How DRM-free made me buy and DRM made me stop

I’m a subscriber to offers from the Humble Bundle website. Humble Bundle gets permission from publishers of games, ebooks, audiobooks and graphic novels to package DRM-free versions of their products into Bundles. In the case of ebooks and graphic novels, these are often the first item in a series.

There can be a few dozen or more titles in a Bundle. You have to buy the whole bundle, but you set the price you want to pay. Usually if you pay more than the average person, you’ll get extra materials. Half of your purchase price goes to a charity of Humble Bundle’s choice. Any particular Bundle is only sold for a limited time, but some Bundle is always on offer.

Awhile back I chose to purchase a Bundle of Star Wars comics. It was a mix of old and newer Star Wars comics and I really enjoyed about 90% of the offerings from Dark Horse Comics. I was able to download them as DRM-free PDF files and read them on my tablet laptop. One of the offerings was Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago #1. I was DELIGHTED to find that this was in fact a compilation of the first 26 issues of the Marvel Star Wars comics from the 1980s. I loved this set growing up but had lost track of it before the adaptation of Return of the Jedi.

I was instantly hooked. Once I got to the end, I immediately jumped over to Dark Horse Comics and bought volumes 2-5 of the Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago. I figured once I finished reading those, I might buy some of the newer Star Wars comics that looked intriguing – ones set after Luke and the others departed the scene, some contemporary with the original trilogy but which had other characters and some comics set in the days of the Old Republic.

But volumes 2-5 were my only purchases from Dark Horse. In my haste to reacquaint myself with the comics of my youth, I didn’t read the fine print till after my purchase. There were only two ways to read my comics from Dark Horse:

1) I could read them in my web browser on my tablet laptop IF I had a live connection to the internet. So if I was between wifi hot spots, I was out of luck.

2) I could download them to my Android phone and read them with the Dark Horse Comics apps. This gave me the freedom to read whereever, but only on a 3 inch screen.

Each of these DRM-driven reading methods had a real reading impairing¬†experience on them. I did a mix of the two but wasn’t really happy with either one. At one point I downloaded an Android emulator onto my Windows 8 laptop so I could have offline reading on a larger screen, but the emulator would not run the Dark Horse Comics app. There was no Windows 8 app for Dark Horse.

So, since the DRM’d Dark Horse Comics couldn’t give me the same reading experience as the DRM free issues I got from Humble Bundle, I’m not buying any more comics from them. My first and only order had been for $40 and they could have had a lot more from me. But not if my only choices are reasonable size reading tethered to internet or read anywhere on a small phone screen. I just don’t love Star Wars THAT much.

On a non-technical note. If you own a tablet that can run the Dark Horse Comics app, you still don’t want to waste your time with Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago v.5. In my opinion, the storylines took a steep nosedive after they concluded the adaption of Return of the Jedi. It was like they ran out of meaningful things to say.

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