With Apple's announcement of their new iPad device, the comics industry is abuzz with the potential for digital comics.
Creators and publishers of comic books have anticipated the Apple tablet ever since rumors began surfacing late last year, because it offers a vertical e-book reader that has a color screen -- something important for the experience of reading comic books.
Newsarama contacted artists, writers and executives at a variety of comic book publishers to find out their reaction to the news, and their thoughts on how it will affect comic books.
Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik responds:
On a personal level I'm excited as all get out. I'm a big Apple addict (as my wife can attest) and what Apple does incredibly well is - a) make technology appealing and sexy and b) makes it easy to use. They didn't invent the personal computer, they didn't invent the mp3 player, and they didn't invent the smart phone, but they sure made them appealing for tech and non-tech people alike.
I'll be in line to pick up one of these when it comes out. It'll be great for traveling - I can listen to music, watch movies, read books, and surf the net all on one easy to use device? Great. Most of my work is done over email and my email is in the cloud through Google. So is my calendar. With a bluetooth keyboard, I can essentially replace my laptop with this device on road trips. Are there things that I'd like to see on this still? Certainly. A built in camera for Skype or taking photos would be nice. Flash would be nice. But it's the first generation of this device and looks like a pretty spectacular start to me.
Right now, I'm cautiously optimistic. Digital distribution is another potential revenue stream for publishers. Not everyone is going to go out and buy an iPad initially, it's like when the iPod first came out. It wasn't until the third generation iPods came out that it really took off.
I'm sure it will be part of our strategy and the strategy of most publishers in one form or another, but I don't think you'll see any publisher investing a massive amount of time and energy into it until the revenue stream proves itself with sales.
Long term I definitely see the appeal for many folks to have digital subscriptions to comics, magazines, and so on. If the price is low enough, the process is easy enough (easier than stealing), and the product looks great then I don't see why it can't become a nice outlet to capture new readers.
On the direct market side, I think there's no immediate reason to panic. If the feedback on Newsarama has shown us anything, it's that diehard comic collectors aren't eager to make the switch. They like collecting, they like the physical product. Perhaps some of them will use digital to sample books they've heard good things about at a lower entry point. In the long run, I suspect we will see a great emphasis put on trade sales and savvy retailers will look at ways to partner with digital distributors to drive sales for hard copies back into their stores.
Go here to see more reactions from comics' pros and publishers.