ComiXology announced today that several of their existing apps would be defunct and no longer contain an in-app storefront. Also, a new app was available that stripped out any existence of a storefront and would now be (sort of) the only app available in the Apple store. Purchases will now have to be made at their website and then reading the comics on the devices will require syncing them.
So, here are my thoughts:
1. First off, let's take a breath and calm down. I am not 100% elated about the changes at this point, but let's try to be reasonable in our discourse about it. Even with ComiXology. Yes, they are available via social media and clearly have the PR army going full-time today. Let's treat them with respect. Oh and also anyone whom you don't agree with on this issue. I know it's asking for a lot, internet, but I ask anyway.
With that, making your public and knee jerk declarations that you are done with ComiXology, Amazon, Apple, etc. isn't really adding much to the discussion. Maybe you are done, but I'm guessing most of the people who are making such declarations will still be spending that $5 account credit and be back to buying comics soon.
So anyway...calm down.
2. This will likely be more beneficial to the creators. I have been meaning to make this change in my purchasing habits anyway. There are probably numerous factors in why ComiXology made this change. However, the primary reason has to be the fact that Apple takes a decent cut of the in-app purchase amount, 30%. Now, given that the in-App transactions are handled through Apple, I can definitely see them wanting to take a cut. But if I spend $1 on a comic book, 30 cents of that is going to Apple, leaving ComiXology 70 cents to distribute appropriately. Now, I have no idea what the breakdown after that is, but I imagine that the publisher gets a cut of that and from that cut, a portion goes to the write, penciler, inker, etc.
Again, I have no idea what the break down is, but let's say the publisher gets half of the leftover amount and the creators get 25% of that. And for purposes of easy math, we'll assume we have someone like a John Byrne who wrote and drew a comic.
I spend $1.
• Apple gets 30 cents.
• ComiXology gets 35 cents.
• Publisher gets 26.25 cents.
• Creator gets 8.75 cents.
Okay, so let's say I buy through the site rather than through the Apple site.
I spend $1.
• Apple gets 0 cents.
• ComiXology gets 50 cents.
• Publisher gets 37.5 cents.
• Creator gets 12.5 cents.
I know we're talking pennies here, but in the bottom scenario, the creator gets more. This isn't to say I'm anti-Apple, but rather, I'd prefer my pennies go to the comic writers and artists. HOPEFULLY, this is in fact the case and proves to be more beneficial to these guys and gals we all love so much.
3. We are lucky this isn't worse. Those of us who have been purchasing comics through ComiXology, we have to know we're on borrowed time. It wasn't today. It may not be for another year, five years, or ten years, but we all have to realize that we've purchased these comics but do not own them in any tangible way. Amazon purchasing ComiXology reminded us that these companies are not permanent in their existing form. Companies are bought and sold or go out of business all the time. The Amazon purchase of ComiXology was going to change things. Fortunately, we all still have access to our existing purchases. For now.
4. My biggest disappointment in the changes is the loss of the kids comics app. I hope ComiXology thinks through how they handle the management of comics for kids. My daughter now has an iPad and while I can put up and deal with the changes, this change will be a serious impediment to how we handle buying and loading comics for her. And while she will be unable to purchase anything through the app now, she would still be able to search the library and be exposed to mature content. I'll certainly play an active role in my parenting for her in this, but I'd prefer a different solution than this.
5. I hope the new app is updated at some point to at least share what the sales are. Up until now, I mostly knew about sales via the app since I was already going there every day or two anyway, not the website or social media postings. I cannot, nor can ComiXology rely on me seeing postings about sales on social media, especially with Facebook throttling content. It would be to their advantage to incorporate a blog or announcement feed into this app letting users know about sales and include links to go get them. Hopefully that's a plan they intend to incorporate soon. (And yes, I know I can subscribe to their newsletter and have done that.)
6. This isn't the only change. We're likely to see more changes that will either make us more upset OR, hopefully show us the trade off we're getting for losing some of the convenience of in-app purchasing. I doubt prices will change as a whole, but they've already stated that they can do more cost-effective bundling by getting away from the in-app model. Let's hope for the best and enjoy the comics in the meantime.