Another Reason to Go Digital: More on the Move

You may have read KC’s post about the struggles of moving a large comic collection. He estimated 400 boxes of comics. Turned out, once we got a final count, that there were 480 comic short boxes on the truck. (Oh, and they didn’t end up reboxing them, thankfully.) Now, a few of them contain stacks of Archive volumes or similar, but that’s still an awful lot of periodicals.

With a new home comes a new home insurance policy, and I noticed they had an interesting clause about Memorabilia, which includes “souvenirs and collector’s items such as trading cards, comic books… and similar articles for which the age, history, scarcity, and condition contribute substantially to their value.” We don’t have many particularly rare or valuable single issues; it’s just that when you count them all up, there are a lot of them. It’s the sheer quantity.

But that clause means, to get the comics insured, I need a rider that spells out what’s being covered. Which means I need an inventory and an appraisal. Neither of those are a problem — the former just takes time, and we know people locally in the industry who would be recognized as experts in the field for the latter. The problem is the quote I got. For $300,000 worth of coverage, it’s $4800 a year extra.

(And $300,000 isn’t enough. Figure 200 comics a box x 450 boxes (rounding down from the count) = 90,000 comics x average $4 replacement cost = $360,000.)

That’s a lot of money that doesn’t apply if the comics are in book form (so collections are cheaper to keep than issues) or digital (where replacement is a heck of a lot easier). So yet another reason to move to more preferable formats.

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24 Responses to “Another Reason to Go Digital: More on the Move”

  1. Joe Says:

    I have a real problem with digital comics in that you don’t own the comics. You purchase the right to read it. And you’re charging me the same price as if I bought a physical copy.

    “Digital Content is licensed, not sold, to you by comiXology”

    So they could say that your license has expired to a comic and delete it right from your library without your approval.

  2. Rob Barrett Says:

    And to think I was worried about my 15 long boxes.

  3. Chad Says:

    I hear you, Joe, and as someone who has largely switched to digital, I have pangs now and then, but the convenience has won me over, at least for most superhero monthlies. If I stored all the digital comics I have purchased as files on my iPad or my laptop, it would require a ton of storage, whereas under the Comixology system, I can download anything from my digital collection to my iPad as long as I have an Internet connection. And as someone about to do a move (across town, not across the country) not having to haul the comics has a definite appeal.

    Additionally, given that Marvel, Image and DC use the Comixology system for their branded apps, I have to think that if Comixology went under, at least those companies would find a way to let customers keep their comics. Otherwise, their digital market would die as consumers lost all faith. But maybe I’m overly optimistic.

    On the cost issue, given the frequency of 99¢ sales on the site — four to five a week — there’s no reason to pay full price for your comics if you don’t want to. And most publishers (except Marvel) discount their comics by a dollar 30 days after release.

    One more digital price tip: Marvel’s putting digital codes in all of their $3.99 books, so I’ve continued to buy those in physical form, then I redeem the code and pass along the physical comics (it’s actually cheaper, because my retailer gives me a discount).

    One final question: Is Comixology’s system — you don’t truly own the comic, just a license to read it — any different from what exists through Amazon or Barnes & Noble when you buy an e-book for the Kindle or Nook? I have no idea, just curious.

  4. Dave Says:

    I’ve started to move a chunk of my comics buying & reading to digital, mostly via comiXology. In general, those comics which I’m pretty sure I’m only going to read once (and after 30+ years of comics buying & reading, I have a pretty good idea). The main reason for doing so is storage (or its cousin, disposal…) While I don’t own the comic, if I’m unlikely to return to it or loan it out, then I haven’t lost much.

  5. Dave Says:

    @Chad: comiXology’s license system is pretty much the standard for any digital content these days, from Kindle & Nook eBooks to digital music to phone apps. (There are exceptions, but they are far between…)

  6. Chad Says:

    @David: I had a feeling.

    I’ve started to move a chunk of my comics buying & reading to digital, mostly via comiXology. In general, those comics which I’m pretty sure I’m only going to read once (and after 30+ years of comics buying & reading, I have a pretty good idea).

    I read a fair number of comics that fit that category, too, and I’ve found digital to be a much better way to enjoy them. I’ll also say that there are plenty of comics — largely beautifully designed books — that I couldn’t ever see buying digitally. The print package can still be very appealing, if the proper care is taken to make it so.

  7. Joe Says:

    I’m not knocking the digital comics themselves. I enjoy reading them on my ipad. In fact digital comics were part of the reason I bought an ipad. I just can’t see spending the same amount for a digital comic that I don’t even own as to buying the print version. In fact, I paid for my ipad by selling off some key Walking Dead issues.

  8. Chad Says:

    I guess when I factor in all the associated issues with the physical comics — storage, accessibility, moving them from house to house, etc. — I’m OK with paying the same price in many cases.

  9. Dwight Williams Says:

    This sounds more and more like a “Kobayashi Maru” situation in some respects.

    Consider: If you want to hold onto the physical collection, the insurance can be written up to make the idea of physical ownership fiscally intolerable.

    For you.

    And then there’s this whole “you didn’t buy the book, you bought a license” thing with the digital editions.

    What’s a collector-fan to do with the situation now structured this way?

  10. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    we had a water incident in our basement last year when the outside faucet line burst. We had a great insurance adjustor, but they definitely were more willing to pay replacement on books than on the individual issues. it was cover price, so even the collectible books had limitations, but the books were paid no questions – we had to negotiate how much per issue for the individual books (and it was NOT current cover price like you estimate, since most were older and that was not their cover price!).

    I have since purged, purged and purged. I still have about 12 longboxes, but they are books that haven’t been reprinted or are almost never going to be reprinted as bound volumes.

    and I don’t own a Kindle for the same reason I don’t use Comixology – if I pay full price for something, I expect to actually own something. If you only want to sell me a license, it better be at a good discount. But then again, I still fondly remember CrossGen’s Comics on the Web where you paid a monthly or yearly fee and had complete access to read-only files of all their works. That’s a license deal I could support.

  11. James Schee Says:

    Woof i don’t envy you that many books to move. I had a pretty big collection at one point, 20 something long white boxes that I finally stored when I got tired of moving them. That then got lost when a hurricane came thru and destroyed the storage buildings. (tho I would oddly find many of the books at a discount store later, complete with autographs to me)

    These days at my house I have about 5 plastic tubs of books. I’ve just gotten to the point where I try and really decide what is something I truly plan to look at again.

    That’s one of the reasons I like digital, there are things I want to read at the time they are out, that afterwards I won’t care about. The things I do, I’ll get in collection. These days there isn’t a lt that makes the collection level.

  12. James Moar Says:

    “I still fondly remember CrossGen’s Comics on the Web where you paid a monthly or yearly fee and had complete access to read-only files of all their works. That’s a license deal I could support.”

    Marvel does that with their Digital Comics Unlimited (not a complete archive, but there’s a lot in there and they add about 25 books a week). I’m kind of surprised by how little attention it seems to get compared to the purchase-based apps.

  13. Chad Says:

    @James: I think it’d get a lot more attention if it worked on tablets like the iPad. If there ever move it off of Flash, I imagine its popularity will skyrocket.

  14. Adam Says:

    I have over 100 short boxes filled with comics, and have had to move them too many times in the past decade, and will have to move them again in the next year or so hopefully. I don’t begrudge them, I’d rather have physical issues than digital. If comics stop coming out as periodicals, I’ll likely stop collecting.

  15. Johanna Says:

    Oh, I’m not a fan of the digital format, either, in large part because of the ownership questions. I temporarily lost access to my 15 UltraViolet movies, and that made me livid. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I’d invested in a lot of ComiXology issues and something happened with that account. Then again, I doubt a lot of their customers are collectors, or care about much more than reading the comic right then.

    Chad, good reminder about some print books being designed to be beautiful objects as well as interesting reads.

    Jim, I wasn’t picking “current cover price” — if I had to estimate replacement value on most modern issues, it’d be closer to $1. But we have a bunch of comics from the 70s, and it would likely be $5-8 to replace those, so I averaged it out.

    Wow, James, I can’t even imagine how terrible that would be, with the hurricane and all!

  16. James Schee Says:

    Johanna, odd part was walking into a locally owned discount/flea market type store a few months back. Storage building co. had gone out of business after hurricane and I was told everything was gone.

    Then I see my books at this store, well a good deal of them. Said she bought them at an auction type deal years back. I was… perturbed to say the least.

  17. Bytowner Says:

    “Perturbed” is indeed an understatement, for any number of legal reasons!

  18. Ralf Haring Says:

    The whole nontransferable license thing will only become more and more of a problem. When people will have invested more significant amounts of money and/or the data stored in online accounts is more critical (think health records), I think companies will eventually be forced to take transfer of data between users more seriously.

    http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-08-23/finance/33336852_1_digital-content-digital-files-apple-and-amazon

  19. John Platt Says:

    Having moved four times in the past 10 years, and seeing a few more moves in our future, I look at my boxes and boxes of books and comics with dread. I’ve culled quite a bit (I’m probably down to 30 book boxes and 45 comics short boxes), but I really need to cull that down even more.

    If I ever get to a point where we can sit still, and I could actually have most of my books out on shelves, things would probably be different.

    BTW, moving sucks.

  20. Joe Gualtieri Says:

    “We had a great insurance adjustor, but they definitely were more willing to pay replacement on books than on the individual issues. it was cover price, so even the collectible books had limitations, but the books were paid no questions – we had to negotiate how much per issue for the individual books (and it was NOT current cover price like you estimate, since most were older and that was not their cover price!).”

    Frankly, that’s intolerable. My Miracle Man trades may be “older” but cover price isn’t going to cut it to replace them, let alone less than that.

  21. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    well, Joe, it may seem intolerable, but that’s how “replacement cost” works – if it’s a collectible worth more than the cover price, you need to have collectible insurance. Most insurance companies will be very upfront about this if you ask the question – it’s not a scam.

    If I have an antique desk, I need to be able to prove that it is an antique, I do own it, and the actual assessed value is XXX rather than just what a similar desk would cost me at Office Max. the upshot here is to actually read the contract you sign with your insurance company and ask questions. Don’t assume that the words “replacement value” means the same thing to the company that it does to you.

  22. Thom Says:

    >Oh, I’m not a fan of the digital format, either, in large part because of >the ownership questions. I temporarily >lost access to my 15 UltraViolet >movies, and that made me livid.

    I always choose the iTunes option…but I must admit…I have taken to digital comics far faster than digital films. Which, considering that ownership issues are a big thing for me with the movie side, you would think I would be equally resistent to digital comics. But they sure look swell on the iPad. :)

  23. Speed Reading « Speed Force Says:

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