Monday, April 20, 2009

From Link to Ink: When Webcomics become Books

Randall Munroe's popular online comic strip 'xkcd' will soon be available in the book form.
So, are we seeing an all-too-rare example of the triumph of print books over digital content? Does even an online legend like the 24-year-old Mr. Munroe crave the respectability of print?

In fact, the xkcd story previews the much more likely future of books in which they are prized as artifacts, not as mechanisms for delivering written material to readers. This is print book as vinyl record — admired for its look and feel, its cover art, and relative permanence — but not so much for convenience.

The book — with the working title “xkcd,” though Mr. Ohanian says it may carry a subtitle like “a book of romance, sarcasm, math and language” — will not initially be sold in bookstores, and probably never in the big chains. Instead, it will be sold through the xkcd Web site.

Naturally, without an established publisher and with a devoted fan base online, the book will not be promoted through traditional publicity. Rather, the plan is to rely on word-of-keyboard.

Does that mean that the book won’t carry a traditional copyright and instead take its lead from the online comic strip itself, which Mr. Munroe licenses under Creative Commons, allowing noncommercial re-use as long as credit is given?

“To anyone who wants to photocopy, bind, and give a copy of the book to their loved one — more power to them,” he said. “He/She will likely be disappointed that you’re so cheap, though.”
Read the entire article here.

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