Recently, I encountered someone on the Internet who had an issue:  The comic series they had been reading for three omnibus volumes suddenly got scarce, making it impossible to find the volume four collection.  Their options were to buy individuals issues (thereby spending more, but possibly getting additional content), or to get them digitally (which would leave a volume four-sized hole in their bookcase).  My first response was and always will be “Read the original issues,” but my wife insists that digital is the way to go.  In both cases, we agreed that he should by the volume once it became available, leading to today’s reprinted query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) still has large runs of Justice League that go Individual Issues/TPB/Individual Issues/TPB, asking: If no trade is available, would you rather have individual issues or digital copies?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Jarmo Seppänen on

    In this case, always individual issues for anything I actually care about. It may be old fashioned way to look at things but with digital, I feel like paying money for something that doesn’t really exist, or renting the thing from publisher at best.

  2. yeah, this is a tough one. i really don’t care for digital because of the intangibility factor, or various apps having various TOS’s about content ownership and if the app suddenly goes away, all the content you paid for goes away as well. however, i also don’t like having too many floppies around purely for the storage/space issue (apartment life, woo), which is why trades and hardcover collections are the perfect happy medium for me.

    i guess i’d be persuaded to go digital if there was a safeguard where i knew i owned the content forever in perpetuity, as long as i was diligent about saving the files and backing stuff up to an external.

  3. Daniel Langsdale on

    I have over 19,000 floppies and trades in my collection, and no digital comics, so I’d be lying if I said anything other than “individual issue.”

    Here’s another question: If you have most of a story, say 3 individual issues in a 4-issue run, your LCS has failed/is unable to obtain the final issue for you (even despite a pre-order), do you purchase the trade for the sake of that last bit of story?

    At what point does having most of something in one format, but having the last bit in a different format, become palatable?

    • hah, THAT’S good question. i think the answer lies in the intention behind buying the story at all. i think if you’re reading and investing yourself in a storyline as it’s released, you get it however you want/need to get it. if you’re collecting the individual “Batman Year One” issues of Detective Comics just to have them, and it’s something you’ve read a hundred times, obviously you’re gonna shoot for the floppies.

      then again, as someone who’s collected CD’s for 25-ish years, and has only gotten into vinyl in the 10 or so years since i’ve had a turntable, it’s a very minor pet peeve that i’ll have 3 or 4 albums by a band on CD, then have to really, really agonize over whether i want to buy the vinyl album if they release something new. or, if i want to re-buy a vinyl album i already have on CD if it’s something i really want to listen on the big speakers (which is something i’ve maybe only done…….twice?)

    • Jarmo Seppänen on

      I had this kind of case last year. I chose to buy digital copies of two issues of G.I. Joe because the ones I wanted to read (original run, the two issues where Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow attack to Cobra island to get Zartan) but only reasonable way to get those was to buy a 50 buck hardcover collection that’s sold out everywhere.

      Importing two comics from US or waiting to find a seller of FInnish edition of those issues were too much of a hassle and I wanted to read them soon, not in two months or so after hunting/waiting for mail.

  4. All digital all the time. I used to worry about files disappearing some day, but now that Comixology is an Amazon company the likelihood of that happening is minimal in my opinion. And the app provides such a satisfying reading experience (and the ability to read the books anywhere at anytime – – I was traveling for business a lot before the pandemic) makes it the ideal solution.

    They also have constant sales with deep discounts so I have been able to build a pretty nice collection, including past favorites going back to the 80s and 90s, for a fraction of the price I would have paid for physical copies.

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