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]

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