Friday, February 27, 2009

Can Comics Survive?

From newspapers to comics: Could Kindle Kill Comics? e-Reading Devices Cloud Future. An excerpt:

As booksellers look toward electronic reading devices as a wave of the future, the new technology could make paper comics a thing of the past.

With the release this month of the Kindle 2, the second generation of Amazon's electronic reading device, the ever-changing face of the publishing industry is bracing for yet another makeover. But the rumor that Apple will enter the market soon is seen by some comic book publishers as a threat to the future of paper comics.

"[Comic books are] a business that is very low margin and very low print run, so if 10 percent of the readers migrate to an e-device, that is going to throw off the economics for 60 percent of the books that are published in this country, and that's probably a low guess," said John Cunningham, DC Comics VP, Advertising. "So it doesn't have to become everybody in the room raising their hands having one to have that have a long-term impact on how the business goes."

Cunningham made the comment at New York Comic Con during a panel about "Selling Good Graphic Novels in a Bad Economy." While the discussion focused mainly on today's economic landscape, publishers soon turned their attention toward future opportunities for publishers to distribute their comic books electronically.

While many comic book publishers are exploring current opportunities on the internet -- including motion comics, online subscription services and webcomics -- the evolution of electronic reading devices may provide a greater long-term impact on the future of paper comics than the traditional computer.

Advertising Age recently reported on the topic, stating that while sales of paper-based graphic novels are up, industry analysts "cast a wary eye at electronic reading devices." And early reviews of Amazon's new Kindle 2 indicate the technology has taken another step forward. As tech guru and journalist Andy Ihnatko says in today's Chicago Sun-Times review of the product, "the Kindle 2 truly nudges the platform forward" is a "viable product."

While the black and white Kindle doesn't currently provide a platform for color comic books, Cunningham said it's only a matter of time until Apple offers their own iTunes-supported reading device for electronic books -- and this time it will have the digital color capabilities of the iPod.

Read the whole article here.


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