Scientific PROOF that Digital Comics are a better value than regular comics (and 296% cheaper)!

I have no math background.

At all.

I suck at math, science, and sometimes I’m even confused by the settings on my PVR. I do, however, have the ability to use the free calculator that comes with my PC.

So I wanted to figure out how much it would cost to buy 4 comics at the store, vs. 4 comics on the interwebz.

Take a look:

Case Study #1 – Blake drives to the comic store.

I drive to the store and pick up four comics – two priced at $2.99, and two at $3.99. This brings the total to $13.96.

Since I live in Ontario, Canada, I pay something awesome called the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) which adds 13% to the cost. Now we’re up to $15.77.

And I had to get to the comic store, which means around $2.00 in gas (I have no idea what the actual cost is but this is somewhere in the neighborhood). So now the final price is $17.77 for the four comics, or $4.44 per book.

At my comic store, bags and boards and included, and parking is free, so those costs are not taken into account. But I still had to take nearly an hour to make the trip, and pay for boxes to store them as well (time, effort, storage…all this stuff is valuable!).

Case Study #2 – Blake buys comics online

I buy four comics online. Two for $2, two for $1.

Total cost, $6.

Minimal time, minimal effort, no additional costs.

So as you can see, this is irrefutable proof. 🙂

Yes, everyone likes the tactile sensation of a freshly minted comic. I love it too. But let’s face reality: comics are relatively expensive, and are not getting any cheaper. And within 3 years or so, EVERYONE (yes, even you) will have some sort of hand-held, tablet-style web browsing contraption. Maybe not an iPad, but some variation. Before long, they’ll be too cheap and convenient to NOT get one.

And when that device becomes the standard, so will digital comics – just like digital music has all but killed off CDs, and how online books are slowly but surely replacing paperbacks.

Embrace it.

Let me know what you think here or on Twitter. Talk soon!

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20 Responses to Scientific PROOF that Digital Comics are a better value than regular comics (and 296% cheaper)!

  1. jason says:

    Great blog post and it was your first time?!?! I hated the iTakeover but slowly embracing the idea of an iPad. I love the “feel” of comics or books (and you can’t beat the smell of an old comic from the 60’s) but you make the point all the marketers are hoping is obvious to all consumers. I hope the two can co-exist – comics both digital and tangible. And this coming from somebody with 20 long boxes and a wife who is checking out arsonist blogs.

  2. R.H Rusef says:

    Digital comics are the wave of the future for so many reasons, but the main one is that the internet is democratic while comic shops are generally fascist, at least to a new customer. If you don’t believe me, watch someone walk into a comic book shop and not speak the language fluently. The natives will almost always not be friendly, and, even if there’s no outright hostility, they will look at the outsider who buys Betty and Veronica instead of Wolverine with suspicion.

    All of my comics will be available online, some exclusively online, and it’s something I’m proud of. I’m not hostile to comic shops. I love them, and I used to work in one, and, while I don’t buy often anymore, I still have my citizenship in comics nation. I’m fine, but new readers are very often not treated well. More importantly, unlike my generation, newer readers don’t get to buy their comics off a spinner rack next to the Slurpee machine. The internet is that spinner rack.

  3. You make a very compelling argument. I for one am too poor to buy an iPad, but I see where you’re going with this. As the technology becomes cheaper, so will the convenience of digital purchases and ownership.

  4. Ian says:

    If you’re like me, you READ comics instead of COLLECTING them. I’m not looking to invest in comic books – they are not part of my retirement plan. That makes digital comics the right choice for me. The iPad is responsible for reigniting my love for reading comics.

  5. Sharon says:

    Excellent topic.
    As an artist I am definitely aware of how the tables can and will turn when it comes to producing and distributing sequential art and art in general. I for one love the printed medium but I know this trend has been looked at carefully over the years and as media devices become more accessible so shall the content.

  6. I’m stuck reading my digital comics on my macbook as it is now, which isn’t a pain but it’s still not as comfortable and or convenient as per say an iPhone or iPad.
    Which do you use?

    P.S. You need to bring a friend along for your trips. Your comic outing than turns into a comic-adventure. I’ve got scientific proof as well, and a prestigious high-school background in mathematics.

  7. Wes says:

    Digital formatting is also a great way for independent creators to build readership. Its fast, cheap, and they’re in control of their profits. It’s true that we’ll probably all have some kind of iPad-esque device in the near future. For a great many comic collectors, myself included, I don’t think that will ever amount to the experience of sifting through long boxes for a specific book or books. Print media is getting no less expensive these days so I totally embrace the digital revolution for that reason alone, but there will always be certain books I’ll just have to shell out the extra $5 (gas included) for. That’s why we’re comic collectors! It’s a need based industry and frankly there are a lot worse needs out there than comics.

  8. Randall says:

    A couple of things. Mostly to be difficult.

    1. You include gas. Shouldn’t you include the money you spend on internet service or 3G?

    2. Everyone mentions the tactile experience of comics, but let’s bring something into focus [no pun intended] that not many people consider — the way the eye processes images. If you want to look at just a particular panel of a digital comic, you have to go to that panel, select it, and enlarge it. If you want to look at just a particular panel on a regular comic, you can do that just by focusing on it with your own eye. Digital, at least in its current model, has added a second filter to the way in which we view what were once printed materials. Computers still having printers shows we put a lot faith in the power of our own eye to do these things.

    3. Finally, are e-books really killing paperbacks? I feel like the comparison to digital music/CDs is kind of unfair. A book is something that will work without batteries, and, if your eyesight is good enough, without much light. It’s the analog option, and I think e-books are as likely to replace real books as typing is likely to replace hand writing — both will survive, because there are situations where both are needed.

    That being said, I agree overall that digital will likely become *the* way to distribute regular month-to-month books, at least for awhile. I just sort of expect the print industry to offer an alternative to us Luddites, probably in the shape of paperback trades, digests, or some other kind of collections of these digital comics.

    Glad to have you in the blogosphere. Keep up the good work.

    • Uzziel León says:

      2.- “If you want to look at just a particular panel of a digital comic, you have to go to that panel, select it, and enlarge it. If you want to look at just a particular panel on a regular comic, you can do that just by focusing on it with your own eye.” The digital comics have a solution for that, this is an example.

      PS: I prefer the analog comics, but I have to import them. I am from México. Marvel is doing a great job over here publishing Collected Editions (ONMIBUS) and improving the quality of each of their comics.

  9. You know, as much as I agree that there will be a shift towards digital media I’m not sure it’s necesarily entirely going to phase out physical products. There’s something exciting about actually being able to physically browse in a comic shop (and any other shop for that matter) that just doesn’t feel the same with digital media. Not only that, but for me going to my local comic shop offers me the chance to engage in conversation; I can learn about new releases; i can talk about forthcoming releases and discuss favourite issues so far; i can generally just chew the fat. The interaction is good! Should we all move to digital formats, where does this leave the poor, humble shop owner? Unemployed.

    I enjoy collecting. Admittedly, as I’ve gotten older I’ve followed less and less comics in issue format, prefering the collected editions because a) they take up less space b) They look awesome on a shelf, but that doesn’t detract from my regular trips to the shop. It has become an exciting part of my routine (how much does it make me sound like I don’t have a life, eh?). I look forward to it as I never know what each visit might bring. I suppose the shops that once sold comics could shift to selling nothing but graphic novels and collected editions, but then what would seperate them from a regular book shop?

    Regarding music, I think you find the same thing with a lot of indie and small press comics as you do within the music industry, and thats an emphasis on making the physical copy unique. Whether it be size, fancy packaging or whatever, it certainly makes it easy to want to collect, as items become something more than just comicbooks. Digital music may have killed off CDs for major artists and labels, but it’s nowhere near doing so with the indie labels. Also, despite hitting the 10 billionth download early this year, iTunes reports a decrease in the number of people downloading. Why? Possibly because the non-physicality of downloads means that the item becomes throwaway. Why pay when essentially you can (albeit illegally), get the same thing for free? Physical copies give you something to hold in your hand and examine. You can put them on display like a piece of art or file them away neatly in a corner somewhere.

    The plus-side for me with digital comics is the platform on which it allows new creators to stand, shout and be heard. With little to no costs compared to print media it means that they can have a global voice by means of online presence and that means they can reach places that small press comix can’t, or at least means they can access them quicker. There’s also the benefit of the mobility of digital comics. You can download them on the move and read them as you travel. No matter where you are, as long as there is a wifi connection you’re good to go.

    It’s inevitable that the shift towards digital media is happening but I still think there will be a place for physical products and I still think that digital media is being over-estimated in many ways. The saying goes ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, and on this one I think I agree, but with an addition-

    “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Build on it”

  10. SAMURAi says:

    Nope, never. I will never embrace that. Yes, I read digital comic books. But hands down to buy the real thing, to have it in your hands it’s not the same to read it on a screen.
    I read comic books since I was 12, and now Im 24.. sooo.. nope, I will never change that. Times are hard, and we got too taxes here (Greece) like everyone else.
    But I prefer to buy my fave funny books, and read everything else on my mac, than to buy what I want online and stop reading paperbacks.
    It’s the feeling that counts.

    Peace, Blake! 😉

    Ps. Congrats on the blog.

  11. L_I_am72 says:

    I love real comix n I love gadgets. It’s becomming a real conundrum. Price and aesthetic value over accessibility. I don’t own an i-Pad yet but do have comic and book apps on my fone. Guess we’ll all go digital out of necessity in the future but until then 4 colour pulp fiction does it fer me!

  12. mathias says:

    your conclusions are correct, ma’am
    -yet in your calculation you fail to include the initial investment of a reading device: iPhone, iPad, desktop etc – said investment needs to be amortized over time and added on top of each purchase of digital comic for the comparison to be completely fair – but again, point taken – this is ‘the way of the future’…


  13. logan says:

    i think that digital comics are a much better deal, but i still love holding a comic in my hand. digital comics are great if you wanna re-read the comic anywhere on the go. also faster to get, and no awkwardness having to walk around the comic shop or talk to the guy working there. if i had an ipad (OR A JOB!) i would buy them all the time. but i actually do like to talk about stuff with the enthusiastic, smart, funny, comic shop owner (ethan, at my comic shop) and actually feel immersed in a comic book community. it feels great being in a comic shop sometimes. but as i see comic prices increasing (4 BUKS!!!!) and my wallet decreasing, it seems like ill be buying a lot of digital comics in the near future.

  14. Deemar says:

    Bottom line, some people will always prefer the tangiable over something you’ll never hold in hand.

    Will online/digital over take good ol’ print comics? sure it’s possible, but you’ll always have those cats (Like me) who wants that single issue paper pamphlet experience.

    Maybe indie print comics will make a return to fill the void?

  15. Rob Base says:

    I spent many years in comics and now have fallen head first back in. With that being said I love a real comic in my hand but have to say I own more digital comics right now (maybe not legally) but I have them. I want a perfect hand held device for comics. Not an ipad or ipod get us a comic book kindle!

  16. Robert says:

    I’ve converted to mostly reading digital comics. At the height of my collection I had over 50 long boxes and the storage of them was driving me insane. I’m a reader and not a collector as one person mentioned, so I don’t really care about the physical comic. I want to read and enjoy the story. I often hook up my laptop to my 47′ plasma tv through my HDMI port and really enjoy the grandeur of the art.
    The big sticking point right now for digital comics is the price point and the tools to read them on. Plain and simple digital comics are too expensive. They should be shooting for $0.50 to a $1.00 to push quantity.
    As well, it will take a bit of time for people to get devises that make it convenient to read them on.

    Great first blog post Blake, keep up the good work

  17. Jonn says:

    I picked up my first comic in many years last month as research for a potential work project. The quality of print and color took me back to being a kid. I then looked around at apps and downloaded a few different publishers. Some do work better then others. Doing graphic work me eyes perfer print after work, but I don’t thing I side one way or the other right now.

    Interface on the digital side if that is the way things go may still be up in the air as designing for a larger screen like on an iPad is closer then an iPod which requires more zooming or always formatting to on size over the open composition of the traditional or iPad page.

  18. Jon Gorga says:

    I really, really appreciate someone talking about digital comics as a positive! There’s a lot of fear and negativity surrounding the concept believe it or not. I’m behind them but even to me they’re still… feel kind of weird. There’s a novelty there that keeps me from truly just enjoying the story as it is.

    That said I wrote HERE that digital comics will eventually replace print comics. Emphasis on the “eventually” part.

    Also, congratulations. Happy to see a new comics blog!

  19. phil says:

    I 1st became aware of u on Twitter, and now since that led me 2 here…I hadda subcribe. As for the future of comics reading, I think it’s just about like everything else.
    You can embrace the future or be trampled by it. 🙂

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