- Posted by Johanna on December 8, 2011 at 10:13 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
The recent (last month, I’m catching up) announcement that Top Shelf was launching two digital comic apps led me to wonder… do digital comic buyers care about publisher-specific apps, or do they want one (iTunes-like) clearing house so they don’t have to worry about who’s releasing what?
There were two versions of the press release that I saw. One, from comiXology, the company behind the two apps, was promoted with the mention of how “comiXology powers more comic book and graphic novel publishers than anyone else!” They emphasized that you can get a specific Top Shelf app for iOS, or an age-appropriate Kids Club app for iOS, and “purchases on these apps will sync across the Comics by comiXology platform — iOS, Android, and the Web!”
The Top Shelf version, by contrast, was careful to mention that their books are now available “across multiple digital platforms, for every device.” The list includes Comixology, Graphicly, Comics+ by iVerse, Apple iBooks, and Google Books, with plans to expand to Nook and Kindle Fire devices. Makes my head swim, frankly, to figure out what I want to read where! I didn’t even know you could buy digital through Google Books, and now a publisher is telling me that they have “by far the largest number of Top Shelf graphic novels: over 100!”
Being available everywhere and anywhere makes sense for a publisher, who just wants to get their books out to readers at a fair price. And I suppose creating an app just for the iPad makes sense to exploit the best technology out there for reading comics digitally. But I’m getting to the point where, when I sample electronic comics, I don’t want to have to download a different app per publisher. They want my undivided attention for their releases, sure, but it’s just an inconvenience for me, more things to check in on and keep updated. There is no publisher any more whose line is similar enough for me to want to follow publishers instead of creators (or neat-sounding content). That’s a good thing, don’t get me wrong — a diverse line is an asset.
I suspect we’re leading up to a temporary crash in digital comics, as there are too many releases and not enough advanced sorting and search mechanisms to make it easy for readers to find the material they are looking for. A publisher-focused app is one brute force method to attempt to solve that problem; hopefully, we’ll get more elegant ones as the industry continues to develop.