Latest Apple tablet speculation covers digital comic books

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
In yet another sign that print content will play an important role in Apple's long-rumored tablet device, a new report suggests that a digital comic book distributor could be in on the action.



In his latest column for the Chicago Sun-Times, Andy Ihnatko profiled a startup company called LongBox which plans to offer an iTunes or Amazon Kindle style store for purchasing and viewing the latest editions of comics on the go. The product is unique because current digital comic options often do not offer the latest issues, but instead provide access to older content.



The new product is set to debut in November, but beyond that, at least one secret, key partnership has reportedly been inked. Ihnatko said he has reason to believe it centers around Apple's tablet.



"There are signs that (Apple) is getting into the digital comic book market," he said. "Which is tantamount to saying 'Apple is helping to create a digital comic book market.'"



Ihnatko's speculation is based on the fact that the LongBox CEO told him that the company's unannounced partnership is with a manufacturer who has received high-profile coverage of upcoming hardware on a number of technology Web sites. Rantz Hoseley said that the company in question is the only one that would give LonBox "a multinational launch with literally millions of installed users," which Inhatko assumed will be the iTunes Store.







If true, it's yet another sign that Apple's forthcoming tablet device, expected in the first quarter of 2010, will serve as an e-reader. In September, rumors swirled that Apple was reaching out to print publications about putting their products for sale on iTunes, for use in a new piece of hardware. People familiar with The New York Times, publishers McGraw Hill and Oberlin Press, and a consortium of magazine executives were all said to have been involved.



Some publishers are already publicly planning for Apple's yet-unannounced tablet. A group led by Time Inc. intends to create a digital store for magazines and other publications to sell their content. Among the formats the publishers hope to make their content compatible with is Apple's long-rumored, 10-inch touchscreen device. In their talks, the publishers and the Cupertino, Calif., company have reportedly had disagreements over the business model to adopt.



Apple's new iTunes LP format has already been used to distribute one digital comic: "Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem." The $1.99 album features three comics, an exclusive song, a 45-minute "making of" video, storyboards, alternate covers, concept art, desktop wallpapers and more.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 73
    Makes sense, with Marvel's push into digital comics/motion comics, and their pending addition to the Apple/Disney family. As much as I love the ease of digital, and the voice acting in the recent Spider-woman: Agent of SWORD motion comic, there's still something wonderful about touching the printed page.





    But, I freely admit, I'm a strange old skool fangirl.
  • Reply 2 of 73
    Whoo beano on iTablet lol
  • Reply 3 of 73
    801801 Posts: 271member
    Seems like it would be hard to collect these.



    The profit margin on a comic book is pretty small, I think it would make better business sense to distribute Pornography. Much better profit margin, and the ability to replicate the quick flipping booth experience would seem to be a draw to those who indulge.



    But to see the last bastion of tomorrows culture fail, that will be a sad thing. I'm oldschool too, I guess.
  • Reply 4 of 73
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Comics are a dying art form. Very few kids are interested anymore, no thanks to the high cover prices and the focus on "mature" audiences. Maybe if they priced the digital copies at 50 cents or something, but $2 or more with virtually no distribution costs is ridiculous.
  • Reply 5 of 73
    You guys might want to mention that Disney purchased Marvel and Steve Jobs is close to them.
  • Reply 6 of 73
    The writer seems way off base.



    What kind of partnership would Apple make with Longbox that WOULDN'T involve buying them out? Does Apple have any similar partnerships with other media companies that would rival the iTunes Store? No.



    It seems more like an Amazon or Barnes & Noble deal.



    The writer also fails to mention that there are already several digital comic apps already in the App Store, like iVerse and ComiXology. And if Apple is making their own iTunesbook Store, why would they partner with a company whose product is at this point vaporware?
  • Reply 7 of 73
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Comics are a dying art form. Very few kids are interested anymore, no thanks to the high cover prices and the focus on "mature" audiences. Maybe if they priced the digital copies at 50 cents or something, but $2 or more with virtually no distribution costs is ridiculous.



    I wouldn?t use the word dying, but it?s certainly becoming more niche, like vinyl albums have become.



    I think this could be profitable to these companies as the distribution is cheap and you won?t be able to transfer the items as easily as with printed material.
  • Reply 8 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Comics are a dying art form. Very few kids are interested anymore, no thanks to the high cover prices and the focus on "mature" audiences. Maybe if they priced the digital copies at 50 cents or something, but $2 or more with virtually no distribution costs is ridiculous.



    Really? I wouldn't go that far. With recent events like Blackest Night, Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin, Captain America Reborn, Utopia X, Dark Reign, sales are generally up 100 - 300%



    Even books like Archie titles are up 1700% (yes, seventeen HUNDRED percent) over 5 years ago.



    Marvel's Ultimates line (and unfortunately including the horrid Ultimatum) is a big seller still.



    Sure, the numbers aren't as good as they were when the speculators flooded the market in the 90's hoping to find the next Amazing Fantasy 15, but those were artificially bloated.
  • Reply 9 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I wouldn?t use the word dying, but it?s certainly becoming more niche, like vinyl albums have become.



    I think this could be profitable to these companies as the distribution is cheap and you won?t be able to transfer the items as easily as with printed material.



    What is this "vinyl" of which you speak?
  • Reply 10 of 73
    Unlike a E book reader, the kind of tablet that I envision would be capable of sound, video, links etc.. which would be a whole new kind of comic book. It could even be kind of Myst - ish. I've read in the past where comics are really big in Asia, especially Japan.
  • Reply 11 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by primedetailer View Post


    I've read in the past where comics are really big in Asia, especially Japan.



    Except in Japan manga is usually pocket-book sized. They are sized so you can read them on the train. Kind of hard to hold up a 10" ebook reader and hold onto the strap at the same time for an hour.
  • Reply 12 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by primedetailer View Post


    Unlike a E book reader, the kind of tablet that I envision would be capable of sound, video, links etc...



    You forgot holograms.
  • Reply 13 of 73
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,042member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kolchak View Post


    Comics are a dying art form. Very few kids are interested anymore, no thanks to the high cover prices and the focus on "mature" audiences. Maybe if they priced the digital copies at 50 cents or something, but $2 or more with virtually no distribution costs is ridiculous.



    Oh boy!



    Are you ever wrong!



    Just go to any Barnes and Nobel. What's the fastest growing segment?



    MANGA!!!



    What is Manga? Japanese, or Japanese inspired comic books, graphic "novels", magazines, movies, video games and the like.



    Over the past five years, I've made many props like swords, broaches, armbands, shields, breastplates, helmets, and other props for my daughter and her friends, as they've first gone to the various manga and comic conventions here in NYC, and then, as they got older, around the East coast.



    I've also spend more than a few nights, until the next days' dawn, sewing costumes. We've had our entire first floor of the house covered with cloth, and our dining room table used as a sweatshop with as many as three sewing machines, as we've made costumes. Nothing like having a half dozen girls (and a couple boys) over for two days straight doing this.



    Believe me, if the tablet is going to get teenagers reading from it, comic books are the place to be.
  • Reply 14 of 73
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,179moderator
    While I don't think comics are a big deal these days, I think it's the distribution format rather than the content that's dying. As mentioned in one of Apple's keynotes - people just don't use books that much any more. They waste so much space in our modern minimalist homes and trading them is almost impossible so it's not environmentally nor wallet friendly.



    Newspapers, comics, magazines, educational texts, fictional novels - they all need two things: a profitable distribution method and a client device.



    Stores + physical format don't work because foot traffic in dedicated book stores and even libraries is so low. Check your local ones and see how empty they are. People don't have time to waste referencing text in books without search or finding well-reviewed novels.



    Amazon + Kindle doesn't work that well because although they are a high profile distributor, the client device is poor (dedicated is not enough) and so expensive for what you get.



    Apple + tablet does work because they have 50 million+ people at least in this eco-system buying games, movies, apps etc. I read comics on the iphone - daily web comics - and I love it. Same with a few books. However, a tablet works better for sitting down for hours and engaging with this type of content. I have read a few books on the iphone and while I don't mind it, having to scroll pretty much constantly isn't ideal.



    Even better is the idea of interactive comics - if you've seen a motion comic e.g:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ipt9hJud8E

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ_wuEMwBUo



    then you can see the possibilities. It brings comics to life for kids whose imaginations have been rotted away by endless hours of watered-down Disney slapstick entertainment and engages them in some thought-provoking narrative. But the key point is that it's not limited to this function. If you want to do something else you can and this is where so many devices fail.



    It doesn't matter if comics would be enough to sell a tablet or if the tablet is enough to sell comics, they would give a significant boost to each other and you may for example buy the static comic and find out you want the motion comic/the movie or check out the website and buy products or review it online. It can all be done on the tablet.



    I think Bill Gates is correct that it will be the most popular form factor sold eventually - he was a little off with the timing and that it would be a PC.
  • Reply 15 of 73
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by NomadMac View Post


    Except in Japan manga is usually pocket-book sized. They are sized so you can read them on the train. Kind of hard to hold up a 10" ebook reader and hold onto the strap at the same time for an hour.



    Standing, of course. Sitting is not an issue unless you have trouble with books and magazines, too. But is most common for people to stand on trains in the US and Europe, Apple?s largest markets? Would this be the most common place it would be used. I see your point, and this may make Japanese trains a poor place for this device, but overall I don?t think it?s a problem.
  • Reply 16 of 73
    If the relationship isn't right, the speculation is spot on.



    Storytelling is at our core - whether we are the ones telling the story, or just a member of the audience. Every aspect of storytelling has branched toward the ease of digital access (production and distribution). The traditional avenues of film, radio and television have all mutated to become accessible from the comfort of our home or where we can watch alone or share the experience with a group. Let's not forget the ease of portability, too, where our content sits waiting in our pocket wherever we may roam.



    The comic book, or in the broader sense an illustrated story, has been around longer than all of those above and although it evolved over time to become a niche genre, those in tune are as great a fans of a well constructed comic or graphic novel as the music lovers who praised Jobs after purchasing their first ipod.



    A device of which the caliber of Apple can deliver can and WILL revive the comic & graphic novel industry in part due to the quality of the experience, but also greatly due to the ease as to which people would be able to get their content. No more weekly trips to the comic store (a point many may choose not to miss for the camaraderie) - but there will be many comic fans who will prefer this new storytelling experience and perhaps more importantly, many NEW people will be brought into that fold.



    I want to reiterate that I am specifically referring to the enjoyment and appreciation of the storytelling experience. The writing, the artwork, the pace and excitement of not only a visually compelling but well-crafted story is what drew my brother and I to become avid comic book collectors well into adulthood. Wanting to be part of that process, we made an attempt at being independent comic book publishers back in the mid-90's? so I am coming from the perspective of a former collector and content producer.



    This is an exciting time and I look forward to the next few months with great anticipation.
  • Reply 17 of 73
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,042member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I wouldn?t use the word dying, but it?s certainly becoming more niche, like vinyl albums have become.



    Nope!
  • Reply 18 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ballsmoke View Post


    The writer seems way off base.



    What kind of partnership would Apple make with Longbox that WOULDN'T involve buying them out? Does Apple have any similar partnerships with other media companies that would rival the iTunes Store? No.



    It seems more like an Amazon or Barnes & Noble deal.



    The writer also fails to mention that there are already several digital comic apps already in the App Store, like iVerse and ComiXology. And if Apple is making their own iTunesbook Store, why would they partner with a company whose product is at this point vaporware?



    Which writer are you referring to; Neil Hughes or Andy Ihnatko?
  • Reply 19 of 73
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,042member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by primedetailer View Post


    Unlike a E book reader, the kind of tablet that I envision would be capable of sound, video, links etc.. which would be a whole new kind of comic book. It could even be kind of Myst - ish. I've read in the past where comics are really big in Asia, especially Japan.



    That's what has been talked about. It's expected that it will do this.
  • Reply 20 of 73
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,042member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    While I don't think comics are a big deal these days, I think it's the distribution format rather than the content that's dying. As mentioned in one of Apple's keynotes - people just don't use books that much any more. They waste so much space in our modern minimalist homes and trading them is almost impossible so it's not environmentally nor wallet friendly.



    Newspapers, comics, magazines, educational texts, fictional novels - they all need two things: a profitable distribution method and a client device.



    Stores + physical format don't work because foot traffic in dedicated book stores and even libraries is so low. Check your local ones and see how empty they are. People don't have time to waste referencing text in books without search or finding well-reviewed novels.



    Amazon + Kindle doesn't work that well because although they are a high profile distributor, the client device is poor (dedicated is not enough) and so expensive for what you get.



    Apple + tablet does work because they have 50 million+ people at least in this eco-system buying games, movies, apps etc. I read comics on the iphone - daily web comics - and I love it. Same with a few books. However, a tablet works better for sitting down for hours and engaging with this type of content. I have read a few books on the iphone and while I don't mind it, having to scroll pretty much constantly isn't ideal.



    Even better is the idea of interactive comics - if you've seen a motion comic e.g:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ipt9hJud8E

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ_wuEMwBUo



    then you can see the possibilities. It brings comics to life for kids whose imaginations have been rotted away by endless hours of watered-down Disney slapstick entertainment and engages them in some thought-provoking narrative. But the key point is that it's not limited to this function. If you want to do something else you can and this is where so many devices fail.



    It doesn't matter if comics would be enough to sell a tablet or if the tablet is enough to sell comics, they would give a significant boost to each other and you may for example buy the static comic and find out you want the motion comic/the movie or check out the website and buy products or review it online. It can all be done on the tablet.



    I think Bill Gates is correct that it will be the most popular form factor sold eventually - he was a little off with the timing and that it would be a PC.



    I am amazed!



    Don't you guys ever go into bookstores anymore?



    Comics and Manga, in particular, are the biggest growing segment.
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