By Jay Krieger –
There’s a special place in my heart for comic books. I would lay on my living room carpet as a 12-year-old with a stack of them as tall as me and would read for hours. And then I’d read some more, until my fingers were stained with ink from the hundreds of pages I’d flip through in a single sitting.
Becoming enthralled in these various worlds with different characters was incredible for an imaginative kid like me who wasn’t a big fan of reading at a young age, to be able to read stories in a medium that was more appealing to someone of my age group. Though after my adolescent years I began reading more books and (to my parents’ dismay) discovered video games and other hobbies that rendered my favorite hobby a thing of the past.
Recently however, I had been contemplating purchasing a tablet or e-reader device for reading but also for returning to one of my favorite hobbies. The idea of being able to bring my entire collection with me, wherever I go, is just one of the many appealing features of owning a tablet, but, to me, it makes the most sense. When I was looking into which tablets offered what apps, there are a handful of comic apps available for the iPad and Kindle- I went with a second generation iPad. With a seemingly endless supply of comics and not having to visit a store once a week to get my fix, I exclusively buy single issues digitally.
Here are some of the benefits I’ve found to going digital.
No More Clutter
Collecting boxes and boxes of individual comics wrapped in plastic bags while always being in constant fear of them deteriorating, from either natural or unnatural elements, is not my idea of a good time.
Digging through boxes and boxes, trying to find that one story arc I want to re-read for the umpteenth time, or wanting to re-visit a comic’s distinct art style, has become more of a chore than enjoyable.
In this time in my life I don’t want, nor have room to store, boxes lying around my home and I certainly won’t in the next five or ten years. I won’t want to have boxes of comics sitting in my basement or attic, just collecting dust as ghosts of fond memories past. Having my entire collection in one easily portable platform, and being able to select a particular issue or series at a swipe of a finger, is the biggest attraction for going me digital.
Discounts, Discounts, Discounts
Comic apps (Comixology- which I use exclusively, in particular) have several sales a week, sometimes having entire series on sale for 99 cents or buy bundles at a discount. The Comixology app also frequently marks down comics that are only a few weeks old, up to 50% off. When you can get 20 issues of a series for $20 dollars, instead of buying typical retail price of $3 or even $4 dollars, it makes this expensive hobby a bit more manageable on your wallet.
Buy or Browse Without Leaving the House
Being able to purchase same day as print, meaning you’ll have access to new issues the same day as your local comic shop receives them, is an incredible convenience. This is helpful for people that either don’t live near a comic shop or people like me who live on a college campus ( I don’t have a car on campus and the closest shop is a considerable distance away).
Being able to wake up on Wednesday morning and have access to any and all releases of the day is incredibly convenient. The only downside to this is that the lack of visiting a comic book store removes some of the ritual that goes into buying comics: visiting a local store and browsing the shelves for new issues, having access to graphic novels, and back issues of series.
My local comic shop may be different than most; the owner, who is also the only employee, is helpful in recommending new and old books. Losing this type interaction is definitely a downside to purchasing comics digitally, but the benefits of having such a large collection, and access to issues that are out of print, is indispensable.
In the End, Which is Better?
In the end, the notion of growing up will never stop me from enjoying my hobbies, but the way in which I enjoy them will surely change.
The idea of having hundreds of comic books/boxes lying around is just plain irritating. Having them in a device that I use for a variety of other tasks is more practical and effective in sorting through a collection to find a specific issue.
While buying newly released issues and harder to find back issues has been simplified and more convenient, the interaction and discussion with those that either work or shop at a local store will unfortunately be lost.
In the end, the digital vs. physical discussion boils down to personal preference. For me, it’s more convenient to download comics without leaving the house and the appeal of being introduced to new series by weekend sales is a great way to increase my collection while taking up gigabytes instead of closet space.