Thoughts on digital comics

OK, this is going to be my obligatory post on Amazon’s purchase of Comixology, and possibly some related topics, depending on whether or not I run out of steam before I get to all the stuff that’s in my head right now. 🙂

First, let me say that I have hundreds of books in my Comixology library. I can’t tell you how many, because Comixology’s web interface for browsing your library really doesn’t tell you much. (OK, picking up my iPad and looking at the app, I can see that it’s apparently 635. But there’s no way to see that on the web, as far as I can tell.) This is the main beef I have with Comixology, both with their web interface and their apps. Since their books are DRM’d, I can only store them and read them in the Comixology apps (and site), and they really haven’t put much work into making any of their interfaces really useful for people with more than a handful of books. Even something as simple as keeping track of read vs unread status across devices would be nice. They have said that they’re “working on it” and “we need to do this“, but they really haven’t done it. The iPad app will mark as “new” stuff that you’ve just downloaded and haven’t read yet. But that’s only tracked in the app itself. The “cloud” view doesn’t track when or if you’ve read something. And since they just replaced their apps with new versions, all that info from the old app is effectively gone now.

I’ve recently started using Goodreads to keep track of my reading for dead-tree and Kindle books, and I’m thinking that maybe I should use it for Comixology too. Though single-issue comics don’t fit well into Goodread’s model, really. Maybe I should just track them in Evernote? The thing that really clutters up Comixology is all the free comics. Not that I’m complaining about all the free comics I’ve downloaded from Comixology, but it can make it hard to find the stuff I’ve actually paid for. Even just having a simple user-contolled tagging system or folder system would solve this problem. How hard would that be to implement? 

Moving on to the subject of Amazon’s purchase of Comixology, this could be good or bad. Removing the in-app purchasing option wasn’t a big surprise. You can’t do in-app purchase in the Kindle iPad app either. I want to say that Amazon’s purchase might let them spend more money on both the web and app interfaces, and maybe implement some of the stuff I’d like to see there, but then I remember what the interface looks like in the Kindle app, and on the Kindle itself, and I laugh at the idea that Amazon might implement nested folders or useful tagging in the Comixology app. (Not that I’m bitter or anything..)

Meanwhile, I just recently bought Comic Zeal for my iPad, so I can have a nice interface for managing and reading my DRM-free comics. Previously, I’d used Goodreader to read some comics I had in PDF format. Goodreader is a pretty great piece of software, and it works OK for comics, but it’s not perfect for them. So I looked around at comics readers, and Comic Zeal seemed to have the best reviews. I’ve loaded a bunch of stuff into it, including comics I’ve bought from Matt Howarth and some stuff from Drive-Thru Comics. I really like the ability to organize stuff. It’s quite easy to put stuff in folders by series, to tag books, and to reorder the list of books. The software does keep track of your reading progress in individual books, but I haven’t found any option to, for instance, show only unread books. But really, since I’m only using it for DRM-free books, I can just delete stuff that I’ve already read, and just keep that stuff on my PC. In terms of the actual reading experience, I’ve found it to be a bit slow on page-turning for some PDF comics. I really haven’t used it enough to have formed much of an overall opinion yet though.

I’m thinking about picking up the Image Comics bundle that Humble has on sale right now, so that would give me a bunch of new stuff to load into Comic Zeal and enjoy. If I do that, and actually get around to reading some of it, then I’ll probably post a follow-up with more thoughts on how well Comic Zeal works in practice.

1 Comment


  1. The kindle app on my iOS can be similarly annoying for books – it syncs your page position well enough with the same on a computer but last time I got rid of the local copies to free space then later downloaded some again it shoes all as unread unless I’m missing something….

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