Tag Archives: iPad

Dear Marvel and DC: You’re Blowing It on Digital Comics

The Devin’s Advocate has a great column on the shortcomings in Marvel’s Digital comics. I’m a believer in digital comics, and I do think that devices like the iPad may someday become the preferred way of consuming digital content. But through a couple of momentous decisions, I think Apple, Marvel and DC are delaying that day–perhaps by years.

Problem #1: Pricing

The Marvel Unlimited program for their regular comics is a perhaps over-generous way of dealing with comic content, but the $1.99/issue pricing that their comic store sets overshoots the mark in the other direction–probably by around 50%. I understand the complexities of pricing and positioning, but the adoption rate for a digital comic would explode if the price for at least inventory releases got to the magical 99 cent mark. Or why not explore bundled pricing (like when you buy tokens at an old arcade) where you can charge up your account with money, and the more you spend, the lower the per-comic price. So, for instance, if you committed to a $50 spend, comics would drop to a buck each, whereas at $25, they would cost $1.65 each. (or some such).

#2: Flash

As I’ve written earlier, Apple has apparent decided to throw down with Adobe over Flash support, and companies that have invested in Flash content delivery–like Marvel–are getting caught in the middle. Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t look like it’s getting ironed out anytime soon. Either Android tablets have to make headway and solve the issue by effectively obsoleting the Apple offering (unlikely), or Marvel is going to need to re-do their content delivery mechanism in a hurry. The alternative just reeks of a failed digital initiative and burned customers.

#3: Resolution and Typography.

Images pop on the iPad, and I’ve no complaint with the level of detail and color I can see on the iPad. Unfortunately, the now almost entirely-computer-based typography of the panels is often dense and nearly illegible without magnification on most current comics. Going forward, it’ll be interesting to see if publisher pass a “no fonts smaller than 14 pt” rule, or if some next-gen iPad with super-hires display solves the issue. Right now, however, the reading experience isn’t quite there.

#4: Lack of Content

If you’re going to wade in to producing Digital Comics, for goodness sake don’t tiptoe your way into the pool. Dive in, hire a small army of interns if necessary, and get entire titles converted to your preferred viewer format. Having been produced in digital editions multiple times, there’s no reason that the DVD compendium editions of Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, etc. shouldn’t be available in their entirety in digital format. And for goodness sake, every new issue published should be available in digital format moving forward.

In short, either do digital or don’t–half-assing it will make you a burst of money to start with, but you won’t see the years of bumper profits that the record companies saw with the shift to CDs unless you embrace the platform for real.

…And Speaking of Comics on the iPad…

Bill Amend wins the “funniest geek joke I heard today” prize…


One Worry out of the Way: Kindle app for iPad

This just in: there will (as predicted) be a Kindle app for the iPad. Barnes & Noble is also announcing an iPad app.

Why does this matter? It means that the iPad is effectively the universal e-reader, capable of pulling in purchases from all the major bookstores, as well as Apple’s and public domain party/PDF publications. For myself, I’m planning on grabbing one so I don’t need to haul around hundreds of pages of constantly changing interface specs at meetings.

(That and, err… maybe my comic book listings…)

iPad to Launch on April 3rd

A little less than a month from now, we’ll be able to grab one in person; pre-orders through the Apple store start March 12th–although no word as of yet as to whether that applies to both the Wi-fi and 3G models.

For myself, I go back and forth as to whether 3G matters–everywhere I currently would want to use an iPad has a Wifi connection, and I’ve got an iPhone for the odd spot in between). I’ll definitely be grabbing one for myself, however–Ah, but which model?

[polldaddy poll=2799472]

Evan Doll on the iPad (via uxtalk)

I’ve started a separate blog focusing on user interface and design issues (uxtalk.wordpress.com), but I wanted to note a recent posting about designing for the iPad, courtesy of fellow Apple alum Evan Doll who now teaches a course over at Stanford on usability.

Noted tech visionary Alan Kay also seems interested in the iPad, judging from his recent comments.

Barnes and Noble, You’re Breaking My Heart Here!

I love Barnes and Noble: It’s a genuinely pleasant place to hang out, have a coffee, and browse books. It’s got a great selection, the bargain books are numerous and interesting, and the folks are nice.

In short, the place is wonderful… It’s just that I find I’m drinking a lot of coffee there, doing a lot of browsing, and not doing a ton of actual book buying.

So what gives? It goes back to my previous article on ebooks which predated the release of Barnes and Noble’s Nook e-reader. As soon as I heard about the Nook, I put one down on order and waited for months on tenterhooks for it to arrive.

But then it showed up, and the trouble began.

For starts, the reader itself is executed about as adroitly as I execute a triple lutz. After a bottle of Cuervo. While wearing wooden clogs stolen from a little Dutch girl.

But no worries, it’s software updateable over the air, and surely the team will get around to fixing the bizarre navigation and control issues that make finding a book in your library only slightly less complicated than opening a Chinese puzzle box.

No the real killer is Barnes and Noble’s insane eBook pricing scheme. Let’s compare and contrast a couple of books I would dearly love to buy from Barnes and Noble, but will almost undoubtedly buy from Amazon instead.

Let’s start with Juliet, Naked, the new Nick Hornby novel. I’ve been a sucker for just about anything this guy writes, ever since High Fidelity, and I was really looking forward to loading up my new Nook with it. The list price of the hardcover is $25.95, and Barnes and Noble offers the hardcover in physical form for $18.68.

But in what can only be a cunningly executed joke which sailed right over my philistine head, they decided to price the ebook version at…$18.53.

You read that right: a whopping fifteen cents less than the actual hardcover.

Similar high-priced humor was on display in their ebook release of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What Says About Us), the book I cited when I first contemplated buying the Nook in the first place. That one’s out in paperback now, for $11.52, but lucky me, I can also get it in ebook format now for my Nook for just… $11.88. It actually costs more to buy it in digital form!

Amazon.com, on the other hand, offers both books in digital form for $9.99 each. Obviously, they’re not sophisticated enough to get Barnes & Noble’s no-doubt-hilarious pricing joke either. But as I wait for someone to explain it to me, I’ll be downloading both books onto my Kindle, having bought them from my lowbrow reading buddy Amazon.

Barnes and Noble, I’m begging you: get a clue on this whole “selling digital goods” thing, and do it fast. (And the same goes for you, Apple, if you’re tempted to follow in their footsteps). Otherwise, I find it all too easy to picture myself in your store a couple of months from now drinking your coffee while I read the latest novel I bought from Amazon–on the Kindle reader on my new iPad.

Your coffee’s top notch… but wouldn’t it help you to be able to sell me the occasional book as well?