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Dipping Back Into Digital…Over Two Years Later

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It’s been over two years now since Comixology did away with in-app purchasing for Apple devices. Being an Apple guy (simply by way of having iPhone and iPad), that stopped me in my tracks as far as digital comics went.

back_to_digital_openscreen_marvelI wrote about the one-year mark last year… and not too long after, “discovered” Marvel Unlimited.

I’ve enjoyed Unlimited a great deal, and found it to be SUCH a great value that even doing the $10 month-to-month subscription (rather than lay out $70-80 in one go for the entire year), I have zero problem with going a month or months without using it yet still paying for it!

The six-month “delay” or “embargo” or whatever–the gap between what’s available without separate purchasing and whatever’s out this week–does not bother me at all. I’m so far behind on “current Marvel” in general anyway that it doesn’t much matter…and for the cost, any mattering there is is offset by reading relatively new stuff for such a small cost–given Marvel‘s $3.99+ price point, really all I have to do is average 3 comics read per month to ‘break even’ with anything else being total bonus. And for what I read just last summer, I’d mentally decided it more than covered over a year, and it’s not yet BEEN a full year since then, so I’m golden. It allows me to–should I choose–read up on a lotta stuff, catch up, etc at my relative leisure without laying out a lotta money (and while I may not like to admit it, keeps me tethered enough that I’m then going to be interested in buying other stuff as a result of things I read, whether newish issues, some collected volume(s), or just stuff from bargain-bins.

back_to_digital_openscreen_dcMaking the “purchase” one time, and being all set until I cancel my subscription and otherwise being free to browse and select and download at my leisure from the app–without constantly logging in or having to juggle multiple apps and interfaces for single-issue selections and such (i.e. purchasing through Comixology without in-app purchases) works extremely nicely!

Just about 3 weeks ago, heading toward DC Comics‘ big Rebirth issue, I’d gotten excited enough that I searched for and downloaded DC‘s digital-comics app to “check” on what a friend has told me a number of times…the individual companies’ apps still allow the inn-app purchases, even though Comixology‘s app itself does not. So, for the first time in over two years, I was all set not only to make “a” digital purchase…but was excited, anticipating, and ready/willing to pay full price digitally…just to satisfy the craving, the immediate gratification of getting to read an issue before work rather than have to wait until a late lunch break to go to the store to get the issue (which I’d already had a copy being held).

back_to_digital_2Taking advantage of a “sale” I had noticed, for a mere 99 cents, I bought the recent Superman Annual that I believe led into the final stuff just ahead of The Final Days of Superman with the titles big #50s and such.

EDITING 6/15/2016 to add: Can’t believe I forgot that I also dropped another $14 or so on an Annual and 12-13 or so issues of Batman for the “core” Zero Year story!

And then after so thoroughly enjoying the new Action Comics issue last week, just to “support” the title and legacy numbering and in-app purchasing and $2.99 price point in general, I bought a digital copy to just have it.

Which I’m sure–for me–may have opened the floodgates as I rediscovered the joy of the digital purchasing–being able to learn of something and/or just being flat-out “in the mood” to read it, and even if I’d consider its print edition nothing more than “a quarter book”–something I wouldn’t pay more than 25 cents for–I’ll pay the “convenience tax” for the digital access and get to read whatever issue(s) immediately and without it taking up a lot of physical space!

back_to_digital_openscreen_tmntCue, then, adding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles app to my device–because darn it, the TMNT have always been a soft spot for me and an “exception” I’m willing to make to things I’ll otherwise completely avoid on principle…so might as well check that app out, and at the very least see if I can access old purchases I’d made of some of those books.

Much like the DC app, the TMNT app does indeed allow for in-app purchasing…which may well mean some trouble for me down the road, but I especially like that they have stuff priced well below print, at least on some of the collected volumes.

And much to my shared chagrin and enjoyment, there’s currently a sale going on…not just for a couple days or the week, but the entire month of June.

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So, I ‘bit.”

I was curious.

I had to check into the prices of the collected volumes…especially after realizing how far behind I am on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures volumes.

back_to_digital_3With the sale going on, the volumes were $3.99 apiece…and contain at least 4 issues each, if not 5.

For the price of one single Marvel issue that I’d read in a few minutes, I could buy a collection of issues I’ve been intending to re-read soon anyway and that I know I’ll enjoy.

So, utilizing the ease of in-app purchasing…I bought volume 10 for the Future Shark Trilogy story. And that included references to the Eye of Sarnath and such, so decided I might as well get the next volume as well, for the Black Hole Trilogy that I remembered quite enjoying.

Yet after reading the Future Shark stuff, I wanted to backtrack a bit…so got volume 9 for the United We Stand “crossover” story with the Mighty Mutanimals, and a couple more “key” issues I remember from back in the day.

And at this point, I’m honestly thinking that–while it’ll add up to the same thing either way–being able to spread the purchases out, I maybe completely backtrack on these volumes to take advantage of the $3.99/volume price, just for the ease of re-reading the issues on my tablet.

Ultimately, the point being: I was completely soured to digital comics, my interest (and weekly purchases of at least a handful of 99-cent issues) had been killed in its tracks. And I wasn’t just mouthing off or “complaining online” while still giving over my money–I stopped cold, and did not spend another cent, period, sum total on any digital comics from Comixology.

That lasted over two years, some 25 months.

While some of it is the re-“novelty” of the stuff and diving back in after some time away, I’m obviously somewhere in the audience for digital comics! And willing to (on impulse!) purchase digital comics if only to read one time and be done.

Just a drop in the bucket overall, but nearly $20 in just a couple weeks while planning on several more purchases (and who knows from there) on top of buying print editions…and Comixology itself lost out as I’m now going through the individual companies’ apps rather than theirs directly. Sure, they might get a cut, but I imagine it’s smaller than what they’d get if I was going through their app itself even with the “Apple tax,” and all the more significant across time.

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Thoughts on Digital Sales…Particularly Pricing

I came across an article on Bleeding Cool–The Digital Drop – Print Sales are Up eBook Sales Are Down–and it made me think on several points.

Number one: It’s Bleeding Cool, which while I frequent the sight for what can be gleaned, I also take with a grain of salt and a definite recognition of perpetration of click-bait headlines and “articles” and such.

Number two: Publishers don’t actually disclose numbers for there to be any concrete thing. And when small percentages are cited, it’s not like there’s been some catastrophic, cataclysmic shift all at once or anything.

Number three: I am not personally surprised in the slightest if “digital sales” (“sales” as in “transactions,” not as in “discounts”) are down on comics. The article seemed to indicate that this is more a books-in-general thing (or that’s how I took it) more than comics-specifically.

But sticking just to comics: at this point, I would think that the “novelty” of “digital comics” has worn off. We’ve had nearly 5 years (HALF of an entire DECADE) of “day and date” from DC (I believe that begin with the launch of the New 52). I don’t remember if Marvel beat them to the punch (that factor is irrelevant here). Being able to buy this week’s newest comics digitally simultaneous with being able to go out to a local shop and buy the print edition is no longer a new thing–it just IS. And I would guess that it now being such a common/accepted/routine kinda thing might mean that those who may have initially been excited no longer find excitement in it, and aren’t going to be chomping at the bit to get that newest issue at 6am digitally that they could get in print a few hours later.

Along with the newness having worn off, I’d imagine that pricing has set in. Since it’s not a new/novel thing now, paying the “premium” to have ’em right away probably is no longer a “thing.” That “premium” being the fact that buying digitally has no print component, and yet for those initial sales, one is paying the same price for digital-only that one would pay for a print edition.

With DC that’s not so much an issue at this point–I believe they stopped doing the bagged $1-more-expensive-but-comes-with-a-digital-code editions at least a year ago. But for Marvel stuff, I will flat-out refuse to buy anything digital at $3.99 because for that same $3.99 I can buy the print edition, peel the little sticker and redeem the code for the “free” digital edition. Even if I intend to READ the thing digitally, I’ll buy the print edition for the code–that way I can read digitally if I prefer, but still have the tangible print edition to help “justify” that $3.99.

When you’re dealing with established comic fans who buy print editions anyway…I would think it’s possible that any novelty or “experimentation” with the digital format may have trailed off for any of a number of reasons.

Then there’s me, personally: I have not bought any digital comics in over two years now, thanks to Comixology and their ill-handled Amazon transition to not allowing in-app purchases on Apple devices. While I’m sure I’m in an extreme minority, it would not surprise me if the format has simply lost favor with people the same as any sort of comics format or publisher.

To the side of that: any initial “rush” to the format, for people to buy a bunch of “old” comics now available digitally (again speaking for myself, there was some great satisfaction several years ago at finally being able to “own” Batman: A Death in the Family in single issues, as well as several other “key” issues). Once long-time collectors/buyers/readers have “acquired” access to those issues and whatever others, they don’t’ need to re-buy them; the issues are just “there.” (Whereas with print editions, one could always continue buying additional copies, with OR without even realizing they’re buying duplicate copies).

It also would not surprise me if some of those pulled “into” comics via digital purchasing would make the “jump” to print…whatever the motivations behind it.

While I would not be “surprised” to see most print comics go away–I do believe the ridiculous and sometimes seemingly unpredictable pricing schemes are entirely unsustainable long-term–I cannot see “print” totally giving way to digital–comics OR books.

On the books side–while I might in some cases prefer the ebook (especially to read on the tablet where it can be propped and I don’t have to break the book’s spine or get fancy attempting to force it to stay open) there are times that I’m far more likely to want the print edition, whether it’s more expensive or not–because a $10-$15 “paper” book getting damaged/lost is far, far preferable to a much more expensive tablet!

I tried going “digital only” for books a couple years back and yet have since found myself “back to” buying hardbacks in print–for only a few dollars more than the digital price.

Which is all a relatively stream-of-conscious way of saying “I’m not surprised” even while I don’t much care. I don’t specifically want to see one format or the other fail; but once you get past the shiny/new/trendy/fad stuff, things will tend to stand on their own or not.

More Fun Reading Marvel Digitally

I’ve been keeping track of the issue I’m reading on Marvel’s Digital Comics Unlimited.

And as of this typing, 27 days into my first $9.99/mo 1-month subscription (I assume I have 30 days), I’ve read 40 issues…which functionally makes these all like quarter-bin issues that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

Trial of Jean Grey (6 issues)
Silver Surfer 34-38 [Rebirth of Thanos] (5 issues)
Thanos Quest (2 issues)
Thanos Rising 1-5 (5 issues)
Infinity Gauntlet 1-6 (6 issues)
Wolverine (2014) 8-12 (5 issues)
Death of Wolverine 1-4 (4 issues)
Wolverine and the X-Men 10-11 (2 issues)
Death of Wolverine: Life After Logan 1 (1 issue)
Storm 4-5 (2 issues)
Death of Wolverine: Deadpool and Captain America 1 (1 issue)
Nightcrawler 7 (1 issue)

I plan to move into the Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Project and Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy this weekend. I may backtrack through a couple of the earlier Wolverine volumes to the Killable stuff or whatever it was.

$10 and I finally got to read the Trial of Jean Grey without hunting singles or buying an oversized and overpriced hardcover; an overpriced Thanos Rising paperback, and overpriced Death of Wolverine volume. I’ve read some of the tie-in/aftermath to the Death of Wolverine, and quite enjoyed going back to early 1990s Silver Surfer and Thanos.

All this for little more than the price of two single issues. No variants, no waits between issues, no hassles.

This is the most fun I’ve had reading Marvel stuff in years, I think.

And I’m pretty sure this is going to be my primary source of "comics joy" for awhile, as I’ve become so disenchanted and put off by contemporary print stuff.

Now, if DC would do something like this, I think I’d be all over it as well!


[EDIT: 7/18/2015]

Death of Wolverine: The Logan Legacy 1-7 (7 issues)
Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Project 1-5 (5 issues)

Read the first several issues of Logan Legacy Saturday morning…then issues 4-7 and all of Weapon X Project in a single sitting. This brings me up to about 52 issues read in my first month’s subscription.

Now next up looks to be a Captain America Annual from 1986 (Cap vs. Wolverine, as referenced in the Cap/Deadpool issue) and then catching up on where I left off to the end of the original Uncanny X-Force volume.

On NOT Buying X-Men: Days of Future Past

This is the second major disappointment for me, for a movie on home release that I was previously QUITE looking forward to purchasing.

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After being pretty satisfied last year with the BR3D/BRD/DVD/Digital release last year of The Wolverine, I thought for sure I’d be ok with X-Men: Days of Future Past. BUUUUUT…. The so-called “Ultimate Edition” is Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray, and Digital.

Where the HECK is the DVD in the combo?

And for the Wal-Mart exclusive, a reprint of BOTH chapters of the original story…but it’s apparently some really skinny, tiny thing and not even a digest-sized or “mini” graphic novel. AND the box isn’t even sized properly for the item’s inclusion!

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The box is just an oversized thing that caves in and will surely DUMP the blu-ray case right at without provocation. If I didn’t turn the package over and squint at it and really stare to see in through the plastic, I’d’ve sworn they FORGOT to include the “Exclusive Edition” comic or that it was actually some “digital bonus” or such.

So what of a NON-“Ultimate” edition?

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Blu-Ray/Digital.

Again… Where. Is. The. DVD?!?

And this box has the same issue as far as that “bonus” comic.

There’s also a properly-sized cover version of…Blu-Ray/Digital. And there’s a coverless DVD.

I’m not interested in Blu-Ray 3D. I’m not interested in seeing my movies in 3D, PERIOD, theater or otherwise. I don’t have a 3D Blu-Ray player or 3D tv or the glasses or such. I’ve only reluctantly “upgraded” to Blu-Ray in the last several years, still QUITE happy with all the bargain DVDs and such I find and tv-on-dvd and all that.

I don’t mind (occasionally) paying a couple dollars more for a Blu-Ray/DVD combo…I can play the dvd in my computer, or pretty much anyone/everyone I know “at least” has a dvd player, so it’ll be watchable elsewhere/with others…even as I have the capability of watching the Blu-Ray while at home.

But this crap with putting 3D BluRay with BluRay and not including a DVD (even as a “bonus” if nothing else)?!?

Nah…sorry.

I’ll stick with the Redbox.

On NOT Buying The Winter Soldier

Captain_America_The_Winter_Soldier_3DBluRay_BluRay_Digital_Combo_PackWhen I first saw the second Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I saw it twice in the theater, actually, and enjoyed it as much or more the second time through.

And as such, I decided I actually WOULD buy this one when it was released on home media. (where I have NOT bought the first Cap film or either of the Thor films).

But now Disney‘s changing “the rules.” I finally get “trained” to actually EXPECT a BluRay/DVD combo pack (maybe with “digital” thrown in as a 3rd option) and they’ve switched to 3D-BluRay/BluRay/Digital, leaving me from there to have to choose ONLY a DVD or ONLY a BluRay.

Yet this is a film that since my roommate and I have a BluRay player, I’d certainly prefer to watch in the HD format (plus I hardly pay attention to “extras” anymore but have been further “trained” to EXPECT there to be MORE “extras” on anything BluRay than on DVD). However, as I’ll be visiting my parents this coming weekend, I’d really enjoy the chance to have them see it, and share that experience with them.

BUT…because of the weird encoding and “language” thing with DISNEY BluRays (forcing one to choose between “English” and whatever else BEFORE ever getting to a menu otherwise) their BR player is incapable of playing Disney‘s BluRays (plays others, but can’t get past the Disney-specific stuff). As such, this is ACTUALLY a case where I could gladly “justify” the notion of a DVD being packed with a BluRay (even though if you have a BluRay player it should play DVDs, but if you have the BluRay player why would you care to watch the DVD on it?).

Then I saw that Walmart has “exclusive” box covers, each focusing on a single character. Truthfully, on looking at the “thumbnails” on the display of the various boxes, I decided “ok, let’s see the Scarlett Johansson one and go from there.” Alas, for all the copies across numerous different displays and locations in the store, that was the only one they did NOT have in stock.

So, grumpy as I am at present, that’s pretty much that. DVD will EVENTUALLY be available in Redbox, so I’ll just have to wait until some visit after it’s available in Redbox to rent and watch it with my parents.

Despite all that, I might’ve gone ahead and “settled for” DVD/Digital, accepting the Digital as added value to giving up the HD of BluRay…but Disney just HAS TO be different for the sake of being different, it would seem.

Comixology vs. Comic Shop: First Impact

supergirlbackissuescomixologyComixology has never replaced the comic shop experience for me. Sure, I partake in the various 99-cent sales to try stuff I’ve never read or to get a digital copy for a re-read or such, and RARELY will outright buy a “new issue” of something just as an impulse buy. But I don’t think I’ve ever been in a comic shop and had issues in-hand with the intent to buy them and then put them back in favor of buying them digitally from Comixology instead.

First time for everything, though, right?

In my various posts the last several weeks about DC‘s Villains Month, I’ve reiterated my lack of interest in following the villains’ issues into ongoing titles, and yet also my likely exception for following the Cyborg Superman’s story into Supergirl. I ducked into another comic shop Friday since I was out of town, curious about what 3-D covers they might still have in stock, and a bit of an increased interest in catching a few more villains issues. I ended up buying Supergirl #23–the issue immediately preceding the Cyborg Superman‘s September issue, as well as snagging the 2-D editions of the Arcane issue, the Bizarro issue, and the H’El issue.

Saturday I decided to check another shop I occasionally visit, having decided I was interested in the Penguin and Two Face issues (which I found and bought the 2-D editions as the 3-Ds were marked up to $10 and $15 apiece). I also ended up flipping through the Supergirl issues on the shelf (looked like the entire series back to #1), and checked the endings to #s 22 and then 21, both of which seem to involve the Cyborg Superman. I picked ’em up and was going to include them with my purchase, when it dawned on me: sure, #23 made sense to buy in-print, it’d still be $2.99 on Comixology since DC seems to have moved to a 2-month lag on dropping the price. But we’ve already hit the 2-month mark for #s 21 & 22.

So rather than buy either of those, I figured I’d just wait, since all I want to do is read them for further context of the Cyborg Superman (and the lack of issues 0-20 in my possession would kinda bug me) and I can just buy ’em via Comixology and save $1 apiece.

In this case…yeah, the digital may have “undercut” a sale for a comic shop…but this is in the 2+ months time-frame, and NOT the week-of/day-and-date sales window. Granted, at this particular shop, recent back issues are still cover price; as opposed to shops that may bag ‘n board and mark up issues after only a month or two. But it’s still “back issue” territory, and a 33% discount. $2 apiece–a TOTAL of the price of ONE Marvel issue–for two recent issues makes for a decent price, to me.

Just something I found sorta interesting to note in my own purchasing (or lack thereof). ‘Course, DC–thanks to the Villains Month stuff–wound up with me purchasing 27 issues this month that at the end of August I’d had no intention of purchasing. 21 of these were the 3-D editions; several of which were still impulse-buys the week-of; 5 were 2-D editions and 1 was Forever Evil #1 itself.

Digitally Unchained: Superman on Comixology

Comixology has provided a nice alternative to my frustration with contemporary Superman comics: a bunch of digital back-issues–favorites–that I can now read on my tablet!

Where I’m not interested in newer stuff, I’m quite enjoying being able to go back and re-read favorite stories/issues without rootin’ through all my boxes at present.

I haven’t read For All Seasons in ages:

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And I’ve long held Secret Identity as one of my all-time favorite Superman stories…in large part due to having looked forward to sharing it with my Grandpa.

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I was surprised (pleasantly) to find Superman #1 “free,” (I may yet break down and snag Action Comics #1). The Annual is For the Man Who Has Everything, one of the earliest “modern” Superman stories I’d ever read, the first I’d learned of Mongul, and likely the first thing I ever read by Alan Moore.

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For the price, not about to buy one chapter of Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and not buy the conclusion. I also used this sale to fill in my digital Death of Superman collection.

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I decided to go ahead and snag the Supergirl Saga and what issues are available of Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite as well:

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I’m fairly certain this Superman #1 was also free…

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Superman: The Man of Steel got me on Doomsday and the first issue…I’d bought the #0 last year during a Zero Hour sale, but only recently downloaded it to my tablet.

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So…I have plenty of reading, just with Superman stuff…makes it that much easier to “pass” on current stuff that I’m not enjoying.

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