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Printed Comics Vs Digital Comics, Has The Battle Begun?

What will be the "future" of comics?


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We've seen the arguments on printed comics versus digital comics. People have always stated that they are not fans of the digital format and love the traditional aspect of physically holding a comic book in their hands. Now that the iPad has been out for a bit, I'm wondering if it's time to bring up the argument once again.

You may have seen the video that me and Norm (from Tested.com) did showing how some of the comic apps work on the iPad. More and more, I'm hearing that people are really impressed with it. The apps also work on iPhones (which are more affordable that the iPad). At C2E2 this past weekend, I spoke with the CEO of ComiXology, who also created the Marvel app (stay tuned for the video interview) and I started wondering how this will affect the market.

One way you can look at digital comic is it could bring in more readers. There are those that don't want to take the time to search out or frequently shop at a comic book store. Having comics available in a digital format could increase the chances of them buying and reading comics (let's jump forward a little and pretend you can actually buy more current releases digitally). There's also the convenience of having a full library at your fingertips. Is this the shot in the arm that the comic industry needs? Will this influx of potential new readers bring more attention and respect to the medium we all love?
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Or will the increase just be a passing phase? My fear would be that more and more people might choose to go digital and then one day decide to stop. What if the digital format started affecting the business of the smaller local comic shops? Perhaps this is just a paranoid fear but what if we started seeing less of the printed format and then those supporting the digital one decide to stop reading?

Obviously I love printed format. But I literally dreamed of a digital type reader back in the 80s when I had to try riding home on my BMX bike over five miles trying to carry a paper bag full of comics. There was also the increase in price in which we were told the blame was the rising cost of paper. I would also love to be able to randomly search out any issue I had. Like if I wanted to read the Hobgoblin's first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #238, I could find it in seconds.

I don't think we really have anything to worry about right now. Digital comics may start becoming more popular but the price of an iPad is still pretty high for the casual comic book reader. I just can't help but wonder if this is the future of comics or if the traditional readers will continue to fight for the printed format.