Most of my comics reading is done at Comixology. It works well enough, but I don’t actually own the comics I purchase on Comixology. Instead, I’m paying for a license to read specific comics files stored on Comixology’s servers. If I lost Internet access or if Comixology goes out of business, I lose access to my collection. It’s another example of digital rights management (DRM) that inconveniences paying customers like me while doing nothing to discourage piracy. But unless I want to pirate (which I don’t), it’s the only way to get the digital comics I want.
That is, until Image Comics, publisher of notable titles like The Walking Dead and the excellent Saga, began selling DRM-free comics on its own site. I tried out the store last night and, while the layout needs some improvement, it delivers as promised. I can download my comics in a number of formats and read them on my PC or iPad. And I own the actual digital file. The selection at the store is still paltry, but Image is promising to add more current and back issues.
I’m hoping that Marvel and DC will eventually follow suit and offer DRM-free comics. Digital music went through a similar evolution when the industry realized that customers will gladly pay for content that doesn’t come with burdensome restrictions. Hopefully, the comics industry is coming to the same realization.