|Target Users||Comic book readers|
|Nature of the initiative||Public|
Belgium has a strong tradition in the field of cartoons/comic books. Two of the leading cartoon publishers of Flanders have bundled their forces in a project to set up a digital platform for comics in collaboration with technological partner Crius and with the support of the research institute, the Media Innovation Centre (iMinds Mix). The goal of this project is to develop a central platform with innovative tools for the digitization and enrichment of cartoons so that different generations of readers will be able to enjoy a unique and adapted reading experience. A wide array of titles will be made available, even the titles that can no longer be found in the physical shop. Once the platform is up and running, and the future of cartoons as part of Belgian cultural heritage is secured in the digital environment, the platform will be open to all publishers.
There is a lack of technological tools available for the digital creation, enrichment, personalization and distribution of comic books, which are an important segment of the book market in Belgium and require specific technological knowledge due to the complexity of enriched digital comics. Users are increasingly interested in a digital copy of their comic books that can be consulted on the device and network of their personal choice. A central digital platform tailored to the needs of this specific market segment and to the needs of a growing group of fans of every kind of age requires strong technological skills and investments in technological developments.
The bundling of content, technological skills and knowledge by the publishing sector is indispensable in a very competitive market that is undergoing significant economic and technological developments. The development of the central platform is facilitated by the public support in the form of collaboration with research institutes that conduct studies with regard to the economic feasibility of the central platform and the way the platform is received by a hard core of fans of different ages.
The role of technology
As explained above, the enrichment of complex digital comics requires technological research and skills. The project bundles the existing knowledge of two leading publishing companies with the skills of a technological partner, Crius, to develop a central digital platform, tailored to the characteristics of comic books. Readers will be able to find comic books of a wide array, also the ones that are no longer physically in store (long tail). The platform will ensure the digitization of an important part of the Belgian cultural book heritage and will be opened up to all publishers in this field once it’s been launched.
The project started on 1 November 2013 and will end on 31 October 2014.
Yieha is expected to be launched to the general public in the first half of 2015.