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Comics in the Digital Age

July 29, 2009

With all the hoopla over Barnes & Noble getting back into the e-book game last week, my thoughts naturally turned to comics.

No, that’s not how it happened. Comic Con was last week, and since one of my fondest childhood memories is sneaking into my brother’s room to read the latest Daredevil, I wanted to find out what’s new in the world of superheroes. Also, I remembered a story earlier this year about comic publishers’ concerns over e-comics eating into their profits and bringing about the comic apocalypse, so I thought I’d go digging for updates.

And lo, there is a significant development: The debut of the next generation of an iPhone app from ComiXology. Here’s a snippet from their news release:

“The Comics by comiXology App is a digital comic store, library and reader for iPhone and iPod touch that is launching with over 100 titles available from twenty popular comic publishers and many independent comic writers.”

The most exciting thing about this app is its ability to view entire pages of a comic at the same time. Previous apps have split pages into smaller panels, which eliminates the joy of seeing the layout as the artists intended. The 1:30 mark in the video below illustrates why this matters.

Of course, if you view your comics on a Kindle, you can already see entire pages, all nice and big. In black and white. I believe this is what kids nowadays call a “fail.”

The other thing this new app should do nicely is boost sales. It will achieve this by connecting with retailers who carry comics from the publishing partners so that users can update their “pull list” within the app. (For the uninitiated, this is a list of comics they have set aside on a weekly basis.) This means that their stack of goodies will be waiting for them when they arrive at the store, and they won’t have had to make a pesky phone call to get to that point.

So, as this blogger pointed out back in April, even with the original ComiXology app, you could see true connected commerce in action.

“I visit Isotope and James presents my selections, suggesting a few new books I might be interested in. I agree to give them a try, he updates my pull list on his Mac through the Comixology site, immediately updating on my iPhone. I review the list — everything looks good — and tap the “checkout” button in the app. Pre-loaded funds are immediately withdrawn from my Apple iTunes account; James receives an instant payment confirmation and I can take my comics to go without having ever reached for my wallet.”

The other thing you can see in action with ComiXology? That old chestnut, “Evolve or die.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Crystal permalink*
    August 12, 2009 8:00 pm

    Heidi, I don’t know why I’m suprised you’re a comx nerd. Terrific post.

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