Digital comics or printed comics? This question comes up a lot when the comics’ lovers gather together: which is the best way to read your books? Both ways to read comics have their pros and cons, so in this post we’ll try to answer this question for you, or at least to give you material to think and decide which ones suit you the best. And then I will tell you what I do myself. You may agree with me or not, as I said before, it’s for you to decide what’s best for you.
Let’s start with the traditional way to read comics: printed versions.
Getting the books in your hands:
Purchasing printed versions of your favorite comics has a very particular feeling. Waiting for it to arrive to your comic shop or direct to your home, if you’re in a direct sales system, is a unique feeling that only somebody who loves reading comics can understand. Smelling the pages, turning them to discover the artwork, even re-reading the material, all produces a special and integral experience that cannot be reproduced with digital copies.
This is a simple one. When you buy a paper version you get a physical product, that you can re-read in the future, lend to a friend (almost a sin to a real comic collector!), store and maybe sell in the future. Everybody knows how some comics raised a lot their values and for some people, they’re kind of an investment (as we even explained in our single issues vs trade paperbacks article).
You look at the art as it should be
When you read a printed comic, you look at the art as it was thought by the author. What must be shown on one page, what in other, what’s above and what below. That’s often lost when you read digital comics, where you sometimes don’t see the full page, you loose the placement of one page vs the following, or you have to amplify sectors to read some things.
This is specially noteworthy when it comes to double splash pages, that are usually tortuous to read in digital copies.
Your things are yours and will be, forever
Ok, this one is a little bit paranoic… but have you ever experienced loosing material in a computer disc, or even having things stored in formats that you cannot access anymore? Let me put an example for you just in case you don’t get my point: did you have VHSs at home? Can you watch them now? That’s what I mean. Who knows if Amazon, Comixology or whatever company you purchase the digital comics to will be there in twenty years? Your physical comics almost for sure will be there.
We already told the benefits of printed comics. Let’s see what the Digital comics can do for us:
Every comic collector knows what I mean by that. If you’re starting out, I can tell you this: hoy much space does a single issue occupy? Almost nothing, does it? Let’s say you buy 20 issues a month, for 10, 15 years, and don’t throw away a single issue. That makes 2400, 3600 issues you have in your hands. Believe me, that requires space … And let’s face the truth: most of the material you read, you read it just once in your life. So why storing tons of papers when you can sore it in bytes?
As an additional plus: when you travel around, you can take A LOT of comics with you. That’s great if you take a holiday, you don’t have to carry a whole bag with your reading material (seems funny but that happened a lot to me!)
Digital comics are usually cheaper than printed versions. Not as cheap as they would be, mark my words… it boils my blood when they try to charge me the same price for a digital copy that for a printed copy. Guys, there’s no paper here, no ink, no comics distributors… we all know about it. You’re getting too greedy, and that really pisses me off!
Phone call for you, Comixology, Madefire, even Marvel with the new issues!!
Having said that, there are cheaper versions too. If you subscribe to Marvel unlimited, as an example, for only U$S 9,99 a month you get access to tens of thousands of comics. Literally.
Comixology unlimited also lets you access to a big comics base that also includes DC & other publishers’ titles for just $ 5,99 a month. And there are many offers for digital comics that allow you to buy issues at really low prices.
Of course, you need to be connected to internet and a tablet, but that’s not such a big deal considering the ammount you save.
This might sound a little strange, but… you can read anywhere. At anytime. And you don’t need to carry your books around. Not even your tablet. Just your phone is enough to enjoy a comics experience.
Let’s say you are on the bus, or waiting for your doctor’s appointment, and you want to read a comic. You go to your phone, open your app, and you can choose for a big variety of comics to read on the spot. You can even continue reading the book you were reading the previous night at home. That’s great.
One feature I find interesting is you can read in the dark. That comes handy if you sleep with someone else, you don’t need to leave a light on to continue reading if the other person is asleep.
So, what’s better? Digital comics or Printed versions?
After many years of battling with myself, I came up with my own solution. I usually read online versions. When I find something I really like and I want to keep, I go and buy the printed material. It may be the single issues, or in my case, (as I explained in the Single issues or Trade paperbacks? article) the hardcover versions, which I love because of the way they fit in the library. This way, I get to preserve the material I really like, but I don’t have to store tons of material I don’t really like at home.
Of course, it may happen that the single issue raises a lot in price, and I can’t buy it. You know how many times that happens? Not many. In many cases, I even end up buying the material cheaper than when it came out in the first place.
That’s the solution that works for me. What’s good for you? Let me know your thoughts about it!