In 2009 I bought a Kindle mostly out of curiosity. I thought for sure I’d turn it one, flip around the store, download a book, read a few pages, and put it up for sale on Craigslist the next day. Instead, I downloaded a book and promptly read for four hours straight. Short of a full year later I ended up reading more books than I had in the last decade. It’s a great device, something I can’t imagine living without now, but it has always had one short coming: no comics, no trades, or graphic novels.
Long time readers will know that I normally don’t gush about products in this space but my bet is that you’re going to want to know about Panelfly. It’s Kindle for comics and it’s off to a great start. This is the kind of app that I’m hoping everyone will download, use, and support because I’d like to see it succeed (rather than have Marvel, DC., Darkhorse, etc., create their own reader). Ever since using the Kindle 2 I’ve wanted a comic shop in a box and that’s exactly what Panelfly delivers. It’s already getting more use than any other leisure app on my iPhone right now and I can’t imagine how much better it’s going to be on the iPad with it’s faster processor and larger screen.
As a bonus Panelfly happens to be well designed and a pleasure to use. Upon opening the main menu sits on top of cover art from one of the issues in your library. This type of treatment continues throughout the Library where all of your issues are stored and initially listed by title (the list can also be sorted by publisher, author, artist, and genre). The store will be familiar territory though it should be noted that it’s not a knock-off of iTunes Store but just as easy to use. Users are able to browse issues just as you would in a comic shop, by opening the book and taking a look inside. Purchasing requires setup of an account but after that it’s as simple as Amazon’s One-Click. The hardest part of this application will be to resist buying almost everything that comes out on a weekly basis. Thankfully issue prices are not as expensive as printed issues and there are a number of free books available. A practice I presume will keep going as publishers continue to seek new readers.