multi year deal with Marvel allows audiences worldwide to read comics based on Marvel’s blockbuster films, which have a huge foreign followings. Although he declined to give any numbers for digital titles, Murphy noted that every month, anywhere from 50%-65% of their overall sales go to international customers. Although the number includes Canada, it is a huge part of their revenue.
iVerse currently makes comics available via its Comics+ app and website. Although an early player in the game, it has in recent years been outstripped by Comixology, which has an exclusive deal with Marvel for their periodicals, released day and date. This move should make iVerse a much bigger player on the worldwide market for digital comics.
“Hopefully you're going to have more than one place to get these comics,” he told PW, “whether through apps, Amazon or the iBooks platform. We're motivated to put this anywhere we can and there are lots of opportunities.”
“Marvel and iVerse both recognize the opportunity global publishing content expansion brings to Marvel fans worldwide,” explained Marvel Digital senior v-p and general manager Peter Phillips in a statement. “This partnership with iVerse allows us to introduce Marvel’s rich history of exciting, action packed stories to new audiences who want to know more about the Avengers, Spider-Man, Wolverine and more in their native languages.”
"Archie Comics has been at the forefront of digital publishing in North America for some time," said Archie Comics co-CEO Jon Goldwater in his own statement. "We're very excited to bring Archie and pals into the broader international digital market through our close partnership with iVerse Media."
IVerse will offer translation services via the same technology they have previously used to edit and approve comics for the digital format. It’s a three phase process that includes proper name translation, a machine translation, followed by native speakers who will make this translation readable and idiomatic.
The project has been underway for about two years. “We got interested in this a long time ago and started looking at different ways we could do this,” says Murphey. “We went to China earlier this year to talk about facilitating this, and although there are a lot of considerations, the opportunity there is tremendous.”
IVerse has previously offered Spanish translations of Archie comics through their Comics+ app, and “it’s been successful enough to feel very confident about a larger Spanish app.”
Every country will have its own guidelines, said Murphey, but they are working closely with local partners to make sure the material is appropriate and available. The actual titles that will roll-out haven’t been announced yet, but it will include both current and historical material.