August 19, 2014

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Digging into Digital: Valiant Goes DRM-Free, but only at DriveThru Comics

In a press release sent out via email yesterday, digital comics provider DriveThru Comics and Valiant Entertainment announced that they had formed a partnership whereby purchasers of Valiant's comics would be able to download DRM-free copies of the publisher's comics. Per the release, this is the first time Valiant's comics have been available to the public legally for purchase in a DRM-free format.

From the release:
Valiant Entertainment is proud to announce a new partnership with DriveThruComics.com to make Valiant's complete, award-winning library of modern and classic content comic available as DRM-free digital files. Beginning today, DriveThruComics.com will also offer Valiant's monthly comics titles as day-and-date new releases and will soon host Valiant's complete catalog of single issues and collections – all in a DRM-free PDF format. Valiant's new partnership with DriveThruComics.com marks the first time that the publisher has made its titles available in such a format anywhere online.
Back at San Diego Comic-Con, Comixology made headlines by announcing that Image, Dynamite, Top Shelf, Monkeybrain, and Thrillbent would be available for DRM-free PDF backups, and I wondered at the time if others would follow. Looks like Valiant did--but not (for now) at Comixology. That's an interesting choice, and I wonder if it was designed to ensure that those who want PDFs can get them--but the overwhelming number of digital purchases would still be locked down in Comixology's cloud.

That's not a bad idea, actually--you don't explode the number of copies of your comics out there, but you're still giving the option to those of your fan base who'd prefer to have a physical copy. (That includes me, by the way--while I am not anti-cloud, if given the option, I always pick the downloadable file.) Everyone wins, since there's no price difference, and you address the "OMG WHAT IF THEY SHUT DOWN?" concern without touching the good thing you have at the #1 home of digital comics. It does make folks decide between guided view and a PDF, but how many folks reading comics panel by panel on their phones are interested in keeping a vast hard drive of things they may never read again? I guess we'll find out, but I doubt it's a lot.

From the moment they revamped the name, the folks behind Valiant have been one of the most savvy publishers going. Their decisions, from keeping the line limited to joining the Amazon Worlds program to tightly controlling crossovers, have really impressed me. Looks like they may once again be heading the charge, as this decision to offer PDFs at one location and cloud-based work at another could end up being the model the rest use.

Or, we could see Comixology swoop in and convince Valiant to do it there, too. Either way, readers win--and that's always a good thing.