Among all of the continuity changes of the New 52, one of the biggest changes to DC was their new same day digital release plan. With digital comics coming out the same day as physical copies, readers can choose their favorite media without worrying about being behind the curve. Now the only question is: which do you prefer? The Retcon Punch staff weighs in. Welcome to the Chat Cave
Drew: I officially exorcised any lingering “real books are better than e-readers” feelings when I moved cross-country this past summer. Real books are bulky and heavy, and when it comes down to it, what I really value about them is the info they contain, not that they’re handsomely bound or that they smell nice or that they’re comforting (though I agree that those things are all nice). I take no pride in having a large library on display, so would gladly trade-in every book I own for an e-reader if it meant I never had to pack and move another box of books. That is, unless we’re talking about comic books.
Practically speaking, digital makes way more sense; I’m already drowning in comic books, and I’ve only been following a handful of titles for a few months. Why not reclaim that space by storing all of those books in comiXology’s cloud? When it comes down to it, though, I think I just like having the physical book. Comics are a visual medium, and while the quality of the scans I’ve seen on comiXology are impeccable, zooming in/out and panning around a page prevent me from reading the way I want to. There are other tired arguments I could point to, but I think the thing that really bothers me is that I’d feel restricted in my focus.
I also just like having an excuse to visit and support my local comics shop on a weekly basis. I really don’t mean to trot this out to take the moral high-ground in this discussion, but if I’m paying $2.99 for a title either way, I’d rather some of that go to the friendly middleman. Ultimately, it’s just as convenient, as long as I figure out what to do with all of my back-issues.
Shelby: When it comes to books, I am firmly in the “real book” camp. I get the appeal of e-readers, especially as a train-and-bus commuter, but I have a real connection with the books I read; I don’t just mean the content, I’m talking about the book itself. As someone who often re-reads books, every dog-eared page and torn cover is a testament to how many times I’ve loved that book.
I prefer physical comic books to digital comic books, but only just barely. On the one hand, I don’t bring comics to read on the train because I don’t want them to get completely trashed in my bag. Reading comics on my laptop isn’t ideal, what with the scrolling and what-have-you Drew mentioned, but if I had, say, a fancy new iPad, I could stop wondering if I need to get more bags and boards AND enjoy my stories on the roughest public transit this city has to offer.
On the other hand, though, are the comic book shops. I love going to AlleyCat Comics; it’s a shining example of a small business run by people just like me to whom I am happy to give my money. I could probably make the switch to digital if not for my weekly little ritual. Well, maybe I could…
Patrick: Confession time! My experience of the New 52 has been entirely digital.
Like Drew, I moved cross-country this summer, and the thought of amassing more stuff sorta makes me sick. I do like having a library that let’s guests in my home have a glimpse of what I’m interested in, but monthlies don’t really display well, and I already have a bookshelf full of trade paper backs to broadcast my nerdiness. My point is, I don’t miss the trophy aspect of collecting comics.
But I do sorta hate the lack of mobility. I guess it’d be different if I owned one of those amazing tablet devises, but that’s just not in budget these days. I also miss the social aspect of going to comic books stores and geeking out with some strangers over our common passions. I think DC and Comixology could do more to make their services similarly social – like Spotify does with music. If I could see what other people are reading and then have the opportunity to chat with them about it, I think that’d be cool. Also, I don’t know why there isn’t a subscription option on these websites; why do I have to tell it to buy Batman the day it’s released? Shouldn’t it just know? If a few improvements were made to the service and I had a Kindle Fire, I’d call the rest of you suckers. But as it stands, I recognize that we all have our own imperfect systems.
Peter: I definitely agree with all points made up until now. In fact, I read both comics in paper and digital format, but I predominately read physical comics. I also, think that physical comics make great gifts and also it’s almost impossible to share comics with friends in a digital format without giving my digital devices. I don’t have an e-reader, but I do use both my computer and iPhone to read them, and since I always have either one or both of those with me all the time, then I am set.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. We could argue back and forth on this topic all day, every day. It comes down to what fits the reader the best, both financial, interactively, and ‘how-much-space-it-takes-up’-ly. Regardless of whether or not you are reading physically or digitally, I am just glad that you are reading comics at all. I once read an interview with former Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics, Joe Quesada, when asked what he does with comic books when he finishes them. He replied that instead of keeping them, he pays it forward by leaving it where he was reading it, in hopes of enticing new readers, or revitalizing old readers. I love this idea, and have been known to do that.