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Questions in the Age of Media Machines

A column article, Mission: Professional by: Steven Savage

Pay attention. Things just got real thanks to GameStop and Amazon. Actually, kind of surreal.

Of course Amazon is a game changer, as we know from every other tech story of the last week - they just announced the Kindle Fire, their sub-$200 tablet which is really a sort of glorified media device. Oh it's a glorified media device I'm probably gonna buy, but it's not designed to be a high-powered tablet, it's designed for media consumption.

Then there's GameStop. They're talking about branding a game machine. Makes sense, but consider that once people have a game machine, they may want to do something else with it . . . like read books, watch movies, and of course, pursue comics. Otherwise it's just a glorified DS.

We've got two large companies planning to release/brand devices specifically tailored at media consumption, and in one case one so cheap that it's practically a casual purchase.

What does it mean for comics? Pretty simple - people are going to use these things to read them, and publishers large and small will want a presence on these devices. In fact it looks like Amazon has something going on with ComiXology

Those of us who work in comics need to start asking questions about what's going on and what's going to happen because in a few months we suddenly entered an age where the Tablet has spun off the Media Machine.

Ask yourself:

  • How will people get comics onto these devices - will there be many ways, or will someone become a kind of gatekeeper?
  • Will alliances with media companies making these Media Machines squeeze out competitors?
  • How many different formats will you have to get your comics into to publish them to a wide audience?
  • Will Amazon or GameStop's branding partner try yet ANOTHER form of eComics in the future?
  • Will anyone else want a piece of the Media Machine market, and what will their interest in comics be?
  • What deals are going on right now that we haven't thought about?

If you're involved in comics, especially doing smaller-press stuff, consider yourself on full scale news alert for the next six months. Your world is probably going to change - but you can get ready for it by trying to find the answers to those questions.

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