On History: Digital vs Analog

By | Tuesday, May 20, 2014 Leave a Comment
I've gotten into discussions with a number of different people in a number of different venues about digital books. It seems that I have something of an unusual viewpoint on the matter. Or at least, unusual relative to the circles I seem to frequent.

I love digital. It makes a world of sense on so many levels. Most of the comics I read any more are online. I can check story archives from almost anywhere, regardless of where my personal collection is physically stored. I can run searches for keywords or titles or whatever, and instantly jump to wherever. In the case of eReaders, I can annotate and/or highlight passages -- and then unhighlight them once I'm done with that usage. All sorts of beautiful stuff you can do with digital.

(Bear in mind that I'm talking digital in the theoretical sense. I have functional and economic problems with certain business executions of digital, but that's another story!)


A lot of what I read has never been converted to a digital format. It was created decades ago before digital was an option, and it's so amazingly obscure that no one has bothered to create a digital archive of it. Oh, sure, Marvel and DC have digital version of lots of their old comics, but what about companies who've gone out of business? Where's their material? Or unusual books that were just a notch above vanity press pieces? I sincerely doubt Harry Warner's A Wealth of Fable will ever be digitized. There was never a big market for the print version -- how would converting that to digital make sense financially? It would have to be done strictly for archival purposes. And who's going to devote time to that?

The other thing is that I've already spent several decades accumulating analog versions of these things. I have a problem with paying for the same thing multiple times unless there really is a comeplling reason for me to do otherwise. If I bought a copy of Fantastic Four #32 a couple dozen years ago, I'm not going to go grabbing a digital version just to check to see that one panel flashback of Mary Storm! That's just a waste of money, even if it is only $1.99.

That so many old comic book and strips are getting collected and/or reprinted now is absolutely brilliant! That I can get a hold of many of them digitally is equally brilliant! But I'm no so enamored of the idea that I'm going to ignore a whole slew of books just because they're not available digitally. I have no problem filling up my library with pulped wood if it means I've got access to the comics and comic-related resources I want to read!
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