Digital Comics: Should You Switch?

Senior Contributor
12.19.11 6 Comments

Until September of this year, it was a pretty clear ebb and flow in comics: Marvel was number one, and DC was number two. Then the New 52 launched, and all hell broke loose.
DC’s been handing Marvel their collective rectum for three straight months, although the margin is dropping, and it looks like it’s going to be at least a four-month streak, and for some DC books, sales are going up.
Meanwhile, though, digital comics have also been rampaging through the sales charts. Apple isn’t precisely forthcoming with data, but as a rule, Comixology is number one in publishing apps, month in and month out, and comic book apps dominate the sales charts in the publishing category.
But should you switch? We weighed digital versus paper issues…and the results might surprise you.

This one’s really a no-brainer: even with the tablet we recommend for comics, a hacked Nook Color, you’re still paying, at minimum, $250 before you so much as buy an issue on a digital platform. Sure, you can use a tablet for other things, and it’s useful if it’s your primary computer. Also, after 30 days, issues become cheaper, at $2, on most apps. But if you don’t want to wait, or can’t…why bother anyway?
Winner: Paper.
You’d think digital would win this one handily…but it doesn’t.
The problem is this: DC is officially day-and-date with all titles on Comixology. Marvel is only slowly rolling out day-and-date. Dark Horse is using a custom app and its Android reader is still in beta. Image is fully day-and-date, but only with; Comixology only gets “top titles” day-and-date. IDW, Boom!, and the rest all have different policies.
So, for casual readers, it’s more convenient, but for the hardcore, it might quickly become an exercise in frustration.
Then again, ask anybody who’s missed a week at the FLCS how “convenient” that can get.
Winner: We’re calling this a draw.
This one, however, has a clear winner: ask anybody who’s had to move a few longboxes to a new apartment how much better a tablet computer is for storing back issues.
Winner: Digital
This one is tricky, too.
Most current comics are, of course, available digitally, but digging into the back catalogue offered by apps reveals that most of these have huge, huge gaps. Only select issues are available right now, and it’s not like anybody is in a hurry to upload more. And the quality of the digital back catalogue can be spotty, depending on the book and the company.
We’re giving the edge to your FLCS if for no other reason than they’ll probably have a better selection.
Winner: Paper.
Essentially, it’s up to you. If you’re only reading new issues, or just need to save space, a tablet is really the way to go, but it’s going to cost you and might be frustrating. Paper, however, will take up a lot of space and you’ll have to remember to physically go to the store.
How about you? Are you switching, and if so, why? Tell us in the comments.

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