Apr 07 2014

Do We Binge Enough on Novels and Comic Books for Companies to Capitalize on it?

Published by at 10:00 am under Editorials

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I’ve been spending most of my free time lately on Netflix and surprisingly Amazon Prime too. I’ll admit that I am indeed a victim of binge watching like many others. I do believe that I am getting more than my money’s worth because I have access to an entire catalogue of movies and television for an affordable price. Additionally, I’m a happy customer of Spotify.

When I heard about Sony’s PlayStation Now service, I was quite excited about it since I binge video games quite a lot too. For this article, I define “binging” for video games no differently than how we do it for movies and television shows.  I know it might not sound so possible since some games can be more than ten hours long, but it can happen. I tend to finish trilogies or franchises that I like in one weekend.

In addition to the mediums I mentioned, I’m no stranger to comic books and novels. I love reading like crazy and I can spend a day just reading 90 issues of The Walking Dead to catch up. However, I might not be able to say the same for novels. It’s an entirely different experience for me. With services like Scribd and Oyster hailing themselves as the “Netflix for books,” it makes me wonder if they are right about how people consume books the same way they do with other mediums.

I heard about Oyster when it first came out and I was genuinely excited about it. I signed up for their early beta and they had a lot of good features. First, they had very detailed categories that would make their platform more viable than Amazon, Apple, or Barnes and Noble. Secondly, you could download books offline. While the service appealed to me, I sadly had to discontinue my subscription. I loved books but I’m not the type of person who would binge on books.

On certain occasions, I could read one entire book that was as long as The Lord of the Rings in one sitting (with some naps in between). However, it was hard to see myself reading more than three books in a month. For $8.99 or $7.99, I can watch several days worth of content in a month. As for books, sometimes I would only have time to read one book. At the same time, I feel like reading books is a different experience altogether.

We all know that one of the problems that arise from adapting a book to film is how the latter medium tends to cut content from its original source. There’s just not enough time to include everything. In addition, we normally breeze through a movie in one sitting while we often take breaks with books. I remember spending an entire week in the woods with a copy of Shutter Island. While I could have finished that in a day, reading books always felt like a process that shouldn’t be rushed.

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I thought I was the only one who felt this way, but my friends felt the same as well. It doesn’t mean that we are right. It’s just something to consider. Anyway, I feel like a subscription-based model for books is for you if you’re the type who mulls through books like it’s no tomorrow. I feel like it’s hard to find people like that nowadays since there are so much other alternatives for entertainment and education. For now, Oyster is still running so maybe I am wrong.

On the other hand, I can see how something like Oyster could work for comic books. I am sure that there are already subscription-based models for each publisher, but nothing that offers a diverse line-up. I once spoke to Paul about how we felt that one comic book issue felt so short and expensive. Its length can also work to its advantage since it can be consumed on the fly and in multiple quantities.

If Comixology offered something like this, I would be all over it. The only problem is if the comic book reader market are big enough to capitalize on. It’s worth noting though that there’s a company called Madefire that offers comics from different publishers. It’s a fresh company so they still need more titles to strengthen their brand, but they’ve been growing steadily.

What do you think?





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One response so far

  • http://nickverboon.wordpress.com/ Nick Verboon

    YES! I take my time with novels for the most part these days so I wouldn’t subscribe for that, but comics? They are crazy expensive and so much of any given title to read that I think a digital subscription model may be the wave of the future. A major cost of publishing comics is printing up all the colorful art on glossy pages, but eliminating some of that cost by digital distribution could work out in favor of fans and companies alike. B&N has a ton of free comic issues on the Nook and I’ve found that I kind of wish for more. I’d be all over a $10 or so monthly subscription that gave me access to backissues of comics and manga.

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