someone paid attention to me!
(I'm going to quote and reply to this article, any parts I leave out are not meant as a slight, but more either I think I already/will cover it or I don't think we really disagreed on the point)
In a recent RU's Views post, GHERU expressed his opinions on digital comic books, and started the post off by writing that he was "not convinced, yet." I am taking that "yet" as a sign of hope for GHERU, and others like him. Digital comics have changed the way I read, purchase, and appreciate the comic book industry in general, so I feel I must take it upon myself to convince GHERU to join the digital-side.
I realize that I did not make it clear – but I too enjoy reading digital comics there is a reason I jumped on the sales I mentioned. I just do not think they are worth the full price or $1 off they cost most of the time
GHERU writes: "Comics are too expensive." While they may in fact be "expensive" I certainly do not think they are "too" expensive. GHERU also argues that the entertainment value of the comic book is about 10 minutes, yet later in his post GHERU mentions letting others borrow the comic. If others are viewing/reading the comic then the entertainment time will go up. Plus, when you reread the comic book...you can add more time to the entertainment value.
All can be done with books and movies as well, not to mention video games.
Why would kids still choose to get into comics? Because they're fucking awesome! That's why.
Why does GHERU still read comics? Why do I? Why do many of us? Comic books bring together the written word and compelling art to tell stories that can't be told in a movie or on TV or conveyed in a novel. Plus, children can pace themselves with a comic book and take plenty of time to read/view/experience it. I image children spend more than 10 minutes on each comic book, as well. I use to reread my comics weekly.
The thing is, I was able to get into comics because they were ~$1 an issue. Nothing else that was available to me was as cheap as comic books. Nowadays, the cost of a comic book to a child – who is probably shopping with mom or dad – is a deterrent when they see what else they can get for the price of a couple comics.
Going back to my point that comic books are not "too" expensive...I believe they are priced for the times. Comics continue to rise in price because wages continue to go up. Wages that consumers make and wages that professional comic book creators make. Sure creators don't make as much as some fans believe they should but they still make money. Proven creators make more and newer creators tend to make less. This is often why Marvel Comics and DC comics tend to cost quite a bit more in physical form and digital. Their talent tends to be more proven and elite, and that talent is paid well for their work.
I’d argue that when compared to earlier eras in quality, length of story, amount of actual story told, ect the cost of comics and the amounts paid to the superstars producing them are disproportionate to the product and well above inflation rates
Good comic books are expensive because an army of talented people work on them, and they need to be compensated so they continue to create more.
What explains the high cost of shitty comics?
So though many people are still involved in the production of digital comic books, why are they still the same price as paper comic books if the paper is taken out of the equation? This is actually a question that bugs me a lot because it is based on a false premise. The question assumes the price of the digital comic book remains static. This simply isn't true.
Then why are digital downloads of any other product cheaper than a physical copy?
While the digital comic book does cost the same as a paper comic book when it first hits the stands and online database (digitally), the digital book does eventually go down in cost.
Where we disagree is that I do not believe that a digital comic should ever start off the same price as a physical one. Especially when considering LCS pull list discounts and online comic book services.
The last thing GHERU mentions in regards to the price of new digital comic books is that since there are no ads in digital books, digital comics remain expensive. While this may be partially true, I think the price has more to do with paying for the services that don't come along with the paper product such as paying the company who maintains the digital software, the employees who transfer comics and create navigational reading for the individual books. You don't simply transfer a file to the digital distributor and then the comic is ready to sell. There are people behind the scenes making digital comics possible...and they need to be paid.
The people behind the Kindle service need to be paid, and yet…
Besides the cost of digital comic books, the idea of ownership seems to be a big sticking point for many collectors. The action of "loaning" a book to a pal seems impossible unless you let someone borrow your tablet, but as many know one can simply let a friend log into their online account and read any comic purchased through the specific database. If you are willing to lend a comic why wouldn't you be willing to give out your comic log in information? Okay, you're paranoid. That's cool. Change your password after a few days.
Because they could accidentally buy things from my account that I cannot return. Giving away a log in is not the same as letting someone borrow a book. For one, if I lend it out they can take their time, some people are very busy, but if I change my password after a few days, they might not have finished the Y: The Last Man trade that I wanted them to read.
"But Dom," a hypothetical person may ask, "What if I want to take my book to a FedEx-Kinkos and blow up a cover or panel into a poster? There can't be any technology more advanced than a scanner, can there?" Well hypo, you're in luck. With digital comics you can take a screenshot or snipit and put it onto a flash drive to take to the FedEx-Kinkos. On the iPad you just need to hold down the power button and the circle button to take a screen shot. Plus, if you want to zoom in on a panel you can do that in panel by panel cinema mode (or whatever it's called). The picture will be more clear and crisp then it ever was when you were scanning it from your physical copy like a sucker.
Figuring out a screen shot on a digital comic that (if you are lucky) was $1 off, loading it onto the USB drive that you (well, maybe just me) can never find, and taking all that to Kinkos sounds much more convenient and economical than taking just a physical book to the store.
What I'm trying to tell GHERU is that he can do the things he wanted, and wants, to do with his digital comic book. GHERU just didn't know how to do them. In this case, don't hate the game (digital comics), hate the player (yourself). If only there was a website with forums where you could ask others for advise on all things comic books...
nothing described yet is worth the extra money digital comics cost current collectors.
I've always felt ownership is only an issue for comic book collectors, not comic book readers. A comic book reader is a person who enjoys comics but has no physical connection to them. A collector may love comic books, but their main characteristic is that they just like to collect. Comic book collectors sometimes get angry when I say this to them, but I am not saying they enjoy comic books any less, they just simply enjoy collecting, as well...even if the only thing they collect is comic books.
If something costs the same, or more, than what I am currently getting why is it so wrong to expect, at least, the same amount of options?
I once was a collector but now I'm just a comic book reader. It doesn't mean I appreciate the comic stories more or less, it just means I appreciate my living space. My comic book boxes stopped paying rent a long time ago, so I kicked them out physically. Fortunately because of the internet and my tablet/computer many of them are still with me in spirit...and content.
Good for you
Check out what I did with my old collection!
GHERU brings up another great point about not being able to lend a digital comic book (without lending a whole online account) when he references other things you can lend, such as CDs and MP3s. Did readers know that major music labels plan to abandon CD releases by the end of 2012? This means their (most) physical product is going away.
but not the digital files (MP3s) that I can still lend to friends?
At this point I must concede one point to GHERU. The Comixology app doesn't have a history section (though it does have a "Purchases" section) which is something some would enjoy having for quick pricing reference. Of course one can always check their apple iTunes payment records (if purchased through an IPad), but that does take some time. The great thing about apps is that they can evolve. You can always send a quick message to Comixology (through the app) with suggestions or bugs you find. Do not fear the future, GHERU. Help make it one you'll enjoy!
Again, and I do appreciate your article very much, it seems that where we disagree is that I do not think this kind of a hassle is worth cover price (or a bit less). I know about the sales, I pimped them in my original article, but waiting because some day 100 Bullets might be available for 99 cents an issue is not a feasible alternative to Amazon (used) or eBay trades, especially if you want to try it out.
Even granting all of that, I am still a slave to however ComiXology decides to store, name, sort, ect my comics. The meta-data of a MP3 can be changed, same with an e-book for my IPad (not my Kindle app though), and any movie I download. All of these formats are cheaper than a physical one but I still have all of the options the physical format provides me. That is my main issue. It maybe a small thing, it maybe a “collector’s mindset”, it maybe (is) a product of my anal need to organize things, but
So what is so great about digital comics? Follow this think to find out why I'm sold on digital comics.
Blocked at work
I'd love to hear feedback on what the community thinks in terms of their digital comic book fears, so feel free to comment with your thoughts on the...digital future (said in a spooky voice). Oh, and a big thanks to GHERU for bringing up many great points with which a ton of comic book readers identify.
Thanks again for the rebuttal, I really do appreciate it.
I do think that digital comics have the ability to save, or at least revitalize comic books, but my main problem is still cost vs value. When I first got my IPad I thought I’d switch over to digital easily. My plan was that any new comic book series would be purchased digitally and eventually my physical pull list would fade away. But when I can get my comics at 10-20% off day of at an LSC or 40% off through mail order there is no compelling argument for me to make the switch to (legal) digital downloads.
I know of several new to comics adults who have asked me if I read some comics they found digitally (usually Chew), but for digital comics to reach its potential existing readers will need financial reasons to overcome their (our) collector's mentality.