Digital comics

Comixology eliminates Apple and Google from digital comics bribe

Comixology’s new iPad app is a big gamble, as it removes in-app sales from the most profitable iPad app.

Screenshot by Seth Rosenblatt/CNET

Digital comics marketplace and reader Comixology updated its comics apps for Android and iOS on Saturday to prevent Apple and Google from taking a percentage in-app purchases.

The move goes to Comixology, which had just bought by Amazon for an undisclosed sum, a significant portion of its sales had gone to tech titans. They received 30% of the price of each comic sold. Most new comics sell for the same price digitally as they do in print, between $2.99 ​​and $3.99, and at least one company – DC Entertainment – has said digital comics now account for around 15% from its new comic book revenue.

Along with updating the app and making it more difficult to purchase, Comixology is offering all of its current users a $5 credit to entice people to try out the purchase workflow.

“For years, they were one of the highest (if not the highest) earning apps on iOS,” said Rob Salkowitz, author of “Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture.”

“Removing this feature bypasses Apple’s restrictive fees and policies, but creates additional steps for customers. I suspect they’re counting on a sufficiently loyal audience at this point that the reward outweighs the risk. “, did he declare. “Having Amazon behind them mitigates some of that risk while providing a pretty clear business rationale in terms of timing.”

Comixology chief marketing officer Chip Mosher told CNET that the company is integrating Amazon’s web payment strategy ahead of the online mega-retailer’s approval of the acquisition.

“As we prepare to complete the acquisition with Amazon, we are transitioning to the web-based shopping model they have used successfully with Kindle, which we hope will allow us to find the best balance between pricing, selection and customer experience,” he said. noted.

While the focus of Comixology’s decision may help its long-term bottom line, it’s also the most high-profile incident yet from a vendor balking at Apple and Google’s integrated take. Google fans will only suffer a minor setback, but comic book fans reading on iOS have no recourse and must change the way they buy their books.

Mosher declined to comment on whether Comixology received any complaints from comic book publishers. The impact of comixology on digital comic publishing cannot be underestimated. Most comic book publishers feared publishing comics digitally at best for fear of undermining their low-margin print business, and Comixology was the vehicle they chose to help them make the transition.

Mosher also pointed to a benefit for comic book readers: Apple’s content restrictions for app providers have now become moot. This problem came to a head a few months ago, when Apple demanded that Comixology stop selling the best-selling and critically acclaimed sex-themed comedy Sex Criminals.

Some publishers, like DC Entertainment and Picture Comicshave since taken steps to diversify their online publishing platforms.

Comic book publishers who were asked to comment have yet to respond. Apple and Google did not respond to requests for comment.

Chris Roberson, comic book writer and co-publisher of Monkeybrain Comics, a digital comics publisher, said on Twitter that he expects this move to bring more money per sale to comic book creators. This could backfire, however, if overall sales decline because iPad owners are buying fewer comics.

Comixology’s cure might leave many comic book fans feeling like they’ve been left behind.

Comixology’s Comics app for iOS is no longer able to make in-app purchases of any kind. iOS users must make all comic book purchases on the Comixology Online Store then sync the books with the iOS app.

The Comics app was one of Apple’s highest-grossing apps with in-app purchases for several years. It ranked third on the iPad Top Revenue chart of 2012 and was the top-grossing iPad app of 2013, with 14% of all non-gaming app sales.

Just a day after the launch of the new iOS app, it only had a 1.5 star rating after more than 800 reviews.

The comic reading functions of the old iOS app will continue to work, Cool Bleeding reports, but not the store. For people who don’t want to have to download their books to their iOS device, this could be a little time saver.

Comixology Comics App for Android will continue to allow users to make in-app purchases, but instead of paying with your Google Play account, you now have to go through Comixology’s new system and pay with PayPal or a credit card.

Comixology was a hero to many comic book fans for its key role in convincing publishers to sell their books digitally. But a survey of Twitter’s comments on the change indicates that, at least for iPad owners today, the villain is Comixology.

Updated at 1:50 p.m. on Sunday, April 27 with Comixology commentary and progress on the new Comixology iOS app.