I made this point in a previous post among other points, but I wanted to come back to this point as right now it’s one of the larger issues I’m seeing with all the news and debate that the iPad has generated. I’m getting increasingly angry as everywhere I look people are talking about the digital age potentially damaging or even killing comic shops. Vaneta Rogers, who has been doing a great job of covering news related to digital comics, has a recent column where comic shop retailers give their reactions to the iPad. Many of them are clearly worried about the future of their business. This angers me because there is absolutely no reason for retailers to be worrying like this. Simply put, comic shops must be allowed to sell digital comics. The direct market is the backbone of the industry and it should be supported in all possible ways. Allowing comic shops to sell digital comic is the only logical solution to most of the early problems digital comics bring, but no one seems to be addressing this.
In fairness part of the problem is most everyone is viewing digital and print as two completely different worlds, which understandable do look like drastically different at a first glance. The idea being that a print version of Iron Man will be sold at the local comic shop and the digital version will be through a separate App type service like Comixology. There is absolutely no reason why a comic shop can not sell a digital comic. I previously mentioned a few ideas on how they could do just that. This isn’t something out of left field either as Barnes and Noble have designed the Nook with the idea that people can take their Nook to physical Barnes and Noble bookstores and browse books and gets special deals by connecting to the in store Wi-Fi. Comic shops could easily do this, or it could be something as simple as Comixology designing a custom App that only comic shops can use where customers pay for the digital comics in the comic shop where it is then loaded to whatever mobile device they are using. Seeing as how the the comic industry still wants people to buy print they only need to make sure the comic shops can sell digital comics at a discount to get people to go to the shops in person. This way the costumer could save money over buying and downloading it from a more instant App store. With the costumer physically in the store they will be more inclined to buy those print books that the industry profits most from. They would have to get creative with incentives but it’s not out of the question.
I could go on and on with ideas on this but the point is comic shops can sell digital books. I believe that it is vital that the industry include comic shops in the digital model because everyone from the publishers, the retailers, and the costumers will benefit from this. This is the backbone of the industry we are talking about here. It is not that hard to give these stressed out comic shop owners something positive to work towards in a digital world.