Print Or Digital: Which Format Should You Read Comics In?

Should I read comics in print or digitally? It’s a question that I’ve received many times throughout the life of How to Love Comics and one that there’s no clear-cut answer to. Everyone has their preference and reason why print or digital is their chosen format. To help you decide what format you should choose I have listed the pros and cons of each. Will it be print or digital? Read on to find out!

Print comics.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Print Comics

Print Advantages

  • You have a physical object that’s tactile and you can hold, read and even smell.
  • Some publishers go to great lengths to publish comics with great production values – with nice paper, embossing and more.
  • Trade paperbacks and hardcovers look great on your bookshelf.
  • You’re supporting local comic book retailers.
  • Some comics read better in print.

Print Disadvantages

  • Takes up physical space you might not have.
  • Not as convenient to take with you when you are out and about.
  • Cost slightly more than digital (due to production costs).
  • Can get damaged.
Comixology banner.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Comics

Digital Advantages

  • Can be purchased at any time – don’t have to rely on a store to be open.
  • Easy to carry around a large number of comics as they’re either stored on a device or in the cloud.
  • Generally cheaper than print comics – if not immediately then later down the track.
  • If you’re not close to a comic book store this is an easy way to access comics.
  • If you’re only concerned about reading and not collecting then digital could be for you.

Digital Disadvantages

  • If a service like Comixology closes down or you’re locked out of your account then you have lost all of your purchases.
  • You need a device in order to read them.
  • Requires an internet connection to access.
  • You can’t sell or trade-in digital comics.
  • Not everything is available digitally.

The Answer

Ultimately, I can’t give you a definitive answer either way. I suggest weighing up the pros and cons of each and take into consideration you’re circumstances and preferences. Once you’ve weighed these up you’ll be able to make a more informed decision.

But if you still can’t make up your mind on which you should choose I might have a solution…

Why don't we have both?
A genius of our time…

That’s right! There’s no reason you can’t do both print and digital. This could take the form of one, or a mixture, of these manners:

  1. Reading some comics digitally and others in print.
  2. Read all your monthly titles digitally and then buy the trade paperback/hardcover in print format for the ones you love.
  3. Read all of your monthly comics in print, but buy back issues and series you might’ve missed digitally.
  4. Read an issue or two of a comic digitally to give it a try and then wait for the trade paperback/hardcover collection.

Conclusion

As mentioned before, I can’t give you a definitive answer as to whether you should be reading comics in print or digitally. The decision will depend on your personal preferences, habits and situations but by listing the advantages and disadvantages of both formats I’ve hopefully made your decision easier. Maybe even give you some points that you might not have considered. Although, as long as you’re enjoying comics it shouldn’t really matter what format it is in.

Will You Reading Comics Digitally Or In Print?

Will you be choosing digital or print when it comes to reading comics? Let me know why you’ve chosen to go the way you have in the comments below or via Facebook or Twitter. I’m really interested to hear your preference!

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Comments (8)

  • I do a mix, probably a slight bias towards digital as I really enjoy the convenience of reading digitally, especially for travel, and I don’t have a huge amount of space to store physical books. I think most artwork looks incredible on a backlit screen too. Digital is great for trying new things (cheap or free first issues and/or sales), reading back issues and things that have gone out of print.

    I buy print when there’s a great collected edition of something that I know I like and that will look nice on a shelf, for things that just work better in print (double page spreads etc.) and for things that aren’t available digitally. I also borrow a fair number of physical books from my library (and some digital too but there’s not a great selection of those).

    I’ve only really got into comics and graphic novels in the past couple of years so the tactile element is probably not such a big deal for me as for others who have read physically for years. I completely get that as a thing though as I much prefer reading physical novels rather than e-books.

  • It got me when you said that printed comic books are those that you can touch, read, and even smell which gives you a tactile experience. This is perfect for me since I would really love the smell of books which I just discovered when I passed by a library this morning. I would definitely choose printed ones when I start collecting comic books. https://androidscomics.com/shop

  • Some comics read better in print whenever I read physical comic books which makes it so fun to read. Since I also get to have a physical object that I can hold as you pointed out, I get to get better references from them as well. As a beginner illustrator, I appreciate being able to support local comic book retailers as you stated so I might buy one. https://androidscomics.com/shop

  • I primarily read digitally, but that’s purely out of convenience and price. Plus, being in Australia there can be some serious delays on when we get stuff physically – months or even years is not without precedent.

    But I do like physical copies, so if all else was equal I’d go that pathway every time. Alas, not everything is equal.

    • Hi Allan, whereabouts are you in Australia? Down here in Melbourne we generally get everything the Thursday of the same week it comes out in the US unless there is some kind of delay.

      If you want, I might be able to point you in the direction of a good comic book shop near you ?

  • I do both! I have a physical pull list and I buy a lot of trades, but I get sale comics on Comixology a lot, or digital-first comics I can’t wait for! I’ve gotten some digital comics through Humble Bundle as well, and I use Marvel Unlimited sometimes.

    I prefer physical books as I like being able to see my collection, I prefer reading them that way, and I like to lend them to friends. But since I have a tablet it’s also nice to have comics on the go.

  • I read in both formats and enjoy both. One huge advantage of digital, that I didn’t see mentioned, is that you have easy and inexpensive access to back issues.

    Those series that I collect, I buy in print. Those that I simply read I get in digital. An exception is Marvel comics. If you become a member of Marvel Unlimited, you can purchase new subscriptions for up to 44% off and then use the free digital copy that comes with most of the new Marvel issues. Plus you have free access to thousands of back issue digital comics.

    So, to me, it is kind of a collection/reading strategy based on what I am trying to accomplish and what allows me to do the most within my comic reading budget.