Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Here's The Problem

Okay, what's the best way to present a digital comic?

PDF? ePUB? Mobile app? or via a web interface? The first two alternatives are similar in that they're static downloadable files and the last two are (at least the way I would conjure it) viewed from the cloud. Each has their pros and cons. I have yet to come across "the" answer to this question.

PDF
The big plus is that the layout is static. It's easy to encrypt the contents if you choose. There's plenty of readers and support. The one downside I can think of is that not all readers to the best job with anti-aliasing the images when the images are zoomed in and out. Very portable and small.

ePUB
This has mostly downsides. The format is not mature. The support for format standards is all over the place. Mangling is not widely supported. Encryption can only be done with a proprietary DRM scheme. The layout is fluid so it's hard to layout an image-dominant book. Displaying of images is inconsistent (anti-alias, etc.). Readers are slow and pathetic. The only plus really is that it's based on XML and someday has the possibility of supporting HTML5. However, more and more, ePUB is striking me as being redundant to a web page, which doesn't thrill me (a static version of a web site does have it's uses however).

Mobile App
When I say mobile app, I'm pretty much talking about the Apple iPad or similar device. Trying to read a comic on a small, smart phone is stupid. The upside to having a custom reader would be all of the nice details (finger gesturing) you could add to navigate the book. Images would be accessed via the cloud so they'd be reasonably secure. The images could also reside on the server encrypted (and decrypted by the app). The only downside would be portability of the code (not everyone can write cocoa or whatever). Also, users would not have a downloadable file they could "have" and collect.

Web Interface
This would be very similar to the mobile app. The images would not be as secure because they're being displayed in a browser. You could display the images wrapped in a Flash file, but Flash is proprietary software I'd rather not support. Also, users would not have a downloadable file they could "have" and collect.

Perhaps a combination of both a static file and access via the cloud. Here, the ePUB could shine; the ePUBs could reside on your web server for both accessing via download or by a javascript/PHP reader to display in a browser. Still a thought in process…

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