Amazon Runs “The Future of Comic Books” Into the Ground

Amazon Runs “The Future of Comic Books” Into the Ground

Yeah, it sure was.

Comixology was always a bad idea. Although, it was an understandable one.

It started life in 2007 as a fansite, it had articles on shared interests, upcoming issues, cover art and artists, in short it was fulfilling the functions that old Wizard Magazine used to provide.  It also had tools for brick and mortar comics shops.  

Finally it launched an online comic book reader.

In 2013 Amazon tried to get into comic books by publishing their own line called Jet City Comics.  And they got it wrong.

Amazon tried to approach comics like a book publisher instead of comics publisher.  It launched several titles with NY Times best-selling authors like George RR Martin and Neal Stephenson plus a few of their in-house self published writers like Hugh Howie and Marko Kloos.  

Jet City failed to launch.  Trad pub writers as comic book stars was a marketing plan that didn’t move the needle.

So, the next year Amazon bought up Comixology, apparently in the hope of conquering the comic book world that way.  Like I said it was a bad idea.  Comic Books had done nothing to future proof themselves and attract Zoomer readers.  It had become a middleaged man’s market.  Putting current comic books in a new electronic format didn’t excite any interest in young boys and this was just before trying to serve the boys’ tastes in any way became a crime against humanity.

ComiXology’s second biggest problem was its Guided View system.  If you never used, I envy you.  It only worked well on large format touch screens like an iPad or and iPad Pro, it didn’t really look good on smart phones.  How Guided View works is, you flip to the page and then double tap on the panel you want to see.  In theory it’s fine but in practice half the time you are flipping to another page when you wanted to look at a panel, and glancing back at another panel is a pain.  It works but not without some degree of frustration and nowhere near as well as the simple up and down swipe of an Arktoon.

But ComiXology’s primary problem was its owner. Amazon got into comic books because Marvel was growing by leaps and bounds and Warner Brothers had not blown up anything in the wire yet.  Plus, Amazon had noticed Shonen Jump’s insane annual revenue. The manga Demon Hunter has made (including merch) something over $8 billion.  

Amazon wanted to dominate comics, more especially manga but didn’t really have a strategy for doing so.  ComiXology was Amazon’s usual thing of throw some shit at the wall and analyze what sticks with the A9 algorithm.

Well, Amazon never got its hooks into manga and ComiXology was only ever a useful outlet for the “Big” Two.  It wasn’t really good for the Indies and the page view payments were a bad joke.

Now people who wanted to read really old issues of DC and Marvel got something out of it but it was still difficult to read with Guided View.  Comic books simply were not meant to be read like that.  It diminishes the experience of something that is meant to be held in your hand. 

At the end of the day, ComiXology had the impossible task of trying to sell Woke AF Marvel and DC comics. There was a reason the comic book shops either closed or went strictly collector. 

And now Amazon is making major layoffs at Comixology.  It would appear they are for all intents and purposes abandoning it.  This is causing a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from the traditional comic book creators.  My heart bleeds not at all.  Ten years ago when Amazon moved in on the comics space, DC and Marvel, (who still had a little blood left in their veins) should have pooled their resources to build their own version of the Shoenin Jump app.  Instead, they gave everything to Amazon and left themselves completely dependent on it.

The comic book industry outsourced its future and this is the result.  The traditional comics have no tomorrow.

Arktoons on the other hand is one of the fastest growing webtoon companies in the world. There will be a new interface in later this year, as well as introducing features that neither Comixology or (our actual competitor) has.

If you are worried about the future of comics, don’t…

It’s right here.

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