Diamond is the big company that distributes comics to comic book stores, and they’re the guys in the crosshairs should digital comics finally really take off. So it makes some sense that they’re trying to get in that game. But the problem is they’re doing it in the single stupidest way possible:
They want to sell you digital comics at the comic book store.
The plan these geniuses have is to charge you 1.99 for a digital comic, but what you’ll get is a slip of paper with a code to unlock that particular digital comic on your computer or mobile device. If you buy a physical copy of the comic you can also add on the digital version (ie, a slip of fucking paper) for 99 more cents. So if you want the new issue of Superman digitally you go to your store, you pay 1.99 for the slip of paper with the code and then you can unlock that Superman comic and only that particular Superman comic.
It’s hard to imagine a more retarded way of selling digital comics. I’m not against brick & mortar stores getting into digital - in the days when iPods were just iPods and didn’t have wifi I used to wish I could walk into a record store and buy a digital album right on my device. There’s something to be said for browsing and using that as a way to decide what to buy. But this system is just dumb, and counterproductive and feels like a scheme out of 1997.
Of course digital comics remain a mess. I love the format; I’ve spent lots of money on digital comics for my iPad that I would simply never buy on paper, but part of the reason is that I quit buying comics years ago and the digital comics world seems to have just about caught up with the time period when I quit. There are scattered new issues of DC and Marvel comics available digitally, but for the most part their electronic stores offer comics that are literally years old. Marvel just launched a browser based comics store (Chrome only, at chrome.marvel.com), where you can read World War Hulk or the beginnings of Siege, both of which are old events from more than a year ago.
The other problem with digital comics is that right now they’re platform dependent, and part of that is Apple’s doing. If I buy a Marvel comic on my iPad I can only read it on my iPad or other iDevices. If I join Marvel’s digital subscription service, where a huge chunk of back issues are available to me, I can only read them on my desktop.
These are, of course, big problems holding back a lucrative way of selling comic books, but this Diamond scheme is the dumbest thing yet.
I just wish that one of the Big Two would jump whole heartedly into digital comics and make all their books available day and date with the physical books, as well as bundle storylines into digital graphic novels. These are just the obvious ways to do it, and every week their new comics are not offered legally online someone will be offering them illegally through scans.