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The digital divide

The digital divide
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First Published: Fri, Aug 05 2011. 08 49 PM IST

Net gain? The ComiXology app
Net gain? The ComiXology app
Updated: Fri, Aug 05 2011. 08 49 PM IST
I’m still undecided.
Last year, I wrote about the experience of reading comics on the iPad (very nice) and the app ComiXology. Since then, I am happy to report, I have bought a few dozen (maybe more, but why talk numbers) comics from the store. Over this period, the ComiXology store has grown to include around 45 publishers of comics, including all the big known ones and several of the lesser-known ones. It still doesn’t include publishers focused on graphic novels, such as Drawn & Quarterly and Fantagraphics, but it has most of the rest.
Net gain? The ComiXology app
Depending on what you buy, the cost could vary from $0.99, or around Rs 44 (for comics on sale), to $1.99 (stand-alone single-issue comics) to $4.99 or $5.99 (trade paperbacks and graphic novels).
ComiXology is moving to a same-day-as-print release for some comics at least, although this isn’t happening as fast as I would have liked it to. When this becomes more the norm than the exception—I think it is just a matter of time and should definitely happen within a year—there will be another strong reason to buy comics on the iPad. Right now, though, there are several other very good reasons. The first is availability. Again, there is room to improve, but ComiXology definitely has more comics on sale than most comic book stores even in the US, which means it has far far more than any book store selling comics in India. It’s also a convenient way to pick issues you have missed.
The second is resolution. Like I mentioned in the first piece I wrote about comics on the iPad (http://www.livemint.com/batmancomics.htm), there’s something to be said for the reproduction of colours and images on the screen. It is also possible to expand individual panels.
So, why am I still hesitant to make a complete shift to digital comics?
After all, I no longer buy books in physical form.
Unlike collectors who prefer single issues, I buy trade paperbacks (collecting several comics) and commemorative volumes (called Absolute editions by one comic book publisher), so I am not sure the small fortune I have spent on comics over the years has appreciated. While trade paperbacks are a lot more substantial than individual editions, and are also usually printed on better paper, they have practically no resale value.
Thinking about this behaviour has made me realize that I do exactly the same thing when it comes to music.
I do buy a lot of digital music, but I still remain a CD man. Now, CDs are the trade paperbacks of the music world, just like vinyls are the single issues; and they too have no collector or resale value.
I’d like to put this down to the generation I belong to, one that was born in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and started working around the time India opened up its economy in the early 1990s. It’s a generation that is comfortable with technology but isn’t immersed in it like the ones that followed.
R. Sukumar is editor, Mint.Write to him at cultfiction@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Aug 05 2011. 08 49 PM IST
More Topics: Cult Fiction | R Sukumar | Comics | iPad | Apps |