Sales Charts: The Best selling graphic novels on Amazon in 2014

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By David Carter

[David Carter is the author of our monthly DC sales charts but he also hosts his own site, Yet Another Comics Blog, where he catalogs Amazon’s graphic novel sales each week. Although these are a rolling average, They do provide some clues to what were the best selling books of the year. Take it away, David!]

Here are the top 50 comics from the YACB weekly Amazon Top 50 posts of 2014:

  1. Hyperbole and a Half (paperback)
  2. The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1
  3. The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 2
  4. Saga Volume 1
  5. Saga Volume 3
  6. Darth Vader and Son
  7. Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition
  8. Vader’s Little Princess
  9. The Walking Dead, Vol. 20: All Out War, Part 1
  10. The Walking Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War, Part 2
  11. Can’t We Walk About Something More Pleasant?
  12. Saga Volume 2
  13. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
  14. Hyperbole and a Half (Kindle)
  15. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  16. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You
  17. Watchmen
  18. Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History
  19. Star Wars: Jedi Academy vol. 2: Return of the Padawan
  20. The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel
  21. The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances
  22. The Walking Dead, Vol. 19: March to War
  23. The Complete Calvin & Hobbes (paperback)
  24. Goodnight Darth Vader
  25. Marvel Encyclopedia
  26. Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls (The New 52)
  27. The Sword Sword: The Graphic Novel
  28. Batman: Year One
  29. Attack on Titan 1
  30. Star Wars: Jedi Academy
  31. The Walking Dead, Vol. 22: A New Beginning
  32. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52)
  33. Seconds: A Graphic Novel
  34. Saga Volume 4
  35. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic
  36. Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family (The New 52)
  37. The Walking Dead Book 10
  38. The Complete Persepolis
  39. Sex Criminals Volume 1
  40. The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After
  41. Attack on Titan 2
  42. V for Vendetta
  43. Understanding Comics
  44. Batman: Death of the Family Book and Joker Mask Set
  45. Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year – Secret City (The New 52)
  46. Dilbert 2015 Day-to-Day Calendar
  47. American Born Chinese
  48. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye (Kindle)
  49. The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye
  50. The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

Methodology: I took my weekly (compiled on Fridays over at Yet Another Comics Blog) lists of Amazon Top 50 Comics & Graphic Novels, and for each week assigned a comic a numerical score equal to 51 minus its ranking; e.g. the #1 book got 50 points, the #2 book got 49 points, the #3 book got 48 points, etc., all the way down to the #50 book getting 1 point. I poured everything into a spreadsheet, and voila. You can download a spreadsheet with all of the data here.

Commentary:

  • As has happened for every year but one since I’ve started tracking these Amazon charts, the book that was #1 during the first week of the year ends up being the #1 item for the entire year. In this case it is Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half. (Note that’s just for the paperback edition; the Kindle edition came in at #14 for the year.) And that’s after having placed #9 in 2013. Hyperbole and a Half is a massive mainstream hit.
  • The Walking Dead places four collections in the Top Ten. The two Compendia, placing #2 & #3 in 2014, were #1 & #2 back in 2013. Again, a massive sales success, which is something that can be achieved when the TV show based on the comic is a top drama on television.
  • Without the benefit of any media tie-ins, two Saga collections take up the #4 & #5 spots for the year. Another collection comes in at #12, and Volume 4, not released until near the end of the year, charts at #34. Another mainstream sales success, all the more remarkable for there not being a movie or television show, just comics that people want to read because they’ve heard they’re good comics.
  • In all, 357 different items made the Amazon Top 50 chart for one or more weeks. Of those, six were on the chart for all 52 weeks in 2014: Hyperbole and a Half, The Walking Dead Compendia 1 & 2, Saga vols. 1 & 3, and Batman: The Killing Joke Deluxe Edition. Another five were on the chart for all but one of those weeks.
  • A whopping 227 items only showed up on the chart for just one week, including four items who spent their only week in the #1 position (all four were sale-priced Kindle editions).
  • DC’s presence on the 2014 top 50 is basically Batman titles, plus two Alan Moore works: Watchmen & V for Vendetta. Their top seller, Batman: The Killing Joke, is the perfect storm of a Batman comic written by Alan Moore.
  • Marvel doesn’t place any items in the 2014 Top 50 (note that the Marvel Encyclopedia is put out by DK, not Marvel). Their top book is the Kindle edition of Marvel 1602 (on sale price for several weeks in April & May) at #54, followed closely by the first Ms. Marvel collection at #56. Ms. Marvel didn’t come out until late in the year, and early indications in 2015 are that it will be a strong seller, perhaps finally giving Marvel a strong mainstream success in the book market.
  • The best-selling Manga title for 2014 was Attack on Titan, with two volumes ending the year in the top 50.

Publisher Count for the Top 50:

Image Comics: 16
DC Comics: 10
Andrews McMeel: 4
Touchstone Books: 2
Chronicle Books: 3
Pantheon: 3
Jet City Comics: 2
Kodansha: 2
Scholastic: 2
Ballantine: 1
Bloomsbury: 1
DK: 1
Mariner Books: 1
Square Fish: 1
William Morrow: 1

A few notes on the validity of all this: There’s very little. Amazon doesn’t release actual sales data, so we’re stuck with their relative sales rankings. I’ve written a somewhat lengthy missive on the gathering of the data and its meaning (or lack thereof) over at my regular blog here. But in short, this annual compilation is an abstraction of an abstraction of a surrogate for sales and should be taken with a sizable grain of salt.

Bonus to The Beat! Here are the next 50 items in the 2014 annual accounting:

  1. The Harlem Hellfighters
  2. The Walking Dead Book 1
  3. Attack on Titan 3
  4. Marvel 1602 (Kindle)
  5. NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette
  6. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal
  7. Civil War
  8. Maus II: A Survivor’s Tale: And Here My Trouble Began
  9. How About Never–Is Never Good for You?: My Life in Cartoons
  10. Big Nate: I Smell a Pop Quiz (Kindle)
  11. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  12. Dilbert 2014 Day-to-Day Calendar
  13. Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 1: Legacy (Kindle)
  14. Locke & Key: Alpha and Omega
  15. Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1
  16. xkcd: volume 0
  17. Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: The Complete Col. Vol 1
  18. The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel (Kindle)
  19. The Walking Dead Book 9
  20. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind
  21. Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year – Dark City (The New 52)
  22. Infinity Gauntlet
  23. Attack on Titan 12
  24. Stephen King’s N. (Kindle)
  25. Godzilla: Awakening
  26. The Walking Dead Vol. 20: All Out War, Part 1 (Kindle)
  27. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers
  28. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
  29. The Ultimate Minecraft Comic Book Vol. 1: The Curse of Herobrine
  30. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? (Kindle)
  31. Forever Evil (The New 52)
  32. Amazing Spider-Man: Spider-Verse
  33. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Kindle)
  34. Snoopy: Cowabunga! (Kindle)
  35. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Part 1
  36. The Forgotten Man Graphic Edition
  37. The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
  38. Maxine Boxed Calendar (2015)
  39. Injustice Year Two #3 (Kindle)
  40. Attack on Titan 13
  41. Snowpiercer Vol. 1: The Escape
  42. Attack on Titan 14
  43. The Complete Far Side (paperback)
  44. Attack on Titan 11
  45. My Dog, the Paradox
  46. Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery
  47. The Walking Dead Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us (Kindle)
  48. Injustice Year Two #2 (Kindle)
  49. Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift Part 3
  50. Injustice Year Two #4 (Kindle)

(A version of this article previously appeared on Yet Another Comics Blog.)

iVerse to relaunch ComicsPLUS in November with uView, import and more

 

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We all know that Amazon’s acquisition of Comixology changed the digital comics landscape. While the benefits that Amazon can bring for Comixology are evident, and still developing, it wasn’t without some steps backwards. When Comixology stopped making in-app purchases due to Amazon/Apple tensions, many publishers saw a drop in digital comics sales.

As we’ve noted before, other players are stepping in to promote their services.

So it should come as no surprise that ComicsPLUS, the digital comics app from iVerse that has long been the second player in the digital comics world, is getting a big makeover starting in November. iVerse CEO and owner Michael Murphey gave us a peek at the new app at New York Comic Con, and it has several shiny new features, including a new uView enhanced reading experience; enhanced search functions; a streamlined interface that offers comics series not only in chronological order but also a “Storyline” view that offers all the books in a given storyline. And the new app will also offer the ability to import any drm-free PDf, ebook or iTunes file into the service where it can be streamlined via uView and be searchable under its name.

uView is the ComicsPLUS version of “Guided View” and I’m told it does not conflict with the patent that Disney holds on that version of “enhanced viewing experience,” to give the non trademarked name for panels that zoom and flow on a tap. It’s entirely user controlled, and based on the preview Murphey gave me, it’s dead simple to use – you basically pinch and zoom to get panels moving in your preferred way. I’m not sure now many comics readers will want to go through all their comics and “uView them up” – but publishers or creators can also use this system themselves. In other words, yet another job for the intern.

I asked Murphey if this would lead to an iVerse version of Comixology’s “Submit” program and he pointed out that “we don’t turn people away.” Although they occasionally reject material that has problematic content, anyone can sell their comics via ComicsPLUS, and uView will offer a way for creators to take control over the viewing experience.

The “Storyline” feature is perfect for people who follow mainstream comics events. The revamped iVerse interface offers a very streamlines view of issues in a series, with the newest one on top. You can also see all the issues that tie in to a storyline—in reading order. Like I said, this is very useful if you’re catching up on Final Crisis or any Big Two event from the last 15 years. It would also be useful for something like Love and Rockets which has a twisting storylines that even experts have a hard time following. (Note, Fantagraphics books aren’t available on iVerse, I’m just spitballing here.)

The search function is basically a smoother application, and the goal is eventually to have a more “Netflix-like” interface. So if you read Punisher, for instance, you could be offered “more comics featuring amoral hitmen.”

Finally, there’s the import function, which for a digital hoarder such as myself could be useful. Basically any legally purchased book you own in epub or pdf format (possibly others, my notes are a bit hazy here) can be imported into the ComicsPLUS app and indexed along with your purchases in the app.

iVerse is definitely putting some muscle into this update, which will roll out starting in November. Some of the features will go live in early 2015. Of course, there is still the matter of publishers: iVerse offers Dynamite, Valiant, Marvel trades and many other publishers. But not DC at this point. Valiant has the biggest parnership with iVerse thus far, having put their entire library on the platform.

Is there room for another digital comics platform? I’m told that Apple would be thrilled to have their piece of the digital comics pie again: Comixology was frequently the top grossing app for iPad, and it firmly put digital comics on Apple’s radar. It was Amazon’s dislike of giving Apple their 30% cut of in-app purchases that led to them being removed from Comixology’s app. (You can still buy comics directly on the CX website, however.) So yeah, there are some pennies to be made there. If digital comics become some kind of status symbol in a tug of war between Apple and Amazon, it means more money thrown into the pot.

I’m also told several publishers are considering being available on multiple platforms for obvious reasons. Amazon’s feuds, price wars and heavy handed tactics are all well and good when you want to buy cheap pants, but you don’t want to get caught on the wrong side of the equation.

iVerse has developed into a player in the library market so it will be interesting to see where this goes.

 

iVerse to relaunch ComicsPLUS in November with uView, import and more

We all know that Amazon’s acquisition of Comixology changed the digital comics landscape. While the benefits that Amazon can bring for Comixology are evident, and still developing, it wasn’t without some steps backwards. When Comixology stopped making in-app purchases due to Amazon/Apple tensions, many publishers saw a drop in digital comics sales. As we’ve noted…

iVerse to relaunch ComicsPLUS in November with uView, import and more was originally published on The Beat

Neal Stephenson’s Cimarronin: A Samurai in New Spain is out on Amazon today

CIMARRONIN_01_CVR_Sammelin_CLR_AAmazon’s Jet CIty Comics imprint has been chugging along with a series of comics based on predominantly SF authors. including Hugh Howey, George RR MArtin and now Neal Stephenson, whose Cimarronin: A Samurai in New Spain just came out today. It’s based in the Foreworld shared universe that Stephenson and others have been developing. Illustrated by Robert Sammelin, this is Stephenson’s first actual comics, written by him and co-suthors Charles C. Mann, Mark Teppo and Ellis Amdur. The first issue is available as a Kindle Serial and on Comixology. Future issues will come out every three weeks, with the whole story eventually collected for both print and digital.

Foreworld itself—a shared world co-created by Stephenson and Teppo—is set in a world where a European martial arts tradition has evolved, resulting in a kind of Westernized Shaolin monks wandering the world.

Cimarronin follows in that milieu, with a tale set in the early 1600’s centering on Kitazume, a disgraced outcast samurai who teams up with a roue Jesuit priest in Manila to help deliver a Chinese princess to  Mexico. Throw in silver mines, scheming folks on both the Spanish and Chinese sides and escaped alves known as  the cimarrónes and you have globe trotting adventure 17th century style. Amazon has released the cover and some process art for a look at the series.

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Ron Perazza joins Amazon as Creative Director for Amazon Publishing

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Via tweets last night, industry veteran Ron Perazza announced that he’s left Marvel, where he served most recently as Director of Digital Publishing starting last year, and joined Amazon to as Creative Director of all of their digital publishing efforts. Perazza’s multi faceted career includes stints at Fleer, Marvel, DC (where he ran creative services and then rose to VP of Online and oversaw the Zuda webcomics launch), Marvel again and now Amazon. Perazza has relocated to Seattle for the position.

Amazon’s publishing includes a multitude of imprints, which cover mystery, SF, self-help, teens, and comics, under the Jet City Imprint, which has thus far concentrated on adaptations and extensions of best selling authors like Hugh Howey, George RR Martin and Neal Stephenson. Of course, one would expect Perazza to leave his mark on this area, but he has a wide portfolio where his expertise with digital formats and distribution will doubtless come in handy.

And we haven’t even mentioned Comixology, which comes is still in the process of adapting to Amazon’s systems.

All of this reminds me, what ever happened to Amazon’s licensed fanfic program, Kindle Worlds? Valiant signed up for this, but other comics publishers haven’t raced to allow approved fan fiction through the program, despite the obvious mountain of material.

While Amazon’s battle with Hachette and other publishers over pricing show no sign of being solved anytime soon, original publishing is also an important part of their product mix. Obviously, Perazza is going to be a busy guy. Congrats!

Marvel escapes from the jaws of Amazon-Hachette dispute; Yen press not so lucky

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For the last few weeks, a war has been brewing between Amazon and book publishing giant Hachette, which publishes Yen Press, and distributes Marvel’s graphic novels to the book trade. At stake: the trade terms between the two companies as Amazon is trying to make more money (something it actually doesn’t do too much of) and Hachette fighting back against what it saw as unfavorable terms. While this battle has been going on for a while, it wasn’t always public as upsetting Amazon wasn’t on everyone’s to do list. Now the war has gone public, and Amazon’s brutal strong arm tactics are pretty obvious: you can no longer pre-order many Hachette titles on Amazon, and discount have shrunk for the books you can order. Even those on sale have long wait times. Pretty nasty stuff, and now you see what some industry observers shuddered when Comixology was purchased by Amazon.

ICv2 was been tracking how this affects publishers, and at first Yen Press and even Marvel were caught in the fray, with many Marvel titles unavailable or slow to ship. However, a more recent check, reveals that Marvel titles are generally available again, while the pressure on Yen has gotten more acute:

Amazon’s relationship with Marvel appears to be back to normal.  All of the titles that were listed with long shipping delays two weeks ago not list Amazon’s customarily prompt shipping turnarounds.  And discounts also appear to now be in a more normal range on Marvel titles.  We also looked at a number of titles due for release in the coming months, including several Guardians of the Galaxy volumes, and found that pre-order listings were normal and offering shipment on the release date.

Yen Press, on the other hand, is now the victim of even more aggressive Amazon tactics to suppress its sales.  Two upcoming Yen manga launches, Gou-Dere Sora Nagihara and Love at Fourteen (see “Yen Press Announces New Manga”), are listed as “currently unavailable” on Amazon, but are being offered on other sites such as Barnes & Noble’s.  Amazon’s backlist availability remains delayed on many Yen volumes.  Not all Yen pre-orders are unavailable; Amazon is taking pre-orders for High School DXD Vol.1 for release this week.


ICv2 speculates that putting the onus on publishers Hachette merely distributes was counter productive; or Marvel may have made its own deal.

If all this sounds very medieval in its heavy handedness, it is. But that’s Why Amazon is as feared by suppliers as it is loved by customers.

Developing.

Is Apple fighting back against Amazon/Comixology with DC Comics special?

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When Amazon purchased leading digital comics provider Comixology and subsequently removed in-app purchases from Comixology on iOS devices to avoid paying Apple a 30% cut, the big question was whether Apple would notice and act or not. Motley Fool has a typical think piece on the matter here.

While Comixology absolutely put digital comics on the Apple map—CX was the #1 grossing non-game app on iPads, and Apple had definitely started chatting up some digital comics content providers—the total amount of money involved may not have been a painful loss to Apple. For instance, using back of the envelope math, Motley Fool guess that digital comics were a $75 million a year business, and Apple’s cut of that would be $22.5 million. Not exactly chump change, but really little more milk money for the oft inscrutable behemoth that is Apple.

However, a Beat correspondent just forwarded a promotional email from iBooks with the headline “Comics: Injustice Issues Free + Series Starters” which offers an iBook store deal on Injustice Among Us, which has been one of the top selling digital comics for months and months. As you can see from the screen shot, Apple is offering the first issues of both Injustice and Injustice Year Two as “jump on” issues. They also have special “starter” sections for Marvel, Dark Horse and IDW— all publishers with their own apps run via Comixology. Here’s the hype:

The DC Universe goes through a seismic shift after Superman faces a shocking tragedy. In this popular series, the last son of Krypton enforces peace on Earth by any means necessary, forcing the world’s heroes to decide if they’re with him — or against him.

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Get the first issues of both Injustice and Injustice: Year Two free for a limited time.


Individual issues of Injustice are still 99 cents. Graphic novels are at the ebook price, not the Amazonian deep discounts. So yeah maybe Apple wants to stay in the comics sale game?

That potential $22.5 million in revenue may not even be the biggest enticement for Apple to get into the game via iBooks, but rather the chance to stick it to rival Amazon. In the wake of the Comixology/Amazon deal, we hear publishers are looking for other e-outlets in at least a casual fashion, and Apple would make a pretty good replacement date for the tablet prom. And a war to see who could sell more digital comics between Amazon and Apple, would be pretty much a dream scenario for any medium.

Developing…

Commentary: An Inevitable Surprise—Amazon buys ComiXology


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by Rob Salkowitz

Is Amazon’s acquisition of comiXology the beginning of the end, or just the end of the beginning, of digital comics’ golden age?

It didn’t take a genius to predict that something was going to happen with comiXology this year. The company had come too far, too fast. The iron was hot. The only question was, what form would the exit take? IPO? Acquisition? If so, by whom?

Yesterday we found out. It was the short-odds bet, the prohibitive favorite, that ended up in the money.

Amazon was always the most likely home for the winner of the digital comics derby. I said as much in Comics and the Business of Pop Culture, which came out in 2012, but I wasn’t alone. The largest online merchant, purveyor and would-be publisher of digital content, and cloud computing host is simply too good a fit for the top cloud-based digital revenue app and self-publishing platform.

But now that it’s official, there’s a bit of a chill in the air, almost as cold as the champagne on ice at the comiXology offices. Yes, it’s great for them and it’s great for Amazon. But is it great for the rest of us?

Why now? Rumors had been flying about a comiXology exit for a while, and when the story of an Amazon acquisition surfaced a couple of weeks ago, no one was surprised. The company had been doing everything that you do when you want to get bought: primping itself up for the mainstream and business press, talking about growth and market opportunities rather than dwelling on previous successes, hiring executives who inspire confidence in the larger financial community, cutting costs by retrenching from previous sponsorships, and then going eerily quiet.

For those of us accustomed to a constant drumbeat of comiXology announcements, releases and infographics, this last detail was as sure a clue that something was up as the famous dog that didn’t bark.

Why worry? As inevitable as comiXology’s Amazon adventure seems in retrospect, it’s still a shock. Part of that is because it took the comics world a long time to warm up to the idea of digital distribution at all.

comiXology did many things right in its rise to the top in terms of technology, industry partnerships and outmaneuvering competitors, but no achievement ranks as highly as winning over the skeptics. It did that with a full-court press of above-and-beyond efforts to sustain the entire comics/fandom ecosystem, not just line its own pockets.

Unlike other digital upstarts who blithely predicted the demise of the old distribution system, comiXology bent over backward to allay fears, all the while suggesting that digital would help, not hurt, print.

Early in the game, comiXology created an affiliate program to enable brick and mortar retailers in comics’ embattled direct market to participate in revenues from digital sales, which the company recently upgraded to tablet-friendly HTML5 templates. While not a perfect solution, this program represents a greater effort than music or video distributors attempted in terms of sustaining a physical retail channel.

In early 2013, it launched the comiXology Submit! portal to enable self-publishers and independent creators to list their titles in comiXology’s catalog alongside branded best sellers. So far, the company has followed through on commitments to publicize and promote these works, and is working on a recommendation engine to bring lesser-known works to the attention of more mainstream fans.

comiXology has bestowed its largess across the fan landscape, becoming a name sponsor of many of the industry’s largest conventions, a benefactor of creator friendly groups like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and the host of lavish and popular parties at San Diego, New York, Baltimore and other large fan gatherings.

That’s a hell of a record, and a lot of it comes directly from CEO David Steinberger’s genuine affection for comics culture, combined with his rare ability to see business success as a broad, long-term goal – a mission seemingly shared by his entire team.

Is that affection or outlook shared by Amazon? As the Magic 8-ball would say, signs point to no.

What next? ComiXology trod a very narrow path toward a brand of success that was not a zero-sum gain. Ham-fisted management could mess things up in a variety of ways, including:

  • Violating the platform neutrality that has served comiXology well, tipping off some kind of war with Apple and Google, or somehow trying to lock people into the Kindle ecosystem.
  • Showing favoritism among publishers based on willingness to play ball with Amazon’s terms.
  • Driving one or both of the Big Two to think they’d be better off selling through their own channels than the unified storefront that offers fans so much convenience and choice.
  • Forcing creators into a less advantageous self-publishing situation than they currently enjoy with Submit.

Steinberger’s open letter on the acquisition yesterday assures fans and customers that “ComiXology will retain its identity as an Amazon subsidiary and we’re not anywhere near done “taking comics further.”

Press releases cite examples “from Audible to Zappos” of Amazon acquisitions that have been allowed to do business as usual, just with more support and a bigger platform. And it’s true that Amazon, unlike, say, Yahoo or Microsoft, does not have a record of smothering its adopted children under rolls of fat or strangling them in the crib.

That’s encouraging, but the plain fact is that independent and successful comiXology was a clean win for comics, fans, publishing and even brick and mortar retailers, whereas a comiXology nestled under the wing of a rapacious predator raises concern.

Endless summer? In my book, the forecast where Amazon acquired comiXology was part of a scenario called “Endless Summer,” wherein a highly-commercialized geek culture is dominated by giant corporate interests. Other features of that scenario include a Disney/Marvel theme park, a DC division entirely subsumed within Warner Entertainment (now merged with Facebook) out of Burbank, comic megaconventions as far as the eye can see, and the debut of a Power Man/Iron Fist musical on Broadway.

That wasn’t the only available future for geek culture in 2011/2012, but it certainly seems to be the one we are headed towards. And we just took another large step in that direction yesterday.

– Rob Salkowitz (@robsalk) is author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture and is working on a new project on the future of marketing and retail in the digital age.

 

Will Comixology go the way of Audible or Zappos?

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The great digital hope has been acquired by one of the giant fire breathing kaiju of the digital era. Will they trample tiny cottages beneath their feet or become a lovable behemoth? Ask me in a year. In the meantime…

First off, will you be able to read your comics? A story at the Guardian indicates yes…but…

The firm also sought to reassure users that their comic collections, some of which are in the thousands of dollars, were safe after the acquisition. “Of course [they are safe]! Our goal is to build on each other’s strengths and create the best service for all comic and graphic novel customers.” But it declined comment on whether it would “guarantee” that customers would always be able to read the comics they had purchased.

No guarantees. That is pretty much standard with any digital media. Folks have pointed to Jmanga’s collapse for a model of how you can lose your collection from something that seemed solid. Of course, in the short term, Amazon and Comixology will keep you reading all your comics. Even the most gloomy analysis—Amazon acquired a competitor to wipe them out—suggest that where there’s smoke there’s money. Digital comics are obviously a growth product of the future and Amazon will want to keep and grow that business, even if it is just to move Comixology to their Kindle storefront. [Read more…]

A few more details on the Comixology/Amazon deal

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The Beat just participated in a conference call with Comixology CEO David Steinberger and Amazon’s vp of digital content David Naggar, and while details are at Publisher’s Weekly, everyone sounded very chipper about Amazon’s planned acquisition of Comixology.

“Comixology is in a better place than ever for the diversity of our content ad the diversity of our audience,” Steinberger said. “Amazon is good at a lot of things we’re not great at yet.”

Comixology will be staying in New York and all employees have been made offers. Steinberger noted that Amazon has been a great partner for other companies that have acquired such as Audible and Zappos. The Submit program will also continue—Amazon has a lot of upload it yourself programs so this is no surprise.

“We’ve got a long history of buying companies we admire and that’s the case here,” said Nagger. ” We’ve admired them for the customer focus and customer experience they’ve created for several years so it made sense to bring them into the Amazon family.”

He also told PW:

Naggar was also enthusiastic when asked about Comixology Submit, Comixology’s digital comics self-publishing platform. While he said, “Amazon doesn’t make a lot of plans before it makes an acquisition, so we’ll have to figure it all out over time. But Kindle Digital Publishing has been big for us and so we love Comixology Submit. Comixology has had a positive impact on physical and digital comics.”

In a statement on Comixology, Steinberger wrote:

Dearest readers,

I’m very excited to share some big news with you: we have just announced that comiXology is becoming a part of the Amazon family!

More than seven years ago, John D. Roberts, Peter Jaffe, and I set out to connect people to comic books and graphic novels they’d love, and we’re so excited about how far we’ve come. Thanks to the books we are privileged to present and the platform we created, there’s access to more diverse content than ever, allowing all readers to enter the amazing world of comics.

We have long had the goal of making every person on the planet a comics fan. With Amazon’s help, this crazy goal is more possible than ever before. With the Kindle, Amazon has shown a passion for reinventing the reading experience, just like comiXology has shown for comics and graphic novels.

ComiXology will retain its identity as an Amazon subsidiary and we’re not anywhere near done “taking comics further.” We are confident that – with Amazon by our side, who shares our desire for innovation and a relentless focus on customers – we’ve only just begun.

We wouldn’t be here without you, our customers. Thank you. The best is yet to come!


While this cannot have surprised anyone who was paying attention, the fact that it is happened—and as Janelle Asselin pointed out, not both Amazon AND Apple get a piece of your digital comics money—Amazon’s aggressive model against brick and mortar, and tough terms with print publishers don’t exactly point to the same kind of warm and cuddly company as Comixology.

And here’s some tweet reactions from the industry:

Garry Trudeau’s new TV show is actually on Amazon

Alpha15tvf 2 webYet another cartoonist has gone showbiz on us. Doonesbury’s Garry Trudeau has a new, uh, filmed entertainment series about four senators living in a single house call Alpha House. It’s also Amazon Prime’s first web series, or whatever they call these. (you can watch the first few episodes for free.) Slate has an interview about ther series:

GT: With both the strip and the show, I generally fill in the backgrounds of characters on an as-need basis. I’ve always been reluctant to get locked into anything that might limit where I take a character in the future. The simplest backstory decision can have a profound impact down the road. For instance, I made Louis a Mormon, which has all sorts of implications for how I write him. His strong identification with his faith group informs much of his behavior. Alpha House has no show bible, no inventory of established story and character points, but it probably should. Doonesbury is notorious among close readers for its inconsistencies.


This isn’t Trudeau’s first TV show—he was also involved with Tanner ’88 back in the day. He’s been on an extended leave from Doonesbury while he worked on the series, but new strips began this week.

On the Scene: Indie Publisher Confronts Amazon Exec at Litquake’s digi.lit Conference

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Photo via LITQUAKE. Left to right: Brad Stone (Bloomberg Businessweek), Charlie Winton (Soft Skull), Isaac Fitzgerald (McSweeney’s), and Jon Fine (Amazon).

by Bob Calhoun

The mood was tense in the fourth floor conference room of the SPUR Urban Center in San Francisco on Saturday—especially for a panel with the dry title of “The Future of Publishing,” but this was far from your usually dry panel. At one end of a folding table sat Charlie Winton, CEO of Counterpoint and Soft Skull, a pair of conjoined indie publishing companies that has survived the massive and continuous upheavals in the business of bookselling.

At the other end of the table was Jon Fine, Director of Author and Publishing Relations for Amazon.com, the entity most responsible for all those massive upheavals. This early afternoon panel at the first ever digi-lit (for digital lit) publishing conference promised not only a meeting of the minds, but a clash of ideas.

However, collegiality almost ruled the day with Winton and Fine agreeing they weren’t in competition with each other until Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Brad Stone, the panel moderator and the author of an upcoming book on Amazon, decided to break it up.

“Are you comfortable living in Amazon’s world?” Stone asked, directing the question at Winton. “Can they be a benevolent dictator?”

Winton appeared to be holding back through the first half of the panel, but with this little bit of prodding he finally let loose on the online retail giant, calling Amazon “thug like,” and saying that negotiating with the company was “absolutely gruesome.”

Winton then went so far as to say he agreed with News Corp founder Rupert Murdoch about “widget-makers like Amazon” and how they have “a devaluing effect on intellectual property.”

“I’m sorry you agree with Rupert,” Fine shot back, referring to the chairman of all things Fox by his first name.

“We’re building a business on the publishing side that’s really focused on the authors,” Fine continued, before declaring that “meta-data is the new cover image,” meaning that more readers were finding books through search-engine-optimization than they were through face-out book cover displays in actual stores.

The man in the middle of all of this was Isaac Fitzgerald, co-owner of The Rumpus and Director of Publicity of McSweeney’s, the indie publishing house founded by author Dave Eggers.

“Amazon’s the evil empire,” Fitzgerald blurted, adding to the tension. “But the little guys are going to exist. As human beings, I don’t think we’re going to live under just one thing. There’s going to be people who stir up shit just to stir up shit.”

“I just love the human heart and I think that wins, but then again I don’t have tons of money or a legal background,” Fitzgerald said causing the crowd to erupt with laughter.

“We’re at the beginning of a long evolutionary path that was kicked off with a revolution,” Fine said, after the laughs died down.”I really do think more is better. It’s an amazing time to be a writer.”

“The Future of Publishing” was one of several panels at the one day digi-lit conference. Digi-lit also featured talks by authors Neal Pollack (“Alternadad” and “Jewball”) and Ransom Stevens (“The God Project”) as well as Salon.com book critic Laura Miller. The conference was organized by the creators of Litquake, the literary arts festival that overtakes San Francisco’s bars and arts spaces every October.

“We started digi.lit just to answer all of the questions about publishing that we keep getting,” Litquake co-founder Jack Boulware explained in between panels.

“This is the first conference we’ve ever put together,” he said, surveying the crowd. “It’s a lot different than organizing a festival. It’s like putting on one day of public school.”

There is no word if there will be a second digi-lit conference next year.

[Bob Calhoun is the author of “Shattering Conventions: Commerce, Cosplay and Conflict on the Expo Floor” (Obscuria Press, 2013). You can follow him on Twitter at @bob_calhoun.]

Studio Coffee Run: Arrow, Amazon casting news, Brian K. Vaughan’s new CBS Series, etc.

Arrow transmogrifies into The Green Arrow (Image via Spoiler TV)

Andrew Kreisberg, Executive Producer of the CW’s Arrow, has been doing the interview circuit this week. In interviews with TV Line and TV Guide, he discusses Oliver Queen’s love life as well as the character’s evolution from Arrow to The Green Arrow [Read more…]

Oops. Kindle comics are returnable?

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A reader writes that he’s been buying some of Amazon’s DC Digital Comics, and just noticed that, like other Kindle titles, there’s a grace period for returning them. So, in theory, someone could buy this week’s DC lineup for Kindle, read them and return them.

We’d imagine this policy extends to other comics available for Kindle.

Not that we would ever recommend such a thing. Cuz it’s crappy. Seriously.

But it does seem to be a bit of a loophole?

Amazon launches its first graphic novel—and pays you $5 to read it

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Earlier this week, it was Penguin finally getting into the graphic novel business, years after every other other book publisher did so. And now Amazon Studios, Amazon the etailer’s content development division, is also getting into the graphic novel game with BLACKBURN BURROW, a Civil War horror tale by Ron Marz and Matthew Dow Smith . The tale is based on a screenplay by screenwriter Jay Levy, and if that rings a chime that this is part of the “comics-to-movie” business model, your ears should be ringing.

But as an added bonus—if you read the book on their site and leave feedback…they will give you a $5 Amazon gift card. Now this business model we could get to like!
Here’s the log line. [Read more…]

The mystery of DC, comiXology, and the Kindle Fire may never be publicly solved

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At the C2E2 comiXology panel it was confirmed that DC graphic novels are no longer being sold through Kindle Fire’s comiXology app, and CEO David Steinberger said it was intentional. However the reasons are hidden behind many layers of NDAs.

This is all odd because you can certainly still buy DC books via Amazon and their Kindle store. You can purchase tons of DC comics from comiXology, on the web and their IOS app. Apparently, you just can’t buy DC Comics through the Kindle Fire comiXology app (we don’t have a Kindle Fire handy to check).

DC have not responded to inquiries. ComiXology only give the line “ComiXology readers can continue to access DC Comics that are in their My Comics library. Plus, comiXology on the Kindle Fire syncs libraries from any part of the ComiXology platform, so DC readers can access comics purchased through the web.”

The DC/Kindle Fire exclusive GN marriage was announced with great fanfare and promise, but soon resulted in heartache and acrimony when B&N and Books A Million pulled their DC graphic novels off the shelves in spite. While no one is saying anything at all about this glitch, it probably has some weird technical proprietary cause and isn’t very dramatic at all.

Or that’s a guess anyway.

In the meantime, there are still plenty of ways to get DC Comics on your Kindle Fire, and the arguments over platforms and proprietary interfaces for digital comics will continue.