Pow! Bam! Zort! Amazon gobbles up Comixology!

Actually my favorite one of these was in Fables Volume 6. Boy Blue slices a guy in half with a vorpal sword and the sound effect is “snicker-snack!”

ComiXology-Logo-Dark-Grey-500x92

Publisher’s Weekly raised some questions customers will have about Amazon’s recent acquisition of comics app Comixology. Though I think discussions of in app purchases (Comixology removed them to avoid paying 30% to Apple), content restrictions and listings are important, there are a couple of other issues that I think need addressing by both sides.

For those who aren’t aware, Comixology is an app that works on a variety of different devices, from PCs to tablets, that allows you to buy digital issues and collections of comic books. It is also one of the more DRM (Digital Rights Management) heavy formats going so far as to split its image data into two separate encrypted files that are merged together by their proprietary viewer. Comixology is also very aggressive in patching or taking down solutions that users have created to attempt to break this DRM. Even for backup and recovery purposes, the AZW (Amazon Whispersync) or AZW3 formats are better since they at least contain the entire comic book in a single file.

Back when the second Star Trek movie was coming out, Comixology had a sale on a number of their Star Trek IDW titles (stuff that can be a little expensive to collect physically even for a purist). I bought a number of titles that I could view on my Polaroid, computer or Kindle.

And then I remembered Amazon’s golden rule, we will never be undersold by anyone.

Now inevitably, every time I get a sale notification from Comixology, I can expect the exact same one from Amazon. And consequently I’ve stopped buying from Comixology altogether unless they have something I can’t get anywhere else.

And that’s the only thing I think Amazon’s gaining by the acquisition, content. But if we’re talking format, I’d take Amazon’s ebook format hands down as I can at least get a little closer to owning my own content (though really on all of these you’re just leasing the rights to them). What I’d really love is for Comixology to convert all of my existing titles over to Kindle versions when the two companies merge. That way everything’s part of one big happy library. That’s the way the Audible acquisition went. Anything bought from Audible shows up in my cloud list same as any regular book. Now it’s in audibles audio format, but the difference there is that Amazon doesn’t really have its own audio format for books (for the most part).

Now Amazon’s not without its flaws on comic books. Manga can be downloaded to the Kindle Touch but not a first generation Fire. Saga can only be downloaded to Kindle HDs and above, the Kindle App or the Kindle Cloud reader (though the only thing standing in the way seems to be higher resolution though that doesn’t quite track since my Android has worse resolution than the Fire). *

Comixology does have some unique comic formats that might only work on the app, such as more interactive or guided view comics, but most standard conventional material will look nice in either format. And the app and library management are actually a lot clunkier than Kindle so I’d just as well hope that they merge everything together.

The merger should be good from a content standpoint if nothing else, but I’m hoping they go a few steps further to create a truly beneficial offering.

*Actually Image Comics (Saga, Sex Criminals, etc.) offers their comics as true ebook downloads (PDF, CBR, CBZ, epub) so it might be better just to buy directly from them for those comics since they are DRM free.

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1 Comment

Filed under Books + Publishing

One response to “Pow! Bam! Zort! Amazon gobbles up Comixology!

  1. Nice reference to one of my favourite poems ever, and the first one I ever memorized.

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