Comics business has generally been on an upward trajectory of late, but there are several signs that’s things are slowing down a bit. No disaster, maybe just a leveling out as some sales methods used to goose things (variant covers and so on) lose some of their punch. So no surprise that a few raw “state of the industry” pieces are coming out.
Rob Salkowitz looks at the digital end of things and concludes that Amazon is an even bigger player than ever, as they’ve not only renewed their deal with marvel but been quietly phasing out the independent publisher apps that got them starter:
In June Amazon announced that Marvel had extended its exclusive distribution deal with Comixology (adding 12,000 periodicals to Amazon) for single issues, covering both the Comics by Comixology and Kindle reading platforms. Marvel dominates the single-issue market with a 41% dollar share and a 43% unit share, according to the most recent industry statistics. More importantly, Marvel comics are the gateway to merchandise and media franchises worth billions—something that Amazon certainly understands. The exclusive deal with Marvel is a major competitive advantage. It is hard to see how a competing comics distribution platform could be useful to Google or Apple without Marvel in its catalogue.
In a less publicized move, Comixology has been winding up its white-label deals with second-tier publishers, driving them to look for other technical partners to support their branded apps. Customers can still buy comics from those publishers through Comixology’s storefront, and the company continues to support high-revenue branded apps from Marvel, DC, Image, and the Walking Dead.
Madefire has indeed become to the go to for standalone publisher apps, with IDW and Kodansha ending up there there. However, given Amazon’s aggressive policies in the online retail world in general, it’s so surprise that Comixology would ne at the top of the heap in digital despite a plethora of would be comics Netflix series that launch seemingly weekly.
There is a bit of chafing out there. In a story that attracted little attention from earlier this year, Bongo Comics left Comixology, although given the lack of attention anything Bongo—one of the longest running indie comics companies and one of the most successful—get from the comics media I’m not too surprised. This could be a Fox/Amazon thing, a Groening/Amazon thing or just a thing. At any rate, the Comixology domination of the digital comics field seems to be working thus far, and the folks at Comixology remain as smart and comics-focused as they ever were.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.