Digital vs. Physical Comics: Which Is Better for a Collection?

Choosing whether to buy your comics physically or digitally isn't easy, but we can help simplify it for you.
Digital vs. Physical Comics: Which Is Better for a Collection?

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Whether you're a fan of the superhero output from Marvel or DC or you're looking for something more niche, there's plenty for you in the world of comics.

When it comes time to choose how you actually buy your comics, you're in for a tough decision: paper or digital?

Both physical and digital comics have their pros and cons, so it can be tough to pick which direction you want to lean. This gets especially tough if you've got a local comic shop and picking up new singles on day one is easy.

Let's break down the debate between digital comics and physical comics and the pros and cons of each for you.

The Case for Physical Comics

There's just something about flipping through pages that can't be captured digitally. Even if you're using an app like Comixology, the tactile experience is missing.

If you're someone who buys paperback books because you like the smell, physical comics are for you.

There's also the social aspect of physical comics. Not only can you lend them to your friends, but they can be a great way to meet people if you've got a local comics shop you frequent.

Physical comics aren't much more expensive than their digital counterparts, and picking up new comics at your local shop can be as enjoyable as actually reading them.

The final thing to ask yourself is whether you're buying comics to read them or you're buying them to collect them.

If you have more of a collector's mindset, your decision is already made for you, as there's no value in collecting digital comics other than that you'll have them to read.

Keep in mind, however, that even comics as old as the 1980s or 1990s often have very little value.

Why? Because people started seeing old comics sell for massive sums and figured they'd collect new issues in the hope that they'd someday be worth something. This is why everyone and their brother has a copy of The Death of Superman.

The Case for Digital Comics

If you're a minimalist, you might not enjoy the longboxes filled with comics that will eventually start piling up if you're buying physical comics.

With digital comics, you can have a massive collection that is only as large as the iPad, Android Tablet, or Kindle you use to read them.

If you don't live near a local comic shop, getting new issues in paper can either mean a long drive or ordering them online.

Both of these increase the overall cost of buying your comics. They also mean that you may not get to read new comics when they're first out unless you make a long drive a few times per week.

When you look at the cost of a digital comic and its paper counterpoint, you might wonder why the prices are so close.

Digital comics aren't cheap on day one, but you can offset this will sales. Sites like Comixology often bundle several issues for the price of one, not to mention digital trades.

You also have subscription services like Marvel Unlimited, DC Universe, and Comixology Unlimited where you get access to a wide range of comics for a small monthly fee.

Why Not Both?

Nobody ever said you had to pick one or the other. For example, there are plenty of people who buy digital single issues but prefer to buy trade paperbacks for collections. This gives you the best of both worlds and won't start eating up space too quickly.

This works if you're a collector as well, since you can stick to digital for the comics you want to read. Meanwhile, issues you're collecting can stay safely bagged and boarded. When you want to read a classic issue, turn to digital.