Comic book fans got a surprise on Thursday when it was announced that Amazon will acquire the digital comics platform comiXology. ComiXology has become the biggest digital distributor for comics and is also one of the top non-game apps in terms of in-app purchases. There are not a lot of details at this time on how the acquisition will affect current users of the platform.
In an announcement on comiXology’s website, CEO David Steinberger said “ComiXology will retain its identity as an Amazon subsidiary and we’re not done ‘taking comics further’”.
ComiXology was launched in 2007 as a website designed to bring comics into the digital world and they have gone on to become the leader in digital distribution of comic books, largely thanks to their mobile app and their Guided View Technology. Guided View allows readers to read their comic one panel at a time, making it possible to read a comic on the smaller screen of a mobile phone. The comiXology app has consistently been one the top grossing iPad apps in iTunes.
I will be very interested to see how this works for the company, the audience, and the creators of the comics involved. You have to assume that Amazon is now going to get a piece of the money spent every time a comic is sold. With comiXology and the comics publishers taking their own piece already, you might worry how much will make its way to the actual creators. On the other hand, the hope has to be that the increased market Amazon will provide will off-set any loses in per-sale royalties to the creators.
In terms of losing customers from the brick and mortar comic stores to the juggernaut that is Amazon, I’m not sure if there should be that much concern that this move will damage stores the way Amazon damaged the standard book store business model. I would think that most comic fans that were going to buy their comic digitally have already made the transition, and that being bought by Amazon will not be a major selling point. Sure, Amazon may be more financially secure, and readers will be less worried about their digital collection going away if comiXology folded (comiXology uses DRM to maintain security, and readers do not “own” copies of the comics the purchase). But it’s not like comiXology was in much danger of folding before the sale to Amazon. And with some comics fans independent nature, you may see some fans stop using comiXology and go back to buying from a store.
Hopefully, this will be a good thing for all parties, with Amazon’s reach bringing new readers into the fine world of comics, making it easier for creators of every level to make a living of their works.
You can read comiXology’s statement here and see the full press release for the announcement here below.
SEATTLE—April 10, 2014—(NASDAQ: AMZN)—Amazon.com today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire comiXology, the company that revolutionized the digital comics reading experience with their immersive Guided View technology and makes discovering, buying, and reading comic books and graphic novels easier and more fun than ever before.
“ComiXology’s mission is to spread the love of comics and graphic novels in all forms,” said David Steinberger, co-founder and CEO of comiXology. “There is no better home for comiXology than Amazon to see this vision through. Working together, we look to accelerate a new age for comic books and graphic novels.”
“Amazon and comiXology share a passion for reinventing reading in a digital world,” said David Naggar, Amazon Vice President, Content Acquisition and Independent Publishing. “We’ve long admired the passion comiXology brings to changing the way we buy and read comics and graphic novels. We look forward to investing in the business, growing the team, and together, bringing comics and graphic novels to even more readers.”
Founded in 2007, comiXology offers a broad library of digital comic book content from over 75 of the top publishers as well as top independent creators. Following the acquisition, comiXology’s headquarters will remain in New York.
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Subject to various closing conditions, the acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014.