The Morning After The ComiXology App Update, It's Not Looking Good
Bleeding Cool has been covering the changes ComiXology has been making to its website, its app and its content provision as it merges closer with its owner Amazon, to much despair from creator, publishers and readers. Many people are also refusing to accept the ComiXology 4.0 update. But how long will that be a realistic option?
Comic creator PJ Holden wrote "Really regretting my comixology digital collection, I think one year I spent nearly a grand on books – sometimes rebuying stuff I have already, sometimes finishing off collections that I had in print and moved to digital. At one point they sold the complete Planetary – this was early in the digital comics era, and I picked it up and they've never sold it since so you can't find it instore, and I keep wondering will it still be there now…" In one of their last responses before shutting down yesterday, ComiXology Suport tweeted back saying "Hi PJ! Your previously purchased books will still be available in the new app version library!" If you can find them, of course. And read them.
Andrew Livingston told Bleeding Cool, "I have just over 3k books in my library. Circa 2K of them have been lost in the transfer. Very hard to know which ones even, given what a navigation disaster the new app is."
Comic Book Herald tweeted "The way the biggest digital comics platforms (Comixology, Marvel Unlimited) just assume nobody would ever want to read a comic on their desktop/laptop computer is wild. When I was getting into comics (& all I had was a work laptop!), that was so essential for me to enjoy. I assume organizations like these have the analytics to back up 0 investment in their web-readers, but that may be way too generous of an assumption given everything else Comixology seems to be blowing up. There's a convergence of events happening right now (Amazon defiling Comixology, Marvel making digital redemption codes unusable) that feels like a bigger story about the digital comics landscape. How much of this is "eff it, piracy won". On the other side of the equation, public libraries remain undefeated, and I highly recommend reading digital comics through services like Hoopa, Libby, or whatever your library has access to."
Lily Calder tweets "God, the death of @comiXology is a horrible thing. They've gutted the site and the app. I've never seen such an awful 'upgrade' (downgrade) before. JFC. How the hell am I supposed to enable subscriptions now? I'm not in the US! If anyone has recommendations for a better comics app than the trashfire that is now comiXology, please god tell me. This new hellish app is so inaccessible."
While Rob asked ComiXology "how much larger are these book files? I'm HALFWAY through re-downloading my library, and it's already 10 gigabytes over the size of my last library. Same books in both."
Tom Muller is in the weeds "I would love to learn why the decisions were made to remove — what I think were quite integral aspects of the experience — features like sorting between local and cloud files, and remove all historical local data. I understand it makes a lot of sense to unify experiences across services and devices, but unless these things are implemented consumer side in phased, incremental updates it'll always receive a lot of pushback. On the one hand I think its a good opportunity for me to clear up what comics I actually want to keep locally; and its nice that the app allows you to batch-download a whole series, rather than having to manually download single issues. I'm hoping now that the ComiXology reader is essentially Kindle, there will be faster updates to fix bugs and look at usability issues. Having said that, I won't be surprised if comic-specific requirements get pushed down the Jira list in favour of universal Kindle updates." and following up saying "Day two of using the new ComiXology app on iPad, and I'm getting used to the different navigation. Beyond the re-downloading I think its a case of unlearning the old app. One thing I find is that the updated app showcases your collection in a much nicer way with larger thumbs."
While comic creator Mark Stafford has been hearing sales data numbers as a result of the change. "Don't have a huge amount of skin in the game, but have been told that sales fell off a cliff. Aside from the outrages of distribution, all the functions on comixology that directed readers eyes towards interesting titles just aren't there anymore."
While Twitter account Comic Bookcase got a long thread going with lots of replies and quote tweets by – cut and pasting an article from Bleeding Cool and not saying where it came from. See, the changes are already encouraging comics piracy. Something that isn't quite piracy, however, is the move for folk to use certain web widgets to download the images from ComiXology on the web, and keep them as DRM-free images on their desktop. That you can google yourself.
But as to why all this is happening? There is one suggestion that seems to hold water. That the Comixology deal saw the publishers receive 50% of the cover price, while Kindle offers 30%. Kindle offers a 70% royalty option but royalties are reduced 15 cents per megabyte as a delivery cost. And comic books take up far more memory than prose. As a result comics sold through Kindle will make Amazon more money than those sold through ComiXology… and this is what the new contracts will reflect. Oh and also the onus on creating Guided View reading experiences is now on the publisher rather than on ComiXology…
And yes, of course, this means there are opportunities for new apps to take advantage of. But the issues are a) comiXology offer exclusive content, such as Scott Snyder's new line b) there are exclusive deals cut with publishers and c) people have already invested thousands of dollars in a ComiXology library that they can't just take to another reader/distributor. People are, quite literally, invested – even if they don't actually own anything.
Even so, for folk like Rebellion, publishers of 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, they just can't resist, tweeting out "Want to just be able to *read* the digital comics you've purchased? All comics and graphic novels from the 2000 AD webshop are DRM-free. And available as PDFs and CBZ files. Yours to read, however you like. Shop now >> " I mean,I can see the appeal. ComiXology has still declined to respond to any Bleeding Cool enquiries.