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Old 04-21-2011, 11:41 AM   #1
Alfy
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Current state of digital comics

Hi everyone,

For those who haven't seen it yet, IGN has a great review of various digital comics stores. It gives a fairly good overview of what is available out there, both on tablets and on computer:

Review of digital comics

As I myself am not overjoyed with what is currently available, I wrote my own longish critical piece, not as well written but including some anti-DRM ranting :

The not so good in digital comics
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:37 PM   #2
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They need to compete with the quality and ease of use of the pirate versions otherwise they may as well not bother.
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Old 04-21-2011, 03:16 PM   #3
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Digital comics are pretty cool on the iPad. The comic apps have scripted panel navigation that automatically zooms in on each panel and animate to next prev panel. Remember the title sequence in spiderman 2 that recaps the first movie in comic book form? It looks like that.

I imagine androids have similar apps.
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Old 04-21-2011, 04:58 PM   #4
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I've tried a few apps like Graphical.ly, and really not had much success. Much more of a pain than apps that use the CBR/CBZ format (which, yes, you can find legit comics in those formats).

Plus the pricing. It is as much or cheaper to get a paper copy. Plus with the paper copy, you still have the potential increase in value. I know my comic collection I can resell and profit off it, where as you can't resell comics, let alone even break even.

Comics are still something I feel that the digital version offer little reason to switch.
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Old 04-21-2011, 06:34 PM   #5
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Comics are still something I feel that the digital version offer little reason to switch.
American comics are too small for me. Digital ones, when done properly, look good on a big laptop monitor turned on its side. Even better on a 50" TV screen.
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Old 04-22-2011, 02:52 AM   #6
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Plus the pricing. It is as much or cheaper to get a paper copy. Plus with the paper copy, you still have the potential increase in value. I know my comic collection I can resell and profit off it, where as you can't resell comics, let alone even break even.
You are right about the resellability part, but no, digital comics are actually cheaper to purchase than the dead tree ones. I feel pricing is the one thing the publishers got right. Then they got fairly to mostly wrong almost everything else: fragmentation of formats, incompatibilities between apps, DRMs, poor coding of the interfaces...
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Old 04-22-2011, 04:59 AM   #7
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You are right about the resellability part, but no, digital comics are actually cheaper to purchase than the dead tree ones. I feel pricing is the one thing the publishers got right. Then they got fairly to mostly wrong almost everything else: fragmentation of formats, incompatibilities between apps, DRMs, poor coding of the interfaces...
Depends on where you buy I guess. When I've looked at digital comics, most have been in the $2-3 range, which is about what I pay at my local shop for new releases. Back issues, it isn't difficult to get for a buck a pop, but digital back issues I've not generally seen be that cheap.
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Old 04-22-2011, 07:42 AM   #8
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They need to compete with the quality and ease of use of the pirate versions otherwise they may as well not bother.
Agreed. Actually what quickly came to mind is the massive manga scantalations community. It means that there's massive demand for translated unaltered Japanese comics that no commercial entity has ever managed to satisfy. While printing dead tree comics may not make sense for the scale of some titles, I think digital could be the answer.

I'm not saying commercial translations or fan translations are better, but fans, especially comic book fans, will find ways of getting what they want if the official routes don't meet demand.
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Old 04-22-2011, 09:14 AM   #9
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I'm not saying commercial translations or fan translations are better, but fans, especially comic book fans, will find ways of getting what they want if the official routes don't meet demand.
That's why they need to at least compete on quality with the pirate ones. Like with ebooks, the publishers have already given the pirates a 10 year headstart.

And while it's true that it was the pirate community that created enough demand to make it worth the publishers putting out legal versions, if the quality isn't as good with the legal ones I can't really see many people switching.

It's not like there is much of a mainstream audience for comics like there is with prose books, so people interested in digital ones will already be using the pirate versions. Especially since until a couple of years ago the publishers turned a blind eye to it.
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Old 04-22-2011, 10:46 AM   #10
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You are right about the resellability part, but no, digital comics are actually cheaper to purchase than the dead tree ones. I feel pricing is the one thing the publishers got right. Then they got fairly to mostly wrong almost everything else: fragmentation of formats, incompatibilities between apps, DRMs, poor coding of the interfaces...
I don't think they got the price completely right, though Comixology is coming close with DC.

Right now they're selling day and date at same as cover ($2.99), and dropping to $1.99 once the next issue comes out. That part's not too bad. The problem comes when they have a hundred or more back issues going back five to ten years and all of those are $1.99 too.

Price won't be right until the real backlist is down around $0.99 an issue.

As for the interface - Mr. Ploppy is absolutely right - none of the commercial services offer any formats that come anywhere near the ease of use of CBR/CBZ. Nothing else comes anywhere close.
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Old 04-22-2011, 11:20 AM   #11
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I don't think they got the price completely right, though Comixology is coming close with DC.

Right now they're selling day and date at same as cover ($2.99), and dropping to $1.99 once the next issue comes out. That part's not too bad. The problem comes when they have a hundred or more back issues going back five to ten years and all of those are $1.99 too.

Price won't be right until the real backlist is down around $0.99 an issue.

As for the interface - Mr. Ploppy is absolutely right - none of the commercial services offer any formats that come anywhere near the ease of use of CBR/CBZ. Nothing else comes anywhere close.
I do mention the problem of the high prices for back issues in my review. However, there are some very nice exceptions. Imagine's "Proof", for example, can be had for 0.99$ an issue for the entire run. Marvel's "Monday comics" is also a nice way to get entire runs for that price. There are some good deals to be had for those who like browsing around.

As for the format, when has any publisher in any media gone for a format as easy to use as the one used for pirated copies? DRMed mp3? DRMed ePub? This is not an unusual trend, however much I dislike it. My biggest beef for now is the complete absence of user owned backups on actual computers, something at was never done for music or ebooks. I am not talking about subscription music here, I mean the equivalent of actually not having any copy of an mp3 but on your iPad. It is incredible these publishers really expect us to be happy leaving our copies on the cloud...
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Old 04-22-2011, 12:16 PM   #12
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I've been wary of any of the services/apps, because I've found so few of the new comics or back issues I'm interested in to be available in digital formats. OTOH, I haven't checked all of the services/apps out yet.
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Old 04-22-2011, 04:33 PM   #13
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I really like the Comixology interface. Had it on my iPhone and now on my Android tablet. Couldn't get the Marvel one to work properly on the iPhone so dumped it.
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Old 04-22-2011, 09:01 PM   #14
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Quote:
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As for the format, when has any publisher in any media gone for a format as easy to use as the one used for pirated copies? DRMed mp3? DRMed ePub? This is not an unusual trend, however much I dislike it. My biggest beef for now is the complete absence of user owned backups on actual computers, something at was never done for music or ebooks. I am not talking about subscription music here, I mean the equivalent of actually not having any copy of an mp3 but on your iPad. It is incredible these publishers really expect us to be happy leaving our copies on the cloud...

Yes, they are the most paranoid, by far, which is bizarre. Given as has been mentioned you can pretty much get anything for free fairly soon after they come out. Plus also close to any comic ever, at least in English, anyway. So the commercial offerings are far, far inferior in usability and availability. Except for the usability on tiny phones I suppose where they have an optimised panel by panel viewer thing.

And bookstore chain crashes will potentially chop heaps of sales off their trade paperback numbers.
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Old 04-23-2011, 12:15 PM   #15
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Yes, they are the most paranoid, by far, which is bizarre. Given as has been mentioned you can pretty much get anything for free fairly soon after they come out. Plus also close to any comic ever, at least in English, anyway.
In a legitimate source?

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I really like the Comixology interface. Had it on my iPhone and now on my Android tablet. Couldn't get the Marvel one to work properly on the iPhone so dumped it.
It's not a bad interface, but I don't like the preview... too small to read, and 3 pages don't give you much.
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