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Posted on Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Dave!Yes, I am getting an iPad.

But only for a project I'll be working on... it's not something I anticipate keeping. I need a "real" computer to do my work, so my MacBook Pro laptop is always with me. And since I'm never without my iPhone as well, there just doesn't seem much point in carrying around one more gadget everywhere I go. So, after I'm done with it, I'll be giving the iPad to my mom, where I anticipate it will mostly be used as a photo album (seriously, the iPad is the most beautiful, amazing way to organize and display photos ever, as shown in this Apple tour video).

While my interest in the iPad is minimal just now, the one area where I'm intrigued with its possibilities is publishing.

I am absolutely fascinated with the idea of the iPad being used as a new distribution model for visual printed media like magazines and comic books. How sweet is it that you can eliminate the two most expensive parts of publishing printed media... the paper/printing and the postage... and just sell your work digitally at a more affordable price!

Except, just like the music industry before it, publishers are being positively fucking stupid about the future.

Because THIS is what I saw when I was looking at the cost for buying an issue of Marvel Comics from the iPad...

Amazing Spider-Man #1 - $1.99

A DOLLAR NINETY-NINE EACH?!? And these comics are from 1963!! FORTY-SEVEN YEAR-OLD DIGITAL COMICS FOR $1.99 EACH?!? WTF?!?? This is just insane. I buy my current comics at discount from a comic mail order company and pay $1.85 each for A PHYSICAL BOOK! A physical book that I get to keep and save and collect. With the iPad you get a digital file that has -zero- chance of increasing in value... and you can't even loan it to a friend to read because of the DRM protection. Where is my incentive to buy an iPad digital comic when you pay MORE to get far, far LESS?

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

But what about magazines?

Well, let's take a look. You can currently get a physical copy of TIME Magazine delivered to your mailbox for 36¢ an issue with a 1-year, 56-issue subscription (that's $20.00 a year). Remember, that's a printed issue on paper that's been postage-paid and mailed directly to you for 36¢ each week...

Time Magazine Issue Cover

The cost to buy the same thing digitally with your iPad?

$4.99 an issue.

Yes, you read that right... FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS AN ISSUE!! WTF?!? Does the iPad version of TIME Magazine come with a blow-job or something?? By buying digitally, I save the publisher from having to pay for paper & printing AND postage. And what do I get for my trouble? I HAVE TO PAY A 1286% PRICE INCREASE!!

How does this make ANY kind of sense?

By eliminating the cost of paper, printing, and postage, digital versions should COST LESS than their physically printed counterparts... NOT MORE! Or, at the very least, they should be the same price.

And so here I sit not giving a fuck if magazine publishers die a slow, painful death. They are literally too stupid to survive. So let them die. Eventually a new media replacement that doesn't have their heads up their asses will rise up and take their place.

It's only a matter of time, and I have plenty of patience.

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Categories: Apple Stuff 2010Click To It: Permalink


  1. Suebob says:

    You’re cute when you’re angry!

  2. claire says:

    Being able to play board games on it has some appeal for me, but not enough to shell out the bucks.

    • Dave2 says:

      Nor me. But eventually I think the features will be there to make iPad (or whatever) a compelling choice when buying a new “computer.” Hopefully sooner rather than later.

  3. Iron Fist says:

    I hope that if the publishing industry doesn’t give up their stupid ways then they die the same death the idiotic music giants do.

    My other hope is that the lowered barrier of entry to publishing means that it gets easier for independent authors/artists to get their work out there. In the same way that a lot of bands that would have been ignored by the big recording companies are able to set up their own YouTube Channels, band pages on MySpace/Facebook, and sell/give away their MP3s, I hope that independent comic book authors and others are able to by-pass the big publishing houses and get their material out there directly to the consumer.

    • Dave2 says:

      Exactly. I, for example, would like to publish my own digital travel magazine or digital comic book. The tools to do so are coming. Eventually I’ll be able to output an Adobe InDesign file to an eBook format which maintains layout and typefaces… maybe even add multimedia touches… just as I can output a print file now. And then I’ll sell my “publications” direct to consumers at a reasonable price and still make a little money.

      And there’s no reason that writers and photographers can’t ditch their publishers and do the same. Hire a designer or find a designer willing to work on commission, and publish your own stuff without having to add the outrageous “dinosaur tax” that comes from having a publisher.

      Revolution can be a beautiful thing.

      • Iron Fist says:

        I saw an article a while back where MacMillan (I believe) was having a fight with Amazon over the price of their Kindle editions, and John Scalzi posted a piece defending his publisher for wanting to charge more, because they wanted to support their authors, blah blah blah, and it just reminded me of ten years ago when the recording companies trotted out their artists to decry the evils of Napster, and file sharing, “you guys are stealing our music”, blah blah blah. It’s the exact same scenario to me. Hopefully this handful of authors gets the clue and realizes they’re better off either by themselves or with an agent or something to handle their distribution.

        (Also, if you want an anti-recommendation, I thought Scalzi’s “Old Man’s War” sucked and I am baffled as to why it won an award.)

    • Marc says:

      The problem with replacing the publishing houses with Apple is that they have proven to be an unpredictable gatekeeper for what people can and cannot see on their devices. For example, a major German weekly magazine’s app was removed from iTunes because of their erotic image galleries (definitely far from porn, something that a minor can buy on paper at every newsstand!).

      For some reason I have problems with a single company controlling with somewhat unpublished rules what I am allowed to read. And this is reason alone would be reason enough for me to not support them.

      And by the way, with Apple acting as the sole way to access content, we will see DRM in more painful ways than the record industry has unsuccessfully tried and since dropped.

      Open standards and markets rule. Proprietary ecosystems don’t.

      • Dave2 says:

        But this implies that once people start publishing with Apple, that Apple owns their content and they can’t publish it anywhere else. Exactly the opposite is true! By going digital, content creators have MORE freedom and flexibility than ever before to distribute their work! They could publish it one any device they wanted to, through multiple channels, to anywhere in the world. Sure Apple has control over what apps are accepted on their iPad… but the iPad isn’t the only option here. If people are pissed off over Apple exerting too much control over what they get to see, they’ll just tell Apple to kiss their ass and move on to something better (and there is ALWAYS something better coming down the line).

        And since the iPad contains a browser that is open (they don’t block you from going to porn sites, for example), I think their publishing model will eventually evolve in that direction. Right now, digital magazines are still very new, and there are some things they need to figure out. A 10-year-old kid can’t go buy an issue of “Penthouse” in the physical publishing model, and Apple has to find ways of trying to ensure this doesn’t happen in the digital publishing model as well or else they could be held liable for exposing kids to pornography.

        It will all be figured out eventually. One way or another.

        But if publishers continue to gouge digital subscribers, we may never have anything to figure out in the first place because nobody will want to pay the hideous additional cost to buy it.

  4. Breigh says:

    I feel the same way about books / e-books. The Kindle for example. A book for the kindle costs as much or more than buying a paper book from Amazon. You don’t even truly own the book and you can’t lend it out etc. I don’t get it.

    I do read e-books but only ones I download for free and read on my phone.

    • Dave2 says:

      Again, the customer is paying for the “printing” and the “delivery” yet gets no price benefit for doing so. Just another example of publishers not “getting it” when it comes to pricing. I can only hope that individual authors start selling their books directly and eliminate the publishers altogether. If gouging digital customers is the only way for publishers to make money on their author’s works, then they just need to die.

      And why COULDN’T somebody like Stephen King hire an independent editor who also knows how to take five minutes and convert the manuscript into a digital book format, then upload it to an e-Book store like Apple and Amazon?

      Smaller authors that can’t afford an editor outright could always self-edit until they can afford one… or find an editor willing to work on commission.

      Just like record labels, publishers need to be extinct so that artists can take control of their own works and be responsible for getting them to consumers either themselves or through a service… AT A PRICE THAT MAKES SENSE!! Sometimes you need that revolution.

  5. undisciplined says:

    Sorry Dave, but as a postal worker, this is great news for me! Heh heh…job security for now, I suppose! πŸ™‚

    • Dave2 says:

      Well, as somebody who designs things like catalogs for a living, I’d have a different take on the survival of the post office. The good ol’ USPS is making it harder and more expensive every year to send catalogs, so retailers keep transitioning more and more to the internet to do their selling.

      First you could send a slim catalog via letter rate to save money over the price-gouging cost of sending full-size catalogs. But then you had to add a tab-seal. Then two. Now three. I can only imagine that a letter-rate slim catalog will require five tabs here in another year or so (or an envelope). Rather than using technology to improve efficiency and make things easier for their customers, the USPS seems intent on making it impossible for catalogers to exist by constantly adding new conditions and new costs IN ADDITION to the ever-escalating postage costs.

      Yes, the postal service needs to keep profitable or else there won’t be a postal service, and I definitely support their efforts… I just don’t think the people in charge are making any of the right decisions to keep the USPS running much longer. As fuel and expenses increase for them, they need to make hard decisions as to how things work instead of simply making it harder and more expensive for their customers to operate. Otherwise, they aren’t going to have any more customers able to afford their services in the first place… magazines or no magazines. πŸ™

      • undisciplined says:

        Well, I can’t say I disagree with you! Heh, you sound like one of us now! I didn’t mean to come across as a jerkoff with my comment (although I did). Unfortunately, it’s 100% true that customer service is in the shitter. The bigwigs really aren’t trying to keep costs down where they can benefit our lifeblood, the customers. I used to be a customer service clerk until they abolished my entire department(mail fwding). It’s all part of management’s master plan! Have only one or two clerks working the window with lines out the door, cut Sat. delivery, have the plant as understaffed as possible so mail is delayed, and so on. What wonderful logic. Even though I’m just a processing plant grunt now, it does make me worry about the future when our customers are constantly being screwed. It’s disheartening to hear first hand how negatively it impacts you.

  6. MIke says:

    It’s called Greed. There is no reason why e-publishing should be THAT expensive. It is common

    What did they think the word revolution when they coined the phrase “digital revolution”? The companies that learn how to use this technology will be the big winners but it will require thought and a immediate cut in profits.
    Instead, so many big companies in publishing and in the music and film industry want to manipulate to copyright laws (stretching them all out of their original intended purposes) and punish all violators.
    Here are some other great reasons to rant.

    • Dave2 says:

      What I honestly think is this… publishers are losing money hand-over-fist, and looking for new revenue streams to survive. But rather than expanding their subscriber base so they can charge more for advertising and make more money by volume, they are simply gouging digital consumers for a financial windfall that will never happen. I would gladly… GLADLY… transition my subscription of TIME Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, and everything else to digital… IF I DIDN’T HAVE TO PAY A 1286% PREMIUM TO DO SO!! So very, very stupid.

  7. ssp says:

    Well said, iTunes music pricing was ridiculous at prices slightly lesser than those for actual CDs, it looks like it’s going to be the same for books and even more ridiculous for periodicals. (Even though magazine subscription prices seem to be much lower in the U.S. than elsewhere.)

    I suppose a ‘justification’ for high prices could be that Time magazine should really cost USD 5 without ads (and perhaps their newsstand price is in that region as well?). So are there ads in the iPad version?

    I also agree with the iPad ↔ mum idea. While I don’t think the device would be useful for me, I can totally see getting one for my mum (she’s been complaining that her Pismo PowerBook is getting a bit old). For e-mail, web surfing and photos it may just be the right device. One that even lets her play the odd game of Flight Control. The only thing that’s unclear to me is whether the iPad can print. It doesn’t seem so, and that’d be a shame requiring people to run around more than they should.

    • Dave2 says:

      If it’s ad-free, then the publishers are stupider than I thought. Do they honestly think that consumers want to pay a 1286% premium for an ad-free version of their publication? I think some justify the increase by adding a few slideshows and video clips, but really? Really? THAT should be the premium for the consumer paying for the paper/printing (an iPad) and the postage (monthly internet fee).

      It’s the whole Zinio digital magazine thing all over again. I got into Zinio because I wanted to get the “Empire” movie magazine from the U.K. without having to pay the $58 international rate. I thought, at the very least, I’d be paying the U.K. local price… but no. Guess how much it cost for foreign subscribers? $58. Whatever. Die publishers, die.

      From what I can see, the iPad doesn’t print… but as an all-digital device, I don’t know that it really needs to when the idea is for it to replace print. Probably eventually, as it takes the place of more computers, I’d imagine.

      • ssp says:

        I agree about the basic stupidity of the ‘ad free’ premium. Just trying to think of reason for this. Perhaps advertisers don’t want to pay as well for digital ads (because everybody ignores them anyway), thus the magazine doesn’t make as much money with it because it can’t sell its readers to the advertisers. Somebody will have to pay for the words and photos…

        In my ‘for mum’ view of the iPad, I don’t see it as a magazine gone digital but more as a small computer that does just enough for people who don’t really want a computer, but who do want to surf the web, send e-mail etc. It seems perfect for them. Incidentally, they may still like to do things like print out photos, recipes or the tickets they just bought on the internet.

        It may become unnecessary to print out e-mails with a device as portable as the iPad, but the other uses remain – if you acknowledge that the iPad should adopt to what the users want to do rather than the other way round.

        • Dave2 says:

          Oh yes… I completely agree with that. Which is why I think that eventually the iPad will have the ability to print. Absolutely there is still a need to be able to print things from time to time, and as the iPad (or whatever is coming next) becomes more of a computer-replacement than a “digital novelty” they will have to have this ability.

      • ssp says:

        Hehe, seems like people came up with an ‘ingenious’ way of handling the lack of printing in the iPad.

  8. Troy says:

    Time to start hitting up the “non-legal” side of the web for comics and e-books.

    None of these big industries tend to make sense. I guess they are charging you for the convenience of not having to go to a store and physically purchase a book or magazine (which doesn’t work when you subscribe and it is delivered at home).

    Also where do you purchase your comics from for a discount? A local store or online?

    • Dave2 says:

      Record labels and publishers are only relevant when they are paying for pressing CDs or printing books and then distributing them. They’re the ultimate middle-man. Sure they provide financial support so that bands and writers can do what they do, but they do so at a horrendous cost of control and ownership from the artists of the material. It’s time to do away with the middleman. Now that we’re in the digital age, let’s find investors who will enter into a true partnership that produces affordable product rather than a middle-man who only serves to drive up costs and control the artist and their product. It’s just time for that to happen.

      Since I travel so much, I use an online service. Currently it’s Mail Order Comics, but I’ve used Things from Another World and M&M Comics too. Local shops are great, but they generally charge a much higher price to cover their overhead of owning a shop. I still use independent comic shops for back-issues and such, but my pre-orders are ordered online so I can actually afford to buy them. πŸ™‚

  9. kapgar says:

    That is just sheer ridonkulousness. Then again, I feel the cost of a physical comic book has gotten out of hand as well. Hence why I buy only one or two books a month.

    • Dave2 says:

      I used to buy a crazy amount of comics each month, but buy only a handful now. I try to wait for the trade paperback collections and get a little more value for my money… though even those are getting very expensive (almost as much as the original books!).

  10. Sybil Law says:

    That really is beyond stupid.
    People would totally pony up for the blow job, though.

  11. B.E. Earl says:

    I feel the same way about renting or buying movies and TV shows digitally. Most titles on Amazon or On Demand are in the $2.99 – $4.99 range. Kind of expensive for something that costs next to nothing for the provider.

    I gladly pay Netflix $13.99 a month for a wealth of Instant titles as well as 2 DVDs at any given time. At a minimum, I watch 5 Instant titles a week and watch 2 DVDs. A lot of weeks it’s double that. But at the minimum, it’s about 28 titles a month or 50 cents a title. That’s the kind of value I’m sticking with.

    And they just put every season of Buffy and Angel up on Instant. Plus the one season of Firefly and the first season of Dollhouse. It’s been two days and I’ve already watched about 8 episodes. So yeah, I’m gonna get more than my money worth.

    • Ren says:

      Hey! Thanks for the update on BTVS and Angel. I don’t own those (yet) but have been wanting to re-watch them. Now I can do so on Netflix Watch Instantly. I wonder how long they’ll be there and whether I’ll end up buying them eventually or not.

      It is unclear to me how Netflix pricing model for Watch Instantly can really last, though. You can get their $9/month plan and watch as much as you want. How do the content owners get compensated for that?

    • Dave2 says:

      I love Netflix on-demand, especially when traveling to foreign countries. Though I rarely have enough time to watch movies, so I guess a customer like me who doesn’t cost a lot to service balances out somebody like you who costs them a bundle to service!

  12. Poppy says:

    $17.99/month for NYT subscription, and one of the owners of my company tried to tell me that was worth it. Because he doesn’t know what a fucking dollar is, he’s wealthy.


    Ok, I like your comic book argument way better, but seriously. Who’s pricing this shit? STEVE JOBS?!


    • Dave2 says:

      I don’t think so. Steve Jobs doesn’t tell people how to price their apps. I do know that if your apps aren’t free, you have to charge a minimum of 99 cents though.

      As for the cost of the NYT subscription… at least the digital version is cheaper than the $23.40 that they charge for home delivery! Still, you’d think $5 a month would get them more subscribers and be more profitable considering a lot of the news they offer is already on the internet for free!

  13. heather says:

    “Does the iPad version of TIME Magazine come with a blow-job or something??” – LOL!!!

  14. Avitable says:

    I’ve enjoyed my Kindle because most books I buy are considerably cheaper than the hardcover version, but if they were the same price, I’d go the piracy route.

    Of course, think about what a mint edition Spider-Man #1, with perfect sharp colors, would actually cost, and maybe you’re getting a deal! πŸ™‚

    With older comics, I’d think that there is some cost in the digitizing of the comic that does get passed on, but I would also expect newer comics to be much cheaper – .99 an issue or something. They still have to make some profit.

    • Dave2 says:

      And Kindle books SHOULD be considerably cheaper… there’s no paper, ink, binding, storage, packaging, shipping, postage, or overhead that Amazon or the publishers are having to pay.

      Assumably modern comics and magazines are produced on computer, so outputting them to a digital format is not a very difficult process. And as the tools for creating digital comics and magazines get better, adding the bells and whistles that digital publications are capable of are just going to get easier and easier. In any event, I feel $1.99 is highway robbery for a digital comic with full restrictions and no collectible value.

      I can see your point on older comics, because they are a lot more labor-intensive to convert to a digital format by having to be scanned and all… but since Marvel isn’t having to pay the comic creators for stuff they already own, any money they make off their old material is gravy. I just don’t think that I should have to pay $1.99 a book for what it essentially a reprint. It’s price-gouging.

      As for what a mint edition of Spider-Man #1 would cost with perfect sharp colors? Well, the “Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1” trade paperback is $16.49 and includes “Amazing Fantasy #15” plus “Amazing Spider-Man” #1-10. That’s 11 books for $16.49… or $1.50 each FOR A PHYSICAL BOOK THAT YOU CAN SHARE, KEEP, AND COLLECT, which means that 99Β’ sounds like a much more fair price for the digital restricted version to me.

      At 99Β’ each, I would buy twice as many comics as I do now. At 50Β’ each, I would be a comic maniac, buying as much new and old material as I could find. At $1.99, I’ll be sticking to my REAL comics. πŸ™‚

  15. martymankins says:

    I share your disgust with the idea they the digital copy is more. Actually, I would be ok with the digital copy being the same price or even slightly more (like the TIME magazine subscription being 50 cents an issue). The slight increase could be to cover the bandwidth costs of delivery. But $4.99 an issue is just fucking insane. I seriously hope no one buys it.

    I’ve had the same disgust with the TV show season passes being almost twice as much as the physical DVD versions (when they are available). Again, I can be ok with a slight increase to cover bandwidth, but not twice as much.

    As you mentioned to others in your comment replies, the publishing industry needs to see this as an adoption instead of a way to rape their customers out of more money.

  16. Now that’s just ridiculous. Greedy bastards.

    Oh, and as before, I’m in total agreement with you about why I won’t be getting an iPad. I’m not the target audience. Already have a MBP and an iPhone so not sure what an iPad gets me.

  17. josh says:

    Steve Jerbz is cute central (Pepaw Redux)!

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