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Are print comics dying out?

This is an article extracted from comicvine. The fear of print comics going extinct scares me, especially when even DC and Marvel offers digital comics for sale. If you know me, you’ll know my take on downloading/digital comics. While i understand reasonable reasons for wanting to download it, it is slowly killing off the real need to buy the actual comic, and that will eventually lead to the stop of print comics production if the downloading and digital comics gets more and more popular. Some of you are thinking it’s more financially practical and storage friendly. But what about in the past when there wasn’t such technology? And people didn’t have to be rich to enjoy comics in the past. It’s more like the mentality of society nowadays – they want more and it want it fast and making their money’s worth. Whatever happened to the idea of a hobby anyway? If it’s something you can’t afford now, then save and wait for it. Don’t keep thinking you have to get your money’s worth all the time.

There’s no question about it; publishing is struggling. That means books as well as graphic novels and comics have had a rough time over the last several years. Recently, an article at Publishers Weekly about the decline of the Borders bookstore got me thinking about the future of publishing, in general, and how a big chain like Borders could not only affect publishing as a whole- but it could also be viewed as representative of what is happening to the publishing industry.

The Borders Group has been struggling for the last several years; having suffered losses, being forced to refinance and struggling with changes in their management- the recent PW article cited yet another issue the company is facing- the suspension of shipments from publishers. So the question is, what does this have to do with the comic book industry?

Like many other industries, publishing has suffered the ramifications of a struggling economic climate- but the economy isn’t the only thing they have had to combat. The release of the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle have led to reading books and graphic novels digitally- cutting out the private retailer. Companies like Comixology and Grapic.ly have created online applications that allow readers to download their comic books and graphic novels and read them on go. The advantage is that you don’t have to carry the books around, and the quality of the art in a digital comic is of a higher resolution; which for many, makes for a more enjoyable experience. Not to mention, you can organize your comic library and collection digitally- much as you would with music. So, will the digital market monopolize the comics industry and eventually make print comics a commodity?

We first saw the collapse of the comics industry back in the 90’s between 1993 and 1997. During that time, approximately 2/3 of comic book and specialty stores closed their doors to the public. Those comic shops that have stuck around, have struggled to compete with bigger stores and online distributors like Amazon, where  readers can generally purchase the same graphic novel for considerably less money. However, as much as the comic shops across America have assisted publishers throughout the years, most publishers have seemed to embrace the idea of selling their comic books digitally. While you may not be able to get the latest issue of Batman on the DC Comics Comixology iTunes app, you only have to wait a couple of weeks–which for the not-so-avid-reader, isn’t that big of a deal.

What does the future hold for print comics and books, in general? The easiest comparison to draw to the present state of comics is music. Music was first distributed through LP records, then tapes, then CD’s. Now, music is distributed primarily digitally (which is partly attributed to Apple’s monopolization of the music market– but that’s another issue entirely). Yet, even though the digital age is changing the comic book industry, I do not believe that print comics will ever go out of style. Comic readers tend to be collectors, and many fans value the experience of holding their funnybooks, smelling the pages and curling up to read on the couch- something you just can’t duplicate with the iPad; no matter how convenient it is. I for one hope that print comics continue to thrive, but what about you?


  1. January 15, 2011 at 12:40 AM

    I have downloaded some FREE comics onto my iPad. granted they are comics I would not buy normally, but I still didn’t like the format.

    I love my hobby. I love the stacks of comics on my desk waiting until I have time to read them. I love discovering comic shops while I am travelling and looking through the back issue bins. I love my long boxes (well, I really don’t, but they are a necessary evil until I can afford a bunch of filing cabinets!). I love HOLDING an actual comic book.

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