Thrillbent launches download-to-own digital comics store

Mark Waid's Thrillbent, which hosts a variety of digital comics that can be read in a variety of different ways, is adding a new way to purchase titles: download-to-own. Starting today, readers can buy downloadable PDFs of Waid's Insufferable, Art Balthazar and Franco Aureliani's Aw Yeah Comics!, and other comics. Insufferable will be offered on a pay-what-you-like basis.

All the comics on Thrillbent are available to read for free in a web browser, and the site also offers free downloads, in CBZ format, of many comics, including Insufferable. The titles are also offered, at prices between 99 cents and $1.99 per issue, on comiXology.

So why charge for PDFs if the CBZs are free? Waid recently addressed that in a post on the Thrillbent blog. While the free CBZs are simple files containing the weekly installments, the PDFs will include "bigger chunks of story" as well as links to bonus web content, such as footnote and behind-the-scenes features, that will be created specifically for each comic. So basically, while both CBZs and PDFs are downloadable comics that live on your device, not in the cloud, the PDFs will have added features.

The subject of downloads versus proprietary, cloud-based systems came up in the "Digital and Print: Friends or Foes?" panel last week at Comic-Con International, where comiXology co-founder John Roberts argued that his system is more convenient for users because they can sync their comics across multiple devices and don't have to have "stacks and stacks of hard drives" to store their files. "In our cloud-based system, you can download a comic right here, but if you have a PDF file sitting on your computer, you then have to get into iTunes, you have to copy it to your device -- it's not exactly the most user friendly experience," he said, adding that comiXology's Guided View was an enhancement that isn't available with a straight PDF.

Waid had a different take. "Personally, I actually like owning the files," he said. "I'm comfortable enough with cloud-based stuff, but given a preference, I'd rather own the files just because I don't want to be in a situation where I don't have internet connectivity and I suddenly remember that album I wanted to listen to or the comic book I wanted to read and I don't have access to the cloud at that moment." Still, he said, the whole point of the Thrillbent experiment is to put it out there and see how the public reacts.

Here's the full press release:

Thrillbent Digital Comics is pleased to announce the launch of its new online store! Now you can purchase collected editions of your favorite Thrillbent comics DRM-free, direct from the source.

“Digital comics distributors like Comixology and iVerse continue to be great and valuable partners to us,” says Thrillbent co-founder Mark Waid, “and their cloud-based platforms are a great option for many comics fans. But we hear constantly from readers who prefer to own and collect the comics and files they buy, and we’re happy to oblige.”

Moreover, in keeping with Thrillbent's commitment to innovation in publishing:

● All collections of the site’s flagship title, Insufferable, by the Eisner-Award winning Waid and artist Peter Krause, will be “pay what you will,” allowing readers to set their own price.

● Collections of Pax Arena and The Walking Pandas/The Panda Show will include both English and French language editions.

● Downloadable PDFs will include exclusive web-linked bonus content designed specifically for each comic, including clickable footnotes, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and more.

● Comics aren’t just for adults! In addition to the familiar Thrillbent titles, the storefront will proudly spotlight the kid-friendly, all-ages Aw Yeah Comics! series by Art Balthazar and Franco, creators of the award-winning Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures.

Launch titles on the storefront, debuting July 30, include collections of Insufferable, Arcanum, The Damnation of Charlie Wormwood, Pax Arena, The Eighth Seal, Luther, Moth City, and Aw Yeah Comics!, with many more to come.

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