Just in case you were at your mountain retreat over the weekend, the big news was that the new Amazon/Comixology moved swiftly to disable in app purchases via ioS. Comixology issued a new app, where you can sync up your purchases after download. There were also changes to the Android app: now you CAN purchase comics via the app, although not through Google Play any more. Thus both Google and Apple have been removed from their piece of the digital comics pie.
Customers were not happy, downgrading the new app to one star from its previous five. The move, of course, takes away Apple’s 30% cut of purchases; in theory there are two benefits to this. Now Comixology and publishers/creators get more of the money and Apple’s restrictions will no longer come into come into play. Comixology’s Chip Mosher answered some questions about the move, while avoiding the Amazonian elephant in the room. Advantages are laid out thusly:
There are many advantages to shopping at comiXology.com. Because of the content restrictions our mobile partners have, shopping on the web provides even greater selection of comic books and graphic novels. iOS customers will now be able to save money with comiXology’s exclusive web-only bundles, take advantage of subscription features and enjoy eGift cards. We also made our website more tablet/mobile friendly on all devices to make the purchasing process that much easier. And in Safari on iOS, customers can easily save a shortcut to our webstore with the “Add to Home Screen” feature.
One of the big questions about the move concerns the various “stand alone’ apps for publishers, including DC, Marvel, Image, IDW and so on. Asked is these apps would continue to allow in app purchases, Mosher deflected the question, “That’s a better question for them.” Publishers reached by CBR included Boom who said “We don’t currently have plans to remove the ability to purchase through the BOOM! Studios app.” Seth Rosenblatt covers the moves from the tech perspective.
Of course, there was much more brou to the ha ha. Long time comics creator Gerry Conway has a widely quoted piece about the move, which mourns the loss of the app as the new comics storefront, a feeling echoed by many many people.
Wrong. This is a very big deal, because it strikes to the heart of what made Comixology’s app a near-perfect venue for discovering and falling in love with new comics, a venue creators and publishers have been searching for since the collapse of mainstream newsstand distribution in the late 1970s-early ’80s: it destroys the casual reader’s easy access to an impulse purchase. And that’s a terrible development for the future of comics.
It’s a long, well-written piece that deserves attention.
Obviously, discoverability is the big worry here. Apparently, the new app doesn’t allow you to follow series or storylines the way the old one did. In the best event, this will be a stress test for digital comics readers: is the content compelling enough that the loss of a user friendly environment will quash enthusiasm? Or will readers be willing to make a few more clicks?
Looking forward, this was one of the first changes to the new Comixology that people predicted. And I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that eventually, Comixology will be more integrated with the entire Amazon system of reading and recommendations and so on. As I keep saying, consumers like buying things from Amazon, so that won’t be a problem. For the short term the new Comixology app is definitely going through consumer discontent. Will this last or fade away the way most internet grumbling does?
Time will tell and more to come, you betcha.
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.