I don’t remember the last CD I bought. I remember the first I bought, but not the last. At some point, over the five years I actually owned a car (two, actually), I’m sure I bought a lot of CDs and CDRs for burning mixes. At some point, though, I picked up an iPod and a car kit, which began the slow, inevitable slide toward going digital only for music.
I buy mp3s now, usually off Amazon. I think I bought one CD last year for an artist who didn’t have a digital release, but that basically meant I got the CD on sale for ten bucks and then downloaded the bootleg for the iPod. I’d be lying if I said all of my music was legal, but I think that a significant portion of it is. Either way, I’ve got almost 70 gigs of music, enough for 36 and a half days of songs, and the fact that my iPod only holds 30 gigs pains me every day.
I acquired an iPod Touch last year, in addition to my 5G. At first I bit the bullet and dealt with the 16 gigs of space, but a few weeks ago, I went back to using the 5G for music purposes. I really only break out the Touch to watch videos or listen to podcasts. I’d used Stanza for ebooks on the Touch, and I really dug the interface and speed. It’s very easy on the eyes. I read all of Candide and another novel on it over the course of an eleven hour plane ride. I found it very easy to get into, and being able to have music playing in the background was a boon, too.
Kindle on iPhone came out last week-ish, and I finally got around to playing with it. Between Stanza and Kindle, the iPod Touch is essentially my ebook killer app. Kindle provides the all-in-one universal iTunes-style interface, where I can instantly get any book I want for ten bucks, while Stanza lets me use standard PDFs.
Charlie Huston is giving away a trilogy of his books online in DRM-free PDF form. I downloaded them as they came out, just because, and then realized that I could read them on Stanza. I already own the books (I actually own Huston’s full catalog, as he quickly became one of my favorite writers), but I like having it digitally, too.
Three books weighs a couple pounds and add up to about eight inches thick. My Touch, including sleeve a rugged sleeve, fits in a pocket in my jeans. The screen is also large enough to facilitate easy reading, though the Kindle app doesn’t go landscape like Stanza can. The fonts are large, I can adjust the brightness, and even the colors. I’ve found that an off-white/light grey with black text works best and is easy on the eyes, but your mileage may, of course, vary.
And with that, I think I’m done with print books. The Kindle/Stanza interface is easy as pie, I can read it in the dark, I can take it on a plane, and I can keep thousands of books on my Touch. It’s amazingly convenient. I’m looking into finding PDFs of the novels own that I’m interested in keeping, downloading those, and taking the rest off to Green Apple Books to be
destroyed sold off. Total conversion.
That’s got me thinking about comics. I read a handful of webcomics daily (Dinosaur Comics is the best), and I’ve read my share of actual comics on the computer screen, too. Digital comics are a boon to blogging, as it provides an easy way to grab high quality images and a way to reference things without digging into a longbox.
Would I switch over to digital comics if a killer app for it dropped? Without a doubt. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited is good enough for what it is, but it isn’t what I want out of digital comics. I need something, most of all, that is cross platform and independent. The iTunes model works. Adapt it for cbr/cbz, lower the price on the comics (most comics aren’t worth 3.99 on paper, much less online), and push it out there. The reader should be free, ala iTunes, and the comics should cost. It’s not rocket science.
I know that a lot of people, myself included, l have zero interest in twenty-two pages for four dollars. iTunes for comics, unicorn though it is, could pull people back in even as it repositions comics for a new century. Despite all of the (old) people clamoring about how no one wants to read comics on a computer screen and what about holding the paper and blah blah blah you kids get off my lawn with that rock music, there is an entire generation of people out there who have been reading comics on the web.
I’ve been playing around with Robot Comics’s comic viewer on G1, and it’s close to what I want. Instead of working with a traditional comics page, it breaks each panel down into its own page. It’s a good look for the future, but not quite it just yet. iVerse Comics is doing a bang-up job with their reader, too, but it isn’t open to non-iVerse properties.
Digital comics reading is almost there, but not quite. I downloaded iComic last year, and it’s basically the best iPhone comics app. However, your phone needs to be jailbroken to do it, putting comics on the phone is a pain, and sometimes it’s pretty crashy. Even with that, I read a bunch of Jack Kirby’s Captain America and a few mangas and had a grand ol’ time. I eventually ditched it because I hated having to FTP comics onto it.
Match iComic with iTunes, or something like it, and it’s hello comics, goodbye monthlies. This looks promising, but I’ve yet to test it out.
I’m going to make an effort to start reviewing digital comics here in the near future. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that digital comics as an idea/initiative/solution, deserve support. Books, including comics, are like CDs to me. They are the format, not the content. They don’t matter, no matter how much nostalgia makes me want to hang onto them. The stories are what matter, not the format.
I changed for music and novels. I will change for comics.