iPad by the Numbers

The Apple iPad has been out for several weeks, and most publishers are jumping on the bandwagon by offering up more and more digital versions of their comics. While there are no day of releases showing up on the various services yet, there is still a plethora of great reading to be had, and over time, the savings should add up for those who prefer to wait for the trade.


For those still sitting on the fence, here’s our By the Numbers breakdown of the digital comics experience:

iPad (64GB Wi-Fi) $699.00
iPad Case (to protect your device) $39.00
Comic reading applications FREE

Total price of entry $738

That seems like a lot to swallow, and for those tight on a budget, or who don’t buy into anything with an Apple logo on it, it probably isn’t the best way to spend your $800 a month paycheck. However, compare the prices of back issues, with trades, and the cost savings start to add up.

Image Comics
Elephantmen #1-7 digital issues $.99 each – $6.93
Elephantmen #1-7 original cover price – $2.99 – $20.93
Elephantmen Volume 1 trade paperback – $16.99

For those who Wait for the Trade, that is a cost savings of $10.06 (not including tax).

Marvel is jumping into the digital comic experience in a big way, and for those who want to get into the company’s hundreds of titles, the numbers become even more interesting.

Kick-Ass #1-8 digital issues $1.99 each – $15.92
Kick-Ass #1-8 original cover price – $2.99 each – $23.92
Kick-Ass Hardcover – $24.99

In this case, the trade is actually more expensive than if you had simply purchased the individual issues. Compared to the electronic version there’s a savings of $9.07.

And finally, to finish building the average:

Red 5 Comics
Atomic Robo v1. #1-6 digital issues $.99 each – $5.94
Atomic Robo v1. #1-6 original cover price $2.95 each – $17.70
Atomic Robo v1 trade paperback – $18.95

There’s a huge difference between the individual issues and the trade, bringing the savings to $13.01.


For the purposes of easy math, I’ll use an average savings of $10.75. I know there is no easy way to track individual reading and buying habits, but the variety of surveys Major Spoilers and other sites have run, show a number of comic buyers purchase and average of one trade a week. Providing comic publishers continue to release individual back issues that have already been collected, that means it will only take a year and a half for the iPad to pay for itself. My guess is most of us are not going to replace our iPad on a yearly basis, which means we can bank any additional savings toward a future iPad purchase.


When the comic book publishers begin to offer day of release titles (sooner than later), the savings will be an additional $1.00 to $2.00 per issue. Major Spoilerites buy an average of 10 issues per week, and in an electronic world, that equates to $40 – $80 per month in additional savings. When this occurs, this means one could easily pay an iPad in one year or less just from the savings.


Contrary to what you may think, I’m not shilling for Apple. I am in favor of portable, inexpensive comic book reading that I can take anywhere I want to read a large collection of comics. At this time, the iPad is the best solution I’ve found for that experience (you can’t take your laptop into the bathroom and read comfortably – I know, I’ve tried).

A few years ago, the wife and I made the trek from the middle of nowhere to the San Diego Comic-Con. To help offset long travel times, we brought five trades with us. Those five pages took up a huge amount of space in the carry on bag, and sadly we both blew through the books before reaching our destination. Had we owned an iPad back then, we could easily have had access to hundreds (or thousands) of books to read at our leisure.

For those who only want to read (not collect) comics, the iPad has the potential to pay for itself before you know it. Sure, you can continue to wait until the next iteration of the product arrives, but if you take that stance all the time, you’ll be waiting forever.


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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