There are a lot of people who love reading comics but are challenged by keeping huge piles of the darned things around after the reading is done. While I am not one of those people (as you might have guessed from the fact that I have over 95,000 different physical comics, I kind of like keeping the things around) I can appreciate the people who crave the simplicity of not being weighed down but still want the entertainment value of the comics.
The merits of current books vs. older comics and reading vs. collecting is a debate for another day. Personally I think people should do whatever makes them happy. That said, what I HOPE will make them happy is reading more great stories in comics and not just keeping the things unread in plastic slabs for investment purposes.
We’ve had Comixology and several other digital providers for years. I love Comixology, but personally cannot see the logic in paying full price to get a digital comic day & date of release just so I can talk about it on the internet, but some people love this capability, so more power to them. If I’m going to pay full price for a Marvel $3.99 book I’ll buy the physical copy and redeem the digital code in the issue. I can then read it on my iPad and do whatever I want with the physical issue (of course, I want to keep that physical copy in my huge collection, but someone else could just turn around and give the physical copy away to someone). Another thing I like about my Marvel digital redemption is that it is automatically synched to my Comixology account.
Comixology is great because they offer a lot of free comics you can read without paying a penny. Of course, as with any good “try before you buy” marketing, they are giving you a lot of issue #1 comics in hopes that you’ll like them enough to come back and buy the subsequent issues. They also have frequent sales of comics for 99 cents a piece (which is a great price point for me, if I’m going to buy digital) as well as having some awesome bundle deals every now and again (I have bought bundles of 100 indie comics for $10 in the past…10 cent comics, OH YEAH!!)
There has been the Marvel Unlimited subscription which is a great way to get “all you can read” comics if you want to focus only on Marvel (and a lot of people do). I’m not judging you. Really. (Well maybe a bit…) Personally I like to have some variety in my comics reading and like to sprinkle if stuff outside the super-hero genre. Then there was ComicBin that offered a subscription based “all you can read” model. They went too far in the Indie direction, featuring all smaller independent publishers. Some really great variety, but sometimes you just want to read a Spider-Man or X-Men comic.
And then came Scribd. Some people are calling this the “Netflix of comics”.
My Facebook pal Susan Baroncini-Moe (who I met when we were doing our appearance on “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire”) asked me a question earlier this week about Scribd. She noticed some of their advertising that they had just added 10,000 comics!! I’d never heard of them before, so I did a little research. Scribd offers lots of comics from top publishers Marvel, Archie, Dynamite, IDW, Top Cow, Top Shelf, Valiant, and Zenescope for a single monthly fee. In addition to comics, you also have access to prose books from a wide variety of popular authors and audiobooks all for the same monthly fee. They offer a 1 month free trial. Hey, this looked pretty good.
The $8.99 per month price is good if you will use it and read comics every month. While most of the stuff they have is stuff I’ve read (heck, I read a LOT of comics) it’s a treasure-trove of stuff for people who have read less comics than me (which is most people, I’d suspect….) If you read at least 9 comics a month that’s a buck a piece. Read 18 and it’s 50 cents each. To me, that’s pretty economical, definitely worth trying for the free month. If you find that you are finding a good amount you like to read each month then it’s worth continuing. The Caveat: It’s mostly stuff from the back-lists of the companies involved. This shouldn’t matter if you just want comics to read, but not a solution for people who want to read the latest stories being chatted about in internet chat-rooms.
Susan asked me if I had anything I’d recommend. Hmmm, I had to look a little further. There was a lot of stuff on there I had really enjoyed! Some REALLY good stuff (of course everyone’s taste differs so YMMV):
IDW – Locke & Key + the Parker adaptations by Darwyn Cooke
Archie – Afterlife with Archie
Marvel – Thor (both the Samnee series & the run by Simonson) + the Captain America & Daredevil runs by Ed Brubaker + Runaways
Top Cow – Madame Mirage + Twilight Guardian
Valiant – Harbinger + Rai
Wow! Just a cursory examination of their selection and there was a LOT of material that I had read and loved. Certainly plenty to keep most people amused for their trial month. A lot of what I recommended strays away from the standard “guys in tights wailing the crap out of one another” but should be a good cross-section of what comics can be besides just super-heroes. Even the super-hero books I recommended are not the standard stuff people may remember from years back.
So, if you like reading comics and give these guys a try for the free trial, drop me a note and let me know if you found stuff you liked reading. I’d really like to know how strong of a recommendation we can give Scribd based on actual user feedback.
Bob Bretall: email@example.com
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