UPDATE: I’ve since changed my tune on this. I am now almost exclusively using the Comixology app. It has the best selection, the reading experience beats everyone else, the prices are fair, and they have sales all the time. They still don’t have DC collected titles but the individual price usually isn’t too much more expensive and buying on Amazon is always available as well.
Amazon just updated their Kindle for Android app to support digital comics. Previously this functionality was only available on the Kindle Fire. This is app finally figures out how digital comics should work.
I have been reading pirated comics for years. Not because it’s free, but because it’s been a lot easier than official channels. This is the same argument that consumers have been trying to make for years with other digital media as well. Until the past year or so, there was not a convenient way to read digital comics on the go. Before, your only option was on the computer. Now both major comic publishers (Marvel and DC), as well as minor companies have apps through Comixology. Those apps are pretty nice but come with disadvantages galore, the main one being price. There is no discount for buying multiple comics; you can’t buy compiled graphic novels (my preferred reading method) and there is no cheaper subscription model like with physical comics.
The other major downfall of current digital comic consumption is the actual reading mechanics, which even the pirated comic readers fall short with. Everything is fine on a large screen such as a computer or tablet, but not when you want to read one on a smaller phone screen. The official apps work great when comics are specifically made for them. There is a zoom function that will enlarge each panel as you go, but the older comics that I tested didn’t have this “smart” zoom capability and were limited to a manual zoom and pan on each page. The pirated comic readers have the same manual zoom function.
In my opinion, Amazon fixes both of these issues. While some people may prefer reading a comic at a time as they come out, I like waiting for a storyline to complete before I read it. It’s also cheaper this way because you purchase a compiled graphic novel instead of each comic. Amazon offers graphic novels to purchase and they seem to be cheaper than their physical counter parts. Amazon also offers the best reading experience on a phone. You just double tap on a section and it will automatically enlarge the panel or chunk of text, for every comic. Then you just swipe to the left like you would normally turn a page and it goes to the next section.
The two downsides to Amazon, currently, is that their selection seems to be limited to major DC titles and their affiliates, and no individual comic purchases. However, I can ignore both personally because I happen to favor DC comics and graphic novels. Plus, both of these could easily be changed in the future. If you’re a comic fan at all, I think this is the new way to go for digital comic reading.