Exporting your digital comics from Comics.app on iPhone

*Post originally contained information on how to backup your comics, redacted at the request of Comixology’s CEO.*

Digital comics are a great thing, and I’m slowly amassing a reasonable library of them through the fantastic Comics.app (Comixology) on the iPhone/iPad. One thing concerns me though and almost holds me back from buying all the issues of Witchblade I want so I have the full collection. Seeing as I’m currently selling all my dead tree copies of the same I want to know that my digital comics are safe & not going to go anywhere. There’s no option on Comixology to view what you’ve purchased in the past and certainly no options to download CBR’s or similar of your purchases. As has just been pointed out to me by David Steinberger (Comixology CEO) they are indeed viewable on the web, here:

Comixology Online Comic Viewer – Account login required.

I swear that was white paging for me last night, which is why I decided to look into scripting an extraction process in the first place.

So the problem with digital distribution is that in a lot of cases you do not really own what you buy. What happens when digital distribution providers vanish? You are normally left with a purchase encumbered by DRM that you cannot read. Your investment wasted. This is a worrying development in consumers rights. If I purchase a comic/book/cd/game in a bricks and mortar store nobody can really take that away from me. I can scan it/copy it and keep it if I so wish and nobody is really going to know unless I start waving it around on the web. I can also loan the item itself to friends. They can enjoy that and go on to collect/purchase the item or recommend it to their friends leading to increased sales. Admittedly Kindle are doing this now and it’s a great thing, bringing some of the functionality of real books into the digital world.

What if I choose/amforced to abandon the provider… Say I no longer can use an iPhone/Android or have some argument with Amazon and refuse to use their services? I have made those purchases, not rented them. It’s not like deciding to avoid Waterstones or Sainsbury’s.

How do I take them with me? Well in many ways as it happens but with laws such as the DMCA and others it makes it potentially illegal to do so. Like so many strict interpretations of copyright law when handled by corporations they criminalise and therefore marginalise the very people who are the biggest fans. A recent example of this for me was the BBC’s showing of some of Bob Monkhouse archive. He was a huge huge fan of TV/Radio comedy and did everything he could to archive these for his personal use. It got him arrested, although charges were eventually dropped. Some TV shows now recognise this dichotomy, I believe Tru Blood is very lenient towards it’s fans use of it’s imagery. Other’s not so (*cough*Harry Potter*cough*). Another recent example I saw on 4chan’s /co/ board. Somebody had ripped and posted scans of an entire comic for others to read, effectively saying this is ace look look! The author of the comic noticed and joined in the thread, not to condemn but to encourage. Get out there, read my stuff, please buy my books. That’s to be applauded, it clearly worked for him and drove sales. Perhaps that only works for the smaller publishers… would it have worked to promote say, AP Comics Darkham Vale or Com.X’s Bazooka Jules, the first two issues said x/6 the 3rd said no such thing and turned out to be the last. Similar stories exist with Young Liars by David Lapham and other big names as well and that series was beguiling, confusing and excellent. It didn’t work for the piloted and then leaked TV version of Warren Ellis’ Global Frequency, mores the shame.

I for one am happy to get digital comic books to read for less than a 1/3 of the price UK stores tend to charge. It’ the price point digital distribution should be, significantly less than the corporeal version not some 10% tip of the hat. iBooks especially but Kindle and Waterstones etc. take note… your prices are a fucking joke, in some cases 50% plus (amazon) higher than you yourself sell the dead tree version. There is NO way a digital copy of a book should ever cost more than the dead tree version. Are they trying to protect their paper manufacturing arms? Perhaps publishers, in a vertical investment, have shares in managed forests, tree felling, pulping and paper producing industries and they think this protects their alternate revenue streams.

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