Saturday, December 8, 2007

How Digital Blew My Mind aka The First Taste is Free

Marvel Comics. Digital Distribution.

I can't remember right now how I stumbled across the information during the last week, but I did.

While the whole $5 dollars a month if you pay 54 for the whole damn year at once - kind of makes me cringe as I'm a woman currently of limited means ; Though actually even if I wasn't, I grew up in a pinching penny environment. Think of me as a black Saiunkoku Monogatari. Noble family, broke as anything. So my frugal ways will likely stay with me for life.

STILL if they can work it (things to be fixed mentioned here) it'd be wonderful for those of us, like me, who want to legally read and then buy the tradepaperbacks of the stuff we want to hold in our hands for all time.

[[ Why are there two prices listed? One obvious and the other when you press 'offer details'. That combined with the prices subject to change at any time makes me brr a little ]]

So there I am peeking at Young Avengers + Runaways, cause I keep hearing how much I'd like or at least would have liked Young Avengers. Yes, gay teens for the whooting. Gay teens who're related to Scarlet Witch? Gay teen grandchildren of Magneto? My Woot, let me show you it.

Anyway, I'm peeking and so far it's crisp. And I don't feel skeezy or confused the way I've been confused by bittorrent. But I am having just a little trouble reading. There's this odd weird cut off thing in two page. The right? (page in this direction -->) is cut off in two page view. Two page view lets it feel like a comic. So it's a shame it just isn't working.

[[ Also, why can't we save these things online? If you're paying a monthly or yearly subscription fee and they don't have to pay for distribution - Oh Diamond the stories I hear about you - then shouldn't the general costs drop?

And so I'm left thinking that if I paid 60$ a year, I'd damn well want to be able to burn my own discs with the option of a little extra to get them to make fancy disks for me! I mean some of us don't like flimsy paper issues.

We want books. We want lasting. We want it not to take up too much space! Space and the demands to treat it gentle just don't quite work for me. Also if I could get the whole of Cloak and Dagger on CD, I would pay now and eat tuna for weeks. ]]

I can't say more just yet, because it wants me to register in order to finish the reading experience and see more. I am not big on registering for something that's supposed to be enticing me to spend money. Why should you get my personal information when I don't even know if I like you yet?

On the other hand; Heroes for Hire looks as cool as it sounded, despite Misty's hair.

[[ Seriously, wtf was up with that? I can see what they were trying to accomplish. But black hair doesn't work that way, and I know they can draw squiggly lines for corn row. But it's been said before so...]]

And I'm scrolling through Generation M, (still not registered) and it looks interesting despite the massive hairball I think CIVL WAR was/is. So this could get me seeing some squee on this side of the big two's take on superheroes. I do remember hearing that the tie-ins didn't suck. And the best way to get me interested in buying a potentially good story is to make it easy and simple for me. Scrolling through the site, I realize I could finally look at She-Hulk without feeling I'd be wasting money if I didn't like it. And I saw other stuff people have tried to pimp me. General count? At least 10 series that I wouldn't look at twice before due to money and storage space/upkeep.

With the production of readers for E-Ink and e-book readers like NUUT (and possibly Bookeen) where Manga's available for download already in Japan, it's not too far down the road to where having digital copies won't restrict you to reading at a desktop or laptop - your comics could be digital and portable. So why no downloads? Why so slow to roll with the times?

Then I looked up DC's online possibilities and there my mind was blown. I consider myself a DC girl, even if my love of Batman was closely followed by a love of Marvel's Cloak & Dagger and by Dazzler with a follow up of the daily Spiderman comic strip.

I may have to rethink that self perception given that scrolling through DC's website I didn't see much that interested me in general. And then I was disappointed because DC doesn't seem to be taking parallel steps to Marvel in terms of digital distribution. For a whole hour I was faced with the prospect that ease of access to both past archival issues and current storylines might make me a Marvel girl.

Of course while googling to find out why this was so, I stumbled across a few sites that are doing digital archiving and are being dually harrassed by both Marvel and DC.

Why is it that these two can't seem to get that the future is here? I'm not sure of the legalities of it, but I'd think if other people are doing the hard work of scanning your titles and putting them up and promoting them and you want to get into the digital business, then it might make sense to create a Marvel or DC corporate sponsorship of bit-torrents. Say that they'll provide the original seeds, and sites promoting the material have to charge a minimal fee, of which they (the product licensors) get a certain percentage. The most other money they'd have to put into it is buying out or creating their own personal readers - they could make a little money that way too.

I grew up with comics, but at the moment I'd say I'm a casual comics reader. I like good stories. I love superheroes. But even if I could afford to spend the money to follow all the cross-referencing needed to get a single plot from beginning to end, I'm fairly certain I wouldn't spend it; not at those prices. That money could go to so many other things; gaming, ice-cream, netflix subscriptions, buying trades I already know I like, saving up for conventions, going to see the movies in theaters, etc.

I agree strongly with this write up here about keeping it simple and inexpensive and how causal users, or those coming back don't really want to hunt down a comic book store. I'm there right now. I'm thrilled to be into comics again (when I'm not saddened by the state of things). I'm aware of comic stores now. But I'm already going 4$ for 20something pages?!!! I don't want to have to go out of my way to find a book store on top of that. I go to local bookstores that are not the big chains once a year; in December. And I don't feel I'm missing out on the comic book buying/having experience or sense of community, because the internet has blogs and forums.

What about creating a new sub-set of the comic book lifestyle? A digital lifestyle.

[[ I now imagine myself going to a local, licensed comic book downloader, who'll put the volumes I want on cd or dvd, with various extras and interviews from the artists, inkers, colourists and writers that only they have access to via subscription to Diamond or whomever.

Maybe there's a hardcover I actually want to own, so I pick that up too. And while I'm there, I can pick up some stamps for snailmail, cause licensed comic book downloaders can use certain images to place an order with Photostamp or whomever. If I already called ahead, it's waiting. If not, the order'll ship to me. Maybe I order a couple postcards too.

There are other customers there waiting for their digital orders, so there's browsing and some talking (some of us know each other via blogs, forums and newsletters) and I avoid the corner with the overly sexy statues so I don't bus someone's chops for oggling Mary Jane's porcelain skimpy undies. Someone pimps a website I'm not subscribed to, that's all about a new Batman writer's exclusive podcasts. Someone else talks about an exclusive mini-series cartoon (think CloneWars) that can only be gotten through the official licensed downloads, as an extra. And I pout about missing it, since it won't be available again for another 3 months, unless I plonk down for an extras cd. I don't have the money in my budget for it but I make a note, collect my stuff, pay for it and I'm gone. Not to return for another couple of months.

My purchases tally up to something like $40, but I'm following some 30 series, DC, Marvel, Darkhorse and some indies and I got those stamps. But that's ok for my quarterly comic budget and I'm already paying $12 a month to read the issues (from 3 major publishers) as they go live online. Happy little customer me, goes home to read/view my extras, hug my hardcopy and not have to deal with boxes taking up storage space I don't have, or hours of bagging, cataloguing whatever, since y'know, I'm casual and not a "collector".]]


It's a nice dream but totally unrealistic, right?

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