The world of comic book readership got a little bit bigger this week when it was announced that some of the top comics publishers would be making their titles available on the Scribd digital reader. Referred to as “Netflix for book lovers” Scribd offers subscribers unlimited access each month to e-books and audiobooks via their app and website.
“We are very excited to take this step in expanding our subscription service beyond books,” said Trip Adler, co-founder and CEO of Scribd. “This addition gives comics readers the freedom of unlimited reading, while also giving our ebook and audiobook lovers the opportunity to discover comics and graphic novels.”
Marvel and Archie Comics, along with IDW, Valiant, Dynamite and other publishers will be part of the popular e-reader’s “comics” section, offering unlimited access to over 10,000 comic books featuring some of the most popular characters in the medium. DC Comics is not currently participating.
Now, when the announcement was made, the first question that came to my mind was what books were these publishers offering and would they be the same ones they offer through their own reading apps? Marvel Comics has their Marvel Unlimited app which gives subscribers access to a huge backlog of issues. But the Marvel Unlimited library alone exceeds what is being offered cumulatively by all the publishers on Scribd, so it does appear that folks who get their first taste of the Marvel Universe on the app will need to go over to the publisher’s own portal to get the full meal. The same holds true for the other publishers. All in all, I think this is a nice way of getting folks who wouldn’t normally read comics online to give them a try.
- Classic Comics – Classic runs of the Avengers, the X-Men, Daredevil, Archie, Judge Dredd, the Rocketeer and more
- Top Characters – Spider-Man, the Avengers, Betty and Veronica, Kevin Keller, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, My Little Pony, G.I. Joe, Bloodshot, Adventure Time
- Major Creators – Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Fiona Staples, Darwyn Cooke, Mark Waid, Ed Brubaker, Renee French, Jeffrey Brown, Joe Hill, and many more
- Acclaimed Graphic Novels – March, From Hell, Swallow Me Whole, Underwater Welder, Spiral-Bound, The Ticking, Too Cool to Be Forgotten
- Award Winners – League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, 30 Days of Night, Locke & Key, Alec, Will You Still Love Me if I Wet the Bed?
- Hit YA Titles – Ultimate Spider-Man, Runaways, Afterlife With Archie, Harbinger, Lumberjanes
- Manga – Partnership with MediaDo brings titles from Cork and Harlequin Manga, including work by acclaimed artist Moyoco Anno
- Leading Publishers – Marvel, Arcana, Archie, Boom! Studios, Dynamite, IDW/Top Shelf, Kingstone, Space Goat, Top Cow, Valiant, Zenescope
The press release also states that “Readers will have the ability to browse comics in a variety of ways, allowing long-time fans to dive deep and find what they love and new readers to explore comics”:
- By Character – Character pages allow readers to follow their favorite characters through their series and guest appearances.
- By Series – Readers can browse by title and read series entire series from start to finish.
- By Curated Collection – Readers can browse over 100 expert-curated collections of comics, such as Incredible Team-Ups, Classic Marvel Moments, Zombie Horror, Welcome to Riverdale, Funny Women, Supernatural Romance, and more.
With the current comic book market struggling to expand readership, I think that any effort to increase access is a positive thing. This partnership with Scribd allows the publishers to set up a gateway for new readers, which hopefully will draw them in to want more of what they have to offer.
If you’re curious, Scribd does offer a free, one-month introductory trial period, which I’ll be checking out myself.
The question remains how this announcement will affect those who work in the Direct Market, and how it is being received.