Digital comics

Amazon buys digital comics retailer Comixology

Comixology, the leading digital comic book distributor, set up a camera to record fan impressions of its comic book reader app and store at Comic-Con in San Diego in 2012.

Seth Rosenblatt/CBS

Amazon.com is getting into comics in a big way as the mega-retailer on Thursday announced plans to buy a digital comic book reader and Comixology storefront.

Amazon hasn’t disclosed what it paid for the company, though Comixology’s fortunes have attracted many customers and publishers who have treated the app and website as the de facto online storefront for comics. .

The company, co-founded in 2007 in New York by David Steinberger, publishes most American comic books digitally, as well as many books from international publishers, in a one-stop marketplace. He said in a statement that’s what made him a good match for Amazon.

“Comixology’s mission is to spread the love of comics and graphic novels in all their forms,” ​​said Steinberger. “There is no better home for Comixology than Amazon to bring this vision to fruition.”

Comixology currently works with 75 publishers worldwide, as well as independent creators. It also offers a publishing program for new comic book talent.

The company’s headquarters will remain in New York, for now, and the transaction is expected to close by the end of June.

David Naggar, vice president of content acquisition and independent publishing at Amazon, said in a statement that the two companies are committed to “reinventing reading in a digital world.”

Comixology’s fortunes grew rapidly thanks to a dearth of digital markets for comics, a big launch on the first iPad, and its patented technology for Guided View, a tactile reading method for moving between panels in digital comics. Gross sales of Comixology’s iPad app placed it in the top 10 in 2010 and 2011, and made it the #1 non-gaming app in 2012 and 2013.

However, Comixology has a reputation for hold back some comics from his store that other digital retailers will publish, depending on the content of the books, especially those that have been labeled as unsuitable for children. The company has also found itself in hot water in other ways. A deal to offer 700 Marvel Comics for free crashed its serverswhile a recent data breach forces its customers to change their passwords.

Chip Mosher, Comixology’s vice president of communications and marketing, said he doesn’t expect Amazon to change the prices of digital comics, or expect a lot of conflict between Comixology and the comics available on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet.

“Nothing to announce today, but we hope to find ways to make Comixology and Kindle work better,” he told CNET.

ComicsPROa trade organization that represents the interests of physical comic book retail stores, reacted defensively to the sale.

“There is always concern when a huge company that shows little need to make a profit tries to convert a niche market into a commodity,” ComicsPRO’s board of directors said in a prepared statement. “Fortunately, there is a tactile element to comics that no deep-discount web entity could ever replicate. So as long as there are fans for the real thing, there will be comic stores and comics.”

DC Entertainment, which publishes DC Comics and Vertigo Comics, said the deal will make Amazon and Comixology “much stronger”. The agreement “allows all of us to continue to improve and grow the fastest growing segment of our publishing business,” a DC Entertainment spokesperson said.

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.

Amazon stock fell about 1.7% on Friday to $311.73.

Update, 1:02 p.m. PT: Added commentary from ComicsPRO and DC Entertainment.