LongBox, the long brewing desktop app for purchasing digital comics, has just gone to version 1.1 and announced that it will be bundled with Norton Ink’s upcoming ADAM tablet, which features a Pixel Qi screen which enables it to be read in even bright sunlight. PR on the move below, but CEO Rantz Hoseley also stopped to chat with Bleeding Cool and reveal some of the reasons why a desktop store is still useful in a world filled with proprietary apps:

I think the ‘Branded App’ approach that a number of publishers have done on the iPad or iPhone is exactly what I had mentioned at a SDCC 09 panel that the industry needed to avoid. For years now, publishers have hesitated to jump into the digital stream, in part, because of the concern of hurting the Direct Market retailers… I honestly thought, based on all of the discussions with creators, publishers, and the various digital companies that comic were going to prove to be smarter than the music, film, TV and videogame businesses, by NOT repeating the same mistakes those industries made. In all of those cases, as they started in the digital space, there was the ‘Sony’ store, the ‘Warner Bros Music’ store, where you could just get their content. Now, those companies make the majority of their revenue from services such as Amazon Digital, iTunes, Zune, Steam, Netflix, etc.

We’re rapidly becoming a ‘cloud’ entertainment society… that your purchase of digital content goes through a multi-channel service, that allows you to access it anywhere, any time. The ‘Publisher App’ just runs counter to that trend, and hence attracts the existing fans… which again, neither grows the market, and has a higher potential for damaging the DM channel, because you are only appealing to people who know these comics, who are passionate about that company’s characters and brands that they are willing to hunt down the app, download it, and pay a price higher than what the casual digital entertainment consumer does. It comes down to the goal… are you building for the long term, or are you simply looking for short term gain.

It’s a salient point. The .mp3 is a pretty universal music format — ecomics coming in a variety of systems and platforms. Is simpler better?

LongBox, Inc. announced today their partnership with Notion Ink, the company behind the much-anticipated ADAM tablet.  The partnership places the LongBox Digital Platform as the exclusive pre-installed service for purchasing, cataloguing and reading digital comics on all four of Notion Ink’s announced tablets, as well as any other tablets or portable devices utilizing Notion Ink’s Genesis system over the next two years.
“We’re incredibly excited about this”, said LongBox, Inc. CEO Rantz Hoseley. “Our goal from the very beginning has been to expand the market for comics and graphic novels beyond the current audience served by the print market, so OEM partnerships have been a key focus for the platform.  Having a partnership with Notion Ink… ensuring that LongBox Digital will be part of the core entertainment system on all ADAM tablets side by side with their eBook, TV, music and film services… well, that really is a dream come true for us.”
Notion Ink’s ADAM tablet garnered the attention of the tech industry, and Hoseley himself, at CES with its Pixel Qi screen.  The dual-mode technology makes it possible to read the screen like color ePaper in bright sunlight, or as a normal LCD screen in dim surroundings.  The power of what was shown led Gizmodo to write, “The bullet is in the chamber, ePaper is dead.” 
But it wasn’t just an impressive piece of hardware that interested Hoseley. “Reading up on Notion Ink, and its founder Rohan Shravan, it was very obvious that here was a like-minded group, who started Notion Ink and the ADAM tablet for the same reasons we were driven to create LongBox Digital.  That they believed in the power of ideas, and the importance of narrative in people’s lives, Most importantly, that the emerging portable space is a juncture for us as humans to change how we interact with our stories, the storytellers, and the tales we tell as creators.”  Hoseley does note, “It’s easy to talk big lofty ideas.  To see a company deliver the goods, even when it isn’t easy to do so?  Those are the kind of people you want to partner with, and Rohan and his team have been phenomenal in that regard.”
The announcement of the partnership comes as part of today’s ICV2 conference on Digital Comics in New York City, where Hoseley is a panelist, and as part of the events at the New York Comic Con held October 8th-10th. “We’re releasing v1.1 of the Mac and PC client app this weekend, with a number of enhancements and new features.  v1.2 will be released around the coming holiday season to coincide with the release of the ADAM tablet.”  Hoseley is careful to clarify that, “Yes, a generic Android version of LongBox Digital, as well as a iOS version for iPhone and iPad will be released shortly after the launch of the ADAM tablet.  We’re confident that the experience of LongBox on the ADAM is a superior one, but we also strongly believe that you cannot dictate to people how, or on what device, they consume their entertainment media.”
To commemorate the announcement, LongBox is giving away 5 ComicBlocks to all registered users. ComicBlocks are the exchange currency within the LBX Platform, with a rate of 1 ComicBlock equal to $1.00 USD.  To redeem your free ComicBlocks, enter the code NYCC-2010-LBX1 in your LongBox Checkout Cart.  The ComicBlocks are valid towards any purchase on the LBX Platform, with a 1 ComicBlock average price for single issue comics.  A significant number of new titles and publishers will be added over the month of October, leading up to some exclusive content announcements October 30th at the Long Beach Comic Con.


  1. Everything about Norton Ink’s history suggest this product is vaporware and will never actually be released.

  2. From what I’ve read about the Notion Ink, I’m pretty excited about this. The company seems to be taking all the things that are wrong on the iPad and fixing them. Plus that larger screen size is going to make comics reading that much better. It could be vaporware, but everything I’m reading suggests that isn’t the case. I guess we’ll know in just a couple of months.

  3. It does look incredible.
    However, being new to the “magic touch” world of computing, I’ll have to actually hold it in my hands and see how it feels and works.

    Their site does showcase an incredible device.

  4. Charles, Notion Ink has been showing prototypes of the Adam tablet at various tech conferences. Even allowing media to look and test out the tablet. So that alone it seems to be more than vaporware. The screens themselves, which I think is the coolest part of this tablet being able to switch from LCD to e-ink, is from a separate company Pixel Qi, which is already selling the screens to consumers and have gotten really good reviews. To top it off the Notion Ink blog is currently showing pictures of the demo units they have gotten from manufacturing companies. So it looks like it’s going forward. If successful with the Pixel Qi screens, I can see other bigger more established hardware companies jumping on this to provide a 2-in-1 e-ink and LCD screens.

  5. “Charles, Notion Ink has been showing prototypes of the Adam tablet at various tech conferences”.

    for at least a year and every time the release date comes up, it goes back. It was august, then it was Q4 this year, now it’s Q1 next year. Couple that with the fact that investment has been shaky and I’ll not hold my breath.