Digital vs Physical Comics

I don't remember this but my parents have told me they used comic books to get me to practice reading. Apparently that's all I wanted to try. I am a lifelong fan of comics, and the more access I've gotten, the more I've wanted to read. Every chance I had I would go to a comic store. When I got my driver's license I started going weekly (on Wednesdays of course). Eventually I did move to buying some online at Discount Comic Book Service (no I don't work there, I'm just a longtime customer). 

I had previously looked at digital comics on my iPhone and my parents' iPad 2. I could see why people liked them but I didn't think it would be for me. Then I got an iPad 3 (the first with a retina display). At that point I looked at digital comics again and I couldn't deny how great they looked. I started reading the Marvel books that came with redemption codes (via Comixology) on my iPad even though I had the physical copy.  After awhile I came to a conclusion.... While I always thought of my self as a comic collector, I was really a comic reader. Collecting was just a by-product. I started buying more of my books digitally and almost two years ago, I stopped going to my Local Comic Store altogether. I struggled with that descision for quite a while. At that point I had gone to that same store for half my life. I also changed my DCBS orders to only include Marvel titles priced $3.99 and up. These are the only ones that come with a digital redemption code. 

Reading on the iPad via Comixology just had so many benefits for me. I acknowledge these won't apply to everyone, but for me:

  • The art looked better. 
  • There were no ads in the middle of the story. 
  • There were no shipping errors. 
  • If the books had an error (like a typo) they could be updated and corrected.  
  • I could get my books much earlier in the day.  Some as early as 6am. Almost always by 9am all the publishers I read were updated. 
  • I could get my books anywhere I had a data connection.  
  • They were often cheaper. Many publishers drop the price of a book 4 or 8 weeks after release. If I'm willing to be a bit behind (which I am) I can save money and/or buy more (buy more usually wins). 
  • I could pay via my iTunes account. This meant even more savings since I buy iTunes cards on discounts when retail stores put them on sale.  
  • I could travel with far more access to issues, and carry them more easily. 
  • Its far easier to store a digital comic than a physical one.   
  • Due to the availability of .99 sales and free issues I've greatly expanded what I read. 

I should also add that I have a basic subscription to Marvel Unlimited. It certainly has its faults but overall it's a great program that continues to improve.  

"The Archives" 

"The Archives" 

I still buy most my Marvel books via DCBS, but other than redeeming the codes and adding them to my database of my physical archives, I don't do anything with them. If you're curious you can browse my physical collection here. It currently sits at 12,179 issues (trade paperbacks count as 1). 

I would be remiss if I didn't point out a couple negatives. I really struggled when Comixology was bought by Amazon and in app purchases were removed. I still buy any comics through the Comixology powered publisher apps that I can (though I liked having that ability in the main app more). For the rest of the books I want I use their website (I just vastly prefer the app experience.)  I was really disappointed when IDW moved their app away from Comixology to another brand that I strongly dislike. Luckily, I only read one IDW book and I can still get it through the Comixology website. Even better, with a recent iOS app update Comixology showed they are still very entrenched in iOS. 

The single biggest negative I see though is people missing the social aspects of the comic book store. There is a lot of truth to that, but I rarely actually socialized at the store.  I speak with friends about comics and participate in online groups. For me that fulfills the social side enough. 

While I hesitate to say "never," I will say I can't foresee a time I will voluntarily choose to go back to physical comics.