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How Do You Feel About Digital Comic Distribution?

Reading Comics Online

A digital age of comics may be upon us.  How do you feel, will you embrace it?  When I went to see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance tonight, I got in with something called a mobile ticket.  I paid electronically to have a bar code sent to my cellular phone.  When I arrived at the theater, I presented the text message to them and they scanned the lines.  Neat trick, you like?  As our use of technology continues to evolve, it becomes more a part of our everyday lives.  The so called “Digital Age” has already begun to make its impact on our photography, music, novels and our movies.  As this revolution sweeps over the land, it’s finally becoming more prevalent in the world of comic books.

Exactly how prevalent is hard to determine, as digital publishers are not often very forthcoming with their sales figures.  Recent estimates put last year’s digital totals around $25 million.  Whatever the exact number was (or how DC Logomuch growth it represented), it obviously approached one high enough to persuade DC to go same day digital.  You can now buy your digital copy of a comic book online the same day the material is released in stores!  This also seems to make the statement that the electronic version is not just an add-on or an extra, it’s every bit as legitimate as the one printed on paper.  Some have gone as far as to release titles exclusively via digital formats.

If the numbers are right and the trend continues, digital sales could account for 10 % or more of the total market in 2012.  Does this mean we should start a widespread panic over the death of the printed page? No, but it does raise some very serious questions about the future of the hobby though.  At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I do think we may be living in a very important era in comics.  We’re at a crossroads where decisions will be made that can set us on either one course, or another.  The companies may own the rights to the characters, and the general public may hold the heroes closer to their hearts as they become more mainstream, but I still think of comic books as “our” thing, if you know what I mean.  So this is our decision to make.

Picard weighs the options.

In a capitalist society, we vote with our wallets- or wherever else you may keep your money!  The “Digital Age” gives us a myriad of ways to express ourselves as well.  We vote with our comments on websites and forums.  We vote with our emails to the people in charge, with our blogs and our tweets.  Fan campaigns can be heard, and as a fan and a customer your voice deserves to be heard.  You also owe it to them and to yourself to make your opinion an informed one.

If you already feel against it, maybe you should give it a shot!  Comixology is making that easier with their ongoing President’s Day sale on Marvel Icon titles that runs through Monday night.  If you already want to rush into it, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to slow down and try to visualize some of the alternate futures a shift like this could bring about.  If you’re sitting on the sidelines, get off the bench!  Who knows, your idea or opinion on the subject could be the one that optimizes things for everyone.  Don’t let someone else weigh all the pros and cons, get out there and YOU be the judge!

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Comments (7)

HA! I thought the Picard pic was Grant Morrison at first glance!

I personally don't buy digital comics too often. I prefer to have my actual collection available to me in hand where I can touch it!

That said, I wouldn't be opposed to buying a few digital books here and there on occasion! For example, if I'm going on vacation I might load up on digital comics to read on the plane or something so that my real books stay safe at home!

I buy all my monthly books digitally. Thinking I may still want to buy the collected volumes of The Walking Dead in print trade form.

This was really well done, nice job dude!

I like to collect comic books. There is a sort of ritual that goes with it. The gentle handling, boarding and bagging, sealing it with tape (I'm a one piece in the middle guy), taking care to store it safely. I enjoy that.

Remember record stores? You've seen what digital music did to them. I liked going to record stores, now I either go to Best Buy or iTunes. It's not the same. You don't want share your passion for music with the guy that wants to sell you a washing machine or a phone. The same goes for comics. If they are in a comic book store chances are they a passionate about comics too. Don't get me wrong, online forums like this one are great for comic talk, but there isn't quite the same sense of community. And it might not be too bad for a big retailer like Barnes and Noble to have a comic book section. As long as they had a dedicated area and staff.

But not all comics are worth the ritual. I bought the 4 issues of Robert Kirkman's "The Infinite" only to find out there would not be anymore issues. I like Kirkman, but I spent around $12 and invested time in an unfinished, discarded story! In this situation, if digital comics were cheaper and if this one were available digitally (I don't know) I wish I would have bought digital or better still, not at all. Also, "Champion!" has it right. Their iPad magazine is 99 cents. Digital comics should be priced at 99 cents too.

Skott of Fables

Not a digital comics guy. At all.

I think there is much speculation about the actual impact and growth of digital, mostly because publishers aren't willing to release the numbers. If it was such a success why not boast about it? I've long wondered about that.

I also think those people out there saying 'this is it! the end of print comics!' need to look back at comics history. Seems like very 5 years something comes up and it's the 'end of print comics!' yet, they are still here.

I remember when people were saying monthlies were going to die because people would rather get trades or graphic novels, some nonsense about people preferring one thick volume every six months as opposed to a chapter a month. Never made sense to me and never happened.

Digital will always be a companion to print. Some people need it because they don't have a shop near them and possibly don't know about online subscription services. Some may not have the room for a collection. All valid reasons for needing the digital format.

But for those who think digital is the only way to have comics and people like me need to just accept it (there are people like that) I have a simple question: How are you going to get a digital comic signed by the creator at a convention?

They are a companion not really a replacement, in my opinion.

But if comics ever go 100% digital in my lifetime then, as I've said before, I'm done buying new comics. I'll have plenty of older ones to re-read, lol

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