Diamond Previews is a staple of the local comic shop; it lists upcoming items for sale, two months in advance. Images of the covers, creative team and a brief summary of the item, usually a paragraph, are standard fare. These solicitations are provided by the publishers and Diamond puts them together into a four hundred plus page printed catalogue and retails it for $4.450 USD, although retailers normally offer it at a discount for regular subscribers.

Initially this kind of product was only available retailers so they could get their orders in, but a good while ago Diamond and Capital (a competitor since gone) saw the opportunity to offer these previews as a retail item and it was win-win: fans could get a good look at what was in the pipeline and those fans could pre-order these items from their local comic shop, who now had a better idea of what would sell. Life was good.

Then along came this internet thing. It took a while but publishers released that same publishing information to comic news sites like Comic Book Resources and Newsarama; fans could get their info before Previews published it and for free. Unfortunately those news site posts lacked the fit and finish of the published Previews catalogue. Enter Comixology.

I was a little behind in setting up a Comixology account, but once I did I started a virtual pull list based on concise and searchable material; the same as is provided by Previews. I’m guessing they get the info from Diamond since there’s a banner that says “Previews Catalog” when you log in. As well you can enter your tax rate and any discount received so you can see what you’re going to be spending that week or month on comics. Get an email every Wednesday with your list of books and you’ll never miss a thing. Install the mobile app, I use the iOS version, an all that information is always with you. It’s slick and very useful; here’s what I get today.

Comixology is the main platform for digital comics and as such has become the focus of their site. Recently the subscriber aspect I enjoy moved to a new section called Print Comics, which seems reasonable. They offer tools for retailers as well: cover galleries, subscriber pull lists and more. The retailers I’ve spoken with seem hesitant to take part since inevitably there will be some cross promotion or linking to Comixology’s digital offerings. Whether this is real or perceived it’s a sticking point for retailers to take advantage of this wonderful service.

It recently dawned on me that perhaps I was selling Previews short, so I headed to their website and perused. No comparison. A jumbled and difficult to navigate site greets you, offering previews and shipping lists in a blog format. Clicking on New Releases brought me to a text list of title names, prices, Diamond codes and a few covers. The site is a supplement to the print Previews and doesn’t offer the same content.

In the end Comixology is the best choice for managing your comics purchases. Previews does a decent job as a print catalogue but cannot compete in this digital age.