Although it was announced several weeks ago, I thought it’d be worth noting anyway: Archie Comics’ books are now available through Google Play’s digital media store.
The comics offered include some back catalog of books, as well as offering same-day digital versions of the paper books. Comics bought through Google Play may be read using the “Play Books” smartphone app or directly in your browser. Like other online bookstores (unfortunately), the comics sold here are laden with DRM. However, unlike Comixology, there’s the option of downloading an actual file for use on various devices, a DRMed PDF, which may be read on a computer using Adobe Digital Editions.
(It’s possible to remove the PDF’s DRM via various means, letting one keep one’s purchases unmaimed by DRM. No, I’m not advocating piracy, just the right to actually own what one paid money for…)
I tested the new Archie offerings via the 99-cent sale they held late April with the service’s launch, by buying the “Sabrina the Teenage Witch: 50 Magical Stories” volume offered. The stories (a compilation of various Sabrina stories over the decades) are entertaining, of course, but unfortunately, the comic itself has some severe quality issues. At least several stories are printed entirely as if someone had flipped a negative or something: all black with white outlines for the artwork, and no colors. The feature to download the PDF version is also disabled; the link leads to a “404” error page. While I only paid 99 cents, I think I’d be greatly annoyed if I’d paid full price.
Fortunately, several other comics (offered for free as samples) were printed correctly, and with their PDF download options functioning normally. The “Play Books” app seems to work well enough for reading comics, as they looked fine on my Nexus 7.
Overall, seeing more options to buy digital comics is a good thing. It’s also good that Google Play is using an actual non-proprietary file format (unlike Comixology) for its comics, DRM aside. Given Barnes and Noble’s possibly shaky future with the Nook/Nook Store, an alternative digital comics venue is nice. Hopefully DC and (especially) Marvel will follow suit in expanding their same-day digital offerings to Google Play.