The Importance of Being Earnest, as seen on the iPad
At the Prism Comics website, Charles “Zan” Christensen takes a look at the maybe-we-will-maybe-we-won’t world of the Apple app store.
The iPad has been getting plenty of raves as a comics reader, and yet, as Jason Snell points out in his recent exhaustive look at the device’s comics capabilities, the technology may be great but the content is spotty, with some comics available for in-app purchases, others available only as single apps, and quite a few unavailable altogether.
Christensen’s story explores why that is, and it’s an important question. Remember, print comic distribution is already a near-monopoly, at least when it comes to comics stores, and with Diamond refusing to carry books that don’t reach a minimum number of orders, the market has become bleak indeed for new and niche publishers. Webcomics seemed like the logical alternative, but no one wants to pay for webcomics. But iPod/iPhone/iPad users have been trained from the beginning to pay for their content, so these are logical outlets, and Apple’s terms are actually quite good for publishers.
Except that Apple is being very selective about which comics it will carry, and that selectiveness seems to go not only to content but also to how large and established the publisher is. As Christensen points out, Apple shut down a swimsuit catalog app because it had pictures of women clad only in bathing suits but left Sports Illustrated alone.