Tag Archives: Comixology

First Impressions

Haven’t had a whole lot of time to play with either of these new Amazon wrinkles yet, but thought I’d give you my off-the-cuff, fifteen minutes of research opinion:

Amazon Giveaways:

If you use CreateSpace and want to give away copies of your book as a promotion, then this might be the service for you. Amazon allows you to create a giveaway by specifying the quantity you’d like to give, the odds of winning the prize (1 in X, 1 every X, or first X), and conditions for entry (i.e. Follow you on Twitter, watch a video, etc). They administer everything, and they’ll ship the prize to lucky winner, all you have to do is pay the price of the prize, minimum shipping and tax.

Pros:

  • Nice way for authors to promote their book.
  • Easy to setup and use, separate messages for winners and losers.
  • Flexibility in odds can be scaled to your expected audience.
  • Instant win or lose.

Cons:

  • Requires physical copy, can’t give away digital.
  • Cost to author is list price, not production price (what the author can order the book for on CreateSpace).
  • Can only take advantage of free shipping if price is over $35. If the winner has a prime account it doesn’t mean free shipping costs to the giveaway provider.

Verdict: Might be nice to try, but could get expensive quick.

Merging your Comixology and Amazon account:

Comixology has been an Amazon company for a while, but they just now pushed out the capability to use your Amazon login on the site instead of creating a separate login. For existing Comixology customers, you can merge your Kindle Comics and your Comixology comics into one account.

Pros:

  • Amazon purchases that would include a DRM free backup if bought from Comixology (such as any comic from Image), will now be available in your backups. If you bought Saga or Chew from Amazon, you can now download CBZ’s and PDF’s from Comixology.
  • For those who prefer Comixology’s panel by panel view this could make your Kindle books much easier to read.
  • One easy account to remember.

Cons:

  • Not all Kindle Comics covered though more coming. DC, Marvel and Dark Horse do not offer DRM free backups.
  • Not all Kindle Comics have exact Comixology matches (may result in different content).
  • Kindle Comics do not register as owned in Comixology store. I own Vols 1,2 and 6 of Scott Pilgrim from Amazon and 3-5 from Comixology, but only 3-5 show as owned in the app (when I do a search). Downloads for all are available.

Verdict: No harm, might get better with time.

Has anyone tried either of these services?

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I might actually buy from Comixology now

There’s still time for your “Ask a tech guy” questions. I’ve already gotten a great question from Elle which I’ll write about on Monday, but I’m happy to answer anything you’d like. Contact me in the comments, or by using the contact button in the blog menu.

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Image Source DeviantArt

Recently digital comics giant Comixology has been signing up publishers to offer all or most of their titles with DRM free backups. Prior to this, Comixology comics could only be accessed on-line, or through an app which stored the comics in a proprietary DRM “protected” file.

For me personally this means all of the comics I actually paid money for on Comixology I now truly own (mostly Star Trek from IDW and Lost at Sea from Oni).

Significant for me among this “second wave” of DRM free publishers is IDW. IDW has held the Star Trek license since 2006, and is mostly responsible for my near definitive Star Trek comics collection always being out of date. IDW has been prolific in its publication of Star Trek titles, opting mainly for a mini-series model of between 4-6 issue stories across a broad section of the Star Trek universe. This can make it difficult to find all IDW titles, since you first have to find the names of all of the mini-series rather than collecting numbers of an ongoing series (though now IDW is also publishing a monthly series involving the new Star Trek cast that is somewhere in the 30’s in terms of issues). Comixology makes everything easy to find, and for half the cover price (if you’re willing to wait a month or two).

I’d purchased a number of IDW Star Trek titles during a Comixology Star Trek sale (just prior to the release of the second J. J. Abrahms movie), but was irritated to learn how these titles were actually provided to me. This was also before I learned that the trick to most Comixology sales is to wait till Amazon price matches the issues and buy from them.

But Comixology has one upped Amazon (even though Amazon owns the company) with DRM free. The comics are provided in CBR (rar zipped image folder) and PDF formats. With the CBR you can extract and combine comics as you like, and better compress them for your own hardware (Hello Star Trek Ongoing Omnibus 1-20). While advertised as a backup, what Comixology has effectively done for me is eliminated the need for using their app at all.

IDW and Oni really make this worth it for me with great titles like Scott Pilgrim, Star Trek and Letter 44. Image was in the first wave, but I could buy DRM free directly from them as well, and usually did. However, Comixology’s purchase mechanism is far faster, and downloads from Image seem to picky about the browser I use, so I may start buying Image from Comixology as well.

Now two publishers are conspicuously absent from DRM free (and I bet you can guess which ones). In fact DC has raised its prices on a number of its graphic novel collections on Amazon from $9.99 to $12.99. *sigh* Guess it’ll take me a little longer to catch up on Fables. Marvel also does not offer DRM free. But DC and Marvel aren’t really the one’s I’m buying interesting titles from these days anyway.

As for the files themselves the PDF’s seem a little bloated (sometimes nearly 200 MB for a little over a 100 page document). My tablet only has about 4GB of space for comics and I have to keep reading them to clear space for more. But the raw CBR does give me the ability to compress to a better size, so I can always make my own optimized PDF.

Overall I’m actually pretty excited about this. Comixology probably has jumped to number 2 in the places I’ll buy my comics (behind Humble Bundle which ironically offered a lot of the Star Trek comics I had from Comixology in a bundle two weeks ago).

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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!”

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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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