Digital publishing is changing the industry, from the author to the reader and everyone in between. The comic book industry is also turning digital. Now, I’ve been reading comic books since I was 8 years old, and I visit my local comic shop every week. Comics are as much a part of my personal reading as traditional prose is, so I’m very happy to see comics embracing new technology. But comics are facing many of the same problems the traditional book publishing world is dealing with, and more. For example, digital comics still have technical issues, with different apps providing different reading experiences with different ways of jumping from panel to panel, and still none of them can figure out how to satisfyingly reproduce a full-page spread.
However, I have also noticed some very positive trends in digital comic publishing.
(For those of you who are unaware of how comics are published: Comics are released every Wednesday. Hundreds of comics are released every week, and comic book stores display the new releases on the walls or on magazine racks. As the comic-book-buyer looks at the new releases, he or she grabs what they like – “pulling” it off the wall. New purchases have been lovingly nicknamed “pulls.” Comics are generally published serially, month to month. So Spider-Man Volume 1 will come out first week in January, and Volume 2 first week in February. Meanwhile, X-Men will come out on the second week of the month, and Captain America on the third, etc.)
I have said for the longest time that I refuse to buy an eReader until I get an ebook bundled with the purchase of a physical copy. (I simply prefer paper, and I don’t see myself buying a digital book and not wanting the physical copy on my bookshelf.) Marvel is going to start doing just that in January with their Ultimate line and several Graphic Novels.
Comixology, the leading digital comic retailer and online comic book resource, is utilizing what they call “digital storefronts,” so that the customers can buy digital comics though their local stores, and so continue to support them. The comics cost the same to the consumer, but the retailer is the specific shop – not Comixology. Comixology also fully supports physical sales by linking your “pull list” – your picks for the week – with your local comic book shop, so that they hold them for you.
The incorporation of digital editions in the comic book world utilizes and embraces the brick-and-mortar, physical side of things.
I, for one, would like to see the traditional publishing world follow suit.