Last week, Bleeding Cool reported on an up-to-70% hike in the price of digital comic books on ComiXology in Britain, as the digital distributor raised prices to one pound to the dollar, as opposed to the previous 69 pence to the dollar and actual 80 pence to the dollar rate. What was going on? Was this all Brexit?
Initial reaction suggested not, this was a European-wide problem, with Euro countries also seeing similar hikes. What was going on? ComiXology weren't saying, only repeating the following mantra to social media complaints, again and again and again.
"A number of factors influence the prices on our stores, including pricing from content providers, taxes, and currency exchange rates."
No more was forthcoming. So Bleeding Cool did some digging. There is a new Euro-wide and UK digital tax coming in, but it is very small, 2% of revenue. Not enough to explain such a jump – oh and it hasn't come in yet, if it ever will.
There are sales taxes to pay on digital sales, but not on print in the UK. This is nothing new, that has always been the case, ComiXology has chosen to absorb those into its profits.
There have been fluctuations in the exchange rate in recent years since Brexit, and the Euro has been down against the dollar as well – though nowhere near as much as the pound. ComiXology absorbed those increases too, making it far cheaper to buy digital comics than print comics – or even digital comics in the USA. But again nothing like the increase. And why would the rest of Europe be so affected?
This is what I've dug out. ComiXology likes to keep its European prices comparable, so that the price in France is what you pay in England as what you pay in Sweden. They can differ from America considerably but not each other. And Britain is ComiXology's largest market in Europe – so when the British prices go up, so do everyone else's.
As to the taxes and exchange rate, ComiXology has decided they have no business in subsidising the prices any more in an attempt to build marketshare outside of the USA. It is notable that publishers have been asking questions about how come a European sale was far less profitable for them than an American sale.
And then the big one. As well as wanting to make as much money from a Brit as they do from a Yank, there are so many years when they didn't. And ComiXology seems determined to make up a bit for what they lost.
However, it is worth noting that Kindle prices, which use pretty much the same system as ComiXology, both owned by Amazon, are maintaining the previous price structures. And since they are compatible services, readers could just switch from one to the other. That is unless Kindle follows suit…