The New York Timesprofiles the very young and very successful webcartoonist Randall Munroe of xkcd. Their focus seems to me very odd. Munroe's strip seems perfectly suited as a project that might eschew traditional book publishers for the print arm of a on-line merchandising agent, and I have to imagine his book collection has every chance to do extremely well under that arrangement. If someone in Vegas would like to offer odds, I'll take the print-run over.
Asserting some sort of game-changing status for such a move seems to me to invest traditional book publishing with a power and dominance in comics generally and collecting webcomics specifically it doesn't come close to deserving. It may also grant the Times the ability to "call" a cultural moment it hasn't earned, either. Looking at what you do well and finding the publishing platform that best suits your tastes and skills and ability to reach an audience is something people have been doing in comics for four decades now: it's what links Robert Crumb to Dave Sim to Studio Foglio. It's still early enough in webcomics history I look forward to any number of variations on publishing models shaking themselves to the surface in the years ahead.