It’s not hard to see why some retailers and/or publishers might be reticent about jumping into the digital distribution craze that’s sweeping through the comics industry. The money stream completely changes and, in most cases, shrinks, and no one wants less money for their product. However, a panel went down at Comic-Con this year where that very real conundrum was discussed, with Scott Kurtz and Mark Waid (representing the Web and paper comic book communities, respectively) heading up the rundown.
Whether they’re laughing and skipping or kicking and screaming, retailers are seeing the revenue being missed in the digital stream and are largely ready to get their share. But with the big two (Marvel and DC) putting more and more content online, there is too much money to be missed by not offering some sort of service to that end, not to mention the squelching of the pirating movement, which is a big problem for nearly any form of entertainment these days. DC is even launching an initiative this Fall, to coincide with their line-wide relaunch of nearly every title they put out, which will see all of their comics coming to the digital marketplace day-and-date with the paper editions. While prices will keep many people from picking up the digital copy in its first month (when the price will be the same as the shelf copy), I know I can certainly wait a month to read the stories I want to read without having to mess with storing a physical copy afterwards.
Also of note in this discussion is the idea of formatting content for reading on digital devices, mostly made up of the growing iPad contingent. Notably, Love and Capes creator Thom Zahler keeps this in mind when laying things out and adjusts accordingly. The more the digital thought process permeates the comics industry, the more this kind of thinking will have to become second nature. Of course, oddballs that must be read in a certain context and fashion will still exist because as long as people care about comics as a storytelling device, there will exist a niche of creative, mind-expanding content.