The company behind Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica is expanding its reach by making its comic-book titles available for digital download the same day their printed counterparts go on sale.
said Wednesday that starting in April, several of its titles featuring the gang from Riverdale will be released simultaneously in print and digital versions, including "Archie & Friends," ''Jughead" and "Betty & Veronica."
That decision makes the privately held Archie Comics Publications Inc. one of the first major comic book publishers to do that and reflects what co-chief executive Jon Goldwater called the goal of making Archie stories available to everyone everywhere.
"Digital provides us with the tools to reach out to a whole new readership, and we're excited and emboldened by the opportunities" presented by the simultaneous print and digital releases, Goldwater said in a statement of the titles, which will retail for $1.99, a dollar less than the newstand versions.
Like other publishers, including Marvel and DC, Archie has made several of its titles available through apps for the iPhone and iPad, but often after the print editions had been on the stands.
Now, in a nod to the growing use of such devices by not just comic fans but a wider audience, many of whom like the convenience of reading digital offerings and are not collecting the books, the industry is giving digital platforms more credence.
Earlier this month, the first issue of DC Comics' "Batman Beyond" was made available digitally on Comixology, the PlayStation Network and DC's website the same day it went on sale.
"Batman Beyond was a critically acclaimed, fan favorite animated series that still has a large number of fans to this day," said Hank Kanalz, senior vice president for digital at DC Entertainment of the decision. "By releasing the ongoing comic series digitally, we're hoping we reach that audience and bring back any fans of the show who may be lapsed comic readers."
And Marvel has done the same thing with "Ultimate Comics Thor" and "Ultimate Comics Captain America." It also plans to release every issue in its story arc about the death of Ultimate Spider-Man digitally the same day it goes on sale in shops starting in February.
Archie's iVerse Media apps have proven popular for the company. By the end of 2010, it had sold more than 1.7 million copies of new, recent and classic issues and collections. Plans are also in the works to bring a similar app to users of Android-powered tablets and cell phones, too, by March.
"We saw that there was an interest in our products digitally and we knew we had to capitalize on it," Goldwater told The Associated Press. "We have to really make sure Archie Comics are made available to anyone who's interested in reading them, whether they're hard copies in a shop or on the newsstand or through a mobile phone or tablet."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.