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Image Comics discontinues DRM-free digital issues

After five years, the popular comic book publisher has announced it will no longer sell DRM-free comics.

Libreture

Image Comics released some disappointing news on Friday regarding their online shop and DRM-free comics.

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of bestselling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comic publishers in the United States.

In 2013, Image decided to sell their own comics direct and without DRM (Digital Rights Management). Like the book publisher, Tor, their argument was that DRM only really affected their loyal paying customers' ability to own and manage their purchased books.

From Wikipedia:

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a set of access control technologies for restricting the use of proprietary hardware and copyrighted works. DRM technologies try to control the use, modification, and distribution of copyrighted works (such as software and multimedia content), as well as systems within devices that enforce these policies

Five years later, Image have decided to discontinue selling DRM-free comics direct.

In an article published on the 2nd of November, 2018, Image provided some dates:

This is an alert to inform you that ImageComics.com is discontinuing the sale of DRM-free titles through our site.

Beginning on November 5th, 2018, DRM-free versions of our books will no longer be available for purchase and all sales of DRM-free versions through ImageComics.com will be discontinued.

And some instructions:

  • From November 5th, 2018 through February 3rd, 2019 you can still access your previous purchases through https://customer.imagecomics.com. We recommend that you download and save your purchases at your earliest convenience before February 3rd, 2019.
  • Future titles will be available for purchase through our other digital vendor partners, and DRM-free versions through other services that offer it, like comiXology.
  • You will still be able to purchase physical copies of our books and subscribe to series through Image Direct (https://subscriptions.imagecomics.com) as well as your local comic book store. Image Direct will NOT be affected by this change.

It seems customers have until the 5th of November, 2018 to buy any issues they want in a DRM-free format. Following that, they have until the 3rd of February, 2019 to download them and any other comics in their online account before they disppear for good.

Image have not provided an explanation for this decision. Some have speculated that it's to do with the suspected piracy of their comics. Others claim it's due to the cost of maintaining an e-commerce function and storing all their digital titles.

I suspect it may have more to do with rationalising their structure and removing what they might consider unnecessary components of their business. Their news article specifically mentions Comixology, the popular digital comic shop owned by Amazon, as the remaining place to buy their comics without DRM. Image may be looking to reduce costs where it can, and sees its own shop as a likely saving.

Keep 'Em Safe

While reasons for the change may trickle out of Image over time, for now comic book fans who collect their books in DRM-free formats are encouraged to download their collection as soon as possible, and in as many formats as possible.

Image provides a number of download options:

  • PDF
  • EPub
  • CBR
  • CBZ

The EPub and CBZ/R editions are very similar in size and seem to be of standard quality, while the PDF is considered the High Quality version.

I would highly recommend downloading at least the PDF version and then one of either the EPub, CBZ or CBR versions - depending on your own reading preference. That gives you a standard edition to read without taking up too much space, and a high quality version as an archive version to really appreciate the amazing art produced by Image's fantastic creators.

Readers may also want to make use of the option to upload direct to Dropbox from their Image account page.

Libreture readers can already store their DRM-free EPub comics in their library, and will soon be able to store PDF and CBZ/R editions too, after some upcoming changes to Libreture over the next few weeks. I'll investigate accelerating this piece of work to ensure comic readers have an alternative backup solution.

Last Call

If you haven't already started downloading your purchases from Image's website, we have a little reminder to help you.

Keep track of how long you have to download your Image comics with our handy Image Countdown.

Image Countdown

 

I'll mark Image Comics' entry in the DRM-free Bookshops List closed as of the 5th of November. It's a huge shame. Image was the first DRM-free comic shop I added to the list. There are other comic publishers that sell DRM-free, but none as popular and prolific as Image.

Here's wishing the creators the very best.

Discuss #ImageNoDRMfree

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