Eleven major Franco-Belgian publishers making up 50% of the market, including Dargaud, Dupuis, Lombard and Casterman have collaborated to offer their books online through the Izneo website. While Soliel has announced it wioll work through Digibidi
Izneo works as a digital comics rental site, where you can pay 1.99 Euros to read a comic for ten days. The print purchase cost is usually around 10-15 Euros.
However, it appears that the author's union is protesting the fact that the publishers haven't been contacting the comic books' creators about this move. They used the recent Paris book convention to launch a collective call for the renegotiation of the creator's share in online publishing. This call was signed by 760 authors and some of the biggest names in European comics, including Arleston (Lanfeust), Francq (Largo Winch), Schuiten (Cités obscures), Midam (Kid Paddle), Desberg (Le Scorpion), Sfar (Le Chat du rabbin). This group represent 50% of all French speaking authors active in Belgium and France, comics or not. All these guys are, as of now, refusing any further digitalization of their work. A manifesto/petition has been launched asking publishers to negotiate over the sales of these rights. As it stands, European authors only get between 8 and 12 % of the digital revenues whereas American creator-owned colleagues get close to 25%. And apparently authors have to sign off their digital rights until 70 years after their death. It's worth pointing out that in France, publishers do not usually own any rights over the content, characters, merely publication rights – and media rights are usually a point of negotiation.
Authors are also worried about having no say in the way their work is presented on what could very quickly become their main source of diffusion. Publishers on the other hand only see it as a direct transposition of the paper version and don't see the necessity of getting authors involved, which would result in the creation of an "adaptation" of the original work and thus cost them more money.
Could we see a comic book strike hit mainland Europe soon?