It was only a matter of time before some digital comics retailer not only closed up shop, but shut down their servers so that the money you spent to “buy” comics went straight down the Long Blue Hole… and that time is now.
Sony has announced that their Comic Store for PSP, available through the Playstation Store, will be closing up shop on October 30th, and that any comics you bought that are still on their servers will become unavailable sometime “mid January 2013.”
Not to be dicks, but we told you so.
Now, looking on the bright side, there are a couple of general positives to this story, the first being that I’m guessing that Sony didn’t have a huge share of the digital comics market, given that I’ve been running a comic book Web site for more than a year and I never knew that they even sold comics. That doesn’t help anyone who has a chunk of change invested in books from the Sony store, but at least it seems the impact of this decision isn’t as bad as it would have been if, say, ComiXology had gone down with all hands.
Further, at least Sony is offering the chance to download and back up any comics you bought via Sony’s MediaGo service… whatever the hell that is, and provided you have some Sony hardware that is supported by the service upon which to store it – everyone’s rocking an ATRAC-throttled Walkman in 2012, right? But at least there’s the option to keep your comics once the servers go dark, unlike the aforementioned ComiXology, who offer no options to strip the digital rights management from their comics, and have actively moved to prevent people from creating their own solutions to download the comics they paid for, free and clear… but if you miss the roughly 100 day window to get your books somewhere Sony’s okay with – assuming those places have enough storage space for whatever you bought – congratulations! You just paid Sony for the privilege of being too unprofitable to be worth allowing access to the shit you already paid for.
Look, there’s a lot to be said for digital comics on a lot of levels: they’re no more expensive than printed comics, they don’t take up any space in your house (let alone do they take over your entire office like they do here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office), and they are a damn sight easier and more convenient to obtain than making a trip to the local comic store, where they know me by name and ask me to stop asking the paying customers if they want to “see what the ‘P’ in ‘PSP’ stands for.” But, with a few exceptions like Mark Waid’s Thrillbent and Slave Labor Graphics’ Eyemelt store, who offer DRM-free honest-to-God downloads to the device of your choice, you run the risk that someday, your “friendly” digital comic store will decide that it’s cheaper to close up shop and sell the servers to some filthy Groupon-wannabe Internet startup for pennies on the dollar, and fuck you and your “collection.”
This is where historically I would warn you to know what you’re buying when you purchase digital comics, but I feel pretty safe in saying that that ship has sailed. Because since May, our server logs tell me that a statistically significant percentage of our daily Web traffic comes from people finding our article on the ComiXology download script while Googling for that very script. People want to own the digital comics they buy… sure, maybe some of them because they want to rip them and swap them around to their friends, but between Graphic.ly’s collapse and now this, I’m guessing a lot of them are realizing that while they might have paid much, they own jack shit.
So let’s spare a moment’s sympathy to the people invested in the Sony Comic Store For PSP… and remember them the next time you decide it’s easier to download something than it is to make the trip to your local comic store.