My recent comics obsession has been Chew by John Layman, published by Image Comics (the third largest comic book publisher after DC and Marvel). But if you want to read it on the Kindle, you’re going to have to get it somewhere besides Amazon. The same is true for countless popular series, including Saga, Sex Criminals, East of West, The Manhattan Projects and The Walking Dead. A recent search of the Amazon store shows that virtually all Image Comics Kindle content has been removed.
Recently an Indie eBook publishing company called Blurb purchased Graphicly (formerly Graphic.ly) another eBook publishing platform, one that specialized in image heavy or comic driven content. The acquisition brings over the six Graphicly employees but none of the content managed by the site. People who publish through the site have the option to sign on with Blurb, or whoever they like before Graphicly shuts down in 30 days (according to TechCrunch). Roughly 10,000 individual creators and publishers (with more than 20,000 titles) are affected by the shut down.
Graphic.ly when it was introduced was one of the main digital comics publishing platforms until Comixology came on the scene. Comixology has recently been acquired by Amazon though the removal of content doesn’t seem to have anything to do with a competition between the two platforms. Graphically dialed back their comics emphasis in 2012, instead focusing on publishers directly managing what content they’d like to publish, though still being able to publish graphic novel or any other sorts of works.
My own inquiries to Image Comics reveal they are considering a return to the Kindle platform but have no immediate plans:
“[W]e are no longer selling any digital comics on the Kindle platform. We are evaluating options there, but have no plans to return at this time. You can get our digital comics from Comixology, Google Play, IBooks, and our site: imagecomics.com.”
Image sells digital editions of most of its single issue comics (though not graphic novel compilations) in CBR, CBZ, PDF, EPUB formats (all available after single purchase DRM free).
Amazon for its part was unaware of the reason for the removal of content and said they will continue to work with publishers to make their content available for the Kindle.
But the Graphicly closure has more of an impact than just to digital comics connoisseurs. Many content creators and publishers who published through Graphicly have yet to be paid for recent sales, and it’s unclear how they will be handled after Graphicly officially shuts its doors (according to Comics Alliance). The move is not going smoothly between all Blurb and Graphicly employees either, with reports of the merger having acquired valuable proprietary eBook conversion software and disenfranchising some employees during their final weeks of pay. The exact nature and extend of what Blurb acquired from Graphicly in terms of software and talent is unclear.
What does this mean if you love Image Comics, and love reading them on the Kindle? Well Wednesday I’ll give you some tips on the best ways to keep reading on the Kindle, especially in that collected graphic novel format we all now and love.