Home News Business News ComiXology to let retailers sell digital comics

ComiXology to let retailers sell digital comics


Problem solved!

ComiXology, the leading digital comics provider, is going to let brick and mortar comics shops set up affiliate storefronts on their sites, building on comiXology’s existing programs for retailers, such as digital pull lists and so on. Prominent retailer Chris Powell explains, “Having seen comiXology’s Retailer Tools and Pull List services, we trust comiXology’s technology to help us thrive in a market where customers are interested in both print and digital comics.  ComiXology will help us provide the one-stop shopping that customers are looking for.  Digital comics can be a great tool for reaching out to new or lapsed customers, and retailers should not be afraid of this new format.  Instead, they should look for ways to make the digital format complement their existing print business.”

The new system will be demonstrated next week at the ComicsPRO meeting in Dallas, with participating publishers to be announced soon.

Although allowing retailers to sell digital comics seems to be a no-brainer for helping the existing sales channel participate in a new revenue stream, the ongoing question remains: Just how big is that stream? Absolute numbers on digital sales are still low, revenues are still modest, and bringing in another partner means smaller numbers all around. Still, getting everyone in on the action is the only thing that will help everyone move forward.

comiXology, the leading distributor of digital comics, announced today the industry’s first Digital Storefront Affiliate program for retailers. The program will empower comic book merchants to prosper from the sale of digital comics with a comiXology-powered store and reader. Leveraging comiXology’s technology will provide retailers the foundation for future digital initiatives as the program evolves.

The comiXology Digital Storefront Affiliate program offers retailers the opportunity to tap into comiXology’s vibrant digital marketplace with a simple integration into their existing site. These retailers will be able to offer their customers access to comiXology’s library of digital comics and integrated reader from participating publishers.  Consumers will now be able to purchase digital comics online from their local comic store’s digital storefront for the first time.  All digital purchases will also be compatible with the Comics by comiXology platform, providing fans the ability to enjoy their comics on their mobile devices and on the Web at their retailer’s websites by way of cross-platform synchronization.

“By having a ComiXology-powered store and reader integrated with our existing new and back-issue comics website, we will provide our customers with even more access to the comics they love while increasing their loyalty to us,” said Chris Powell, General Manager and CRO of myccomicshop.com.  “Having seen comiXology’s Retailer Tools and Pull List services, we trust comiXology’s technology to help us thrive in a market where customers are interested in both print and digital comics.  ComiXology will help us provide the one-stop shopping that customers are looking for.  Digital comics can be a great tool for reaching out to new or lapsed customers, and retailers should not be afraid of this new format.  Instead, they should look for ways to make the digital format complement their existing print business.”

Participating publishers will benefit from comiXology’s Digital Storefront Affiliate program through wider distribution on the Web and by strengthening the bonds between publishers, comic stores, and fans that have so successfully made comics a major force in world culture. comiXology plans to announce participating publishers in the coming weeks.

“The comiXology digital sales and reading platform embedded directly on a retailers website is a great opportunity for retailers to participate in the digital comic business,” said David Steinberger, CEO of comiXology.  “As a result, the program will create a new marketplace online for publishers and retailers to increase revenue streams while strengthening their relationships. It also marks the beginning of new way of thinking for retailers, which will ultimately lead them to taking full ownership of their digital initiatives as we continue to roll out the stages of the program.”

ICv2 recently announced a strategic agreement with comiXology to provide customer support for all comiXology’s retail initiatives including its Retailer Tools and the Digital Storefront Affiliate program.  Milton Griepp, CEO of ICv2, Steinberger, and comiXology CTO and co-founder John Roberts will demo the Digital Storefront Affiliate program at the upcoming ComicsPRO conference in February.

“Comic retailers have built and nurtured the local communities that support the comics business, and it’s important that those retailers have a way to participate in and profit from the digital comics revolution,” said Roberts.“ Building on the success of our Retailer Tools, we look to expand our relationship with retailers by helping brand each digital storefront to the specific retailer, while hosting it at no cost.  With a plan to integrate the Retailer Tools and Pull List, comic retailers will become a one-stop shop for all comic readers needs.”

To request more information about the Digital Storefront Affiliate program, retailers can visit http://retailers.comixology.com/digital_form/

  1. Ahem. Called it six days ago.


    Join the store “pull list” with automatic digital subscriptions sent to the customer, and generate a stable revenue stream similar to what stores used to do with print copies of Uncanny X-Men.

    This could be as significant as Marvel’s cash register program in the 1980s, if it encourages comics shops to set up e-commerce web sites.

  2. @X-Manny

    I’m trying to figure out the same thing. I’m also trying to figure out what benefit having a middleman like Comixology provides. After looking at those numbers from Millar the other day, I was wondering why he wouldn’t just break off like $60K to a programmer to make a Comixology-like program for him and then avoid the middleman. It’s not like it would be hard to do….

  3. @Chris & Manny, although I’m not a regular digital comics reader now, comixology makes a wonderful platform for reading comics online, far better than anything else I’ve ever seen. Having a single middleman that makes the digital platform creates a common grammar for all publishers, makes readers more comfortable with the medium, and, shoot, wouldn’t you rather have 1 program do the work instead of 1 for each creator?

    I don’t think it saves the comics stores, but, perhaps, it’ll help develop a revenue stream to support some declining print sales. And, if past is prologue, I suspect that I’ll read plenty on an ipad, etc., and then think, “wouldn’t it be nice to have that trade on my shelf?”

  4. I have no problem with Comixology being the standard for digital comics. It makes sense, and yeah,they should work with content producers to get them all onsides. But I don’t understand what a retail comic shop is “selling” in this equation. They aren’t selling anything. Am I crazy, or would it be like going to the iTunes store, but instead of just buying the song you want, there’s a Best Buy logo and they get a cut of the fee you pay?

  5. How about:
    “We see you subscribe to the digital edition of ‘Flash’. Use this coupon code at storeswebsite.com and save 20% off any single Flash trade collection! Don’t know where to start? Stop by our store, and we’ll be happy to help! Or post a question to the Comixology forums!” (And each coupon has a distinct serial number, so stores can track how effective the offers are, and to whom.)

    Or Comixology notes your geolocation and offers a discount coupon to encourage you to visit a local comics shop. Or advises you on Free Comic Book Day, or when there’s a store signing.

    Comixology could easily license the developer software to publishers or creators. Then charge either a per-issue fee, or a monthly/yearly fee (for less popular independent titles).

    As for Millar and his economics, why doesn’t he do the same with print? Why not place his comics on Lulu.com and sell direct to the fans? Why use Image or Marvel? (Probably because it saves him time and money.)

  6. X-Manny,
    think of the online comics shop as an MP3 website. Sure, you can buy the title from Amazon or iTunes, but perhaps you have an account with your local comics shop, or a great loyalty program that gives you a discount.

    Whoever is running the website is getting a cut of the sales. Bookstores run the same way. A publisher sells items at a discount, and the store marks it up to make a profit and pay the bills. Digitally, Apple, Amazon, B&N… they charge 30% (the agency model) for selling the e-book. That is, they keep 30% of the retail price (what you paid), and send 70% back to the publisher.

    So, yes, you are seeing a logo when you buy a song from iTunes. It’s the Apple logo. That $0.99 song you just bought? Apple keeps $0.29 and sends the rest to the record company or band or whoever owns the music. Multiply that by Ten Billion downloads and you can see how lucrative that is. Then there are the hardware devices Apple sells, which encourages more sales.

    The store IS selling something: a digital file. Think of it as software, without the physical medium required to transport that file.

  7. I’ve been waiting for the Comixology boys to announce this!

    By embracing the possibilities of both analog and digital readerships and making retailers their partners in the digital era Comixology is really out-thinking the rest of the digital comics industry.

    In a highly tech-centric city like San Francisco, a goodly number of my customers are buying a lot of both analog comics and digital comics. For many of those folks I am their very own Personal Guide to the World of Comics, be they in single issues or paperbacks or hardcovers or mini-comic format. And now digital format in the near future too.

    Though my business will no doubt remain almost always face-to-face and printed-on-paper (that’s certainly the way I like it) I also have no doubt that I’ll have fun personal shopping for people digitally as well.

    The real “trick” of retail is to make shopping at (or with) the Isotope more… enticing… than shopping elsewhere. And that’s something I’m pretty good at.

  8. But the comic shop owner isn’t doing anything. Maybe my old comic shop was uniquely shitty, but it’s not like there was an online ordering system, or a credit card kept on file, which I guess could conceivably facilitate easier use of Comixology. What role does the comic shop have to play in this, unless, as Torstein suggested (quite smartly, this is something that actually should be done), they’re offering a coupon to be redeemed physically. If there’s no coupon or something, it just seems like a middleman, one that doesn’t exist in iTunes or Amazon On Demand.

  9. “You know what the trouble is, Brucey? We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy’s pocket.”

  10. “think of the online comics shop as an MP3 website. Sure, you can buy the title from Amazon or iTunes, but perhaps you have an account with your local comics shop, or a great loyalty program that gives you a discount.”

    You enjoyed those Mp3s? now go buy some CDs!

    Wait what? Over time this is going to erode rather than cerement the relationship between the DM and the customer. If I like digital comics, once I’ve tried them first via the store site, why aren’t I heading straight over there? What do I need the store for?

  11. Maybe I’ll hear something via a MP3 sample, and want to hear more. For example, Girl Talk, recently profiled in the New York Times. I never knew people were doing live shows with sampled music, using a laptop as a musical instrument. Perhaps I’ll go to a local independent record shop and ask them for recommendations.

    Yes, I do own CDs. I like having a permanent, no DRM version I can load onto whatever new device I have without having to worry about file limitations. I also attend concerts. Format does not matter, I’ll listen to crappy MP3’d songs, scratchy Edison discs, 8-bit versions, even covers performed by marching bands!

    Comics shops are already a middleman! Save some real money and get a subscription direct from Marvel or DC! Comixology, like Diamond, is the distributor of the comics.

    What if you’re in the store, and someone recommends an out-of-print title? They go to the store website, find the digital copy, and sell it to you. Once the transaction is finished (after in-store payment and an email address are given), a redemption link is sent to you via email. Problem with the file? Contact Comixology for help.

    Or maybe the store steals from B&N’s playbook. Hang out in the store and read any book in the Comixology library for free on your tablet computer or laptop. (The store, if smart, will have a cafe.) Comixology/The Store keep track of what you’re reading, and suggest titles to you, based on characters, artists, writers, themes.

    What role does the store have to play? They get a web presence. They can send out Twitter and Facebook updates, with links to their website. Comics shop, like most specialty shops, create a community where people can congregate and share their passions. Most of that community is now online.

    Oh, and what about all those anecdotal stories about shoppers who read an illegal comic online, then became a fan, buying the comic in the store? (Embedded coupons in the digital comics will create data which tests this hypothesis.)

    Exciting times. Some of you saw this before, when the Direct Market exploded in the 1980s, creating numerous new publishers and opportunities.

  12. I’m not buying into any service a comic store can offer that would make me want to buy through one in Comixology. I’d rather just buy the digital comic.

    And Torsten…your lulu.com analogy misses the point. Marvel and Image offer a lot of services to creators of Millar’s stature looking to sell comics. They take care of a lot of the headaches of actually publishing the comics plus they have a lot of established relationships to market through. But what does Comixology offer someone couldn’t program themselves? Comixology is nothing fancy and it’s not like it’s really this 800 pound gorilla in digital comic sales.

    Ah, screw it. I know this is going to be like talking to brick walls….

  13. What’s the point of going through your comic book store instead of straight through Comixology? Well, the idea is that people who don’t know about Comixology can find about it and make purchases through the local store. As other’s have said perhaps offer discounts as well. However, unless there’s a discount, if you already know about Comixology, then you aren’t gaining anything.

  14. “Well, the idea is that people who don’t know about Comixology can find about it and make purchases through the local store.”

    But once you’ve found out about it, why aren’t you going to go straight to comixology in the future?

    Moreover, most of the purchases for digital comics are for mobile or nomadic devices not home PCs, once you find comixology, you are going to download their app for your phone/tablet/waffle-maker not hit it up via a browser.

  15. Value added. Need value added.

    I love the idea of keeping the mortar-and-comic-shop open. Keep the guys in the black tshirts in jobs. Keep a physical footprint, and all that jazz.

    But my price for transporting my body to the shop in order to buy a digital comic will be a mix of:

    member discount(money back), and/or I obtain
    additional material only available in the store download (extra stories, art, sketches).

    Otherwise, I will be one of those who will do their buying direct from an online source. Why not? Cheaper on gas. Quicker.

    I don’t think the “sit and read comics free at the cafe” model will work where I live.
    It invites slackers and people who want free comics, neither are profitable in the long run.

    People need to pay for comics, but keep the price reasonable for a read-only low res electronic file.

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