DC Comics announced today that, as of August 31, it will be renumbering every single comic book it points out, starting over again from Issue #1 on all of them. It seems like DC does you have something like this every other year, what with Crisis on Infinite This, or Countdown to That, but like it or hate it (and there are plenty of geeks out there who will be happy to argue it either way), that’s apparently just how DC rolls.
But what’s most unusual about this particular reset is that, for the first time, DC has committed to releasing every one of its comic books digitally on the same day as it releases the print version. This will, DC points out, make it the first of the two major American comic book publishers to do so. That will undoubtedly come as good news to all the e-book-reading comic book fans out there.
Of course, in a way the comic book companies have been forced into this. Comic books have long been one of the more-easily pirated forms of physical media—after all, they only consist of a couple of dozen pages per issue, and do not require intensive optical character recognition to turn into e-books. Comics have been floating around on peer-to-peer in CBR format for years, and readers for the format have come out for any number of computer platforms, including the iPad.
If DC wants comic book fans to buy its DRM-restricted offerings rather than download illicit DRM-free versions, making them available the same day as the print version is a good way to start. And it shows that, unlike mass market book publishers, DC does not seem to be under any illusion that it needs to protect its print market at the expense of the new electronic market. It still remains to be seen, however, whether DC can out-compete free.