Blow by blow at Engadget

Media is saved!


Here ya go!

Update: John Jackson Miller crunches numbers on subscriptions, which is how the iPad might have some impact on comics.

BONUS: It turns out MAD-TV made an ad for the iPad three years ago!

[Thanks to Mark for the link.]


  1. From the linked article:

    “While we can’t know what a pay-as-you-go postal model from publishers would look like, there are mail-order comics houses that basically work as comics shops with home delivery. It would be interesting to learn what their scale is versus the traditional postal subscription share of the business.”

    I would suspect this method is far larger than even Miller suggests and may rival or even outstrip direct subscriptions. No hard proof of this, just anecdotal evidence from people I interact with on other boards. Mail order through an online retailer seems to be a popular choice.

    Of course these are people who frequent message boards and are more likely to use online methods, but i think it’s still a significant number.

  2. Five big publishers flashed on the screen: Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette. All have GN catalogs. Macmillan has First Second (among many others), Hachette has Yen Press, HarperCollins has the Simpsons and Tokyopop, S&S has Viz and Amelia Rules.

    New art program: Brushes Remember when MacPaint shipped with the first Macs? This looks just as revolutionary. I predict that we will soon see fans getting “Brush work” sketches done at conventions on their ipads.

    $500 – $700 without 3G, +$130 for 3G models, user-friendly phone plans, no contract.

    Apps store built in, plus ibook store.

    Starts shipping in two months.

  3. While I applaud the prosperity of technology, I seriously don’t know how people keep up.

    Every year, some other company is introducing newer tv’s, higher defination dvds, Blu Ray, 3d tvs, the Amazon Kindle, the I tablet (which is what, the same as a laptop but just smaller?)… none of which comes cheap.

    Where the heck do these technophiles get the bucks to buy all this stuff?

    I used to get excited every time I heard about a new device or new technology as well but I stopped when I just couldn’t keep up, more, afford to keep up.

    I think people will love the new I-Tablet or whatever its called… that is until the next big thing rolling down the pipeline in another 6 months.

  4. “Where the heck do these technophiles get the bucks to buy all this stuff?”

    Well different people buy different stuff at different times…

  5. You have to remember that when it comes to licensed materials – like manga – rarely does the US publisher get digital rights.

  6. iPad…I’d rather wait for the 2nd or 3rd generation, it’s bound to have glitches. Why would I need another computer anyhow, the ones I already have are like a plague of distractions.

  7. I’m waiting for 2nd or 3rd gen too. Over at Huffington Post, they mentioned it’s missing camera capabilities for Skype. That’s definitely something that’d be worth waiting for.

    As for money to pay for this, I suspect those still working might be planning on using their tax refund on something like this.

    Still, this looks very exciting.

  8. A giant iPod Touch for $400-$800 that won’t run software not app based and costs me another $30.00 per month for a decent data plan? Sounds like a giant waste of money to me. I’ll read my 3 dollar comics.

  9. It looks like that thing the Psycho-Man had. How many car accidents will this thing cause?

    I guess I just can’t see what you DO with it. You can read, update your status, and email, but is that really “stuff?” No software to use and how does one type in one dimension? It strikes me as something that gives off a lot of media radiation, but isn’t that concerned about what you are doing. I think people here could make lovely things to put on it, for sure. But are people going to pay $600 for this just to read comics? Really?

    I really like my iPhone but this is like the Giant-Man version — big, flashy, but he always falls and his huge typeface voice is somewhat off-putting.


  10. I have the same feeling of ‘meh’ that I had for the AIR. I don’t know if my eyes could take all that backlit reading. I would consider it if i had a way of getting Photoshop on it and being compatible with a stylus(I know I kinda contradicted myself but dammit it’s just different!). Alas it still doesn’t have
    flash on it.

  11. As a comics creator and reader, I love the idea of a tablet as an evolution of how we consume media — I buy Jobs’ talking points in his keynote — and yet, all the iPad talk today left me feeling more depressed than excited. On the one hand, the iPad is a major step forward in how we engage with our media. While not a replacement for TV and laptops, by focusing on delivering a better digital viewing/reading experience, the iPad will help to break down the obsolete wall between native digital media and ported old media. The sooner we can eliminate the stigma that significant media must first be vetted by print, theatrical and broadcast dinosaurs, the better. On the other hand, Apple’s locking their media almost entirely around iTunes/appStore rubs me the wrong way as a consumer. I’ve spent hundreds on music via iTunes and would spend more on other media, but consumers deserve more choices, not less. Apple is effectively acting as co-publisher, manufacturer, distributer and retailer, as well managing your library and occasionally playing censor. With their apps, apple takes a 30% cut of the sale. If they’re acting as a retailer and they help me find the product I want through adds or an effective recommendation system, that’s great — they earn it. But if they’re the only store around, that’s a monopoly. Right now there’s a lot of rumblings about the current lack of Flash, and for good reason, as lack of flash support strengthens that monopoly and shows an intent to stifle competition.

    In short, device and functionality: awesome; draconian media control: dangerous.

  12. I am curious what this means for digital comics independents like Longbox. Will there still be a place for companies like them within the Apple network, or will these companies become the PC and Android based alternative? If the file format offered outside of iTunes is compatible with iTunes new book viewer, then you could sync the media from your PC/Mac, so they could still still be accessed on the iPad device, just as you can often buy cheaper MP3s off amazon and drag them over to iTunes, but the loss of convenience could make it tough to compete.

  13. Uhm, but isn’t the real bombshell the ePub support on the iPad?
    I mean that alone is what publishers (large and small) want to hear.

    With ePub growing as the standardized format / market / distribution / selling point it will not only crack the wall between print and digital publication, but also tap a spigot on the pipe dream so many have wanted. Thus, with Apple siding with the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and not simply making the iPad a regular e-book reader they’ve taken a good step in the right direction.

    Even the Kindle doesn’t support ePub (something they need to fix), and to add salt to the wound, Apple already has a Kindle application you can use on the iPhone / iPad. This really is a nice device with potential for behind-the-scenes change. The trick is… will that potential be tapped properly? Only time will tell.

  14. Jake:
    “In short, device and functionality: awesome; draconian media control: dangerous.”

    Well said.
    That’s the point I was making. And just to be clear, ePub is not something that our comic industry particularly likes. ePub supports JPGs, GIFs and such but it is limited in what to do with them, so it’s best for prose text. That said, it still opens the door for other publishing players (who would have a larger impact on the industry).

    Also, this could be good because it leave folks like LongBox still in the running with their *viewer*. Likewise, iPad might do both (just as it’s possible to use the Kindle App on the iPhone now)

  15. @Jimmie, it’s the integrated itunes store and the lack of non-app software that worries me. I’m not a mac user, but I use iTunes as it’s a convenient player on my laptop where there are plenty of ways to purchase and manage files. It’s a good step for the iTunes player/store, but while I don’t want to jump to conclusions, it still seems like the iPad itself does not support consumer choice.

  16. PAUL:

    Yes! I remember seeing a lot of curious Peruvian things in the Adam Strange comic like Bar el Cordano and the Cuzco University. That was some great research man! You got the streets in downtown Lima exactly right. Where did you get all that info? Have you ever been in Peru?

    I don’t know if you have any free time, but if you do, I’m writing an article in the newspaper about how foreign artists portray Peru in comic books and would love to ask you a couple of questions.

    In case you’re interested, please send me a line to [email protected] . Thanks!

    (sorry for the off-topic Heidi)

  17. Hmmm…
    Does the Android OS work better than the iphone OS? ‘Cause you can root (unlock) the nook and then use it to surf the web and all sorts of other stuff. Yes, the refresh rate is slow, and animation on e-ink is like animation on an LCD wristwatch. And there’s no touch screen on the e-ink. Of course, you could spec your own device and have a prototype built in China…

    This could be a mouse killer, just as Macintosh killed DOS. Only this time, Apple has tight control of the patents, and there are alternatives to Microsoft for tablet operating systems. The Enterprise-D runs on touch screens… and Scotty didn’t recognize a mouse in ST IV.

    Will we see a Theremin system like in Minority Report, which uses 3-D space? Probably not. But imagine an ipad with power gloves. Typing by joining your thumb to finger combinations. Gestures equal commands. Wear a power suit and create complex works based on body choreography. Or control an onscreen avatar as you exercise (exercipad?). Or have a 3-D desktop… boxes instead of file folders, Welltris instead of Tetris.

    Of course… you could just wait for LED contact lenses. (see: IEEE Spectrum)

  18. While the iPad is using the ePub format, Apple are also apparently using custom DRM so that material bought from iBooks can’t be moved to other devices. So far there doesn’t seem to be any hard facts from Apple on whether or not you can input ePub files from elsewhere. Some are suggesting that ePub documents won’t work without Apple’s DRM, but there doesn’t seem to be any clear answer on that yet.

  19. “I am curious what this means for digital comics independents like Longbox.”

    Does longbox even exist? or is it the Duke Nukem of digital comics?

  20. –>Matthew Fabb

    DRM is probably part of the reason why Apple has built such strong media support from content providers so quickly. XBox 360, PS3, Wii, they all have DRM. Movies and shows on iTunes have DRM. Apps, being hardware specific, have a kind of DRM. Valve’s Steam *IS* DRM. MMORPGs that require subscriptions to play on secure online server is DRM.

    What all those show, I think, is that you don’t have to win the philosophical argument on DRM. All you need to do is come straight out and convince people that this is *THE* platform, that this is what you’ll be doing your gaming, your movie watching, your book reading on. If it just works, if it’s fully integrated with the hardware, people tend to forget about it.

  21. I stopped using the iTunes music store when Apple suddenly switch from mp3 to the locked mp4 format, making virtually everything purchased through their system difficult if not impossible to re-record (I know there are ways to break the lock). I use Amazon’s music store and Audible for audiobooks. For me, I use Apple strictly for podcast subscription and applications.

    All this makes me want to publish a pamphlet comic!

  22. thinking about this keyboard, I think the same applies to comics — and apologies if somewhere somewhen already brought this up. The iTab screen is basically one-dimensional, but a comic book, though the art is conveyed on a flat plane, has the illusion of other dimensions as it flips, rolls, and is read through. Even when you hold it closer to look at a particularly weird image, it is never completely flat. Even the dimension of time is heightened as you turn the page. I think that might be the difference for me: comics as wavy landscapes or strict, pixeled sheets of electrons? Nostalgia? Maybe. I know many said the same thing when CRT tubes went extinct, though you can still argue they offered a better, less pore-y aesthetic.

    Paul I will buy your pamphlet comic including all variant covers.

  23. @Simon Jones, the huge success of iTunes music store shows that some people don’t have a problem with DRM. I brought it up simply because Apple might be locking out anyone else despite using the open ePub format with the custom Apple DRM.

    This means companies like Longbox won’t be able to get onto the iPad and that the only way to do so is through Apple’s iBook store.

    Now DC and Marvel might work out a deal with Apple to get into the iBooks store, but it’s like a lot harder for the smaller independent companies to work out a deal.

  24. And now, not even fifteen years later, we have a tendency to recognize, soon enough, you¡¦ll carry around access to nearly every book ever created, almost every bit of data generated by anyone else on a computer.

  25. Here’s a comment from an Adobe guy on iPad compatibility issues:

    It looks like Apple is continuing to impose restrictions on their devices that limit both content publishers and consumers. Unlike many other ebook readers using the ePub file format, consumers will not be able to access ePub content with Apple’s DRM technology on devices made by other manufacturers. And without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of web content, including over 70% of games and 75% of video on the web.

    If I want to use the iPad to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab — not to mention the millions of other sites on the web — I’ll be out of luck.

    Adobe and more than 50 of our partners in the Open Screen Project are working to enable developers and content publishers to deliver to any device, so that consumers have open access to their favorite interactive media, content, and applications across platform, regardless of the device that people choose to use.

  26. I for one would just like to congratulate readers of The Beat for having what is, I believe, the longest sustained discussion of the “iPad” that does not contain a single reference to feminine hygiene products.

  27. –> Matthew Fabb

    Believe me, I absolutely understand that concern, as a publisher of material that would never meet Apple’s robust offensive content regulations. This issue is inseparable from any discussion about Apple, but it’s not necessarily tied to DRM. Amazon Kindle books have DRM, yet they offer nearly unfettered access to their marketplace. That’s a competitive edge.

    The thing with devices like the iPhone and iPod is that they may lock out certain products from their commerce system, yet they still benefit from those products’ existence because their hardware are capable of playing pirated versions. A clever lawyer somewhere ought to be building an unfair competition case out of that.

  28. What I’d really like to see is revival of anthology format, I think it’s comics best marketing device, that was smashed up by the magazine racks and how they run things. ipad gives me hope for a healthy comic anthology system.

  29. You can read and purchase any format you want on an iPod Touch/iPhone – there are multiple ereaders available that cover the gamut, with multiple vendors. You can even read comics in cbz or cbr files. And it’s okay, but the size can hinder sometimes, especially per format – and comics are an odd read on iPhone, certainly, and more of a concern in this day and age where the on the ball companies are sending out PDFs as review copies – but it’s really a question of whether you wish to read paperback or hardcover, that’s the way I look at it.

    As far as the art goes, my wife has drawn all her books that way for years – first on a Cintiq and now a Modbook (aka the fully functional iPad for people who actually need that), and digital has opened her up to experimentation more because the cost or availability of materials is no longer a concern. Digital should be a challenge to artists who never veer from their well-worn styles and a liberation to those who want to do more than reality allows.

    The keyboard: I’ve written lots of articles and fiction on an iPhone Touch. It’s no big deal. I had to take typing class for an entire year in high school to learn how to use a keyboard with rapid skill and I still make mistakes there. We’re human, we adapt, we make things work for us.

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