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Since debuting in 2009, Comixology has distributed more than 50 million comics, CEO David Steinberger told ICv2.

5 million of those came in December alone. That’s 1.4 millino less than the 6.4 million comics sold in the same period, ICv2 notes. However, a significant portion of the digital comics were free, so it’s not a direct comparison.

However it does give you some idea of how many people are reading comics on their little gadgets.

“This milestone shows the tremendous demand for digital comics from comiXology and the strength of our partnerships and reach, from device manufacturers to publishers to brick-and-mortar retailers,” comiXology CEO David Steinberger told ICv2 in an exclusive interview.  “And it shows the huge opportunities that exist to grow the comics market by bringing in new or lapsed readers that want a digital option for reading comics.”  

After reading this we flashed back to 2008 or so, when the Longbox crew had to make a video just to show that it was possible to read comics on a computer screen. They grow up so fast.


  1. There are two interesting pieces of data I’d like to read: The number of actual paying customers per month and the number of people who buy both print and digital.

  2. I like a lot ComiXology in theory. In practice their guided view is clearly optimized for smartphones and looks blurry on tablets. And panels are often cropped. Full pages on a tablet look good but are too small for comfortable reading. Tablets should be perfect for comics but ComiXology disappoints me. I’m still a customer but a frustrated one.

  3. Except that your headline is misleading. Free does not equal sold. Even according to you, “However, a significant portion of the digital comics were free, so it’s not a direct comparison.” What is a significant portion? Comixology is always very quick to spit out a raw number, but has never backed it up with anything of substance.

  4. The whole relationship between comiXology and ICv2 gives me the screaming shivers, and I felt all gross reading the linked article, which was a puff piece masquerading as news. Guh.


  5. I get a kick out of how the old dinosaurs try to dis that Comixology had over 50 million comic books downloaded. Bye bye Diamond and LCS. I always download my comics. I expect more people to join me,as after watching Comicbookmen who would what to hang out with a bunch of lcs people?
    Get over it you old timers, Digital comics will be taking our comic book heroes to new and different markets. The thing I like most will comics will be read and enjoyeed by a mainstream crowd again,so the comic book stories will eventually become more diverse and modern. . Digital comics will make comics finally grow up and get away from the comic book geek niche crowd.
    respectfully Stam.

  6. Gee, Stam, could have fooled me with that “respectfully” at the end of your post.

    Sounds like you have no respect at all for the comic book retailers that have kept over publishers afloat and tided fans through many ups and downs over the last 30 years.

    One week it’s BIG news that comics are being sold in Toys R Us. Another week, it’s Marvel Mart! The next time, it’s BIGGER that comics are being carried in Wal-Mart, or 7-11 or ( )… Another week it’s HUGE news that big box bookstores will save comics. Then, it’s digital this and digital that for the last five years.

    Look, it’s wonderful that so many markets want to do something with comics and graphic novels. It really is. None of the things that were supposed to put comic book specialty retailers completely under have done it. We may not be a big army, but we are a resilient bunch that isn’t going away any time soon.

    And along with Brian, I agree that is simply the PR arm of Comixology, so take *everything* you read there about digital with a veritable boulder of salt.

  7. To Joe and Brian:

    Milton did note the Comixology/ICV2 connection in his original post, perhaps I should have done the same.

    I don’t doubt this is a real number, though.

    In a larger sense, I DO agree with John Rood, however that the impact of digital on the brick and mortar comic shops has been far less than the immediate digital impact on other media stores. Record stores and video stores were taken down swiftly by the download option. In contract, the impact on comics stores has been far slower. And I don’t think that’s a fluke. I think it’s part of the evolutionary process.

  8. Heidi–
    I did read the disclaimer at the link. Was actually surprised to see it. I hadn’t been to in quite awhile—there really hasn’t been a reason to go there for me.

    Still, when the dodgy words are in there— “However, a significant portion of the digital comics were free, so it’s not a direct comparison’— and comparing those free downloads to comics’ pass-along readership, It’s still worth taking with that boulder of salt.

  9. Following up on your John Rood citation, as he has said, every other print business would love to have going for it what comics has right now—managing growth rather than succumbing to decline.

    And that’s with sooo much digital talk for the amount of actual digital busine$$.

  10. Joe:

    yes but…

    Is the $1 million Kickstarter for Order of the Stick part of the dental floss?

    There is a LOT happening in comics. Despite my own occasional warning finger of doom and gloom for the individual cash flow, the medium itself is branching out in many many directions while maintaining—at least for now—a reasonably strong foundation in its traditional outposts. I see digital going one way—with it’s OWN audience—and print comics going another.

    Are those print copies of ORDER OF THE STICK are something that can be sold in comics shops? I’m not sure that Diamond is part of Burlew’s business Plan. But maybe it should be? Comics shops can be a retail outlet for physical aspects of the new comics, as well.

  11. The OOTS Kickstarter is a one off. It will never happen again. Most of the pledges were to get out of print books and unique items like the fridge magnet.

    Webcomics make a lot of their money from merchandise. If comics retailers can manage to get some of that action in their stores it would be gravy. But digital comics are not going to end comic stores.

    As for comiXology, the 5 million downloads in December doesn’t tell you anything unless they ratio downloads to issues sold at a 1:1. Nevertheless, I bet that they grossed at least $1 million last month.

  12. I sure as hell HOPE that Diamond gets some stock of OOTS — I very very much want to sell that comic as well.

    It’s surprising (or maybe not) that free-to-read webcomics do well in print collections, at least when they have proper distribution. My best-selling GN since the first of the year? OGLAF.


  13. Webcomics don’t have to compete with floppies. The market can accommodate both. There are a lot of successful webcomics and webcomics, as a whole, is in the beginning of figuring out its business model.

  14. Heidi—

    I’m thrilled for those creators that can get Kickstarter funding. It’s the new sweetheart deal. (I do wonder when the first Kickstarter deal will come through to open a brick & mortar comic shop—or save a struggling one).

    I love how dynamic the market is with many sub-markets, so it’s not like I’m raining on anyone’s parade here. It’s a free market, open to all who care to jump in and work their particular part of it.

    I do hope that everyone who loves comics–and has an LCS near them, will continue to support those stores. Can you imagine how different things would look if any one of the previous “this’ll be the end to those pesky comic shops” forays had actually done in comic book specialty stores?

  15. People keep asking if this means ‘free’ or ‘sales’ – what they’re missing is the fact that 50mil are in circulation – which is more important… even if half were sales, that’s awesome.

  16. To Joe Field…

    I agree about the comic shops needing support – but they could help support themselves even more if they upgraded their way of thinking and added some digital downloads to their websites and/or some of these digital distributors offered links back and forth for new books. Then they could exist in both markets, make more money, and diversify.

  17. How about this, Rusty? was also one of the first sites to host a complete graphic novel. See it (and our other webcomics) here:

    As much as a technophobe as I sometimes feel like, my operation is actually one of the earliest adopters to webcomics and digital comics.

    As I stated up-thread, I love how dynamic this market is with so many opportunities for different kinds of platforms and creations to find their audiences.

    I would simply and strongly caution everyone who works in comics to shy away from disregarding and disrespecting the brick and mortar retailers that continue to be solid and dependable base upon which the comics market is built.

  18. I feel like a horrible Judas because after 40+ years of collecting and reading comics, I actually prefer the Comixology experience nowadays. It might help you retailers if you know why, so I offer this for your illumination, knowing that my LCS is awesome and that I appreciate all of you:

    1. My eyes are not what they used to be. Being able to make the text bigger is a huge boon to me, and the backlit pages help me see details I would miss on the printed version.

    2. Guided view rocks. Unfortunately, many comics are hard to figure out. It seems the artists or writers are trying so hard to be innovative with panel placement or techniques that they have tossed good storytelling right out the window. Sometimes, I end up reading a page several times before I can make sense out of it, because the creators aren’t giving me enough visual cues to help me from one panel to the next.

    3. I don’t care about collecting them any more. I just want to read the stories. I don’t have enough room in my home to store the comics I’ve already bought. I keep telling my wife, “No, you may NOT get rid of them. They’re mine, and they’re worth money.” She, tragically logically replies, “They are NOT worth money, because you will NEVER sell them. They are colored paper taking up a lot of room in the garage.” So space is a consideration.

    4. Portability. I travel. On my last trip BiP (Before iPad), I carred 26 pounds of comics and other assorted reading material in my carry-on bag to get me through a 6 hour flight. Due to the previously stated peeper problem, I have a very hard time enjoying movies on a plane. This way, I can take a library full of books, graphic novels and comics, plus music and videos if I wish and it weighs less than a pound. That’s HUGE.

    So there you have it. I buy only Absolutes and other enticing hardcover editions of stuff these days – it has to be spectacular if the printed page is going to get my money. I really believe digital is where we’re heading, as sad as it makes me, because if you could see my living room you would know how I revere books (it has floor to ceiling bookshelves, filled with books). Even though I feel like Judas, I can’t go back now.

    I hope this is in any way helpful to you, guys.