In 2014, Bleeding Cool broke the story that Amazon was buying digital comic distributor and publisher ComiXology, three weeks before it was announced. At the time this was painted as giving ComiXology a far greater reach, but that has suddenly seemed to change. Eight years on, as part of continuing merging operations between ComiXology and Amazon big changes are kicking in this week.
The first sees the dropping of the ComiXology website comic book reader. It will be ComiXology App only on mobile devices and tablets, or using the Kindle reader on the desktop – which is not designed for reading comic books on. The resolution definition is lower than ComiXology, panels cannot be zoomed in on, there is no Guided View and double-page spreads have half the definition of other pages and sit in a tiny position on the browser.
In a heavily shared tweet, Amy Deelen posted the following examples, saying; "This is a disaster. Comixology's reader is going away, so as of next week here are my options to read comics on desktop. There is no two-page view. There is no zoom. I have not altered these pictures aside from markup. Witness the work of the great J. H. Williams III."
The second big issue is for the non-Americans only, as they are no longer able to subscribe to digital series. For some undisclosed reason. Which is a pain for many and may well lead to reduced income for publishers and creators. For some, like Jamie McKelvie, as a creator and reader, it is a double pain. He tweeted "Ah, so subscriptions to comics will no longer be available to people outside the US now comixology has been absorbed into Amazon. Great. Good for creators AND fans! And your pre-orders have been cancelled so you'll need to re-order. All great news for someone with memory problems who relies on subscriptions to remember what he's keeping up with."
Also going away are DRM-free downloads where made available, and the ComiXology Submit service that allowed people to upload and publish comic books through ComiXology, including Guided View and the like.
Comic writer Zack Davisson tweeted "The subscription service on @comiXology has been fantastic. I don't need to track new releases for favorite series. @amazon ending this shows the problem with monopoly power. It encourages a drive to lesser services at higher prices"
Comic writer Jody Houser tweeted "As someone who reads all of my @comiXology books on my computer, this is gutting."
Comic artist Matt Timson and wrote "So I can literally subscribe to [checks notes] toothbrush heads through Amazon – but not comics."
Alex Hern, UK Technology Editor at the Guardian newspaper tweeted the notice he had received, also revealing an excellent taste in comics, saying "How's @Amazon's takeover of @Comixology going? Well, the platform has just cancelled multiple subscriptions with zero days notice, likely costing individual creators like @sispurrier and @kierongillen huge amounts"
Hello! We're writing because you have existing series subscription(s) on comiXology that we're unable to migrate to Amazon because they are not available for subscription in your marketplace. The following series subscriptions cannot be moved over and as of February 10th, will no longer be fulfilled by comiXology. These titles may be available to pre-order and purchase individually via your local Amazon marketplace:
The Dreaming (2018-) • Die • Once & Future • John Constantine: Hellblazer (2019-) • Alienated • The Ludocrats • Wicked Things • Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar (2020-) • Eternals (2021-) • The Rush • Step By Bloody Step. Your friends, comiXology
Bleeding Cool has reached out to ComiXology about these issues, but have received no responses. And while it won't help with any of those listed titles (in fact a few have been cancelled/finished) Rebellion Publishing, publishers of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, have taken advantage of the current fuss with a tweet of their own.
"Looking for a new comics app? Read comics and collections in the 2000 AD app, or register on our webshop with the same email and get them as DRM-free downloads! Download now >> https://bit.ly/354GU3Q"
Now if only they would digitally distribute other publishers' comic books as well…