Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

April 11, 2014

A Few, Brief, Early-Morning Notes on Amazon Acquiring ComiXology

* I think the main question people had about acquiring comiXology after they stopped making the Little Rascals Wow That's Something Face was a broad one: how much of the acquisition is about Amazon securing technnology, infrastructure and expertise in getting their company to a place they want to get it to, and how much of it was more of a partnership situation where comiXology would retain its culture and corporate identity yet work with Amazon on leveraging things each company does well after a time the digital comics distributor experienced a staggering, bone-stretching level of growth. It looks like more the latter, as presented in articles like Calvin Reid's at PW.

* that said, I still believe that the bulk of the story here will develop from how this partnership is executed, what policies are put into place and how they effect the various relationships comiXology has with its vendors and customers. I'm sure that there will be a positive few words said about comiXology's Submit, for example, and you can build a speculative case from different as to whether it benefits (synergistic programs of a similar nature at Amazon) or is potentially hurt (a fear that the bigger vendors will have more sway). What matters is how policy is enacted, not our ability to project what that set of policies might be.

* ditto in the same sense is how this might have an effect on retailers. Direct market retail has done astoundingly well in the face of digital pubilshing and on-line distribution/sales. Still, you're likely to see people make threshold arguments in terms of there being a point at which the ubiquity of digital access, or Amazon's desire to provide service linked into digital efforts, will start to take its toll. I'm suspicious of strong predictions here beyond that it should be compelling to watch what happens.

* reading around a bunch of odd places last night I saw very little talk about Amazon owning a comics line being a worrisome factor for publishers involved. In general the publishers I talked to are generally blasé and/or generically positive; at least for public consumption.

* when I mentioned yesterday that no specific-to-comics objection to Amazon popped into my head as a clear rallying point for pushback on this story, I didn't mean to suggest that more general fears about Amazon becoming such a strong figure in publishing overall are somehow not important. That is a company without a good reputation from many independent booksellers and indy/alt prose publishers -- and the comics equivalent of those folks make a lot of the comics I think most worth reading. Some of the more eloquent writing I got in my inbox and saw in places here and there were worries about that company's dominant influence. There are companies with different ways of getting digital material to market, and I think people are grateful not to have the issue of how one gets comics totally settled.

* I suggested yesterday and still believe today that a partnership with might place working with comiXology in a different light than working with comiXology in its non-affiliated days. There's no novelty factor involved in an Amazon purchase at this point, and I think this may cause some consumers to kind of suss out what they want out of a commercial relationship of this type. This is certainly true of a couple of friends to whom I spoke, that want to know more about those kinds of purchases now that is involved.

* the PW article linked to above mentions they're hiring someone, or have already. That seems like a company with whom a lot of people would like to work.

* I ran a Collective Memory down the page a bit and will continue to play catch on some of the issues involved until I begin to form more rigorous opinions of my own.
posted 2:15 am PST | Permalink

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