Quick Reactions: Amazon Buys Comixology
Posted by James Hunt at 13:34 on 11 Apr 2014
1. It'll probably be okay.
With the obvious exception of Lovefilm - which was already dying on its arse in the face of Netflix's superior brand - most of Amazon's acquisitions are left to operate fairly independently, under their own name and on their own platform. Goodreads is still Goodreads. Audible is still Audible. IMDB is still IMDB. It's unlikely that Comixology is going to be stripped for parts and dismantled.
2. It could improve the Kindle comics experience.
One odd thing about this acquisition is that it means Amazon now owns two digital comics platforms. Kindle isn't just for ebooks - it also has a fairly extensive collection of trades and graphics novels. Unfortunately, reading comics on the Kindle platform is currently a dire way to do it. Slow, imprecise, and poorly-implemented all round. Assuming the plan is to run the two simultaneously, it'd be nice if Amazon tried to learn a thing or two from Comixology in this department. Adding Guided View to their tablet apps would be a good start.
3. Comixology Matchbook?
Amazon's Cloud Player already gives you digital access to the content of CDs you've bought. Amazon's Matchbook service (only in the US, for now) allows you to add digital copies of books you've previously bought to your Kindle Library at a reduced price. It'd be a nice piece of integration to allow Comixology readers to purchase discounted versions of TPBs they've bought in the past through Comixology. Whether they'd go that far is debatable - as we've said, Amazon tends to keep its services surprisingly separate - but we'd enjoy it.
4. Dark Horse might finally fall in line.
At present, it's baffling that Dark Horse, one of the biggest US comics publishers, simply refuses to sell digital comics through Comixology. There are Dark Horse comics I've left on the shelf (well, the digital shelf) because I can't buy them through my preferred platform. There are Dark Horse comics I've dropped because the only alternative was remembering to buy when I was in a comic shop. But with Amazon's weight and reach now behind Comixology maybe - JUST maybe - Dark Horse will reconsider their stance.
5. DRM-free prospects are hazy.
There's only one thing I like more than buying digital comics through Comixology, and that's buying digital comics direct from the source. Publishers like Image Comics and Great Beast sell DRM-free versions of their work. As a heavy investor in Comixology's catalogue, I always hoped that, like iTunes before them, they'd drop their DRM once the market matured a bit and they realised treating every user as a potential pirate is annoying at best and actively harmful at worst. Until Comixology goes DRM-free, users are effectively renting access to their own purchases. And while Amazon sells DRM-free MP3s, their Kindle platform is locked down tight.
It seems, then, that they'll follow the market - but right now, Comixology IS the digital market for comics. On balance, I'd say DRM-free purchases through Comixology is less likely today than it was yesterday, and that's the biggest blow the Amazon purchase has wrought to readers.
Still, this is literally Day One for the Brave New Amazon-Comixology World. Things could change rapidly. They could change slowly. Or they could not change at all. As committed old-school readers gone Digital Native, you can bet we'll be watching this story closely.