The changes that rolled out to Comixology earlier this year – which saw it essentially become a version of the Kindle app in all but name – were absolutely disastrous.
There were so many problems with it; quite telling was the fact that just a few months beforehand, the planned changes were halted because of negative user feedback in testing. Just how bad was it back then, you have to wonder, considering the appalling state it finally launched in.
Lost progress and bookmarks, comics missing from collections, the app only allowing purchases one comic at a time (which made buying more than a few comics in sales or on new comic book day an absolute nightmare) were just a few of the issues it had. Some comics publishers reported an 80% drop in sales following the update to the app – and after weeks of silence on the issue (in the face of relentless social media and press backlash), Comixology themselves wrote a lengthy Twitter thread promising that they heard and understood the problems, vowing to make things better.
Months later, very little has changed.
And now – the situation has actually become even worse, thanks to the greed of both Amazon and Google. With Google changing the cut of digital sales for everything sold either via the Play store or through Android apps, it’s no longer possible to purchase comics via the Comixology app or even the Amazon app itself; instead, customers must go to the Amazon website via a browser to buy the comics they want.
Though this all seems very ‘first world problem’, it’s yet another step that removes the accessibility of getting hold of digital comics, which was always one of the biggest selling points of acquiring non-physical comic books. Lord knows it wasn’t price; despite the lack of physical elements involved in producing digital comics, publishers held firm on pricing outside of sales.
With this further change removing the immediacy of purchasing digital comics, it feels like a real nail in the coffin of the medium. Though Amazon took a long time to make significant, harmful changes to Comixology after purchasing them in 2014, it’s now clear that they have no clue how to handle this product category.
Though the stranglehold that Comixology had on the digital comics space was fine when everything ran smoothly, it just goes to show that monopolies rarely end well for the consumer, regardless of the intentions the creators had. It’s a bleak time for digital comics right now – and this will have a significant, disastrous effect on the industry.
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