Earlier this year in a post titled Screen Reading I wrote:
“Now that I’ve found FFView I only wish more comics where available in digital (cb[r|z]) format. If some of the larger comic publishers would offer their publications in digital format I would gladly subscribe to and/or purchase them.”
Thus it was, at first, with great joy that I saw the /. post which informed me of Marvel Digital Comics. That was, until I went to the site and saw the first “feature” of the service: “Instant access over the web (no need to download)”.
It’s a shame, for a paltry $60 USD a year I could get “unlimited access to thousands of Marvel comics online”. The shame is the fact that I can only access these comics through a Flash application which I had absolutely zero success in running on my x86 Linux machine (even with Adobes flash plugin) and that ran much too slowly to be usable on my iBook (less than instantaneous page transitions).
Even had I managed to actually run the player I’d still be disappointed with the service, when I saw the /. post I thought (hoped?) that Marvel had made a huge leap towards embracing the digital age and giving their customers more freedom by allowing them to download digital versions of the comics. Apparently not.
While I can understand certain arguments for implementing the service as they have I think the arguments are awfully similar to those of DRM and the outcome is just the same. Anyone who doesn’t want to pay for comics will just download them from alternative sources anyway but people who are happy and willing to pay for comics in a more convenient digital format are restricted in their use in a futile attempt to prevent piracy.
It’s a shame, I hope Marvel (and DC) embrace a more open service model so that I can use the likes of Comix and FFView to read their comics regardless of whether I am actively connected to the internet (long journeys on public transport perhaps). $60 USD a year is a small price to pay for the service I describe, hell – I’d gladly pay the subscription fee to both Marvel and DC if I could get the comics in a more friendly way.
Perhaps DC will try to beat Marvels offering by allowing download of their comics? I think this would be enough to encourage Marvel to rethink their strategy, I wait for DC’s offering with bated breath.