Okay, I took a two week vacation, and have been in uber busy mode since my return getting ready for this weekend's Wondercon, and the 2009 con season, but here are some links, and thoughts on the ever evolving comic-book-crossroads that we are increasingly in...
A brazen recent article on Uclick and comics for the iPhone HERE
Where they posit that the future is now, and it is comics on a 3.5" screen!?!
Next up, Newsarama talking with a Ka-Blam.com guru regarding their escalated effort at direct market POD distribution HERE
Ka-Blam is tops in POD comic book printing in my book, and I've used there service exclusively for years now. They've had the Indy Planet online store all along, and just as with ComixPress' similar effort, they don't move much product outside webcomic hits.
I'm not sure how A) they can make POD print distribution viable to the creator/publisher, when POD costs are already such that margins are very tight at full price direct selling, they must plan to offer a decrease in cost to make a wholesale scale feasible... and B) like Haven, I'm not sure how well an infinite catalog can translate to direct market shops, when they have a hard enough time servicing the sizable content via Diamond, under their old thresholds.
Sure it's an option, and will work for some, but it seems a tricky path overall to me...
Then we have a more detailed viewpoint on the changes at Diamond from The Comics Reporter, and a myriad of reasons it's likely more harmful and short sighted than earnest HERE
Certainly the speculation of Geppi and his other business woes, outside Diamond, play a part in the overall picture and decisions to more aggressively manage the direct market's lesser channels.
If nothing else, the direct market landscape has changed, and the comic book crossroads might take a sharp turn at this point in history...
DIGITAL COMICS - Kindle2
Released by Amazon.com this week, the Kindle2 is the next step in ereader technology.
It's light, paper thin (just over 1/3 inch), backlit, glare proof, PDF and JPG supportive (but not CBZ). The Kindle 2, with it's new 16 shade gray scale being the main improvement, is not that far beyond the existing technology, but it begs the question, how far are we from a full color e-reader?
The overall size is roughly 8.5" tall by 5.5" wide, or ash can comic size (half an8.5.11" sheet), with a 6" diagonal screen (at 600 x 800 pixel resolution).
The iPhone's screen by comparison is a mere 3.5" diagonal widescreen (480 x 320 pixel resolution)
All with a price tag of $360.
Sure it downloads, browses, and streams music too, but at that price, you'd think the content was cheaper. As a book reader, the standard price is $9.99, hardly a bargain. At this value, I don't see the Kindle2 proliferating the market to the extent of the iPhone, and thus, don't see any huge potential shift in comic content to the platform.
Here are specs for the Kindle2 vs different reader options out there:
6" diagonal display (600 x 800 167ppi pixel resolution / 3.6"(W) × 4.8"(H))
8" x 5.3" x 0.36" size
16 levels of gray
PDF and JPG support
2GB internal memory
Sony eReader (PRS-700)
6" display (600 x 800 170ppi pixel resolution)
5 1/9 x 6 7/9 x 0.4" size
8 levels of gray
PDF and JPG support
512MB internal memory
up to 32GB external plug in memory
3.5" (diag widescreen) display (480 x 320 163ppi pixel resolution)
4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 size
8GB or 16GB flash drive
up to 7 hours video playback
So yeah, ideally, we could use a slightly larger screen for comic page display (just as comic books are larger in size than a paperback), and of course, full color.
The Kindle 2 gets us a step closer to that ideal format, but perhaps now, to a workable mid ground. Because if content providers are making a go of comics on the comparatively tiny, yet full color, iPhone screen, a rich gray scale display in twice the size should be usable too. At least until we get the full size and color reader we're looking for.