Comic Lover’s Wife: The Unknown Future Of Hard Copy Comics.
Being married to a comic book collector and reviewer, we do have regular conversations about popular or interesting comics he comes across. Some of these are hard copy books available in the comic book stores some are web series or digital books. One such conversation got my mind going about the overall comics industry and the future of hard copy comics.
As the costs of producing the physical books continue to increase vs. the shrinking number of comic book stores available to distribute them, the hard copy books seem to be on the brink of the abyss. To the positive, with so many comics going digital and not ever being physically printed, the books that are currently available as hard copy can gain value due to their mere existence. The books are a tangible item. Just by still being able to be owned, touched and read readily they may gain value for merely surviving as a physical item in a market migrating to the digital age. This is much like the golden age books that no matter the condition, have value due to the sheer number of years they have had to survive in physical form and the life events that caused the destruction of a number of them. Their scarcity is what gives them value.
To the negative, if the trend of online comic websites and independent web series continues to grow, the newer generation of comic lovers raised on technology may only do digital comics and not want to tote the physical books. With online comic subscriptions, download-only books and scanned copies of the old books readily available online, the need for the physical book also diminishes. It seems the younger generation is less interested in purchasing and having to store a hard copy book than download it and be able to carry an entire collection with them in a single device. The older collectors that still see comics as a physical collector item or sentimental item of their childhood are the folks keeping the books in print.
As more of the older age groups of readers that have traditionally been the bulk of the market move toward downsizing and slow on collecting, it will be interesting to see how the younger generation shapes the fate of the hard copy book. Will they appreciate the touch, smell and physical sensation of the page turning? Or will convenience, variety and technology win the day? Both have their advantages. Like always in collecting, it is a matter of waiting and seeing.