It looks like Marvel may have underestimated just how much people like free stuff. At SXSW this weekend, the publisher announced they would be offering digital downloads of the first issues of 700 titles from the company’s current run, as well as their storied past. Sounds like a pretty great deal, right? Well, you’re not alone in thinking that — so many people agree with you, in fact, that as I type this, links to the giveaway on both digital comic clearinghouse Comixology and Marvel’s in-house digital comic shop are overwhelmed with traffic and not so much working.
While lifelong comic nerds like yours truly will no doubt be clogging every online venue we can find to get our free downloads, we’re not really the target market. Marvel spokesperson David Gabriel says the giveaway is meant to try and turn casual Marvel Universe fans — like many moviegoers — into weekly comic readers. The company seems to think the digital platform is a great way to do that, and we doubt they’re wrong. After all, the anonymity of e-readers helped to turn 50 Shades of Grey into a runaway bestseller — who’s to say it couldn’t take some of the shame out of reading a comic on the bus, too?
Now, is this deal a shameless publicity stunt meant to draw in readers with using the same “first taste is free, but the next one will cost you” tactics as street-level drug dealers? Sure it is! Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
What’s wrong is teasing us with downloads that, at the moment, we can’t get to. Marvel announced the giveaway yesterday, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the free books — in principle –until tomorrow night at 11 pm EST. With more than 700 books to choose from, you’ll be able to pick up classics like Amazing Spider-Man #1 along new titles like those launched in the latest reboot, Marvel Now. We’ll do our best to update on the condition of the digital stores where you can get your free books as the day goes on. Let us know what sort of luck you’re having in the comments!
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