Over the past couple of weeks I’ve read countless articles and posts with the most outlandish comments about the iPad, but few caught my attention more than a short post I read today about the iPad making it easier to pirate comic books because it has a screen grabbing feature. It makes it piracy so easy because you only need to push two buttons to capture whatever is on the screen. Hello?! Anyone in there?!
Last time I checked we lived in 2010. I have an incredibly cheap HP integrated printer/scanner, in fact much cheaper than an iPad, and incredibly enough it also has a couple of buttons on it. If I place a paper magazine on the scanner it makes a full color copy of it, with the press of a button.I’m astounded! Incredible! Printers must enable comic book piracy!
Perhaps the fellow that wrote the post never used a computer with Windows and a Print Screen key on the keyboard.
I think that on interesting point the people that write this kind of baseless stories miss is that if you search for them, you will be able to find any number of books available on the Internet that were never published in electronic form in the first place. The combination of inexpensive scanners and powerful OCR software has made the copying of books quite easy. Does anyone think that a comic book that doesn’t even require an OCR software to begin with really needs the help of an iPad to get copied?
One thing is sure, the iPad is having a profound impact on the discussion of all things publishable: newspapers, magazines, books and comics. Another article I read, this one better much considered than the first one I mentioned, asked the question of whether the iPad would save comics, destroy comic book shops or increase comic book piracy. There can’t be a direct answer to the that question, because it isn’t really up to the iPad, but to publishers.
Will publishers offer comic books at reasonable prices or will they try to squeeze a little bit extra from early adopters of the iPads, after all they could afford an iPad… That question is actually at the heart of it all. The iPad isn’t going to save anything in itself. With the new mode of interaction if it is taking mainstream, size and battery life it enables new uses for what is essentially a portable computer.
That multi-touch devices are the way of the future is certain. That in the future all books, comic books and other printed publications are going to go the way of the Dodo and be replaced by electronic versions, there can be no doubt for anyone that is honest with him/herself. So… Comic book publishers that start exploring ways to adapt to the new format are more likely to survive than those that don’t. Piracy doesn’t really need the iPad as a facilitator, as my printer/scanner demonstrated.
As for comic book stores, their days are numbered just as are those of regular bookshops. Oh, they might not all close tomorrow, but their number will continue to dwindle until all that is left are a few highly specialized collector-oriented shops.
My point in all of this is that the iPad may be focusing the spotlight on this area and on several initiatives for creating digital publications, but these would have happened without it and and the path they lead to is inevitable. All that the iPad might be doing is acting as a catalyst to speed up the process.
What will eventually define if and which publishers have a future is how they treat their readers, regardless of what kind of publication they work with. Customers do not like to feel like they are being gouged and they will avoid publishers they perceive as trying to unfairly wanting make them pay the same or an even higher price for an electronic edition then on the printed one.
* Image: Bitolithic Pty Ltd (via iTunes)