Sporadic Sequential
Monday, October 01, 2007
Delayed Satisfaction of My Immediate Gratification

A follow-up to my post last week wondering when downloadable digital comics will become a standard: As I noted in the comments over at David Welsh's post discussing the idea, I think the concept of digital comics applies to more than just superhero comics. In fact, given how prevalent illegal downloading of manga scanlations seems to be, I think manga publishers might benefit from offering digital downloads even more than superhero publishers would. And I'll admit, I'd love to see the big manga publishers step up to the plate and leapfrog past Marvel and DC in this regard. Given Viz's success rolling out anime downloads and Tokyopop's interest in providing digital content, it seems like a natural extension of their strategies to provide legal downloads of their manga content. If manga publishers could make such downloads available quickly and cheaply, I imagine it would help reduce the number of people making and consuming unlicensed scanlations. One reason cited by fans for downloading such scanlations is that they just can't wait for the latest chapter of their favorite series to come out. If, for example, Viz could quickly turn around high-resolution translations of the latest chapters of Bleach and Naruto, perhaps even just rough translations of the material that would later be reworked for "official" publication in the magazine and eventual collections, it might be a nice alternative to scanlations for fans who really want their latest manga fix now. Of course, this wouldn't address those who download scanlations for other reasons, such as simply wanting things for free or objecting to the official translations offered by the publisher, but it would at least be a start.

My only caveat is that I would hope publishers offering comics for digital download all agree upon and use a single standard (preferably the .CBR format, but even PDF would do if that's seen as more universal). I'm sure each publisher would like to lock users into their proprietary format, but I really think that's a nuisance from the customer's perspective, and it would reduce the ability for publishers to offer their books through multiple venues, such as Amazon.com.

Related: Steve Rude has made the first two issues of his self-published Nexus series (the Free Comic Book Day offering and #99) available for free on Wowio. Said Rude in an interview:
If you're thinking about giving me a shot, I'll make it as easy to buy my books as possible. If it just so happens that you like them, well, then everybody wins.
And that's why he's known as "The Dude," ladies and gentlemen! I look forward to buying the eventual collections of Rude's self-published Nexus work, but for now I'm grateful it's made it so easy for me to keep up with the individual installments. ("The Dude" also makes it easy to buy individual issues directly through his website, in either digital or print format, so I might have to buy some actual floppies to show my support for his forward thinking and customer focus. Or maybe one of those signed Nexus Archives editions, on sale for only $34.95!) [Hat tip: Tom Spurgeon, who doesn't provide permalinks for his "Quick Hits" linkblogging posts.]

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