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The Pull List—Digital or Print?

Rachel Manwill

Staff Writer

Rachel Manwill is an editor, writer, and professional nomad. Twice a year, she runs the #24in48 readathon, during which she does almost no reading. She's always looking for an excuse to recommend a book, whether you ask her for one or not. When she's not ranting about comma usage for her day job as a corporate editor, she's usually got an audiobook in her ears and a puppy in her lap. Blog: A Home Between Pages Twitter: @rachelmanwill

I’ve been a reader of regular ole’ text-only books for a long time now, and I’m only about a year into being a comics reader. It’s been an interesting year. I’ve had to decide what kind of comics reader I am: Do I read capes and tights comics or non-superhero stuff? Do I prefer issues or trades? Does my taste in art fall more on the cartoony side of the spectrum or on the more realistic/artistic side?

One decision point that’s quickly coming to a head: Should my pull list be digital or print?

Up to this point, I’ve been reading a mix of both – Comixology subscriptions, single titles in print when I venture into a comics shop, trades of Saga – and it’s sort of working okay. I subscribe to a couple of comics in digital through Comixology, and I rarely read those in any timely way, binging on half a dozen issues at once when I’ve got a couple hours. But I started some other comics in print, and switched to digital and now my collection is all over the place.

Take Sex Criminals as an example. I have the first three issues in print, the rest in digital, and the Virgo in me (anal retentive bitch that she is) cannot STAND different formats within the same run of a comic.

While I’m typically a “use the format that makes the most sense for you and the specific situation” proponent for book books, this makes less sense for comics. I’m getting confused where all my books are housed, and it’s taking the fun out of buying comics. I blame some of this on wanting to start a comics run from the beginning and not knowing where to find the print issues if the comic has just started. (Like, where do I buy the early issues of Chew in print? Or Ms. Marvel?) So I’ve bought a few #1 issues in print, decided to start reading them on the reg, and switched to digital because I wasn’t keeping track of publication dates and missed them in stores.

Reading digitally – especially on Comixology – has its benefits. Automatic subscription, Guided View, high resolution images. But I still find myself drawn to print, for the comic-as-object-art principle. Flipping through a single issue is just such a unique experience. My eyes linger on beautiful art, I look more closely at details, I can go back easily a re-read panels if a piece of text didn’t stick the first time, and I’m more aware of the length of a narrative arc. Guided View is cool, but sometimes my eyes don’t track through pages the way the app…well…guides me. I prefer the reading experience of print. I just do.

So then why don’t I switch exclusively to print? Well there’s that whole “where do I find the early issues of a comics run” thing I mentioned. (Seriously, someone answer that question for me.) And then there’s the hassle of creating and maintaining a pull list with my local shop, remembering to stop in once every couple of weeks to pick up my books, and figuring out where I’m going to put them all. My book shelves are pretty full as it is.

I was hoping by the end of this post I’d have convinced myself one way or the other, but clearly, that hasn’t happened.

So tell me, what do you prefer? Print, digital or some combination of both?


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