By Bruce Lidl
The first review of the Vox hit the web today, and it was quite positive, especially about the “social reading” aspects of the tablet. Time will tell how popular tweeting your favorite passages will become with Vox owners. More interestingly, Kobo, like Amazon with the Kindle Fire, has identified comics and graphic novels as potentially strong sellers for a color device, and according to the reviewer, has included a free Archie comic for Kobo purchasers. Currently there are no comics or graphic novels available for purchase in the Kobo ebook store, but that looks to change. And because of the ability to side-load Android apps, Vox owners should have access to graphic novels from the Amazon Kindle store and comics from the comiXology, Graphicly and comic publishing company stores. So for those customers looking for a low cost color e-reader for digital comics, but are not interested or able to take advantage of Amazon’s broader content strategy, the Kobo Vox might be a viable alternative.
According to Amazon, the response to the Kindle Fire has been far beyond what even they had predicted, and there will be millions of them in users’ hands mere weeks after the official release. Combined with the ongoing tidal wave of iPad sales, add in Kobo’s Vox sales, and we are about to enter a new era of color digital book consumption, ideally poised for digital comic books, in a way smart phones just do not provide. Inevitably, a certain percentage of the comics read on these new devices will not come from legitimate sources, but will be downloaded pirated comics. Jim Mroczkowski’s ongoing series of interviews with comic pirates makes clear that from a supply standpoint, motivated readers will continue to have access to high quality scans of every single comic printed, usually on the day of its release. It will be interesting to see how the proliferation of new devices affects both legal sales and illegal downloads, although the interplay between the two remains controversial. The large entertainment conglomerates, including the parent companies of both DC and Marvel, are nonetheless pushing hard for new harsher laws to regulate the Internet. Digital civil liberties groups have raised strong objections to the new laws, but with the backing of big content and their lobbying might, the odds are certainly in favor of passage.