Comics Plus: Library Edition Launches at ALA

Posted by at 9:47 am on June 28, 2013

Comics Plus LogoAt a time when public libraries are often at odds with publishers over making their titles available for digital lending, a new service looks to offer an easy-to-use, budget-conscious model for circulating graphic novels that provides libraries with a popular medium and publishers with both a new discoverability channel as well as a new revenue stream.

Comics Plus: Library Edition is a cloud-based service that allows libraries to offer unlimited simultaneous checkouts (libraries are often required to loan digital e-books as if they were physical books and are prohibited from loaning more digital copies than available), a wide selection of titles and genres, content control for age and maturity, and data analysis and circulation statistics from checkouts.

The service is accessible from virtually any computing device, no contracts are necessary and libraries can end the service with a month’s notice. Libraries set up an account with a pre-set budget limit and the C+ Library Edition system alerts the librarian when funds are running low or halts lending when the budget limit is reached. The system also offers more than 600 free digital comics, which remain available to patrons in the event of a budget cutoff. Checkouts last a week.

The service was devised by cartoonist Josh Elder, account director at iVerse Media, and also the founder of Reading with Pictures, a nonprofit effort to encourage the use of comics in the classroom. In a phone interview Elder, said he developed the model from talking with librarians around the country about the problems they have acquiring graphic novels.

He brought the concept to Iverse Media CEO and founder Michael Murphey. Iverse is a digital distribution platform that specializes in comics as well as other media. “We were very enthusiastic about his proposal. Iverse’s whole basis is to expand the market for digital comics. The library market is perfect place to try out new comics, especially from indie publishers. It’s a way to find and discover new stories and great characters.” Murphey emphasized that the system offers, “no risk for libraries, the system won’t charge you more than you budget and there’s no waste.”

Other publishers supplying digital comics titles via Comics Plus: Library Edition include Capstone, Archaia, Toon Books, Zenescope, Bluewater, Ape Entertainment, Andrews McMeel, Antarctic Press, Digital Manga and more. Titles include Naruto, Bleach and Dragon Ball from Viz, and even Christian comics from Kingstone Media.

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