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Digital Comics #FAIL

Posted onAugust 9, 2011 by     Leave a comment

When the DCnU launches, the sole digital outlet is through Comixology. They provide content from other suppliers, too – including Marvel, so it looks as though they are winning the race to be dominant provider. Which is fine, except for one thing: when you buy a comic, you are only buying the right to read it, not own it.

I’ve heard it compared to watching a streaming movie, rather than buying a DVD.

And that’s the sticking point, right there. It’s not the same thing. Reading a comic is a shorter and more individual experience; one that I prefer full control of and choice of where I do it. ┬áLong-time comic collectors are just not going to get their heads around this. There is no download: you have to be online in order to read comics you “own”.

Last Saturday, the Comixology website was down for “temporary maintenance” for at least 2 hours – quite probably a lot more but I stopped checking. All that time, you can’t read the comics you’ve paid for. And if they mangle their database or go out of business, bang go your comics. You’re renting them, not buying them.

The problem, I fear, is that they have focussed on stopping piracy instead of producing a good service. I don’t think that’s the way to do this – the scanners will still scan the printed versions and torrent them as CBR files for the scavengers. All they’re really doing is acting on paranoia and, simultaneously, losing me as a customer.

I don’t mind being locked in to your application to read the comics but I want to be able to download them, back them up and read them offline whenever I wish, networked or not. It is possible – Graphic.ly* do it, allowing download of an encrypted version that can be read offline (although, it has to be said, it does appear that you need to be online for a minute or so to log the software in).

Android and iPhone apps download a version, but I’m not reading comics on an iPod (too small!) and an iPad is an unnecessary luxury, so not that either. So I guess I’m out of the new digital frontier. No streaming comics for me, thanks.

Print is better, of course, but I’m running out of space so this is a disappointing dead end…

 

*Home of the excellent Billy the Monster Hunter, for one thing!

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