I’ll admit, I can’t afford an iPad. And I have difficulty figuring out the different types of digital comic book formats and what the best way to get a digicomic is, anyway. But I do believe that it will be the way of the future, and the way of the near future when it comes to the monthly “pamphlets.” It’s still much cheaper to buy a trade than to buy all the issues digitally (if they’re even available), so I think publishing will still be around for at least the next 5-10 years. And to cherish the retailers, Marvel recently promoted a “$5 off” coupon to everyone who buys a comic through the Marvel app. That’s a great idea.
Meanwhile, Dark Horse recently announced day-and-date digital pricing at $2.99, with books dropping to $1.99 30 days later. Although this did upset retailers, understandably, they’re just going to have to accept that in order for comics to continue as a medium, they’re going to have to adopt and adapt—or they’ll face the same fate as the music industry.
Maybe retailers will disappear, but it won’t be exclusively due to digital comics. It’ll be due to cheaper prices for merchandise via internet sellers and/or “big box” retailers. It’ll be because kids just aren’t reading as much as they used to. It’ll be because the industry, as a whole, hasn’t tried hard enough to promote the use of comic books in classrooms (a vast, untapped possibility fortified by recent studies showing that kids who read comics end up reading other materials as well, and read at the same or higher levels as those who do not read comics).
Folks like me and you, who love this medium, have a responsibility not to buy bootlegs and to pass along comics to our friends. But we also should feel free to explore the digital market—it offers indie DIY creators a vast opportunity that may, ultimately, produce product to support retailers. See, e.g., Angry Birds, an app that has spawned a huge toy-and-other-crap industry. And it can be used as a promotional tool far more effectively than retail comics (read the first few issues on line, but then advertise that trades are available at your local retailer, e.g.). Retailers who yelled at Dark Horse for going day-and-date should instead start getting creative. These days, no industry can take its customers for granted. No one should assume that customers will find them—retailers have to find their customers. Or lose them.