Headlines We Saw Coming: iPad Sees Rise in Digital Comics

Well, duh.

While the rest of the world may find such information, courtesy of CNN, to be rather surprising (or something?) the geeks  just nod their heads. Do we get points for being forward-thinking? Probably not.

Either way, apparently—shock of shocks—the iPad has given comics a major boost. While everyone’s been busy talking about the death of publishing, and typically referring to books rather than graphic novels, comics have risen in sales on the digital front rather impressively. According to CNN, ICv2 reports “sales of between $500,000-$1 million of digital comic sales on mobile apps in 2009.”

Of all the things I’ve seen on the iPad, I have to admit comics probably look the most slick. Maybe it has to do with the screen, or the tactile quality—since you can zoom in and flip through with remarkable precision—but I’m almost willing to say the iPad, and other similar digital readers capable of displaying them, actually enhances the comic reading experience. Books just feel too different to me, but in many cases comics feel more intimate, beefier, more immersive. The experience is just far more dynamic. Not to mention it’s a total paper saver.

So selling more comics is good, especially by geek standards. But what does all this mean for the typical comics stores we all know and love? Well, just like the bookstores, there’s going to be a good deal of growing pains if the digital format really takes flight (and as things stand, it’s hard to argue it won’t). Currently there are some conflicting reports on the matter, as CNN reports, from those convinced digitizing comics will end the small store operations to those who find the iPad applications have actually garnered more sales and brought in new customers. And then there’s the contingent that just doesn’t care one way or the other.

But there is something to be said about community. Part of the reason consumers visit comic book stores, record stores, and book stores, has less to do with finding media at a good price and more to do with social interaction. That personal touch is what makes the buying experience so special. As Jeremy Atkins of Dark Horse Comics says, as quoted in the article:

“If you actually look at what happened to the record industry, a lot of the smaller record stores continue to thrive. I’m still more likely to want to talk to the people working in a record store or comics shop. I like having a rapport with people who understand what I like. Ultimately, there’s still no substitute for that.”

What are your opinions on digital comics? Are you reading more comics now that they’re easier to purchase? Are there any drawbacks you’ve noticed? Do you think an online community will ever replace the local rapport of comics shops?

[Image CC-BY-SA-3.0]


4 Responses to Headlines We Saw Coming: iPad Sees Rise in Digital Comics

  1. I feel comics have become too expensive and the major story arcs too long and over too many titles. That being said, I would read them all with a digital comic subscription that was affordable and all encompassing. Books will still be printed and in more limited quantities to preserve the collector's market. But digital will be a great way for the big two and the indie publishers to get even more cross over potential with their movie franchises (as evidenced by the movie/comic disconnect at the recent SDCC.)

  2. Honestly, I don't think I'd want to read comics on a tablet-esque device .. maybe that's because I just don't have one.. but really.. I enjoy flipping the pages and being able to read them when the power goes out/batteries are dead :P .. I also agree about the stores being a place for social interaction.. and in some cases, it's "a place to go/something to do"

  3. I have nearly $7000 worth of manga (Japanese comics) and they take up quite a lot of physical space. I would love to be able to buy my manga digitally if it were a bit cheaper. Not only would I be able to carry more with me while traveling it would also look a little more professional.

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