The internet hasn't exactly been kind to the comic book industry (don't worry – they deserve their fair share of the blame), it looks like that could finally be changing, according to some new numbers from ComiXology.
No doubt owing a lot to the proliferation of mobile devices over the last few years, it looks like digital comics are finally starting to take off. David Sternberger, the CEO of ComiXology, a platform and store that sells digital comics on a variety of platforms, says that they've recently cracked the 75 million downloaded mark, with a good third of those downloaded this year. Wired even goes so far as to suggest that we could be seeing the beginnings of the 'digital age' of comics.
Alright; they've still got a ways to go. The comic book industry as a whole isn't what it used to be, but there could be light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the likes of ComiXology. Despite being around for decades, digital comics (e-comics?) never really took off on the desktop, or even laptops, facing a lot of the same hurdles as their wordier e-book cousins. But like e-books, it's finally feasible to offer a comfortable reading experience, and Sternberger says they're already seeing the results.
"Digital sales are growing like crazy this year," he said in an interview with Wired. "There’s no doubt in my mind that digital sales are helping drive print and an expansion in the comic market in general. Easy access to comics with a great user experience is driving this." We're sure that a lot of it has to do with reaching new audiences, too – comic shops aren't exactly famous for their accessibility, and your average bookstore doesn't carry a very robust selection for comic fans.
ComiXology offers a very attractive platform for publishers, one that puts indie authors on the same level as the likes of Marvel and DC, and one that lets readers access their comics on any device that has an app or browser, so it's way more portable than lugging around an actual book. Plus, you don't have to worry about being heckled for reading comic books. With ComiXology, all you have to worry about is getting mugged because of the expensive device you're lugging around. It also makes it easier for new readers to jump in by offering a massive catalog of back issues. Basically, it brings a lot of the same advantages offered by e-books to comics.
Still, Sternberger tells Wired that there's still a lot of work to be done. For starters, he'd like to see American comics reach the same level of popularity enjoyed by manga in Japan, where he says “people of all ages and genders read manga, and they read a lot of it.” It's also worth remembering that a decent amount of those 75 million downloads weren't sales, since there are quite a few free titles available, too. With their great catalog and ubiquitous platform, ComiXology probably has a better shot at that than anyone else in the market right now.
Source: Wired | Image via Media Bistro