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The iTunes of comic books?

longboxElectronic versions of comics have been in development for years now, but like most print media comic books have dragged their feet. Due to the unique circumstances of the industry, perhaps comics may have been justified in their refusal to venture into the digital world. That reluctance seems to be a thing of the past however.

Ever since last month’s HeroesCon in North Carolina buzz has been building about the digital comics distribution program, Longbox. Planned for release later this year the application will allow users to download high-quality digital versions of comic books for a suggested price of only $.99 per issue. Longbox is working to be a flexible platform, able to deliever content in a variety of formats from numerous publishers. Top Cow and BOOM! Studios have agreed to be a part of the rollout. Though neither is a major publisher in the comics world, they are significant players and should things work it, it’s easy to see larger names jumping on board as well.In addition to their electronic archive of issues, Marvel has been experimenting with original electronic motion comics.  Dark Horse has also taken significant steps in the world of online comics.  So publishers seem to realize there is potential to move away from print products, at least in part. While comics fans are a finicky bunch, many aren’t adverse to indulging their hobby via technology, especially for the right price. The thriving market of pirated or electronically scanned books shows this. The question now is bridging that gap between content and consumer.

With prices rising (many Marvel comics are now $3.99 an issue) and technology sprinting forward, the time for transition is ripe. If Longbox or any other company can find a way to successfully get books into the “hands” of consumers cheaply, quickly and effectively the days of the brick-and-mortar comic shop may be numbered.

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