The iPad and Comics

August 13th, 2010 | Posted in It's All Geek to Me!

The future?….

Here’s a link to an recent CNN article on how the iPad is boosting the appeal of digital comics.

I absolutely agree that the iPad and it’s descendants will be the new format for publishing, including comics and magazines. I can see a virtual news stand in the future full of individual issues and subscriptions for magazines, comics, comic books and newspapers… delivered without user effort to your mobile tablet device in a format that is easy and natural to browse, read and enjoy. However I don’t see the iPad being that device, but some other piece of hardware that doesn’t force the Draconian limitations on the content providers that Apple does. Unless Steve Jobs and Apple wise up and start playing along with publishers to develop a real business model for digital publishing, the iPad will be the next Betamax player or Macintosh… a superior piece of technology squashed by the concept of free enterprise.


  1. Doug Gilford says:

    Could you please say that a little more accurately and succinctly, please?
    In other words: Amen.

  2. Mark Engblom says:

    I’m not sure which limitations you’re referring to, but many of the complaints I’ve heard refer to Apple’s policy of barring developers from shopping their app around to other devices, even if Apple initially rejected the app. That’s certainly frustrating, but from what I understand, about 80% of the iPad apps need to be purchased by users, unlike the (mostly) free iPhone apps. So, obviously there’s some big money to be made not only by Apple, but also the developers they allow into the mix….so Apple can afford to piss off a few people in order to forge a business model of their choosing. I guess when you develop the technology, you either give it away (like early internet ventures and newspapers) or leverage it for all it’s worth.

    Apple is obviously determined to steer this paradigm shift as much as possible…which certainly conflicts with the impression the iPad generated when first announced, which was a utopian sort of “new tomorrow” of unlimited content and revived “dinosaur” media formats (newspapers, magazines).

    But that’s just my guess. What’s the issue on your end?

    • Tom says:

      One thing Apple is refusing to do is allow magazines to charge a subscription fee, but requiring each issue to be purchased separately each time, and each publication to have it’s own app. They are stonewalling publishers from creating a virtual newsstand ala their iTunes store where users can browse publications, subscribe and read content easily. This should already be the norm.

      The “it’s our playground so it’s our rules” thing is Apple’s right of course, but they obviously didn’t learn their lesson when they let Windows take over the world. It will happen again unless they better embrace a free market system.

  3. Paul Combs says:

    I agree, Tom – just wonder how we as freelance artists will make a living in a world of digital only publishing. To date, no publication has been able to turn on-line content into dollars. There have been flashes, of course, but nothing sustainable. Subscriptions may be an answer, but like digital music pirating, how do you make a profit when most can obtain the same material for free. People much smarter than me will have to figure this one out, but I think our profession, much like newspapers and editorial cartooning, is in for a dramatic shake-up. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon…

    • The shake-up is about to begin! Forget subscriptions, forget printing, forget your homepage. You won’t believe this! To revolutionize the industry, you have to revolutionize your way of thinking. Stay in touch. And yes, even Freelancers can capitalize! HINT: It is a 2-prong attack.

      checked out your site: Great Art!

  4. Mark Engblom says:

    Yeah, that’s pretty stupid of them. Using their own iTunes model, where you can either buy a single song or the entire album, customers should have a similar option with periodicals, where either a single issue or a run of issues (i.e. a subscription) can be purchased.

    Well, I’m sure many of Apple’s competitors are noting the dissatisfaction and coming up with an alternative. God Bless capitalism.

  5. darrylayo says:

    I enjoy Apple products, but I find Jobs too personally involved in it all. He has his own likes and dislikes, but what is “appropriate” should be between the buyer and the maker–not the platform.

    In other words, I totally agree with you.

  6. jt says:

    I don’t think that you are being quite fair here. Who has made a better device for selling e-content like comic books and magazines?

    The answer: nobody.

    So while there’re always improvement to be made to any platform, the iPad platform as it is today is at least a ray of hope and hint of what the future may bring.

    Our job is to find the best works out there and support them and/or build the future ourselves.

    • Tom says:

      That only reinforces my point. Apple has made a wonderful device for the reading and enjoyment of comics and magazines… and then rather than working WITH publishers to come up with a business model for moving the publishing world over to their device, Apple is holding that process up.

      Take Flash, for example. The lack of Flash support makes the iPad an incomplete solution as a full web browsing device. There are websites out there which require using flash to operate, like several consumer ones I’d love to use to order certain supplies or do other things like payroll for my business. If I could do that on the iPad it would go with me everywhere. But…

  7. Betamax, sure, but the Macintosh isn’t looking all that “squashed” to me. It looked like it might be 10 years ago, but today MacBooks are becoming as common on college campuses as beer fridges.

    I want the iPad to open up, and I think that eventually it will (or be so commonly hacked as to make it a moot point). But even if it stays a Walled Garden, that won’t stop it from remaining successful, because most buyers won’t particularly mind having their reading options restricted from 100,000 choices to 99,000. The only people who chafe under Apple’s restrictions are the minority of readers who know they want more, and publishers who push the boundaries. And the iPad will continue to sell just fine without them.

  8. Linkmeister says:

    I agree with you that Apple has so far learned little from its loss of market to Windows when it comes to a publishing model.


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