I've wondered about this for a while, and think in our modern world it may make some sense. Here me out.
When you ask many comic book readers (or former readers) why the don't but books, or don't buy more books, most times it comes down to money. Let's face it, comics are expensive. Especially if you read multiple titles a month, throw in a mini series or two, and the occasional one shot.
When the fans (or fanboys) squawk about the costs of comic books, the industry repsponds with rising costs of materials and distribution being the culprit to increased costs.
My long winded question is this: If companies like Marvel or DC offered an online subscription for say, 45 cents a title, would you buy them? Just thinking out loud here, but Marvel could give you a subscription username and password, and every month when a new issue drops on your subscribed tites, you go to the website log in and start reading. (This would also increase hits to their website, which also helps with revenue.) I'm thinking for the subscriber, they'd get an archive of the purchased titles so essentially they're their's for future reference. The cost per issue would be a fraction of what they are now, due to eliminating the costs of paper, distribution, etc.
The long time collector may come back with "I like to have an actual book in my hands...in my collection" to which I can't argue. But I'd think that for me, I'd use a digital option to try new titles, or get titles I'd normally not plunk the 2-3 bucks down to buy. I'd supliment my current traditional collecting practices, with that of a new inexpensive option to read even more titles that I otherwise may not be able to afford.
I really think that in our modern digital world, this is a natural transition for the comic book industry. Traditionalists my not accept it, but I know I'd be more inclined to purchase more titles if the costs were down.