April 26, 2014

Amazon Ruined Comixology

Amazon just set digital comics back three years. They bought Comixology, the largest digital comics reseller and service, a while back and although Amazon has a decent track record pertaining acquisitions and their ongoing existence, this is one they botched right away.

You used to be able to buy comics from within the Comixology app, via an in-app purchase. Simple and effective, because this meant you opened the app just to see if there was something interesting to read. Tap, comic bought, and start reading right away.

Now you can’t do that anymore.

Comixology acts much like the Kindle app, where you have to purchase your books from amazon.com. The same is now true for Comixology, but Amazon is swapped for comixology.com. All this because Amazon doesn’t want to pay Apple the 30% cut of in-app purchases.

This is a horrible way to treat Comixology users, who’ve been enjoying a seamless experience from comic discovery, to legal purchase, to reading.

This will no doubt mean that digital comic sales will plummet, because it’s just not an intuitive way to browse and buy comics On a website you use for nothing else. You want to browse comics in the app, and start reading immediately. You definitely want to do that in the app if it’s something you’ve grown accustomed to.

What will lower digital comics sales mean? The unified storefront that Comixology is will be threatened by niche alternatives. I’m all for that as a principle, but when Marvel and DC start to withhold their releases because they make more money selling comics in their own apps, where people will be able to actually discover and buy comics with ease, the landscape will be scattered once more. Marvel and DC will gladly share 30% with Apple if they come out in front, they’re used to that and more already. Amazon will force them to launch their own storefronts by making digital comic sales drop by doing this to Comixology.

This is a sad day for readers of digital comics. A sad day indeed.

Comixology outlines the changes on their blog, and @bjehrenreich points out that the Comixology powered Marvel and DC Comics apps still offer in-app purchases, which means that the fragmentation might kick in sooner than you’d think.

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