Over at Ain't It Cool News there is a roundtable discussion regarding the much-reviled, widely-discussed DC Reboot. I haven't been a reader of the Marvel/DC axis for literally decades, so many discussions of the individual titles (Infinite Earths in its infinite permutations, for one) are lost on me. But there is a ton of meat in this piece re: the health and future of the comics industry as a whole, which has — like the rest of print publishing — been derailing slowly for a long time and is now finally about to hit the wall.
... I almost think the world of comics needs a "reboot", though apparently that's not what this is exactly. Right now the model of comics is to bleed dry a meager and dwindling fanbase that is left in print and make your money putting those same properties on the big screen. Not only is that business model [completely] insane and I don't get how people get paid to consciously maintain that decision-making process, but it obviously cannot endure.
I think the word he's looking for is unsustainable, which I completely agree with. The general unsustainability of the industry is made all the clearer by the discussion of digital vs. print later on in the piece: the hustle is on to make digital the primary medium, with print being the "collector's" format. That means printing costs will almost certainly go up even further, and that books that use print as a medium will be shortchanged all the more.
Not long ago I finished reading the first volume of Adam Hines's unclassifiable indie comic Duncan the Wonder Dog, available in a large-format volume for a limited time. Adam's website also seems to have the whole thing digitally, but reading it on an eye-cramping screen is like "watching movies through a mail slot" (as someone else once complained about letterboxing films like Lawrence of Arabia for 1.33:1 TVs). There was no substitute for holding the book in my hand, spreading it across my lap, and putting my nose to within an inch of the page.
We have been lucky, I suppose, in that we have had both the resources and the social privileges to provide printed books to so many people for so long. That age is not gone yet, but the sun's hitting the horizon, and we're now entering an age where a printed page may become a rarefied luxury. I don't expect digital devices to deliver anything like what a printed book could offer, at least not until there are a couple more breakthroughs in how display technology can work — and even then, is that really a substitute? Is it better to have only a picture of a Vermeer when the original seems to glow with inner light, even if you have to go to the museum to see that curious phenomenon with your own eyes?
What's worse is that, if the AICN guys are right, there might well be many of us who never knew what went missing.