Call me crazy, but winds of change are in the air...
I've spoken often about digital replacing print as the main source for comics, at some point in the near future, mostly positing that there needed to be something one step beyond the current batch of iPod's, PSP's, eReaders, and technology to accommodate it, but lately there's a real sense, if you read between the lines in the comic internet, that things are possibly steering that way sooner.
And when I thought on it for a moment, whether that's possible, it hit me, it could easily happen any day, regardless of technology, because there's a failsafe. All we need is a big publisher to take the leap, let's say Marvel. Say they stopped printing comics tomorrow, seems crazy at first, that is until you think it through and come to tradepaperbacks, they're already selling increasingly more, and across the board, so that's the key. You can abandon print comics because you still have the trade collections to offer all those left behind the digital bandwagon. The best of both. You've got the format, process, and channels already existing to accommodate trade publication, you just flip the switch to digital, and increase production for trade collections. Then you have your monthlies, pamphlets, or singles, whatever you want to call your standard comic book, available online, digitally, and collect those now digital serials into print tomes for any and all.
Regular comics in small digital doses, and longer collections in print.
There's not much to lose.
Sure there'll be some fallout from those who won't switch to digital, nor want to just read trade collections, but it's likely such a negligible amount, that you could take the bold step, or leap of faith. The comic industry, for all it's recent growth and success, is still incredibly burdened by rising costs and utterly outdated in terms of systems of distribution and reach, and with corporations running the big publishers, as mere licensing units for other media, there's no onus to ride the market til it's eventual last gasps. Just switch to digital, take your lumps, improve/expand your trade production/distribution, and start chasing that younger, larger, and very much needed, young demographic that wants all things digital any way!
So, yeah, digital is coming, it's eventual, I don't think there's any way you can argue the cost benefit of digital to print, it has to win because of that, it just makes too much business sense to continue and ignore, but it may be a lot sooner than most anyone thinks, or realizes...
With comics cheap and easily accessible again, the way they used to be!
Call me crazy.