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The genres that didn't benefit from the Kindle e-book market grayscale explosion were comics and manga. The early rumors of the iPad with its big full-color screen had to have comics publishers big and small salivating at the new publishing opportunities. So, it was pretty much guaranteed once Marvel joined the iDevice hit parade that DC Comics couldn't be too far behind. Batman fans rejoice, that day has arrived.
According to Wired, not only is DC launching iPad and iPhone titles through their own app and Comixology (who built DC's and Marvel's separate apps), but they've also inked a deal with Sony to bring the same titles to the PSP. Unfortunately, unlike iBooks or Kindle titles and some other e-reader apps and devices, there is no cross-platform reading or syncing and the titles offered will differ to some degree.
This has some critics griping that if you're a collector who wants to read the digital copy and keep the print one in mint condition, you'll shell out two bucks for a paper copy, two bucks for an iDevice copy, and possibly two bucks for a Sony copy -- or more. To counter this, DC plans to add a Comixology app to their site that will allow you to read the comics you've downloaded or purchased through your mobile device on a web browser anywhere. Early offerings have included Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, the groundbreaking and still immensely popular older Sandman title, as well as smaller imprint series such as Fringe and Bayou. This range is likely only to increase and the comics look sweet.
DC Comics clearly watched Marvel's splash into the market and considered what additional benefits and wrinkles they could add to their offering. Apart from cross-platform distribution and bringing their imprint titles along, DC has chosen the controversial route (to some brick and mortar comics stores) of offering day-and-date releases. This means that when new titles arrive in print editions at stores they will also appear in the digital stores at the same time. While DC has offered those immediately, Marvel's first day-and-date release, The Invincible Iron Man Annual No. 1, won't hit the app until June 30th.
Another similarity between the two big comics publishers, they have both offered a few older titles for free, but DC's pricing structure has more closely hewed to the prices of their paper issues. The real good news in all this is how DC has clearly considered their traditional distributors (and possibly as a way of salving concerns about day-and-date) and has announced a program that sets aside a certain percentage of digital royalties to plow back to the stores. While digital publishing has been slower getting to deep market penetration than digital music and movies, DC's move helps to protect their long-standing partnerships. DC has also allowed comic book shops the option of returning their unsold print copies that have digital counterparts, another way of sustaining those relationships.
With such offerings and such programs as offered by DC, it's difficult to see how Marvel doesn't follow suit and announce something similar. And with the two big names looking toward long-term viability of both print and digital markets, this has the potential to be a very good thing for the publishers, the sellers, the artists, and you, the readers.