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Open Digital Standard


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This is an article I’ve wanted to write for a while.  GeekWeek has an excerpt from Graphic.ly CEO Micah Baldwin about setting a standard for digital comics.

Since I started this business, something that’s been bouncing around my brain is the fact that if somebody were to buy a comic book on comiXology and then want to read that comic, for whatever reason, on Longbox, they’d have to buy it again. Fundamentally, that’s the reality. If I get a book on Panelfly, and then I get into comiXology and it’s also in their library, I have to rebuy it. What’s interesting is that if you look at it, that’s primarily driven by the technology and not necessarily by the publishers. I think that’s lame. It’s lame that somebody can’t take a book they bought on my system, decide they don’t like Graphic.ly and would rather go read it in comiXology and then actually go do that.

Digital comics is in it’s infancy with numerous different applications coming to market, some already in the market and many more to come.

Questions we as consumers need to ask are:

  1. Who owns the comics I purchase?  Do I?  Is it licensed?
  2. Can I take the comics I purchase to another service?  Another computer?
  3. What happens if a service closes?

There are technical issues to consider.  Each of these applications have different features and I’m sure the back ends are very different from each other.  But let’s go beyond the technical issues.

What I think you’ll see, is one app dominate.  This will become the defacto application.  That race is wide open.  One will become the iTunes.  Now, how long did it take for iTunes to open up the music you purchased so you can play items purchased on different services or devices?  How much more did you have to pay for that?  How much of a headache was it for the consumer leading up to this.

Here’s where it should be easier, there is no “iPod” for digital comic books.  There is no device driving digital sales and digital sales driving the sale of a device.  We can and should be able to read our comics on our PC, Mac, iPad, iPod, PSP, PS3 and whatever else may come.

Until there’s an open standard.  And my rights as a consumer have been made clear, I’ll be sticking to the physical medium.  I own that comic book I purchased at the store.  I can take it where I’d like.  I can read it when I want.  And there’s no worries about it becoming outdated and upgraded out of existence.

Until this is settled, call me skeptical.