Comic books thrive in the age of tablets

Digital sales of comic books tripled over the last year.

Digital publishing hasn't killed off the comic book. Quite the opposite, as the North American comic book industry experienced its "best [year of sales] of the millennium," according to a new report by ICv2.

Last year, digital sales of comic periodicals and graphic novels nearly tripled from 2011, reaching $70 million. But it wasn't at the expense of print. Total print sales recovered from a two year lull to hit $680 million in sales, back to 2009 levels.

Why are comic books thriving in the digital age? They're able to attract new readers, an issue that has long plagued the industry, as The New York Times reports:

For years, comic book publishers faced a problem of poor distribution. In the 1960s and ’70s, comic books were sold at newsstands and bookstores. As they migrated to specialty shops, publishers broadened their offerings and aimed at a niche audience, fueling a speculation boom among collectors in the 1980s. After an eventual bust a decade later, the number of specialty shops shrank. By this time, distribution had become too focused on existing readers and had failed to attract new ones.

With a tablet, you don't have to make a trip to a specialty store to get your comic fix. Anyone in the world can access it.

But it's not just comic books that are benefitting from the digital revolution, the broader publishing industry is too. Last year, e-book sales were up 42 percent to $1.8 billion, accounting for 20 percent of publishers' revenue (up from 15 percent in 2011). And overall sales are going up, not down -- $15 billion in 2012 from $14 billion in 2011.

Once the villain of print, digital is now clearly the hero for publishers.

Read more: ICv2, New York Times

Photo: Flickr/jfingas

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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