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Good news, dudes: Ladies read comics, too

The comic book geek stereotype is alive and well, but it’s as tired as magical resurrections. Forget visions of ponytailed dudes criticizing the picks of pimpled teen boys. The real comic book buying and reading experience—and the audience—is changing.

ComiXology offers a cross-platform reading experience.

ComiXology, widely considered the iTunes store of comic books in its breadth of selection (and its prices), on Wednesday said readership is changing with the advent of digital comics. A new customer is emerging: She’s 17-26 years old, college-educated, lives in the suburbs, and is new to comics. She prefers Tumblr to Reddit. She may have never even picked up a print comic.

When ComiXology launched six years ago, less than 5 percent of its users were women. Now ladies comprise 20 percent of the site’s readership.

The move of physical media to the cloud is helping this new reader discover comics for the first time. Now newbies and long-time fans alike can sample selections for free or cheap on sites like ComiXology, which offers thousands of major titles and hundreds of independent books on the Web and its iOS, Android, Kindle, and Windows Phone apps . They can also turn to Apple’s iBooks store, to an extent, and Amazon, which is soon launching its Jet City comic book label for Kindle with headlining author George R. R. Martin.

Digital vs. print

There are some who feel like the Web is destroying print comics, but ComiXology CEO David Steinberger disagrees.

“It was already a fractured, poorly distributed market,” he said at a Wednesday press briefing before New York Comic-Con kicks off this weekend.

Before digital comics, the medium’s audience was limited to diehards who would seek out their favorite books at the local comic shop.

And print comics are still selling at a steady clip. Sales at comic book stores have been climbing—in September, sales were up 23.4 percent year-over-year. Digital downloads are also up: It took ComiXology three years to reach 100 million downloads, and just one year to hit 200 million. It celebrated that milestone last month.

It helps that the company has gathered the mammoth publishers, including new deals to carry DC Comics’ collected editions and Avatar Press’ racy titles.

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