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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

$1.99 for a digital comic? I'll pass

by Ken Newquist / April 3, 2010

The Marvel Comics app for the iPad is out, offering 500 titles at $1.99 a pop. Reading comics is one of the reasons I'd like to get an iPad but speaking abstractly (I have neither the app nor the iPad), $1.99 is too expensive.

Cover price for a comic these days is $2.99, which occasional spikes to $3.99 for super-sized issues. I'd consider paying $1.50-$1.99 for a current-run title -- that'd save me $0.50 to $1 a comic, which isn't bad.

Unfortunately, that's not what Marvel's selling online. The books they're selling through the Marvel app appear to be back issues -- in some cases, 4-5 year old back issues. I'm interested in buying older digital comics -- in fact it could be a great way to read those titles I skipped because they were tangential to my collection -- but I'm not going to spend $1.99 for the privilege. The price descripency becomes even more glaring when you realize that the Marvel Comics Unlimited subscription service for digital back issues gives you full access to 5,000 comics for $9.99 a month (or $4.99/month with an annual subscription).

I'd much rather see a Marvel app that ties into that service -- and the service itself expanded -- then go broke buying a never-ending series of digital comics. That's what's got me considering abandoning print comics entirely; I don't need to recreate that experience online.

Unfortunately, you can't just use Marvel Comics Unlimited on your iPad, and ignore the whole app question because -- wait for it -- it uses Flash.


I'm boggled by the fact that they offer no way to subscribe to digital-only versions of new titles. I haven't had a comic book subscription for literally decades -- but I'm loving the ComicZeal experience on my iPad so much that, as long as I don't have to deal with dead trees, I'd love to pick up a couple of titles every month.

Hell, I'd even pay the same price as a physical sub -- as long as the version I got was a true download, not a 'streamed' comic.

Yes, some kind of digital subscription for new titles would be great. So would one for new graphic novels. I think all the comic book publishers are in danger of losing big chunks of their subscriber base because the print books are becoming so expensive -- having a cheaper digital alternative would be great.

I don't know if I'd pay a full-price premium, even for a downloaded comic (maybe a graphic novel ... at prices) but it would be nice to have the option.

I stopped buying weeklies forever ago and switched to the collected graphic novels. Usually I can get a great deal, but seems no digital for me ... Too pricy. Even older story lines you can find used second prints or collections for nothing are 1.99.

Seems the whole model will have to change or the excitement for this stuff will be short lived.

This fall DC Comics is rebooting their entire line and offering digital equivalents of every print comic from day one. There's a lot of doom and gloom commentary from the print side of things, but I'm cautiously optimistic. My comic book life has been on life support for a number of years; this could be a nice way to kick start that PARTICULARLY if there's a good subscription model.

I don't know that i want to replace my physical copies with digital ones, but I would like to be able to buy comics I've missed in digital format (e.g. that copy of X-Force that was a pivotal part of a big crossover, but I didn't pick up because I don't collect that title).

Getting the price down would help, but just having current Marvel comics available for purchase digitally would help.