IGN Entertainment and Top Cow have announced readers can now purchase download-to-own comic books via IGN’s Direct2Drive on-line service. The high resolution PDF file can be printed out, using your own paper and ink, or read on your computer. Top Cow plans to offer over 400 titles throughout the next year. Currently available are issues of Witchblade, The Darkness, Tomb Raider, and Rising Stars. Prices are not too bad, with most issues costing $1.99.
Is it worth it? I tested the service out earlier today.
I went ahead and downloaded an issue of Witchblade, and it was as I expected – a high resolution PDF file. It didn’t take too long to download, about five minutes on my broadband connection. Unfortunately, the files are heavily DRM encrypted, which is kind of a let down, as you won’t be able to move the file to another computer without reauthorizing the issue(s). The colors are superb on my wide-screen ultra-bright HP laptop, but since I value my $50 ink cartridges, I decided to forgo a print test. I have printed other high quality images from my computer before on regular paper, and the results are mediocre at best. Your mileage may vary depending on your ink, printer, and paper used.
While digital downloads sound like a great idea for those in other lands who are not able to get these issues on a timely basis, or those who don’t even have a comic book shop in their town, I really wonder if this is the best way to go. I’m sure if you have a good printer or a big computer screen this will be a wonderful experience, but personally I enjoy feeling manufacturer’s paper under my fingers, and being able to read issues in place a laptop just isn’t convenient **cough**toilet**cough**.
And then there is the speculation market; what is going to happen to the value of printed comics if everything goes digital? Nothing will be rare, because there will always be a pristine digital copy available for download.
I’m not one to poo-poo new technologies, I really think this is a keen idea, especially with the coming electronic paper devices on the horizon. The combination of a truly portable and powerful color e-reader could mean I have years worth of comics at my fingertips. The ideal solution would be to purchase my regular copy at the store that includes a code to download the issue in digital form. This way I could keep my copy nestled away for a day when it might actually be worth something, and be able to read hundreds of issues of my favorite title the next time my flight to Las Vegas has a eight hour delay at Denver International.
What are your thoughts? Are you excited about digital downloads of your comics, or do you prefer the your stories on paper?