comixologyIf you know me, you follow me on Twitter or you’re my bank manager, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of comics. It’s not something I really talk about much on this blog, since it’s a bit off topic, but I read a lot of them, I keep pretending that I’m in the process of writing a couple and every year I try to get to Kapow with a few friends.

The reason for this post? Well, I recently put my pull list together and noticed how many of the titles there are purchased digitally through an app called Comixology, and then I got to thinking about how many other apps and in-app purchases I’ve made in the last couple of years. It’s probably no exaggeration to say that I’ve spent over three hundred pounds on Comixology in the last eighteen months or so (probably a lot more – don’t tell my wife), and I am very reluctant to see what my total app spend is over the years that I’ve been on Android.

The thing is, Comixology is an excellent app and I love pretty much everything I’ve bought from it, apart from a couple of turkeys that were in-pub impulse buys. It’s got a great UI, the resolution is brilliant on my phone, tablet and PC and it has an awesome range of titles to choose from, complete with a lot of major titles coming out the same day they’re released in print format. It’s a lot more convenient than trying to get to the comic shop for the monthly’s (the one near where I work sucks) or waiting for the trade paperbacks to come out – I just hit Purchase, then Accept and it’s on my devices in a couple of seconds. So what’s my problem? Longevity.

My Worry About Cloud Purchases

When I purchase physical media, be it a book, a CD, a blu ray or a comic, it’s mine. I’ve got it in my hands and, excluding accidental coffee spillages and such forth, I’m probably going to have it for the rest of my life, or at least until I get bored of it and sell it or the medium is outdated and I upgrade the way I’ve got all my films off of VHS and most of them off of DVD. When it comes to digital app purchases, particularly those – and I say this with nothing but love for them – run by tech startups in an uncertain economy, I’ve got a bit of a concern. What if they go under?

If Comixology were to get crushed under the wheels of this horrible recession the way a lot of other companies have, what happens to the comics I’ve bought? The ones on my devices will probably still be available, but what happens when I buy a new tablet or I upgrade my phone? One thing the Amazon Web Services outage of a couple of months ago showed was that a lot of companies do not have contingency plans for server failures. I would probably lose the books I’ve bought and have no way to get them back. There’s no option to export them to .cbr or anything like that, it’s buy them in the app and use them only in the app. If the company goes under, I probably lose all access to the titles I’ve purchased.

Like I say, this is not meant to be a slight on Comixology at all – I love that app, I think they do great work – but I’m starting to become a bit worried about the amount of money that I spend on intangible products in the name of convenience.

The Longevity Factor

Perhaps I’m just old-school and paranoid. I very rarely buy albums digitally, I’d rather add to the mountain of CD’s I have stored in our cabinet, I prefer real books to Kindle purchases and if I like a film, I’m going to buy it on blu ray so I can enjoy it in full HD whenever I want, user operation prohibition permitting, and maybe that’s what I’m thinking about here.

I have boxes full of real, physical comics in trade paperback form, and that’s never going to stop, but I’m buying so many monthly issues in digital formats lately that I’m hoping I’ll be able to enjoy them in the future, share them with my friends and maybe even my potential kids later down the line. This is probably why, despite all evidence to the contrary, physical media will endure in one format or another, but I still hope Comixology stands the test of time.

Right, that’s my rambling out the way, I’m off to read some Danger Club on my tablet. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave me a comment or drop me a Tweet. Thanks for reading.