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Another voice on digital


Over at the CO2 blog, Gerry Giovinco suggests that in all the app madness, we’re missing something pretty obvious:




Let me bring you back to Earth with a simple truth. You do not need an app to read tons of great digital comics on a computer, a net book, an e-reader or a cell phone.

You don’t need an app!

All you need is a browser.

If your device can read Flash files your options are even greater.

  1. Sure, you don’t need a user interface designed for an optimized reading experience — you can dump any content you want on your screen with what you already have. Enjoy.

  2. You don’t even need a browser. Adobe Reader will work just as nicely.

    Those cheap comic book DVD-ROMs (ten years of Archie for $3.99!) pretty much use PDFs. Now, I’m sure there’s a nice PDF comicbook viewer which will animate page flips and all that, but I know how to use Adobe, it’s stable, the software is free and available all over the place, and just about every platform and operating system supports it (even Kindle!)

    A simple “fit to screen” and it looks just like an app. Oh, and I own the file. The single copy cost averaged over all the comics on the disc? Forty cents or cheaper. (Archie is the cheapest… 120 comics for the cost of one new comic.)

    And the best thing? Word searching. The Absolutely MAD DVD would be annoying without being able to search for people or phrases. Wouldn’t surprise me if there’s a text-to-speech add-on available.

  3. Sure, you can read comics via a browser on your tablet or mobile device but once you start reading them in an app or via a PDF reader like Torsten says above than you’ll never go back. It’s simply a superior reading experience.

  4. How does one sell through a browser based approach? I suppose you could put the content behind a password protected page, and limit downloading, but most of these approaches are very easy to circumvent. If it’s a free web-comic that’s one thing, but for paid content the App model makes more sense to me.

  5. Apps offer control and security for publishers that browser based options do not (in addition to offline reading, and freeing the user from having to be concerned with the compatibility of multiple file formats.) This control is what makes successful monetization possible.

    Also, his criticism is the same one leveled against the whole concept of apps when Apple launched it, I mean it’s just software, right? It’ll never take off or turn into a billion dollar industry or anything.

    His observation is not useful.

  6. My point is that it should not be just about monetizing. I read an interview with Brigid Alverson over the weekend that suggested that creators were abandoning the web in favor of apps for just this reason and I think that is a mistake especially for creators that have not established a market willing to buy their work.

    The web offers an opportunity to create comics with little expense and reach a potentially huge audience without being censored and funneled through a selection process of larger corporations with their own agendas. It offers aspiring comic artists creative freedom and the opportunity to make comics that are read by others which before the web, if you could not get published because your work was not mainstream enough, your work rotted in your portfolio until you gave up and found a career that could never fulfill your inner cartoonist.

    I also wouldn’t be so quick to claim web comics impossible to monetize. There are plenty of sites that make a lot of money offering free content that are not comics. Why is it that comics should be deemed incapable of such success. I tip my hat to the web comikers out there that have found ways to support themselves with web comics.

    I agree that reading comics on an app is a different experience and I can understand the added value just as I am happy to watch my favorite film for free on cable (I know I pay a big cable bill and mind you this is where the internet is going) and then ad the DVD to my collection with all the special director cuts and added features for which I’m willing to pay bucks for.

    I am also a consumer in a difficult economy and if I can read comics for free on my mobile device I’m going to do it before I have to pay for it. Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield’s FREAKANGELS web comic reads fine on my cell phone and I continue to follow it religiously. Their project is proof that the web can work for comics. I’m sure FREAKANGELS would look great on an app as well just as it does in the graphic novel formats, so why can’t I, as a reader, have all the options available to me. The folks at AVATAR got it right, so can others.

    Apps are just part of the equation. It is not time to turn our backs on any of the other options. Print and the internet are still viable and it is much too early to abandon either for the shiny new toy.

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