Anyone who enjoys comics and prefers to go the digital route knows the frustrating aspect of not actually owning the material. Though the price for online copies of various comics is often equal to the price of a paper copy, DRM has been a staple of major US publishers as a way to mitigate what is expected to be rampant piracy when the restrictions are removed. Image Comics has eschewed this convention, however, announcing that it will allow a digital comic purchase to be downloaded.
The announcement was made at the Image Expo that took place yesterday, during which the publisher stated that all digital comic purchases made from its website will be provided to the buyer as a download that can be saved to the user’s computer, smartphone or tablet. In addition, the downloads will be provided in different file-type options: EPUB, PDF, CBR, and CBZ.
Thus, buyers will likely be able to download a version that works with their preferred comic reading application or ebook reader, and provides the freedom to save the file to different devices for different situations. One might, for example, wish to read it on a laptop during lunch break, then transfer it to a smartphone for enjoyment during a train ride or poolside. Hopefully this will inspire other publishers to follow.
Said Eric Stephenson of Image Comics: “My stance on piracy is that piracy is bad for bad entertainment. There’s a pretty strong correlation with things that suck not being greatly pirated, while things that are successful have a higher piracy rate. If you put out a good comic book, even if somebody does download it illegally, if they enjoy it then the likelihood of them purchasing the book is pretty high. Obviously we don’t want everybody giving a copy to a hundred friends, but this argument has been around since home taping was supposedly killing music back in the ’70s, and that didn’t happen. And I don’t think it’s happening now.”
The publisher’s director of business development went on to state some reasons beyond the “ownership factor” that are valid for why users should own the digital content they download, among them being the risk of having DRM’d downloads being revoked if a publisher goes out of business, for example. In addition, digital downloads have resulted in “tremendous growth” and the data shows no reasonable need to worry.