Posted on Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 by Peter Sciretta
Scribd has announced the launch of their unlimited digital comic book subscription section, essentially a “Netflix for comic books.” But how good is this new offering? And how does it compare to the other services offered by Marvel and Amazon? Find out, after the jump.
First some back story:
I’ve recently gotten the comic book bug again. It started when I put together the /Film Holiday Gift Guide last year. Putting together the graphic novel section resulted in a few purchases on the Comixology app. And then Christmas vacation hit and the flood gates opened.
I love reading comic books on my iPad but the price for first run books is expensive ($4-5 an issue) vs. a discounted trade paperback graphic novel ($10-$15) which collects 6-10 issues later. I’ve never really liked reading individual comic books; I’ve always stuck to the graphic novels and collected paperbacks. Yes, it was the price and also the fact that I would forget what was going on in the storyline from month to month as new issues were released. But for some reason that has changed. Maybe it has something to do with the current state of serialized television, but I love getting a new comic each month.
The point of this is, I’m currently a consumer trying to find the perfect service to fit my comic book reading needs. So when I heard that Scribd was launching a “netflix for comics”, I jumped to find out how it would work.
There are a variety of digital comic book services out there right now, but all of them seem to have their disadvantages.
Marvel Unlimited ($10/month or $70/year):
- Marvel’s app offers unlimited access to over 15,000 Marvel comics.
- You get all the new issues to all of the current series but six month behind the news-stand. Sounds great, but there is a lot of problems with the app and service that make me not want to use it:
- The digital comic scans are rather low quality in comparison to the other services.
- The app’s offline viewing options are not that great.
- But my real problems are with the interface and not being able to discover new series in a helpful way.
- There is no ability to subscribe to a series or get notifications from a particular series when a new comic arrives.
- And this should be obvious but Marvel’s Unlimited app only offers access to Marvel’s library, so if you want something other than superhero comics, you have to really look elsewhere.
- This is my preferred comic reading app because of the quality of the comic scans and the extensive catalog which features almost every comic available.
- Each comic is sold separately, usually $4-5 for new issues and a discounted price for older issues.
- Comixology will offer sales on a weekly basis, which is a good way to get some good books at a discount (for instance, during my Christmas vacation they were offering 50% off on most of Image Comics library).
- They also offer a subscription service so that you’ll get the new issue digitally delivered each month, complete with an email notifying you that you now have the latest issue of a series. I’m currently doing this with a bunch of comic series including the new run of Star Wars.
- But again, its expensive. I’ve always believed that digital versions should be discounted from the print copies. There is no reason we should be paying more for a digital movie than a physical blu-ray from Target, and the same should be for comics. But alas, that is not the case here.
- The biggest problem with the Comixology app is that last year when they were sold to Amazon (this should be a good thing, right?) the mega company decided to remove the ability to purchase comics from the app (likely in an effort not to have to pay Apple a percentage). Whats worse is the entire front end letting you explore other comics and series is gone. You instead have to go to the website and explore and purchase from there. Doesn’t sound like a huge issue but its a frustrating process.
So how does Scribd’s new “Netflix for comic books” section compare? Find out on the next page…