At the Image Expo today, Image Comics announced changes to their digital comics offerings that could radically shift the way digital comics are enjoyed and perceived by readers.
Image Comics rebuilt their website, apparently with a little help from Seagate, if Twitter is any indication, and the new ImageComics.com allows fans to buy digital comics direct from Image without going through digital retailers like comiXology or ComicsPlus.
That in itself isn't a huge deal--but what comes next is, at least for a publisher on Image's size and scale. Users who buy digital comics from the Image website can download their purchases in a number of DRM-free formats to be used on any device they like, including those that don't have a retail comics reader like comiXology.
"We're still filling out the archive (Do you know how many comics you can publish in 20 years? A LOT.) but the site is up & ready," Image tweeted. "Starting today, you can purchase and download digital comics on the Image site with Jupiter's Legacy #1. Once you purchase the comic, you get a PDF, ePub, CBR, or CBZ file, completely DRM-free."
This is something that a number of smaller publishers and a lot of Kickstarter-funded comics have offered but mainstream publishers have studiously avoided. Part of that is piracy concerns and part is likely a desire not to alienate their existing retail partners (both digital and physical)--but in any case, there's huge demand for this feature among readers and Image being the first to embrace it will likely see, at minimum, a bump in their Q-rating out of it.