While publishers like IDW and Dark Horse have had luck releasing digital versions of their comics for the iPhone recently, many publishers have wondered whether a one-stop digital comic store would ever be created. And then Longbox was announced.
Longbox, which will be made available as a free download later this year by Quicksilver Software, was announced at this weekend's HeroesCon in North Carolina. Described as "a digital comics platform similar to iTunes," the software will offer downloadable digital versions of comics by publishers Boom! Studios and Top Cow for just 99 cents (Discussions are being held with other publishers to add their lines). Rantz Hoseley explains the thinking behind the new app:
Everyone's been talking now for half a decade about the holy grail of digital comics, and how do you solve that problem: How do you make something that everyone gets on board with? And rather than just kind of jump into it willy-nilly, we've done a lot of research and actual development on the platform prior to even discussing it with any publishers... Three years ago, when we started doing development, publishers were very, very resistant to it. The majority of publishers wouldn't even discuss the possibility of it: digital comics are the devil come to steal the milk from our children's mouths [but t]he difference is that now, every publisher realizes, especially with the increasing cost of monthlies and the declining sales of monthlies, that there has to be a way to expand the market. With every other form of entertainment embracing digital distribution and sales medium, it is very foolhardy to not do likewise.
If you're wondering whether Longbox would have a problem with your potentially not-incredibly-legal downloaded comics, you're in luck:
While Longbox has a proprietary secure format, it also reads .cbr and .cbz files. Now, we're not advocating (and I'll be kind here) 'grey market' digital comic files, but it is ignorant to assume that there isn't a degree of crossover between people who currently read comics in a .cbr, .cbz file format and people who would want to read comics in a legitimate fashion — especially since so many of those individuals posit that they download .cbr and .cbz because there aren't 'legitimate' versions of these files in digital format. So if Longbox becomes the one stop for people to have their digital comics experience, it's a very short hop, skip, and jump for people to purchase files there, especially at the price point given.
Color us slightly concerned about talk of "proprietary secure format," but interested nonetheless. Initially, Longbox will be available for Mac, PC and Linux with a planned release date of September or October; Quicksilver is already looking at adding gaming and mobile platforms.
Longbox Digital Comics [Comic Book Resources]